Members of Te Tatau o Te Arawa Board have made their first official appearance around a council table, making a "significant contribution" according to stand-in committee chairman Charles Sturt.
Former Te Arawa standing committee member Potaua Biasiny-Tule and Rawiri Waru sat on the Rotorua Lakes Council's operations and monitoring committee during today's meeting, with full voting rights.
The 14-member board was elected by Te Arawa to represent the iwi on council.
Other members of the board, Ana Morrison and Eugene Berryman Kamp, will sit on the council's strategy, policy and finance committee, while Gina Mohi will sit on the Resource Management Act hearing panel.
Any decisions made by council committees have to be ratified by a full meeting of the council before they can be actioned.
This morning, councillors acknowledged the pair's presence before the meeting began with board chairman Te Taru White and other board members sitting in the public gallery.
After the meeting, Mr Sturt told the Rotorua Daily Post he was "suitably impressed" by the pair's contribution.
"The Te Arawa partnership shone though and they both asked questions that not only affect Te Arawa, but the whole community. I think they will make a significant contribution to the council and its processes."
Mr White said he was proud of their contribution.
"We were well aware this was an important moment for Te Arawa in general, it has been a long time coming.
"Our two young gentlemen had obviously done their homework and asked very good questions and contributed well in a respectful and professional manner."
Mr Biasiny-Tule said it was great to be back in council.
"It was a massive honour to attend our first committee meeting as a member of Te Tatau o Te Arawa. Despite the nerves and being new to this current council, I entered with the support of my wife, whanau and friends, as we understood that this role is important for our hapu and iwi.
"Along with Rawiri, we learned a great deal in committee, gained valuable insights, asking many questions, and now have much to discuss with our iwi over the coming months," he said.
Mr Waru said he was not nervous knowing he had the full support of the board and the iwi behind him.
"It gave me a better appreciation of just how big council is and how much it oversees. It was great to see ways we can contribute more in the future. We certainly did our homework," he said.
Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group mayoral candidate Dr Reynold Macpherson, who watched parts of the meeting online, said it was obvious the pair had prepared themselves well, "and contributed as well as, or more effectively, than some with a proper mandate as elected representatives".
"But it is tragic, in our view, that their unacceptably low 24 per cent mandate from Te Arawa undermines their legitimacy in this forum. More so because their impressive presence will undercut non-Te Arawa support for other Te Arawa-affiliated councillors.
"Our group's solution will be to rebalance policy advisory inputs from a number of authentic communities of interest, including Te Arawa, into the policy making decisions made solely by properly elected representatives," he said.