Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson and Greater Wellington Regional Council Wairarapa representative Adrienne Staples. PHOTO/FILE
As local body elections approach, just one candidate from Wairarapa has thrown her hat in the ring for Greater Wellington Regional Council.
GWRC’s deputy chair and Wairarapa representative Adrienne Staples is set to stand for a third term.
Staples was not new to Wairarapa politics, having spent four terms as mayor of South Wairarapa and then two terms on GWRC, all from her start in politics on the Featherston Community Board.
She said she had never intended to get into politics, but after shifting from a large farm on the Pahiatua Track to a smaller farm in Featherston, she had some extra time on her hands.
Staples said her neighbour encouraged her to stand for the Featherston Community Board.
It was with the tragic murder of six-year-old Featherston girl Coral Burrows in September 2003 that Staples was pushed into the public eye.
“Featherston was in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, and I was the chair of the community board. I had to step up and front the media and try and organise a community that was reeling.”
Not long after, South Wairarapa’s mayor John Reid retired and supported Staples to run for the role.
After 12 years as mayor, Staples decided to step down from the job she described as “24/7”.
She thought her career in politics had ended, but a councillor told her she would be “good on the regional council”, so she stood for the position.
Now, Staples was running for what could be her third term at GWRC.
“I believe we need someone with experience that knows how to deal with the system. That’s where I believe my strong point is.
“The other thing with the regional council is it’s predominantly urban; I’m the only rural person at the table.”
Staples said there was a lot of movement in local government, including changes to the Resource Management Act, Three Waters, and a Future of Local Government report due to be made public soon.
She said it was vital that someone was able to pass a Wairarapa lens over regional decision-making and thought there should be more than one Wairarapa councillor at the GWRC table.
Staples said there had only been one rural councillor before her, Councillor Grey from Pauatahanui [a town in Porirua], in the early days of GWRC.
One of Staples’ biggest frustrations with local government was dealing with bureaucracy that could “turn you into knots”.
“Sometimes it feels like you’re shovelling rocks uphill to get down and get things changed.”
Staples said the issue was never with the council’s staff members but the “process that seems to be like a giant bog and our gumboots are stuck in it”.
However, she felt proud of some of her successes, including her involvement with the Waiohine River Plan.
“When I was first elected, the regional council was unpopular in Greytown because of the make-up of the proposed Waiohine River Plan.
“We had disgruntled residents … It took five years of hard work with a group of very dedicated residents and our own staff to come up with a plan that was genuinely community-led.”
- Nominations for GWRC open on Friday, July 15 and close on Friday, August 12.
- Local government election day is Saturday, October 8.