Well, it's been an interesting two weeks for Rotorua particularly for the council and by association as partners, Te Tatau o Te Arawa.

Politics is an unforgiving beast where one moment there is a high of winning significant awards at the Local Government NZ annual conference and the reality check and lows of homelessness and social deprivation.

Political posturing sometimes masquerading as freedom of speech and democracy, adds further fuel to the fire.

That's politics and as they say "if it's too hot in the kitchen, get out!"


So I admire those who decide to take on these political roles where often a "thank you" is hard to get and "damn you" seems inevitable.

Getting back to the awards, I was there representing Te Tatau o Te Arawa alongside Gina Mohi who, deservedly, was elected onto the Maruata Māori Elected Members Council – a fantastic achievement and recognition of our people's desire to seek greater representation on local Councils.

In this context, it was a privilege notwithstanding the views of some back home, to see Rotorua honoured with several awards including the supreme award and the special acknowledgement of Trevor Maxwell's 41 years of service to Local Government.

Nga mihi nui kia koe Trevor!

This is the third year in a row that Rotorua has taken out the supreme award and when you consider that there are about 80 local and regional councils involved with more than 70 award applications submitted, the result achieved was outstanding.

So how is this happening?

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The answer, in part, was manifested by the composition of our representation.

When our group of eight went on stage to receive the awards, five were Māori of whom three were elected councillors and two represented the Te Tatau partnership.

The mayor, deputy mayor and chief executive crowned what was a visible representation of a partnership in action.

Contrast this with the 500 other participants in the room where "spotting the Māori" was a challenge.

In my view, the short answer is a partnership that engages Māori in decision making processes at the outset will reap the downstream rewards from co-investment in the well-being of our community.

In saying this, we recognise that the partnership is a work in progress and we have many challenges ahead of us.

However, I would argue we are on the right track and that these awards were well deserved.

I am an optimist by nature and while we have many issues back home to address, the only way forward is together - "Tatau, Tatau".

That said, if you personally want to make a difference in what I referenced previously as an "unforgiving beast" then remember elections for Te Arawa Lakes Trust are this year with Rotorua Lakes Council and Te Tatau o Te Arawa elections next year.

Kia kaha!

Te Taru is from Te Arawa, Tainui and Ngāti Porou descent and is the chairman of Te Tatau o Te Arawa, Rotorua Lakes Council partnership. His website is http://tetaruwhite.com.