When looking at the range of events I had the pleasure of attending recently, I am struck by the wonderful diversity within our community. In the space of three days, I was present at events that spanned the charitable, cultural and spiritual wellbeing aspects of our society, meeting people of all ages, beliefs and backgrounds.
Within one weekend, I helped plant 51 large native trees at Otuihau/Whangārei Falls in memory of the Christchurch shootings, an initiative of local students from the Child Flight Charitable Trust.
We celebrated the amalgamation and renaming of three Presbyterian churches, creating Hope Whangārei - one church with three sites. I also travelled to Waitangi to be present for the launch of Mahitahi Hauora, the joining of two Primary Health Organisations into one primary health entity.
We're now entering into the 2019 pre-election period, so this will be my last column for this term of council. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to get involved in the election process, to make sure your voice is heard and your vote is counted. First, and most important, is the need for you to vote.
On Thursday June 27, the first Tai Tokerau Māori in Local Government Symposium was held in Waitangi. Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Māori Development, Local Government and Associate Minister for the Environment was one of the many brilliant speakers at this event.
The Symposium focused on encouraging Tai Tokerau Māori to vote, to be heard and to be represented in local government.
Our own Justice Hetaraka, a 20-year-old third year student at the University of Auckland, spoke of the need for rangatahi Māori to be engaged in ways that have meaning to them.
Hetaraka highlighted the fact that if whanau aren't engaged, then their rangatahiare are not likely to be engaged, and that the lack of trust in Government is a very big issue.
These "engagement blocks" can be overcome through educating our tamariki from an early age, and continuing to implement civics education through to senior high school level and beyond.
While this symposium was focused on increasing Tai Tokerau Māori engagement in local government, the messages are equally as relevant for the rest of our population. We need diversity in our local government, to ensure a truly representative council body.
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The first step to achieving this, is to encourage more people to stand for council, and vote, vote, vote!
Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui. Mauri ora.
Make a stand: stand for council
Come to one of our briefing sessions:
* Thursday 11 July 2019 - 5.30pm. Where: Whangārei Terenga Paraoa Marae on Porowini Avenue
* Wednesday 24 July 2019 - 5.30pm. Where: Parua Bay Community Centre
* Thursday 25 July 2019 - 5.30pm. Where: Ruakaka Recreation Centre
* Saturday 27 July 2019 - 10.00am. Where: Northland Regional Council Chambers
* Thursday 8 August 2019 - 5.30pm. Where: Hikurangi Friendship House.
• Sheryl Mai is Mayor of Whangārei District.