Penny Smart extolled the virtues of good leadership and openness while acknowledging the many challenges facing the newly elected Northland Regional Councillors over the next three years.

She succeeded Bill Shepherd as the new NRC chairwoman, while Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency representative Justin Blaikie was elected deputy chairman at their inaugural meeting after the swearing-in yesterday.

Smart, from the Kaipara constituency, and Blaikie were both elected unopposed at the recent local government elections.

The newly elected council has four new members — Jack Craw (Whangarei Urban), Amy Macdonald (Coastal Central), Marty Robinson (Coastal North) and Colin "Toss" Kitchen (Te Hiku) who is yet to be sworn in.

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He is attending the Rugby World Cup in Japan and is due back home in the middle of next week.

For the first time, the council has three serving women councillors in MacDonald, Yeoman and Smart.

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Electing a Northland Regional Council

The councillors and members of the public were welcomed with a powhiri before NRC chief executive Malcolm Nicolson presided over the swearing in and the election of chair and her deputy.

Councillor John Bain nominated Smart as the new chair, seconded by Rick Stolwerk.

Blaikie nominated Joce Yeoman as the deputy chairperson but she could not be elected as there was no seconder to the nomination.

Bain nominated Stolwerk as the new deputy chairman but the nomination failed.

NRC councillors Joce Yeoman, left, Amy MacDonald, Penny Smart and Justin Blaikie at their swearing in ceremony. Photo / Michael Cunningham
NRC councillors Joce Yeoman, left, Amy MacDonald, Penny Smart and Justin Blaikie at their swearing in ceremony. Photo / Michael Cunningham

In her brief address, Penny described the NRC as a vibrant, hardworking and forward-thinking council that still has a long way to go.

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She said the newly elected councillors were highly skilled, capable and excited who would share the workload as "we were all in this together".

"Our role is supporting, enabling and empowering people. We need good leadership and it's about mindset as much as skillset," she said.

Smart said she had an open-door policy and welcomed feedback in order to improve things.

Yeoman pipped former chairman Bill Shepherd by 37 by votes in the Coastal North constituency and came second behind GE Free Northland spokesman Marty Robinson.

They beat Shepherd and former Māori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels.


New NRC Councillors:
Coastal Central constituency— Amy Macdonald
Coastal North constituency— Marty Robinson, Jocelyn Yeoman.
Coastal South constituency— Rick Stolwerk.
Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency— Justin Blaikie (deputy chairman)
Kaipara constituency— Penny Smart (chairperson)
Te Hiku constituency— Colin 'Toss' Kitchen.
Whangarei Urban constituency— John Bain, Jack Craw