Regional | Tania Tapsell

'Greatest Honour' - Tapsell on Mayoralty

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell. Photo / Mead Norton / Rotorua Daily Post via LDR

By Felix Desmarais, Local Democracy Reporter

Tania Tapsell has been officially sworn in as Rotorua's mayor, a role she says is the "greatest honour" of her life.

Tapsell won the mayoralty on 8 October, with final results giving her a margin over runner-up Ben Sandford of almost 3300 votes.

At Rotorua Lakes Council's inaugural meeting for the new term on Friday, Tapsell and all new elected members swore oaths to their roles and adopted their seats at the council table for the first time this triennium.

In her inaugural mayoral address, Tapsell said her vision was "a better Rotorua for all" where everyone could be proud to call Rotorua home.

"We have a mission to ensure that the rest of the country knows we are a great place to live and we are a great place to visit," Tapsell said.

"But there is much work to do, and we can only achieve this bright future by working together," she said.

"This is the greatest honour of my life."

It was a good thing seven of the 10 councillors had been elected for the first time, she said.

"While the challenges ahead do remain significant, this new council before you will bring a fresh perspective and change that our residents wanted.

"Over these next three years, we will tackle significant issues, like the emergency housing crisis, improving community safety and investing in critical infrastructure.

"I will lead a transparent and a fair council that listens to our community and takes action on our issues."

The community had never faced "so much uncertainty", Tapsell said.

"We're socially, economically and environmentally on a tipping point."

She asked the elected members to reflect on the "great privilege and power" they had been given "to make a positive change and bring hope to our people".

"Leadership comes with obligations and responsibility. We are blessed to have been given such an important role by the people of Rotorua."

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell, centre, with rural ward councillor Karen Barker, left, and deputy mayor Sandra Kai Fong. Photo / Mead Norton / Rotorua Daily Post via LDR

She said she expected all elected members to "show up, to work hard and to demonstrate the respect and integrity that a position like this deserves".

"Our job is to serve the community and to listen to the people who put us here."

Tapsell also acknowledged the council's "hardworking staff" in implementing the directions and vision of the council.

In attendance was Tapsell's husband Kanin Clancy, along with her mother, father, sister, and grandmother.

Unsuccessful mayoral candidates Raj Kumar and Rania Sears also attended, as did former mayor Grahame Hall.

Six elected members opted to read their oath in te reo Māori - Lani Kereopa, Rawiri Waru, Nick Chater, Stephanie George and Ben Hollier - and Don Paterson read his in te reo as well as English.

A waiata arose to mark the swearing in of Trevor Maxwell, who begins his record-setting 17th term. The previous longest-serving councillor in New Zealand was Greymouth District Council's Doug Truman with 16 terms.

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell, left, with Rotorua Lakes Council chief executive Geoff Williams. Photo / Mead Norton / Rotorua Daily Post via LDR

The meeting also confirmed - by unanimous vote - the declaration of Sandra Kai Fong as deputy mayor. The declaration was met with applause by many in the full public gallery.

Tapsell said over the last term it became clear to her she and Kai Fong shared "the same values of hard work, transparency, better value for money and relentless passion to ensuring the best outcomes for the people of Rotorua".

"Sandra has demonstrated that she has the values and trustworthiness to be a great and humble leader for Rotorua."

Tapsell had also made her unique mark on the mayoralty - donning the smaller mayoress' chains rather than the bigger, heavier mayor's chains.

No apologies were noted for the meeting by Rotorua Rural Board members Colin Guyton and Anker Hansen did not attend.

Rotorua Lakes Council governance lead Rick Dunn said another inaugural meeting would be required to swear those members in, and would have to follow the same procedure as the first, including being publicly notified.

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Local Democracy Reporting