Mahuta sets goals for portfolios
‘‘Inequality and poverty, I think, people felt had gone too far in the wrong direction and things needed to be corrected.
‘‘I’m sure the sentiment for change was around not only closing the gap but being able to make opportunities for a far greater range of people.’’
The Ma¯ori Development ministerial position will see Mahuta leveraging opportunity for Ma¯ori in the regional development and housing sectors.
She also wants to invest in soft skills, meaning better education and opportunities in terms of apprenticeships.
Mahuta has recollected the Local Government portfolio, and the first signal she’s sending to councils is the importance of the central-local government relationship.
‘‘At a regional, community level, all the decisions made by local government absolutely affect the day-to-day lives of New Zealanders. You can’t have your leaders in decision-making out of step with each other.
‘‘Councils are not just about roads, rates and rubbish. They are about the wellbeing of communities and they are about regional economic development.’’
And when it comes to Hamilton City Council’s discussions around a proposed 16.5 per cent rates hike, Mahuta won’t intervene just yet.
‘‘I see my role as primarily working alongside local government. There are specific legislative powers, but local decisionmaking and local leadership is absolutely important and I respect that.
‘‘Like good government, any proposal would require a level of public consultation and feedback to gage whether you’ve pitched an issue like rates rises at the right level.
‘‘That’s something I believe has to be judged on public consultation, good information, and robust debate, certainly around the council table. I would expect that is the approach Hamilton City Council is taking towards this issue,’’ she said.
Mahuta was 26-years-old when she was first elected to parliament in the 1996 election as a list MP. It was the first election to use MMP.
She has held the HaurakiWaikato seat for 21 years.
‘‘I was encouraged by a lot of Ma¯ori women, discouraged by some Ma¯ori men, but I’m still here and still standing.
‘‘I’ve always been a smalltown, community-minded person at heart and I don’t think I’ve lost that perspective.
‘‘I feel as passionate now about the contribution I’d like to make as I did when I started. I just know more now.’’
Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta is looking forward to working on her Maori Development and Local Government portfolios with the Labour-led Government.