Wahine Māori takes over as mayor

Adam Gifford

Wahine Māori takes over as mayor

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The country now has not one but two Wahine Maori mayors, Tania Tapsell at the Rotorua Lakes Council and Tory Whanau in Wellington.

The country now has three Wahine Maori mayors, Tania Tapsell in the Rotorua Lakes Council, Faylene Tunui in Kawerau and Tory Whanau in Wellington.

Ms Tapsell, who was the top councilor in previous elections, edged out a crowded field to finish 2,862 votes ahead of former New Zealand first MP Fletcher Tabuteau.

She is the city’s first Maori mayor since Harry Dansey in 1941.

Ms Tapsell says her nine years on the council prepared her for the role, but she attributes the victory to hard campaigning work.

“I’m doing this simply because I love helping others and I love serving the community, so for tripping over such a milestone in our history, that part is still sinking for me,” she says. .

Outgoing mayor Steve Chadwick said the 30-year-old will face big challenges such as housing and community safety, and will work with a divided council.

Long-serving councilor Trevor Maxwell won re-election in the new Maori ward, along with Lani Kereopa and Rawiri Waru, but no Maori candidate was re-elected in the headquarters.

Merepeka Raukawa-Tait was the unelected candidate with the most votes and will wait for Thursday’s final tally to see if special votes can get her over the line.

In Wellington, former Green Party chief of staff Tory Whanau beat one-term mayor Andy Foster, while Rongotai Labor MP Paul Eagle came fourth.

There is also a tight race for the council’s new Te Whanganui-a-Tara Māori ward, with Nīkau Wi Neera five votes ahead of Matthew Reweti with final results yet to be confirmed.

Louis Rapihana was the second-highest ranking mayoral candidate, but lost his seat in the Coast Ward to Maxie Kemara.

An indicative referendum on Maori neighborhoods was won by one vote, 1,499 to 1,498.

Faylene Tunui, who served two terms as a councillor, opposed the mayoralty of Kawerau. Another Wahine Māori, Lyn Reisterer, was ousted as Mayor of Opotiki, Councilor David Moore taking over.


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