Elected Maori coun­cil­lor makes Hori­zons his­tory

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - NI­CHOLAS MCBRIDE

Wiremu Te Awe Awe is the first elected Maori re­gional coun­cil­lor around an oth­er­wise largely un­changed Hori­zons ta­ble.

Vot­ers from the Manawatu-Whanganui re­gion de­cided to keep the sta­tus quo, with 10 in­cum­bent coun­cil­lors re­claim­ing their seats.

Te Awe Awe in Palmer­ston North and Ni­cola Pa­trick in Whanganui were the only changes, fill­ing seats left empty by the out­go­ing Mur­ray Guy and Rod Pearce.

Te Awe Awe is only the sec­ond Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tive to join the coun­cil, af­ter Archie Ta­iaroa was co-opted on in 1989.

Stress­ing the need to work to­gether, Te Awe Awe has big ideas, in­clud­ing dis­tribut­ing Palmer­ston North sewage to land, rather than into the Manawatu River.

He also wanted to see farms have less stock per hectare, to help keep the river clean.

‘‘It is some­thing we all have to ad­dress. We have to clean up our river.’’

Maori had a spir­i­tual con­nec­tion to the wa­ter­way, he said.

‘‘There is a Maori say­ing; Kei te ora te wai, kei te ora te tan­gata – when the river is well, the peo­ple are well.’’

With 99 per cent of the count com­pleted in the first-past-the­p­ost elec­tion, he had 10,011 votes, be­hind long-serv­ing coun­cil­lor and former city mayor Paul Rieger with 10,492, former city coun­cil­lor Pat Kelly with 10,721 and top-polling first-term coun­cil­lor Rachel Keed­well.

Te Awe Awe had stood for one of the four Palmer­ston North con­stituency seats in 2013, and polled fifth.

Hori­zons chair­man Bruce Gor­don, who was elected un­op­posed, said the restora­tion of all sit­ting coun­cil­lors vin­di­cated their ef­forts.

He said it was a ‘‘very fa­mil­iar’’ coun­cil and would be a strong one.

‘‘The di­rec­tion coun­cil has taken is to work with the com­mu­nity on the way through and not be con­fronta­tional.’’

Gor­don did not know his new coun­cil­lors well but said Te Awe Awe was a ‘‘very in­tel­li­gent man’’ and hoped he would help the coun­cil’s iwi re­la­tions.

Pa­trick had made a good sub­mis­sion to the coun­cil’s An­nual Plan and would ‘‘add real value’’ to the coun­cil, Gor­don said.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Wiremu Te Awe Awe with the 1907 statue of his Ran­gi­tane an­ces­tor, Te Peeti Te Awe Awe in The Square.

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