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Former National MP throws hat in mayoralty race

Masterton mayoral candidate Jo Hayes. PHOTO/PETE NIKOLAISON

Former National MP Jo Hayes has her mind set on Masterton’s mayoralty.

After serving as a list MP from 2014 – 2020 and then taking her skills to serve as the general manager of Rangitane Tu Mai Ra Trust Board, Hayes is ready for a new challenge – reinvigorating Masterton.

Hayes, who was born in Eketahuna, is relatively new to Masterton, but her 91-year-old mum is a long-time resident.

Hayes brings to the table her experience in health and education and a sheep and beef farming background.

“What Masterton needs is someone like me who can take ideas a bit further; a person who can turn these into reality while not losing the community along the way; a progressive leader,” she said.

“In my experience with governance, I’ve learned that you need diversity around the board table who are unafraid to make the hard decisions even if that means you’ve got to have member churn.

“If not, the stakeholders – ratepayers – will just keep getting the same stuff, and we will still be here in another three years talking about it.”

She said the controversial civic facility issue was an example of why “churn” and fresh faces were needed.

“The civic centre could be a circular argument for forever and a day, and it needs to be resolved.

“We need something that is not going to cost an arm and a leg to use by our community.

“Something that becomes a taonga for future generations and helps to make this place a destination.

“Make a decision, and push forward and get it done so the community can enjoy the asset.”

She said the civic facility should have the capacity to bring in nationally touring concerts and still not compete with the Carterton or Martinborough’s venues.

“It needs to function as a place that brings people in from out of town and also caters to local audiences.

“There are so many opportunities to put Masterton on the map, and a civic centre would do that.

Hayes said she was a calculated risk-taker and opportunist.

“Some people think being an opportunist is a bad thing, but seizing opportunities, making opportunities – that’s key to the way we grow in the future.”

She said she was unafraid of accountability and was outcomes-focused.

“I’m also known to push the envelope and push people hard. That’s only because I think we’re always better than what we are.”

Her vision for Masterton was to make it “the jewel of the southern East Coast”.

“As a council, we need to attract people and their skills to the district, and their money.

“We need people to invest here, visit here, become ratepayers; and to do that, we need to answer the question: what is the point of difference of Masterton?”

She said the council needed to facilitate and encourage more large-scale events in Masterton and gave kudos to the organisers of Golden Shears.

“But we need to go beyond that. Why can’t Masterton host international shearing competitions?”.

“We need to know what is going to pop here.

“You want to attract people? Winter is a difficult time for Masterton – let’s have Mardi Gras, monthly festivals, let’s celebrate Chinese New Year or Diwali; after all, our community’s ethnic population is growing.”

Hayes was also passionate about youth and housing and said iwi would have an important role in the future of Masterton and Wairarapa.

The added job of council was to act as a connector and facilitator where it could to deliver outcomes, she said.

True to her National Party past, Hayes was critical of the government’s Three Water and Local government reforms and believed councils should retain sole ownership of their assets or be compensated to the value of the assets.

Candidate nominations for local government close on August 12. Voting opens on September 16 and closes on October 8.

Final results will be announced on October 14. — NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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