Moments before signing the oath, councillor-elect for Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Iti told the audience he had so much faith he and fellow councillors could be the change people wanted to see.
Iti, alongside 13 others, was among those at Mānuka Tutahi Marae in Whakatāne to be sworn in as councillors elect of Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana today. After thanking people who had contributed to his campaign and those who had supported him, Iti went on to tell the audience the reason behind his decision to stand in the election.
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"I really do believe we can innovate our culture, our economy and our politics so we can tread lighter on Papatūānuku [the land]," Iti said.
"So we can truly be protective of this land we are blessed to be kaitiaki of.
"These are the values I know we hold as tangata whenua and as people who share the space with us. I think it is incredibly important that in these roles we take the time to acknowledge these things."
Iti, who is the son of Māori activist Tame Iti, said he was "so happy" the kura of Ruatoki had come to the swearing-in ceremony to see how "civics" work.
"We must engage, we must participate."
Toi said he was also happy to see 1000 more people voting in the regional council space than there had been at the last election.
"I do not take credit for this, it was because a whole lot of Māori candidates stood. I am happy we are on this trend and I want to spend the next three years engaging with our community, bringing to the table Murupara, Whangaparoa, Waiohau, Te Kaha, Omaio, Minginui, Kawerau, Whakatāne, Te Teko and Ruatahuna – I could go on.
"All of our maunga, all of our awa, that's what we're here for. It is important we look after our taonga for our future generations, that's what we're here for."
Also being sworn in for the first time was Tauranga's Stacey Rose, 20, who was elected unopposed to represent Tauranga on the regional council.
Rose thanked his whānau, hapū and iwi for the guidance they had given him.
"Of course, at my age, it's quite rare to get someone sworn into council. But I'm really excited to represent the rangatahi and also everybody else in our beautiful region."
Following the formalities at the Mānuka Tutahi, the council meeting was adjourned and then reconvened in the Toi Moana Council Chambers - Mataatua Room to continue the business of council, including the appointment of the chairperson and deputy chair.
Doug Leeder was re-elected unopposed as chairman while Jane Nees was re-elected unopposed as deputy.
Norm Bruning (Western Bay of Plenty General), Bill Clark (Eastern Bay), Stuart Crosby (Tauranga General), Toi Iti (Kōhī Māori), Douglas Leeder (Eastern Bay), David Love (Tauranga General), Matemoana McDonald (Mauao Māori), Jane Nees (Western Bay of Plenty General), Stacey Rose (Tauranga General), Paula Thompson (Tauranga General), Lyall Thurston (Rotorua General), Andrew Von Dadelzen (Tauranga General), Te Taru White (Ōkurei Māori), Kevin Winters (Rotorua General).