Napier City councillor Maxine Boag would never want to be compared with the other 11 around the table.

But the fact is she's one out-there lady who tends to defy just about any images of what your average councillor should be like.

To catch up, we've chosen one out of the box, at the Six Sisters Cafe, looking across to the Marine Parade revitalisation out-marvelling any expectations she ever had of the open-spaces redevelopment, and creation of a "jewel" in the crown of Hawke's Bay.

To top it off, it's a glorious sunny day. Nothing could be more Napier than this, for a former schoolteacher accessorised with the Gold Card and turning 70 later this year would, many might say, have earned a bit of time to relax.


Nup. She arrives on her bike from a Napier Disabilities Advisory Group meeting a few hundred metres up the Parade at the War Memorial Centre, and she's got a "thing" at Bay Skate before lunchtime, dishing out a few copies of the council's "What Next" long-term plan consultation booklet.

She'll spend a bit of the afternoon putting together a Grey Power newsletter, and at night she'll go and watch the basketball.

The easiest day of the week as the diary shows.

Monday, speech to Rotary talking about alcohol policies, afternoon and evening Age Concern. Tuesday, Grey Power, Tu Tangata Maraenui, and in the evening National Council of Women business. Wednesday, Anzac Day and the laying of a wreath on behalf of, Thursday ... already spoken for, a Grey Power meeting in the afternoon, today seems free and tomorrow afternoon, Pukemokimoki Marae for a consultation hui on the future of Napier library services.

"I've got a bit too much on," she says, with the characteristic laugh, oblivious that that schedule didn't include the highest-profile job. It must have been a week off at the council.

Chuck in other commitments, such as the Maraenui Community Council Trust, the area's rugby and sports association, and helping ensure the continuation of unique 15,000 print-run, 19-year-old community paper He Ngakau Hou, and, when possible, three shots at the gym a week, Maxine Boag doesn't do things by halves. She certainly hasn't since she gave up the day job in 2006 to launch her bid for a spot on the council in the-then new mixed wards and at-large structure.

In the vast Nelson Park Ward, stretching across Napier South, Marewa, Maraenui, Onekawa South, Pirimai and Awatoto, or parts thereof, she appreciated that prior to stating her case she would have to get a lot more people voting.

With now 11 years under the belt, having hand-picked running-mate Api Tapine to become the second Nelson Park Ward member and the Napier council's first Maori member two years ago, she says she hasn't decided yet whether she'll be seeking a fifth term at the elections next year, although the pre-race form would say she will, and partner Peter will keep "doing the cooking", which has been part of the deal these last few years. "He's a huge support to me," she says.


If she does, she wants to have more on the team, or at least in the ward, and is to an extent back where she started.

Having with others successfully lodged the appeal which saw Napier switch in 2007 to the current mix-representation system from the previous all-12 at-large system she says made it difficult for marginalised people and areas to access representation on the council, she's now campaigning for a full-wards system, in which Nelson Park, or whatever it might be called, might have four of those at the table.

"It would be wonderful if we could have four councillors," she says.

"Actually, I wanted community boards as well," she adds, conceding that that's possibly not a goer while the ratepayers in the areas might have to pay for them.

Boag is essentially Hawke's Bay-born and bred, ex Hastings Girls' High School who went to Canterbury University seeking a BA intending to become a journalist.

After a year's teacher training she went into the schools, with a couple of years in Levin before heading to London, taking up full and part-time positions in teaching before heading for 12 years teaching in Canada and three at Gweru in Zimbabwe.

She returned to Hawke's Bay in 1988, taught at Karamu High School for six years, and then got a shot back at journalism in the Newspapers in Education project of the Napier Telegraph, the daily which merged in 1999 with the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune to create Hawke's Bay Today.

She benchmarks 1997 as the year she began to step up more at the community level, having quite teaching fulltime and been teaching English to refugees and migrants, realising much of her work was about "challenging communities".

She was "roped into" a meeting supporting a homework framework for Pacific Island children, and found herself joining the group and the community trust.

It was at the council table that she recently was the only one of the 12 wanting a change from the status quo mixture of ward and at-large councillor, to make it the full wards system she says is supported by the statistics.

"Always been a bit of a leftie," she says.