As a city councillor I am often asked how the council is working, how hard are we working and does the make-up of the council reflect the community it represents.

I have served on five councils now so I believe I can answer these questions with a degree of experience and understanding.

I have the utmost respect for those who have served with me during my time in local government. Most of them are hard working, thoughtful and have a genuine love for the community they serve.

Many combine the role with other work commitments and family and I believe that is a good thing. Councillors must remain connected to the real world if they are to maintain a good understanding of the community they serve.


They all have a variety of skills, expertise and areas of interest that they bring to the table. The current council fairly represents the community with councillors having a combination of business, financial and community experience across many sectors and stages of life.

The bonus for this Council is that 50 per cent are women, accurately reflecting a sector of the community that was traditionally underrepresented, and we can be very proud of that achievement.

There are times when the democratic outcome is questionable - but the public are quick to work it out and there is usually a correction at the next election. And occasionally a really good councillor will lose their position because the public are unaware of or underestimate their contribution. But generally democracy works. It is not perfect but it is the best system we have.

That is why it is so important to continue to vigorously resist as a community any erosion of democracy and local representation that presents itself.

I absolutely believe that the best decisions are made for the community by the community. I have personally found that the council gets itself into the most difficulty when it makes decisions without fully engaging the community, underestimating the community interest in a decision, or leaving too long a time between the decision and the action - the removal of the War Memorial from the Conference Centre being a case in point.

And consultation cannot be selective - anyone who believes that they are a stakeholder or has an interest should be included. Councillors are genuinely keen to hear from you about the things that matter to you and your community - we are at the table to represent you and make sure that your interests are taken to the table in all decision-making.

It is all very well for the council to have a great idea but it must have the approbation of you the community for it to proceed.

Sometimes we get it wrong - and you generally let us know when we do. It's called accountability - another cornerstone of democracy. Politics 101 - if our constituents say black is white - then black is white, perception is reality!

It is a privilege to serve as a councillor and a huge responsibility.

When we get it wrong we must own it and put it right. In the words of Elton John - sometimes sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Tania Wright is a Napier City councillor. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: