It was a mixture of old and new amongst those sworn in as Whangārei District councillors to begin tackling the many challenges like climate change and a rapidly growing population.

Re-elected mayor Sheryl Mai was the first to be called onto the stage at Semenoff Stadium lounge today to make her declaration, after which WDC chief executive Rob Forlong helped her put on the mayor's robe and chain.

Councillors were then called to swear their oath in front of family and friends.

Missing was Bream Bay Cr Kenneth Couper who was in Japan and sent his apologies.
He will be sworn in at the council meeting on November 27.

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The newly elected representatives were led into the lounge before a karakia was performed by kaumatua Hohepa Rudolph.

Dick Shepherd, Taipari Munro and Aperahama Edwards led the powerful powhiri while the Hatea kapa haka group took care of the musical side of things during the swearing in ceremony that lasted about two hours.

Mai is the 23rd Whangārei mayor to be sworn in since 1896 and said that, as with previous councils, the one she would lead for the next three years was confronted with unique challenges - like climate change and a rising population.

"We are likely in this term of council to have more than 100,000 people calling this place 'home', and that creates pressure on our infrastructure, not to mention exacerbating a housing crisis, and associated social and environmental pressures."

However, she said there were significant milestones to be celebrated if all went according to plans.

Whangārei District councillors after being sworn in for the next three years. Photo / John Stone
Whangārei District councillors after being sworn in for the next three years. Photo / John Stone

She referred to the new Whau Valley water treatment plant, completion of the Hundertwasser art centre, restoration of the razed old Municipal Building, a new civil centre, and more sealed roads.

A network of shared paths and cycleways would see more people choosing alternative transport options, Mai said.

"Before you are a group of people selected by you, our community. We are ready, willing and able to serve you. We possess a mix of experience, fresh ideas, energy and enthusiasm," she said.

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Mai acknowledged the contribution made by previous councillors Sue Glen and Crichton Christie who missed re-election, as well as her former deputy mayor, Sharon Morgan, and previous councillor Cherry Hermon who both did not contest the election.

Some newly elected councillors such as Carol Peters, Anna Murphy, and Nicholas Connop chose to read their declarations in both Maori and English.


New WDC Councillors and mayor:
Mayor— Sheryl Mai
Denby ward— Gavin Benney
Okara ward— Vince Cocurullo
Okara ward— Nicholas Connop
Denby ward— Patricia Cutforth
Bream Bay ward— Shelley Deeming
Denby ward— Jayne Golightly
Okara ward— Phil Halse
Whangārei Heads ward— Greg Innes (deputy mayor)
Hikurangi-Coastal ward— Greg Martin
Hikurangi-Coastal ward— Anna Murphy
Okara ward— Carol Peters
Mangakahia-Maungatapere ward— Simon Reid
Bream Bay ward— Ken Couper