So­cial en­tre­pre­neur puts Coun­cil hand up

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - LUKE KIRKEBY

Af­ter years of en­tre­pre­neur­ial so­cial work that has taken her around the world Lea Cow­ley wants to now utilise her skills in Toko­roa.

And what bet­ter way to do so than to stand for the South Waikato District Coun­cil’s Toko­roa Ward seat in the up­com­ing lo­cal body elec­tions.

The proud bilin­gual Samoan, who was born and raised in Toko­roa be­fore leav­ing to pur­sue var­i­ous projects such as found­ing New Zealand’s first sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive ad­vi­sory ser­vice tai­lored for Pa­cific peo­ple, said it’s time Toko­roa had coun­cil­lors with vi­sion.

‘‘We haven’t tapped into the pool of tal­ent of di­as­pora peo­ple in Toko­roa and be­ing an ex pub­lic ser­vant of Auck­land City Coun­cil I have a pretty good idea about how to do that,’’ she said.

‘‘35 per cent of our Pa­cific com­mu­nity are Cook Is­lan­ders and I al­ways tell them our cul­tural di­ver­sity is an ad­van­tage.’’

Cow­ley said for her ‘‘it’s about the arts’’ and she wants to de­velop an art cen­tre in Toko­roa.

‘‘I have been speak­ing to peo­ple about an idea I have for an art space where you will be able to have vis­ual and per­form­ing arts all in one place be­cause that will al­low us to at­tracts tourists.

‘‘Let’s bring in the Cook Is­land ladies who make donuts; let’s bring in the women who do cro­chet and knit­ting; let’s look at how we can part­ner with schools and in­clude them all in the arts be­cause there is so much po­ten­tial here.’’

She said Toko­roa needs to elect peo­ple con­nected with the com­mu­nity who have fresh ideas.

‘‘Lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance re­ally lack here and what I mean by that is in the three year time between lo­cal elec­tions we should know who can take up lead­er­ship roles but we strug­gle.

‘‘We have only got 19 can­di­dates be­cause the mayor prompted it just be­fore nom­i­na­tions closed so peo­ple thought at the last minute they might have a chance.’’

‘‘I am in a unique po­si­tion from other can­di­dates though be­cause I was born and raised here. I am bilin­gual, my par­ents were here in the 50s. I know a lot about lo­cal his­tory and I have ac­cess to a pool of di­as­pora peo­ple who I have strong con­nec­tions with and i have ac­cess to le­gions that have come out of here.

‘‘I have a youth and com­mu­nity eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment back­ground.’’

.Cheeses made by Waikato sec­ondary school stu­dents, in­clud­ing Pu­taruru Col­lege, as part of the Camem­bert in the Class­room com­pe­ti­tion have now been judged to de­ter­mine an over­all win­ner.

St Peter’s Cam­bridge stu­dents took out the award for top cheese, while Melville High School re­ceived best over­all School for their ef­forts in the com­pe­ti­tion and best brand­ing con­cept. Fraser High School re­ceived an award for best video pro­mo­tion.

Cen­tre for Sci­ence and Pri­mary In­dus­tries cen­tre di­rec­tor Lee Taituha said the pro­gramme kicked off last year with just two schools and has since grown to

LUKE KIRKEBY/ FAIRFAX NZ

Lea Cow­ley is stand­ing for the South Waikato District Coun­cil’s Toko­roa Ward seat in the up­com­ing lo­cal body elec­tions.

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