New Far North District mayor Moko Tepania has identified the major issues facing his council on his first official day in the job.
Talking to teaomāori.news today, he says roading and homelessness are what keeps him up at night, and has targeted those as key priorities, and is thankful he will have a number of Māori councillors around the table.
"Kua waimaria ahau i ēnei pokowhiwhi nui ōku i te nui o ngā raruraru e pā mai ana ki taku rohe.
(I'm lucky I've been blessed with broad shoulders to carry the many issues affecting my district)
"Ko ngā rori rorirori o te kainga - kāore anō kia tika mai ngā mea o te kaunihera, ngā mea o te kāwanatanga anō hoki. Nō reira he pīki mahi kei mua i te aroaro e tika kē atu ai te honohono o ngā tāone o te Tai Tokerau.
(The crazy roads up here – the ones managed by the council, and those managed by the government, haven't been maintained. So that's a big issue we face to reconnect all the communities up here in the Far North.)
"Ko te kaingakoretanga he tino patu i a tātou engari ko tētahi o ngā raruraru o te kaunihera nā te kaunihera kē te hē e tārewa ana te taha pūnaha e oti ai ngā whare, me whakatika, me whakamāmā taua huarahi. Ka toru ko te pōharatanga.
(Secondly, homelessness is really affecting us up here, and one of the biggest problems is that the council itself is to blame having not yet implemented its system to allow homes to be built. So we have to get that sorted and make that easier. Thirdly, poverty is an issue.)
"E tika ana te kōrero, ēhara ngā pūkoro o Te Tai Tokerau i ngā pūkoro hohonu, nō reira me pēhea t kaunihera e āwhina atu kia whai kāinga te tangata, kia whai mahi te tangata kia mahi ai ia kia whai pūtea kia whāngai ia i te whānau.
(It is well known that we up here don't have the deepest pockets, so how can the council best help our people find homes, employment and means to provide for their families?)
Tepania says he is excited for what's to come, despite the challenges, as he and his council look to improve the district.
Last week a report from RNZ had two kids eating out of a rubbish bag in Kaitāia, which saddened Tepania who says that is something to be expected in a third-world country.
"He nui ngā mahi me mahi e tēnei kaunihera ko te mea matua ko te mahitahi ki ngā iwi, hāpu, ki ngā tari kāwanatanga wērā atu o ngā momo huinga a-kaunihera, a-kāwanatanga e tika kē atu ai ēnei āhuaranga. I te mea kua roa ēnei, ia rima tau, tekau tau ka kitea atu nei he aha te hua? E hia miriona tāra e whakapau ana, kāore anō kia tikahia.
(This council has a lot to work on, and the important thing is we need to work with iwi, hapū, government agencies and NGOs to address them. I mean these aren't new issues, they get talked about every five or 10 years but what has come of it? Many millions of dollars have been spent but nothing has improved.)
"Ko tāku tohutohu ki te kāwanatanga ki a tae a-tinana mai ki te kainga, mā ngā huarahi tonu, kaua mā te wakatopatopa, kaua mā te ēropereina ki te noho ki te mata o te whenua, kātahi pea ka kite i ngā raruraru me pēhea anō hoki e whakatika."
(My challenge to the government is to come to the north, not by helicopter or plane, but on these terrible roads and actually get a real understanding of these issues. Maybe then they will truly appreciate what we have to put up with and maybe then they look for solutions.)