Hastings District Council has farewelled five councillors at its last full council meeting ahead of the close of the voting period for this year’s local government election.
The five departing councillors (pictured) – Henare O’Keefe, Bayden Barber, Geraldine Travers, Peleti Oli and Sophie Siers – are not seeking re-election for the next council term.
Hastings Mayor, Sandra Hazlehurst said all had made a huge contribution to the council and Hastings as a whole during their time.
“My thanks go to all who have served the council and community over the past three years, including our councillors, staff, Rural Community Board, Heretaunga Takato Noa Māori standing committee, and our iwi and government partners.
“We have achieved a lot in what’s been an exciting time for Heretaunga Hastings.”
First elected in 2007, Mr O’Keefe is the longest-standing of the five councillors being farewelled.
“Henare’s passion and dedication has significantly enhanced the wellbeing of his beloved Flaxmere whānau… He has championed the ‘It’s Flaxmere’s Time’ project, bringing new houses, a new supermarket and a fabulous new skate park to Flaxmere,” the Mayor said.
“As Hastings ambassador he has hosted many civic and citizenship events in his true all embracing, full of fun, and ever-loving style.”
Recently appointed Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Inc chair, Bayden Barber is standing down after six years on council.
Mrs Hazlehurst said he had made a strong contribution and held key leadership roles for council’s priority projects, including safe drinking water, homes for our people and district growth management.
“Bayden’s drive to include strong Māori representation across council and the community has resulted in Hastings/Heretaunga’s first Māori ward, Takitimu, and he has passionately contributed to council’s cultural awareness of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and its growing inclusion of te reo Māori throughout the organisation.”
Geraldine Travers has also served six years, and demonstrated a strong advocacy for community projects and plans, as well as contributing to preserving the district’s history, Mrs Hazlehurst said.
“Her committee leadership and governance across council’s services, projects and programmes has been invaluable. She has advocated passionately for the needs and aspirations of a Mahora Community Plan and led the development of council’s Multicultural Strategy – her dedicated service is appreciated.”
Elected in 2019, Flaxmere councillor Peleti Oli was a true community champion, particularly in being a voice for the Pasifika community, Mrs Hazlehurst said.
“As council’s first Pasifika Samoan councillor, Peleti has strengthened the relationship between our Pasifika community and council by introducing new Pasifika and multicultural celebrations to the council chamber.
“He’s also championed ‘It’s Fabulous Flaxmere’s Time’ and shown his love for his people through many community events including the first Fia Fia Day, and at times giving free haircuts to raise money for his community. We are grateful for the difference he’s made.”
Sophie Siers is leaving after one term, to run for election on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.
Mrs Hazlehurst acknowledged her contribution to improving the district’s environmental health through the Eco Districts committee, and strong support for community initiatives.
“Sophie has led Kahuranaki’s aspirational community plans and championed the Waimārama Pou and Gateway project. She’s a committed conserver and protector of our natural resources and has also been a valued member of the Rural Community Board,” the Mayor said.
Voting for the next triennium closes on October 8.