By Don Farmer
Don.farmer@age.co.nz
A milestone meeting of Masterton District Council broke new ground yesterday when two iwi representatives took their place at the council table.
Mihirangi Hollings and Ra Smith were welcomed to a full meeting of the council three months after councillors voted in favour of appointing representatives of both Rangitane o Wairarapa and Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.
Both will have full speaking and voting rights when attending Policy and Finance and Audit and Risk committee meetings, but will be restricted to speaking rights only at full council meetings.
The two were officially welcomed at a ceremony held at the Masterton Club where councillors are meeting now that the Municipal Building is out of bounds as an earthquake risk.
Kaumatua Mike Kawana and PJ Devonshire spoke in Maori to the gathering, waiata was sung and at the end of the proceedings Mr Kawana lead a karakia that had its roots back to the time when Masterton’s founders Retimana Te Korou and Joseph Masters first met.
Mayor Lyn Patterson said the occasion was a “very proud day for me”.
She said she was also proud of her councillors who had voted back in May to “take a step forward into the future”.
“We have never been in this space before but we begin this journey together,” she said.
Ms Hollings, who is the Rangitane appointee, answered for the representatives saying as a person who had been born in Masterton it was “a real honour to be here”.
She thanked her iwi for endorsing her and said she was passionate about the Masterton community.
She and Mr Smith would be looking forward to the challenge although it was a “bit nerve racking,” Ms Hollings said.
Ms Hollings has a BCA degree in management and public policy, a diploma in business studies and a level 4 certificate in Te Reo Maori.
She has mostly worked in central government, for the last eight years for the Ministry of Education in senior advisory positions.
Her volunteer work includes being a trustee on the Wairarapa Moana Board and on the Te-Kura-a-Rangi Trust.
Mr Smith has a BA degree in English and a Diploma in Teaching.
He is the environment manager for Kahungunu ki Wairarapa and his volunteer roles include being chairman of Hurunui-o-Rangi Marae board of trustees and chairman of directors for Te Hauora Runanga o Wairarapa.
He represents iwi in several capacities including a Whaitua regulatory committee.
Rangitane chairwoman Tina Te Tau-Brightwell said both iwi were excited to have Ms Hollings and Mr Smith confirmed as appointments to council.
She said it was heartening to know both “are very active within hapori Maori and contribute to the general community”.
“We are very confident Mihirangi and Ra join the council with a great sense of passion and drive to a high standard.”