Elected Maori councillor makes Horizons history
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.
Wiremu Te Awe Awe with the 1907 statue of his Rangitane ancestor, Te Peeti Te Awe Awe in The Square.