Saturday, July 13, 2024
7.3 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

MP becomes the man in the van

Lifelong resident of Eketahuna Margaret Parsons attended the mobile office launch. PHOTOS/TOM TAYLOR

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty has launched his new mobile office in Eketahuna, paving the way for others in Parliament to follow suit.

McAnulty chose to launch the office, a refurbished campervan, in his family’s hometown.

“The whole point of this is to come into small towns and be accessible – to bring me to them rather than expecting them to come to me – and I thought there was no place better to do it than the old family haunt of Eketahuna.”

McAnulty had been offered a second office in either Waipukurau or Dannevirke in addition to his Masterton office.

“That doesn’t really help people in Featherston or Martinborough; it doesn’t help people in Eketahuna or Pahiatua … for me, this is a much better use of public resources.”

McAnulty said it took seven months to convince the Parliamentary Service to approve the campervan.

Additional features on the mobile office included a security screen and a slam-lock door into the cockpit.

McAnulty would meet constituents in the ‘lounge area’ at the rear of the campervan, while a staff member remained on the other side of a barrier.

Since getting the mobile office signed off, McAnulty said he had received a lot of interest from MPs for other geographically large electorates.

Signwriter Tony Kerr from Masterton business Select Signs made the wrap for the campervan, which featured place names from across McAnulty’s Wairarapa electorate.

Those names included New Zealand’s longest place name: “Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu”, which translates to

“The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘Landeater’, played his flute to his loved one”.

McAnulty said locals simply referred to it as “Longest-place-name”.

Longstanding Eketahuna resident Margaret Parsons cut the ribbon to mark the office’s official opening.

Parsons had lived in Eketahuna for more than 80 years and knew McAnulty through his aunties and grandparents.

“Being a small community, everybody knew everybody else – we don’t today,” Parsons said.

However, she said Eketahuna still had a community feel to it, with regular gatherings for new residents.

Cafe worker Hannah, who did not want her last name printed, popped across the road to hand McAnulty a letter with questions for him.

“He comes in for his coffee, but it’s just me making coffee and sending him on his way,” she said.

“You can’t ask questions in that time because you’ve got other customers coming in. So, this is pretty handy.”

Before Christmas, McAnulty planned to visit each main town in his electorate several times and most small towns at least once.

He would move out into more rural settlements, such as Gladstone and Lake Ferry, in the New Year.

Three Waters confrontation at mobile office
Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty’s mobile office in Eketahuna.

While many residents were happy for a chinwag and a cup of tea, others took the opportunity to express their anger at the Government’s decision to mandate the Three Waters reforms.

Eketahuna resident Steen McGhie heard that McAnulty’s mobile office was in town and showed up to voice his anger.

“As soon as I heard he was there, I headed down,” McGhie said.

However, he felt that the conversation went nowhere.

“He just seemed to gloss over the fact that they’ve been lying to us about consulting with councils.”

McGhie was the deputy chairman of the Eketahuna Community Board but said he was not speaking on behalf of the board or Tararua District Council.

However, Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis also said in her mayoral column in Tuesday’s [November 2] Times-Age that she was disappointed that central government had mandated the reform.

McGhie said he would like the government to return to the consultation process before spending too much money on the reforms.

“The more time that goes on, the harder it is to reverse this.”

McAnulty said he was not worried by the confrontation.

“I want people to come up and tell me what they think. That’s why I’m doing this … but at the same time, if that gentleman didn’t come up, he wouldn’t have known what I’m doing and what my focus is.”

McAnulty said he had also heard some support for the reforms. “It’s not been all opposition,” he said.

“There have been people that recognise that the current system is not sustainable.”

However, he said he had also passed on concerns about the process to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

“As a local MP, I’ve got one choice, and that is to make this work as best as it possibly can.”

McAnulty said he was surprised by the timing of the announcement.

“I didn’t expect it to be announced. That’s the way it played out, and I’d committed to each council that I would meet with them, hear their concerns, and relay them back.”

However, he had only had the chance to meet with three of the five councils in his electorate before the announcement. He had told the three councils that they would have a chance to consult with their communities.

“When I said that, it was the truth, because that’s what I was told.”

However, McAnulty said a working group had not yet decided on the governance structure of the four water service entities that would be created in the reforms.

“I’ll be going to each council, in the first instance, and asking them to tell me what changes can be made to the governance structure so that it will work for them.

“Everything that they say, I’ll be writing to the minister and putting my name to it – this is what my community thinks.”

Previous article
Next article

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
overcast clouds
7.3 ° C
7.3 °
7.3 °
96 %
100 %
7 °
11 °
9 °
12 °
12 °