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Being mum the top job

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

Rebecca Vergunst, the region’s youngest councillor seems to be able to do it all.

With a new addition to the family, 2-month-old Grace, Mrs Vergunst is juggling her time to care for two young daughters while keeping up with all things Carterton.

The 23-year-old was recently announced as a finalist for the Charles Rooking Carter Awards – a nod to her outstanding leadership and work with youth.

“I was quite surprised,” she said.  “It’s nice to be recognised.”

The Carterton District Councillor said it was quite easy as a mother to not feel valued.

“I’d like to encourage mothers that their roles in the community are really valuable . . . even if it’s just going to playcentre and being a leader there.

“Mother and fathers have such an important role.”

They had such a big say in how their kids turned out, which had a big impact on society, she said.

“You don’t have to be on council to be a leader.”

For Mrs Vergunst, being a mum is the top priority in her life right now.

“The little ones are very attached to their mother at this time of life,” she said.

But she thinks her experience as a mother is helping add another perspective to council debate.

It was something she drew upon when eyeing up the possible playground equipment for Bird Park.

“It’s important having a parent on council,” she said.

There were other parents on councils, but because she was still running around after two-year-old daughter, Malia, Mrs Vergunst said she “really understood” where parents with young children were coming from.

“You’re right in the thick of it.”

A part of her drive to make thing happen comes from wanting Carterton to be a great place to for people to raise families.

And she said she would keep trying to make communication with council as easy, and simple, as possible for people.

Husband Josh Vergunst said his wife was one of many leaders doing important things in the community, the spotlight may be on her now, but there were lots of “quiet leaders in the community” who should also feel proud of what they do.


CDC awards nominees


EnZed PC Services Voluntary Community Services Award

This award is open to any person or organisation who has carried out meritorious voluntary community service. Deserving voluntary services can fall into one or more of the following areas: social & community, services to sport and recreation, arts and cultural.

Jenny Tosswill (finalist)

Maria Tankersley (finalist)

Carterton Community Courthouse Trust – Joseph Gillard and Angela Reynolds (finalist)

Elaine Renall (finalist)

Boomerang Bags

Ivan Hunt


Don Bell

Resilient Carterton

Allflex – Achievers Award

For an individual or organisation who has excelled in the sporting, cultural or academic field.

Samantha Duthie (finalist)

Anaru Te Rangi (finalist)

Heidi Holbrook (finalist)

Dalefield Hockey (finalist)

More FM – Boosting Business Award

To recognise an individual or business/organisation that leads the Carterton community showing growth, innovation, sustainability and creativity, and who encourages and celebrates business excellence.

Carterton Osteopathy – Jane Burns (finalist)

Braiden International – John Braiden (finalist)

Mende Biotech – Doug Mende (finalist)

My Trucking – Sam and Sara Orsborn (finalist)

Serene Beauty Therapy – Ana Edwards

Cornucopia – Tara Apperley

Clareville Fresh Milk – David and Renee Smith

Gain Momentum – Young Leader Award

To recognise a young person (under 25 years) who has demonstrated outstanding leadership.

Dallas Te Rangi (finalist)

Rebecca Vergunst (finalist)

Justin Anderson (finalist)

Carterton New World – Courage and Commitment Award

To recognise the courage and commitment of an individual or organisation eg. fire service, Search and Rescue (SAR) or a local citizen that has faced a significant personal challenge.

Kerry McGhie (finalist)

Tracy Yeats (finalist)

Tracy Kenavan (finalist)

Carterton District Council – Charles Rooking Carter Civic Award

This elite award recognises an individual for their outstanding and innovative service to others in the community over a significant period.

Ann and Murray Neilsen (finalist)

Lou Cook (finalist)

Bill Knowles (finalist)

Elaine Brazendale (finalist)

Helen Dew

Jill Greathead



Winners will be named on June10 at a function at Carterton Events Centre.

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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