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The pride of Eketahuna

By Gerald Ford

[email protected]

From Eketahuna to Woodville to Auckland, new Tararua Mayor Tracey Collis had a busy first day yesterday.

Collis, who is from Eketahuna, was due to meet news media in Woodville and then head to Auckland to finish a Fonterra governance programme – a leadership course for people in the dairy industry.

“I’m the only politician in the programme,” Mrs Collis said.

“One of the things I admire in the agricultural industry is that … they actively grow their own leaders.”

She suggested town leaders could also be looking to mentor the next generation.

Mrs Collis collected 2722 votes after 98 per cent had been counted – almost 1000 votes ahead of her nearest rival Allan Benbow at 1745.

Ernie Christison was third in the vote count with 748, while Collis’ southern ward rival Shirley Hull took 722 votes, and Kay McKenzie 189.

Collis was surprised by the margin, especially since she is from the least populous of the Tararua towns, which include Dannevirke, Woodville and Pahiatua.

There was no election for southern ward candidates, as only four people stood, including Mrs Collis herself, Shirley Hull, Peter Johns and Andy Thompson.

With Mrs Collis being elevated to the mayoralty, a by-election will now be needed to fill the vacant southern ward position.

There was no election for the Eketahuna Community Board either – with the four positions automatically filled by the four candidates Charlie Death, Di Eagle, Sharon Shannon and Pauline Wilson.

Mrs Collis said Tararua covered a large area and as mayor “it is important to know the whole district”.

She said her campaign technique was “every town, every day”, and she was able to cover each town as she drove from her home in Eketahuna to Dannevirke,

“I visited Pongaroa and Akitio [too]. It’s been really good, and has given me a wide understanding.”

Mrs Collis said that “throughout the campaign, roads came up” as an issue, as they were important for a large district with a small rating base.

Issues included the towns’ water supplies and wastewater, with Pahiatua having a recent E.Coli scare where residents had needed to boil their water.

Wastewater treatment for Eketahuna, Pahiatua and Woodville were “all on the agenda”, Mrs Collis said, and she would “very much like to see the completion of Dannevirke’s [sewerage treatment] ponds.”

“We need to have the public’s confidence in our water.”

Mrs Collis said she had a “passion for people”, and likes “connecting with people”.

“You never know where you’ll get that next amazing person with an idea.

“Sometimes people think mayors can solve problems. A mayor is a great connector. Actually, communities solve their own issues, because they are the best informed.”

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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