Wellington's new mayor wants to unite councillors to serve their city

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

The new mayor of Te Whanganui-a-Tara says she's focused on uniting her council to have the people trust the council and move the city forward.

Newcomer Tory Whanau (Ngāruahine) beat Andy Foster who was running for a second term as mayor after holding a seat on the city council since 1992. She won with over 29,000 votes while Foster had just over 13,000.

Speaking with teaomāori.news today, Whanau said she was humbled to become the new mayor and was already in the mayor’s office ready to work.

“I’m feeling a lot of love for our city at the moment and for our voters for putting their trust and faith in me.

“I will not disappoint. I will stick to my promises. But more importantly, I’m going to be respecting our democratic system. I’ve already promised all of our councillors that regardless of political stripes, we’re here to collaborate as a team and serve Wellington.”

Ready for the challenge as Wellington's new mayor.

Whanau says that more indigenous representation in local councils means more normalisation that tangata whenua are ready to be part of local councils such as the inclusion of Māori wards.

“I’ve already had a lot of mums get in touch with me to say ‘my daughter thinks it’s awesome that you’ve won.’ Now we can see the mayoralty as a possibility for their future.”

She says she had faith in herself ever since she announced over a year ago that she was running for mayor, with a tight campaign strategy run on the one thing she really wanted.

“I made sure I was saying the things they needed to hear and that I was in line with their values. Knowing what sort of mayor they were looking for, I knew I was the right person for the role.”

And not even a full day into the new role, having met her fellow colleagues and her office ready for her, Whanau says “it feels right” and “was meant to be”.

“One of the biggest priorities that have been communicated to me is our pipes. We’ve got to think about our infrastructure and water quality, so I would say that is going to be the first issue that we deal with.”