Decision to run made over donuts

By Doug Laing

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Lynlee Aitcheson-Johnson.
Lynlee Aitcheson-Johnson.

In the context of electioneering it was a last-minute decision over donuts that launched local government aspirant Lynlee Aitcheson Johnson into a twin-edged tilt at the local body elections.

Having appeared on ballot papers as Lynlee Aitcheson in three Hawke's Bay District Health Board polls, she always intended giving it another go after coming close in the last election in 2013.

But it was only a chat with family "over donuts" across the road from work on August 11, barely 24 hours before names had to be in, that the recently married Mrs Aitcheson-Johnson answered the call to stand in the Hastings District Council's Flaxmere Ward, which until then looked like incumbents Henare O'Keefe and Jacoby Poulain would be unopposed.

The whanau reckoned Flaxmere needed to have an election and there was some need for "another voice", and, besides, someone was prepared to pay the nomination fee.

She became one of four who are seeking district council and health board election across Hawke's Bay - along with Ms Poulain and two Wairoa District Council candidates.

In the rush, as 113 pitched their names into the district and regional council ballots, the health board bid was inadvertently left off the list initially published by Hawke's Bay Today, although it was listed among the candidates for the council.

Now 49, a grandmother with a "large" extended family, having three months ago married the bus driver she met on the Hawke's Bay contingent's foreshore and seabed hikoi to Parliament in 2004, she stacks a long list of governance roles, which date back at least as long as her days at Hukarere in Napier and Hastings Girls High.

But she's a life-long veteran of the health system, having battled back somewhat successfully from being a "rubella baby", the birth blindness and deafness well behind her along with the battles against tuberculosis and rheumatic fever.

It was effectively the hikoi that sparked the political ambitions, for she was soon involved with the Maori Party that evolved from it, and worked with the general election campaigns of successive candidates Atareta Poananga, Derek Fox, Na Raihania and Marama Fox.

Manager of Hastings-based Te Whare Whanau Purotu, a Maori women's refuge, she's had 30 years of community service to Flaxmere and Hawke's Bay, reeling off a list of numerous causes in which she has been involved in addition to employing more than 100 people over the years in a telecommunications business.

She's currently Ngati Kahungunu Advisory member to the Maori Relationship Board for Hawke's Bay District Health Board, and in 2014 was appointed by the Minister of Education to the Te Aute College Board of Trustees.

"I want to continue to apply influence building prosperity for Flaxmere," she says. "Let me bring an engaging fresh business-motivated voice for Flaxmere."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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