After nine years on the Wairoa District Council, Benita Cairns reckons if she went another round she might feel like she's just warming the seat.

Thus her decision not to stand for council - but it certainly ain't over.

In a district that has had better female council representation than most, she's going for the hot seat, with hopes of becoming Wairoa's first lady mayor.

If you had told her this was possible a decade ago, she wouldn't have believed it. She says she didn't have a clue what local government was about.


It took a trip overseas to realise how much she loved home and how hard-up some of the people she saw overseas were.

She wanted better for Wairoa, where she'd spent most of her life and where university was the town itself, taking the lead from her mum who implored her to learn to read and write at school, then go out and get a job, which she did, at a local pharmacy.

On her return home, she started reading up on a few issues and stood for the council at the next election in 2007 - successfully. She's been a member ever since.

While she needed the challenge of taking on single-term sitting mayor Craig Little she says she is standing with a sense of frustration over the way some decisions have been made over the last three years.

"I don't agree with some of the decisions," she says.

She says that while Wairoa has had its issues she is confident the district is "on the cusp" of great things, and says: "I have acquired the necessary skills and level of knowledge to know what it takes to lead an efficient and effective council.

"It is important that the people of Wairoa have confidence in and can trust their local council, and that can only be achieved by the council being open, honest and transparent about the business dealings and projects it intends to undertake on behalf of its constituents," she says.

"If elected, my intention is to restore council's credibility with the community and to ensure council prioritises core business while staying focussed on being cost-effective and affordable."


She estimates she spends about 20 hours a week on council work, and says if she becomes mayor it will be even more hands-on, and she will want the six councillors to become "more focused" on their roles to provide the leadership needed for the district.

"We've got a very young population, a very sound base, and my passion is for some investment in them, to build capacity in the people of Wairoa, so that we are equipped," she said.