The first wahine Māori to be elected to Wellington City Council has announced she will not stand again in this year's local body elections.
Over her five years in politics councillor Jill Day has been pivotal in establishing a Māori ward, creating a te reo Māori policy for the city, and giving mana whenua voting rights and remuneration for their seats at the council's table.
The former schoolteacher was first elected in 2016 representing Takapū/Northern Ward.
Day didn't realise she was the first wahine Māori to be elected until after the fact. It was a profoundly bittersweet milestone for Day which she said underscored the council's historic failure to reflect the very diversity that makes Wellington such a dynamic city.
She felt that weight on her shoulders, as well as from being given the Iwi Partnership portfolio because she knew so much trust had been lost over past wrongs.
When Paul Eagle won the Rongotai electorate for Labour, Mayor Justin Lester made Day his new deputy. She had been on council less than a year.
"It was a whirlwind", Day said.
"As often for women, I had fairly significant self-doubt as to whether I could do it."
She found the courage to take on the role, which ended up helping her to navigate this most recent term on council, which has been described as dysfunctional.
When Andy Foster snatched the mayoral chains from Labour's Lester with a majority of just 62 votes, many councillors had to pivot to a different reality than the one they were anticipating.
Squabbling around the table has since dominated much of the narrative, but Day's recent reflection of her time at the council has reminded her they've actually managed to achieve a lot.
Mana whenua now have voting rights and remuneration along with their seats at the council table.
Day said at the time of the change that the old system was unfair because if people were not paid to be at meetings, which could go on for hours, then why would they bother turning up?
"Because you still need to put food on the table for your whānau and you need to be able to hold down your own job", she said.
Day filed a notice of motion to get a Māori ward firmly on the agenda for the 2022 local body elections, after the Government abolished a law allowing local referendums to veto decisions by councils to establish these wards.
She found the numbers around the table for a ward to finally materialise.
Day said the process taught her a lot about giving people the space to be able to change their mind.
"That was a really important learning for me around making sure that we allow people to change their minds and to grow in their perspective."
She's also behind Te Tauihu, a policy to make Wellington a te reo Māori city by 2040.
Day was also crucial to increasing funding for Māori development from $2 million over ten years to $29 million.
But Shelly Bay remains unresolved in that there are no spades in the ground at the planned $500 million development, despite it clearing various legal hurdles.
Day said the hardest thing about Shelly Bay was that people have forgotten the land sale was the wish of those in charge of Taranaki Whānui.
"It was their decision before it was the council's decision ... a lot of emphasis has been put on council's decision but it's not actually our place to decide if it's right or wrong.
"It's the place of iwi to decide that."
Day's advice to incoming councillors is to value the importance of relationships.
"All the decisions and the successes that people have at council will be because they've built effective relationships and those relationships have to be built in multiple directions."
Her advice to those in local government as it faces significant reform is to be bold and brave enough to face an unknown future.
Day said the question should be: "What are we protecting and who is it serving?"
"I've never seen this as my job, I think that's the thing, this is not my job it doesn't belong to me. I'm serving my community and I'm here for a period of time and then someone else will do it and they'll do it differently and that will be good too."