Born and bred in Palmy and deputy mayor for a decade, Tangi Utikere is now the city's member of Parliament. While his role may have changed, it's still familiar territory.
"As the local MP I still get to go and experience community events here in Palmerston North," he said. "I've been to a couple of events where I've been introduced as the deputy mayor rather than the local member of Parliament."
Elected last year, Utikere is a Labour backbencher. He sits on two select committees but he recently got lucky when his member's bill was drawn from the ballot.
"One MP said to me that she had been in Parliament for nearly 11 years and never had her bill drawn once, so to have mine drawn is something that I am really excited about," he said. "It's the Local Government Pecuniary Interest Register Amendment Bill."
The bill aims to introduce more transparency to local government decision-making by requiring councillors to disclose their personal finances, just as MPs already do.
"Whether you're a mayor, deputy mayor, regional chair, district, city or regional councillor, you would be required to disclose what your pecuniary interests are - land that you own, property that you own, particular shares that you own, employment opportunities you have, gifts that you've received over a certain amount of money - and that would be publicly available."
As a member of the environment select committee, Utikere will be deeply involved with Resource Management Act reforms, and taking public feedback on it.
"RMA reform basically has three components to it. The first one that we are dealing with at the moment is the Natural and Built Environments Act and so the select committee is currently working through an exposure draft which is a little bit unique, because usually when there is a law change it goes through select committee generally once and works through that process before it goes back to the House or to Parliament."
The Natural and Built Environments Act must balance different needs and values in Aotearoa including environmental limits and Te Tiriti o Waitangi principles.
"It's about sustainability. It's also about enabling development but around those environmental limits," Utikere said.
Plans prepared by local and central government, and mana whenua will be combined into a national planning framework and will also focus on more of a regional approach.
"It's about regions working together so that you get some consistency on a regular basis, on a regional level as well. Housing for example. Councils around the country are focused on urban development and what that means for their local community."
Working in Wellington most weeks means sustainable transport is particularly important for Utikere. There is currently only one commuter train each day.
"[My] preferred mode of transport is the Capital Connection, the rail between Palmy and Wellington, and so that's something I'm obviously interested in being an advocate for. It's a seamless opportunity to travel to work and home as well, so where it works out I try and make that as my choice."
Utikere is one busy backbencher with RMA reform, advocating for the train service and guiding his member's bill through Parliament, but he says he'll still be available for local events, even if he is referred to as the deputy mayor.
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