The appointment of two new advisers to the Hastings District Council will help the local authority build stronger relationships with iwi and hapu and better reflect Maori cultural values and concerns, says chief executive Ross McLeod.

Appointed to the relationships, responsiveness and heritage section of the council he said that while the titles were new the roles were not, with this section of the council put in place in the early 1990s when the Resource Management Act and subsequently the Local Government Act put the responsibility of considering Maori interests onto councils.

Until last year the portfolio was managed by Marama Laurenson, who left the role to take up a job with the Whanganui District Council.

In her place, the council had appointed Dr James Graham as principal adviser.


Mr Graham had most recently been working with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, and had also held roles at Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated and as a senior lecturer and academic at Massey University, Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Waikato and the University of Canterbury, Mr McLeod said.

"James will take up and lead the portfolio of activities and issues previously managed by Marama Laurenson, assisting us to build stronger relationships with iwi and hapu, better reflect Māori cultural values and concerns in our planning and decision-making, and increase our responsiveness as an organisation to Māori."

In addition, Rosemary Smith who had worked previously with the DHB, the Ministry of Social Development, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Department of Internal Affairs and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated had,been appointed as an advisor.

She currently held the role of kaiako at Mangaroa Te Kohanga Reo, and would take up the council role on February 26.

"Rosemary will assist James in the portfolio of activities, and will increase the organisation's capacity to support staff to be able to better incorporate issues of importance to Māori into their work."

He said he was very happy with the people who had been appointed in what was an area of increased activity and need.

Dr Graham would begin on February 19, and both would be welcomed to the council at the next Māori Joint Committee meeting scheduled for February 28.