Council, Boards Sworn In

By Roger Childs

 Ross ChurchAs for the future, I give you three words: airport, expressway amalgamation. All of these are positive if we harness the energy we have… New Mayor, Ross Church

Kapiti’s new Church Council

This is a church council with a difference and whether it will be all things bright and beautiful remains to be seen.

Certainly the declarations made by the new councillors and community board members at Tuesday night’s inaugural meeting, mentioned keeping the faith and many had campaigned with a zeal bordering on the religious.

An appropriate Maori dimension

Citizens In keeping with tradition, members of local iwi provided the powhiri, karanga and whaikorero at the start and a karakia at the end. This Maori component was passionate, enthusiastic and dignified, something that was warmly acknowledged by the new mayor.

The charismatic and lively Council Kaumatua, Don Te Maipi, coordinated the contribution of the tangata whenua with his usual energy and good humour.

His comment that ‘I am a short man and I will make my speech short’ was appreciated by the more than 200 family members, council staff, former office holders and well wishers who attended the Southwards ceremony.

A declaration with meaning

 The Mayor, 10 Council Members and 12 Community Board Representatives all made the same declaration.

I (Jo Bloggs) declare that I will faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, execute and perform in the best interests of the Kapiti Coast District, the powers, authorities and duties vested in, or imposed upon me, as a member of the Kapiti Coast  District Council by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002, The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act.  

 Hopefully all our elected local politicians take this declaration to heart, and especially key words such as

  • faithfully = being honest, reliable and dependable
  • impartially = without favour for particular people, interests or groups
  • judgement = carefully weighing up decisions
  • best interests =  of all citizens and groups in the district.

Bribery and corruption; don’t go there!

 DoughertyChief Executive Pat Dougherty, outlined the statutory requirements of being in office in local government and much of what he said related to the pitfalls and penalties for getting involved in

  • bribery
  • corruption
  • favouritism
  • conflicts of interest such as a pecuniary interest.

 However he also spelled out the need to advise the public of forthcoming council meetings and providing agendas, as well as the conditions for going in camera.

The exclusion of the public from some council discussions in recent years has attracted plenty of criticism and the new mayor and a number of councillors stressed in their campaigning, that there will be more open government.

The proof will unfold in the coming months. Cynically one is reminded of the advice of professional civil servant Sir Humphrey to his cabinet boss in ‘Yes Minister’: ‘First Minister, there is open, and then there is government!

 An impressive speech from the new mayor

 In his first official address, the mayor spoke well. This was after a rather stage-managed effort at open democracy, when Mike Cardiff was a little too quickly ‘elected’ as deputy mayor. Then Ross Church spoke to the audience and touched on a wide range of matters, including:

  • Church family— saying that three and a half years ago he was quite happily running his classic cars business with no interest in running for office.
  • — expressing his confidence in the elected council and acknowledging that they are 10 individuals with a variety of views and experience…’ I think you are well represented.’
  • — Identifying the three big issues in the future: airport, expressway and amalgamation.
  • — Emphasizing that, ‘we must never get bogged down in politicking.’
  • — Praising the achievements of Jenny Rowan in her two terms as mayor and the significant roles played by former councillors Lester, Booth, Ellis and Wooding over the last three years
  • Acknowledging the support he has received from his partner and mother (photo left).

In his closing remarks, he added: ‘I am bullish and excited about the future of Kapiti.’

 However, one important matter he failed to mention was the role of the community boards. The 12 elected board members were seated alongside him and perhaps wondered whether they would have any significant part to play in the future progress of the four areas they represent.

In the past, there has been some frustration at community board level as to whether their deliberations and suggestions were ever taken seriously.

Formalities over: On with the real work of making further progress

 Ross Church’s final act at this inaugural meeting of the new council was to announce that the next meeting will be on Thursday 7 November at 10.00am in the Council Chambers.

The citizens of the Kapiti Coast will be watching with interest how the new representatives will build on the considerable progress made by the last two councils.

The new KCDC inherits a district that has been very well set up to meet the challenges of the future.