After 13 years as a Rotorua district councillor Janet Wepa has bowed out of local body politics, saying she is disappointed but proud of what she has achieved.
Mrs Wepa received 5069 votes in last Saturday's Rotorua Lakes Council election, coming 14th out of 35 people vying for 10 seats on the council.
Mrs Wepa had numerous roles on the council with mayor Steve Chadwick saying she would be hard to replace and was one of the council's most hard working members.
It has not been the best of years for Mrs Wepa, as her husband and biggest supporter, Matthew Wepa - a renowned carver and author - died in March after a long battle with cancer.
"I really want to acknowledge and appreciate all the people who did vote for me all these years, it's been a privilege to be on council and I thoroughly enjoyed making a contribution to the city," Mrs Wepa told the Rotorua Daily Post.
She said much of her work, that she estimated to average more than 30 hours a week over her career, and much more since she took on a council portfolio and chaired a major council committee, was done behind the scenes. She said she was not one to blow her own trumpet.
She has taken her defeat in the polls well and said she had plenty to keep her going.
"You put a lot of things on hold while on council...but my family have encouraged me to take more time for myself.
"Of course I'm disappointed, you can't help that, it's always uncertain at election time and I never assumed I would get back on."
She said she had been overwhelmed by people texting, calling and emailing her messages of support after her election loss but said there were probably a number of reasons why she missed out.
"One of them would have been my support of the Te Arawa partnership.
"But, I went into that process with an open mind and many people - both Maori and Pakeha - made very good quality submissions and it was those that convinced me we should have that partnership in place.
"I did feel we were being targeted as Pakeha voting for Maori and it was sad to see how much of a fuss was made of that issue."
She said the new council would have to face some challenges in the year ahead, but she was proud of what she had achieved.
"It's hard to be a change-maker, but it's very easy to sit there and complain about everything and do nothing.
"One of their big challenges will be the rating review that's set for this year. Rates and rating systems were always one of the hardest decisions we had to make on council."
She said she was particularly proud of her work on the shared library and health hub project, working with EECA to insulate local homes, the Sustainable Living portfolio, the new District Plan, and making Resource Management Act decisions on projects such as the Redwood Centre and Pukehangi Rd subdivision - and the fact she left a council with reduced debt and more cash in hand.
One thing she is totally sure of is she won't be running for council again.
"I'm happy, it's just one chapter in my life closing and I have no plans to stand again."
Janet Wepa's roles include:
- Chairwoman of the Rotorua Lakes Council Operations and Monitoring Committee
- Rotorua Lakes Council Sustainable Living portfolio leader
- Resource Management Act commissioner
- Regional council Air Quality Working Group member
- Regional council Geothermal Working Group member
- Regional council Transport sub-committee member
* This is not a full list of her roles