Far North mayoral candidate Jaqi Brown says "Kua tae te wā — The time has come" to run for the district's top job as part of this year's local government elections.
The Ahipara mother and grandmother said she's had her sights on becoming Far North mayor since her first taste of local government in her late 20s.
Now in her mid-50s, and after decades of community, business and life experience, Brown said it was time to pursue her aspiration of serving the people of the Far North at the highest level.
Brown (Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri, Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Whatua) was born in Auckland but moved with her whānau to Pāmāpuria at age 6.
The whānau then moved to their family farm at Whangape, before returning to Auckland a few years later.
They eventually moved back to the Far North when Brown was a teenager before she settled in Ahipara in 1995 with her husband, where she's been ever since.
Brown explained her community service acumen started in her early 20s after taking on the role of Kaitaia Community House's inaugural co-ordinator.
There she was responsible for creating awareness about the services available and instrumental in bringing central government services like IRD and ACC into Kaitaia.
"After that and because it grew to become so popular, I also set up the Citizens Advice Bureau which eventually morphed into the Kaitaia People Centre."
Since that time, Brown has been involved in the establishment of several community groups, including Ahipara Aroha, which has worked to promote less anti-social behaviour, a reduction in crime, and better use of local facilities in the community.
She also recently coordinated the restoration and 100-year celebration for her church, Te Hautāpoki in Whangapē.
In her day-to-day role, Brown works as an education co-lead for Te Hiku Iwi Development, where she helps break down systemic issues between the Crown and iwi.
Brown attributed her leadership skills to her tūpuna, as well as other significant community leaders.
"My great-grandfather Anaru Ngawaka was the inaugural chairperson of the Tai Tokerau Māori Council which still runs today," Brown said.
"I have also learned the skills of governance from mentors like Robin Shepherd and my straight-talking uncle, Glass Murray."
It was her time working with Far North icon and former mayor, Millie Srhoj, that she said cemented her desire to one day become mayor.
"When I was 29, I stood successfully for the then Northern Community Board where I learnt a lot from the legendary Millie Srhoj," Brown said.
"My goal was to move onto council and then try for Mayor, but during my initial two terms, I started my family and took on the full-time care of my nieces and nephews.
The dream of mayor was then parked to prioritise whānau first."
With her children now much older and with significant changes to the way local government will run moving forward, Brown said she felt now was her time to shine.
Brown's campaign is focused on three key themes: "Place and Planet Positivity", "Community Voice" and "Sustainable Plans".
She said that it was her mission to create more transparency, community-led solutions and to ensure community voices always had a seat at the council table.
"I want people to feel pride in where they come from, so rather than focusing on the bad, I want to look at what's good and how we can make it better," Brown said.
"We live in paradise and I want to support and encourage communities to take more ownership of their places.
"I want to also develop better pathways to engage with the council to stand their projects up."
According to Brown, smarter ways to reduce costs for the ratepayer was essential.
She said increasing rate rises were unsustainable and FNDC needed to work better with central government to look for other funding streams.
"We need to leverage central government to fund major infrastructure projects to help fast-track priority projects like housing," Brown said.
"There needs to be a well-lit pathway for each of the 40 Far North communities to have a say in what happens where they live.
"I also see a new role for community boards to be more involved and responsible for their communities."
Nominations for local government elections officially opened on Friday and will close on August 12.
Brown confirmed she would submit her mayoral candidacy nomination this week with the blessing of her marae, church and community.
She would not stand for any other role.
Brown's first public speaking engagement was at the Doubtless Bay Business and Professional Women's Group last week.
Her next presentation will be at the Paihia Business Association AGM next Thursday.
To find out more about Jaqi Brown's campaign, visit: www.jaqibrown.nz/ or search, 'Jaqi Brown for Mayor FNDC' on Facebook.