After years as second-in-charge, Ann Court says her experience, knowledge and passion for the Far North make her the perfect candidate for the district's next Mayor.
According to Court, a suite of new changes to local government would require the next Far North Mayor to be intimately familiar with the inner workings of the council.
The "reform storm" ,as she described it, would also require bold and tenacious leadership- something she felt only came with her type of skills and expertise.
"The council, three years from now, will look very different to the one we see today," Court said.
"There is big change on the horizon, so we really need someone who has solid experience, a great work ethic and who can provide continuity and balance- I bring all of that."
These changes will include the implementation of the Government's controversial Three Waters reform, changes to the Resource Management Act, climate change and carbon emission policies, as well as waste management changes.
Court said the rapid pace and scale of the change was frightening and would put a lot of pressure on councils to comply with these changes over the next couple of years.
She said the centralisation of many services would not bode well for the Far North and the Government would 'ignore the district at its own peril'.
"Taking staff away from the day-to-day business will mean levels of service will slip and is not a good place to be," Court said.
"The Government is very ambitious because it has just one more year in office, so is pushing hard to see this all get through.
"We're rapidly losing control of many things, including our roading budgets as this Government moves to change what is or isn't fundable.
"The future of FNDC will be more focused on parks, reserves and environment management than working as an infrastructure provider."
Like many other local government representatives before her, it was a lack of representation and not feeling valued which led to Court's career in council.
She described how she would have to push her eldest son in his pram along Waipapa's footpath-less roads, making it difficult to run errands.
It was after seeing an ad in the paper about making submissions to the Council that she decided to visit Kaikohe's council chambers to raise the issue.
"I was shaking like a leaf when I explained to the Mayor and three other councillors we needed footpaths and the drains to be closed in," Court said.
"One of the councillors was reading the New Zealand Herald and no-one bothered to even look at me- it was as if I was some nuisance they had to put up with.
"They just said, how do you think that's going to be paid for?"
Court said she walked out of that meeting feeling deflated and hurt.
"Nobody should ever have to be treated like that," she said.
"When the opportunity came to stand for council, I made sure people knew I gave a damn about who I was representing.
"I may not have always been able to do what they wanted, but this isn't a popularity contest, you just need people to do the hard work and leave the community in a better place."
Court was first elected as a member of the Kerikeri-Paihia Community Board (equivalent to Bay of Islands/Whangaroa ward) in 1996 where she went on to become the youngest ever-known community board chairperson in New Zealand.
She was also the Waipapa Business Association Chair between 1998-2003 before being elected as a councillor for the then Eastern ward (2004).
She's remained in council ever since, becoming Far North Deputy Mayor (2010-2013) under former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown, then back to a councillor in 2013, before taking up the role of Deputy Mayor again under Mayor John Carter (2019).
Born in Taupo, Court grew up around the country thanks to her father's role in the Ministry of Works.
She relocated to Kerikeri with her first husband, to whom she has her first child. She then remarried and had her two other children and has remained in Kerikeri ever since.
A coastal marine radio operator by trade, Court has a number of local government qualifications including all relevant RMA courses and the Supply of Alcohol Act (2013).
She has also served as director of Consumer NZ, Top Energy foundation trustee and has held a variety of governance roles on different boards.
In terms of her council achievements, Court said there were several things she was proud of, including the development of the three Far North Sports Hubs, the increase of roading assistance and getting the hotly contested Sweetwater pipeline.
Nothing pleased her more, however, than getting the national implementation of her Dust Remit policy over the line.
"I think if you look after the child, you look after the future, so I'm really proud of the dust remit because it actually saves lives," Court said.
"Evidence shows that dust will kill you, so getting funding to seal the really egregious parts of our community, I can die happy having done that.
Generations of whānau living along Moerewa's Ngapipito and Pipiwai Roads had literally been choking on dust, according to Court.
"I was put onto the regional land transport committee when the residents made a submission," Court said.
"They told me about the dust and how the kaumātua were getting sick with asthma, their water was contaminated and for generations, nothing had changed.
"The road had been a forestry route with a truck coming by once every 15 mins.
"The dust didn't stop and I thought that's just not right."
Following that submission, Court worked on the team to come up with the Dust Remit, which was eventually adopted nationally.
In 2016 and as a result of the dust remit, Court explained FNDC received $3 million from the Government, plus $12.7 million for key forestry in the Far North, plus a further $5.2 million for road safety and had been sealing roads ever since.
"Pipiwai and Ngapipito were the first two roads ever sealed and now more than 50km has since been sealed across the Far North," she said.
"It may not impact all of the district's 74,000 people, but it matters to the people impacted by dust and they just needed someone to fight for them."
Court lodged her nomination for Mayor last week and said she hoped Far North residents would continue to have faith in her experience and ability to move the district forward.
It will be her second time running for mayor, with her first attempt unsuccessful against the current Far North Mayor, John Carter.
If successful this time around, Court said she had big plans in terms of the council's operations.
She would, for example, align the various council committee structures away from their current silos, creating three main categories: Finance and Risk, Strategy and Infrastructure.
She said she would also do away with part-time councillors, apply compulsory attendance to council meetings and appoint a senior officer (acting for the CEO) to each community board, to help make things happen more quickly and efficiently.
In terms of the region, Court said she had many plans, but one of her top priorities was roading and a focus on addressing the condition of the Far North state highway network.
Court said while she was admittedly scared by the proposition of becoming Mayor, she was fully committed to getting the job done.
"It's a huge responsibility to look after the needs of 74,000 people and do the very best you can in a very uncertain future," Court said.
"Everyone is hurting due to the effects of climate change, Covid-19, supply chain issues, etc.
"There's too much pandering to the government and I promise to be a loud and clear voice in Wellington."