• IronMāori founder Heather Te Au-Skipworth to contest by-election for vacant Hastings District Council seat

IronMāori founder Heather Te Au-Skipworth to contest by-election for vacant Hastings District Council seat

IronMāori founder and former Te Pāti Māori candidate Heather Te Au-Skipworth has thrown her hat in the ring for the recently vacated- Takitimu Māori Ward seat on the Hastings District Council.

The seat became available yesterday when the Council announced that incumbent councillor Renata Nepe has resigned, saying he now has full-time employment that would impact on his council responsibilities.

This follows on from Heretaunga Ward councillor Ann Redstone stepping down earlier this month after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.

This means that two by-elections will need to be held. Hawke’s Bay App understands that a third councillor, Hastings-Havelock North Ward representative Eileen Lawson has been considering whether or not to tender her resignation.

In a statement last night Te Au-Skipworth said that she was ready to to step back into the political arena, “given the current cultural misappropriation, and assault on our countries founding documents, He Whakaputanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi”.

“The Coalition Governments intentions are to misinterpret and re-write Te Tiriti o Waitangi, which will have significant consequences and impede our ability at a Local Government level to serve our community, notably those most in need.”

“It is an intentional move, putting profit before people.”

“The removal of Māori names in all government departments, and the dis-establishment of Te Aka Whai ora ‘The Māori Health Authority’ are merely a few notable examples of the Coalition Governments intentions to eradicate our whakapapa as Māori, and further disproportionate Māori.”

Te Au-Skipworth says that education around Te Tiriti o Waitangi is key for all who reside in Aotearoa, as well as those who live abroad and yearn to.

“If elected as the Takitimu Māori Ward Councillor, I will ensure that council implement Te Tiriti o Waitangi workshops delivered by iwi and hapu, for staff, Councillors, the community, and our manuhiri applying for citizenship. We have a progressive council already, enacting aspects of Te Tiriti o Waitangi through enabling Māori Wards.”

“We each have an obligation to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi in its entirety.”

Te-Au Skipworth thanked Nepe for his commitment and time served on the council .

Hastings District Council has said that more information on the by-election process will be released on February 29th.

The Council said that nominations to fill the two positions open on February 29 and close at noon on March 28.

“During that time, the electoral roll will be open to allow people to check their details.”

“If contested, the names of election candidates will be published on April 4, with voting papers delivered to letterboxes of eligible voters (Heretaunga and Takitimu wards) around May 2. Voting papers must be returned by noon on the closing date: May 24. If uncontested, the successful nominee (s) will be announced.”

More information on the process, including candidate information and nomination forms, will be made available before February 29 here: hastingsdc.govt.nz/our-council/elections

Last year Te Au-Skipworth  dramatically stood aside for her cousin Meka Whaitiri to become the Te Pati Māori candidate for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti. Whaitiri had herself sensationally quit the Labour Party to join Te Pati Māori. Te Au-Skipworth was then chosen as the party’s candidate for the Tukituki election, but later withdrew from that.

In a post on her campaign Facebook page at the time, Te Au-Skipworth said: “It’s the end of the year…. New Energy, New Goals, New Paths. Tomorrow is never promised so make the most of each day and remember to surround yourself with people who genuinely want the best for you.”

In an interview in December last year, Hawke’s Bay App asked Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst about speculation that there would be resignations in the new year.

Hazlehurst responded: “We have had ill health with one of our Councillors, but at this stage, that's up to the Councillor to make that call, and they're working through that at the moment. There's always going to be changes to people's lives and whether they can continue, and we have to manage that as it comes along. We'll see what the new year brings.”