New Whangarei mayor gains Māori support

By Dean Nathan
  • Northland

The winds of change were in Northland today with the swearing in of Whangarei's new mayor Sheryl Mai and her deputy Sharon Morgan.

Whangarei hapū anticipate that under their leadership, the 'redneck' label that has long been associated with the council and its dealings with Māori, will be wiped out.

Seven women have now taken up half the seats on the district council with Sheryl Mai as mayor.

Rihari Shepherd (Te Kahu o Torongare) told Te Kāea, “Our mayor is a strong woman.  

She came to us with her wish to have a Māori presence at her swearing in.  So the respective tribes of Whangarei agreed and we're here today to support her.”

Thoughts remain upbeat despite the disappointment that not one Māori has a seat on the council.

Labour MP Shane Jones was in attendance, and said, "With the high percentage of women on council perhaps their motherly instinct will come together with the custodial role of local Māori, which could bring prosperity to Whangarei."

The 'redneck' label has long been associated with this council and its dealings with Māori.

But the influx of women onto council is seen as a possible remedy to improving the relationship.