Māori ward candidates on what inspired them to run in Tauihu

By Contributor

Waikawa Marae manager Allanah Burgess sees the Māori Ward as a chance to be "in the know immediately as opposed to later on". Anthony Phelps / Stuff

By Maia Hart, Local Democracy Reporter

Marlborough will have an extra councillor this coming term after two nominations for its Māori ward came in at that last minute.

Tony MacDonald (Te Ātiawa, Rangitāne) and Allanah Burgess (Te Ātiawa, Ngāi Tahu) handed in their nominations on Friday.

Marlborough's Māori ward will be a first for this election, after 12 councillors voted in favour of its establishment in May last year.

Burgess, manager of Waikawa Marae, said she handed in her nomination after some encouragement from those around her.

"I'm in touch on the ground, my day to day is interacting with so many different people from all aspects of life, Māori and non-Māori," she said.

"What I've seen in my lifetime is the efforts made. We've now seen a real shift, and a bit more momentum of people that are making some real differences."

Sitting on council would give her the chance to be part of that, she said.

"It really excites me, seeing the outcomes of our tūpuna [ancestors] finally come to fruition.

"I never do anything in halves, and I never do anything without the support of my whānau. Where they've kind of said 'you'll be perfect, or it's great' has been really heartwarming knowing that Māori and non-Maōri have all called and sent messages [in support]."

Knowing the council had just employed a kaihautū, Hara Adams, showed they were ready to have the Māori ward seat around the table, Burgess said.

"One way I was thinking about it this morning, is as Māori we have a chance to not only sit there, listen, have a voice at the table, but we have an opportunity to be seen.

"Now we have a chance to be clear, and be in the know immediately as opposed to later on.

"Hopefully I encourage more people to take up these opportunities when they arise, and to have a go at something that may be out of your comfort zone."

Burgess said she grew up in Waikawa, and moved home with her two tamariki (children) just prior to the first 2020 lockdown.

"I wanted to bring my children up the same way I was brought up, on the marae," she said.

Tony MacDonald is vying to be the first Māori Ward councillor in Marlborough. Anthony Phelps / Stuff

Tony MacDonald is vying to be the first Māori Ward councillor in Marlborough. Anthony Phelps / Stuff

MacDonald said he had been "pondering" whether to hand in his nomination, but ultimately decided on the last day that it was "now or never".

"The reason I was considering it, I have a lot of experience, in voluntary and paid leadership roles across iwi, sports, schools and local business groups," he said.

"I hold mana in the community, I'm a proud Marlburian, and I whakapapa to the local iwi which I'm proud of."

He thought there was a disconnect between Marlborough's iwi and the council.

"There's something missing. I think that I have the right attitude for Marlborough and local iwi to find that space in between and be that bridge."

MacDonald, a trustee for Te Rūnanga a Rangitāne o Wairau, said he had a "deep love and respect" for the whenua in Marlborough.

"I grew up here, and I raised my family here, and I'm extremely proud to be Māori.

"My mother is a very staunch Te Ātiawa member, and so am I.

"I do sit on the board for Rangitāne, but I have a double-sided hat, that hat is a very strong relationship with my Te Ātiawa whānau in Picton.

"I was born and raised in Picton and I spent most of my childhood life hanging out with my Te Ātiawa whānau and that's very dear to me."

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

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