NEWLY-ELECTED councillor Louis Rapihana says he’s “blown away” by the election process and its result – all in a positive way. Photo Sven Carlsson OS0160-01

OPOTIKI district councillor Shona Browne says she’s “delighted to be able to represent the community and the district for another term on council”.

“It’s a nice balance of a new mayor and councillors, with new blood coming through,” she said.

“I am looking forward to working with the new team under the leadership of Lyn Riesterer.”

Mrs Browne said she was grateful for the support that the community had shown her.

Newly-elected councillor David Moore said the outcome of the election was a good result for the town.

“I will do my very best for the people who voted for me and I am looking forward to the challenge,” he said.

Mr Moore also said the new council represented a good mix between experienced and new councillors.

“I don’t think any of the new councillors will be afraid to speak our minds, but we need to learn as much as we can in the first term,” he said.

Newly-elected councillor Louis Rapihana said he was “totally blown away” by the election process and its result.

“I am proud of the people of Opotiki for the turnout, taking the lead nationally,” he said.

“Several candidates were pushing for and encouraging this.”

Mr Rapihana said it was humbling to get into the council and that he was encouraged by getting third in his bid for the mayoral position during his first time of running.

“I’m really looking forward to the next three years,” he said.

“It will be exciting to experience and learn.”

Mr Rapihana said it was a great mix of newly-elected members, who were all focused on

the well-being of the Opotiki community.

“I’m really just blown away by the campaign process and the learning curve,” he said.

“I’ve been learning to accept and understand other views, in both the Maori and pakeha communities.”

Mr Rapihana said he had been surprised by how open the pakeha community was to him.

“It was really beautiful,” he said.

“How they listened to examples of the Maori struggle and it made my heart starting to open.”

Mr Rapihana said he took his hat off to his predecessor on the coast ward, Haki McRoberts, and to what he had achieved during his time on the council.

“I cannot thank him enough,” he said.

“I know he will keep busy, working with the employment of our people.”

Mr Rapihana congratulated Lyn Riesterer on her win and said he would work well alongside her “for the betterment of our community”.

The Opotiki News has been unable to reach unsuccessful mayoral and council contender Alex Dobie for comment after the election, but Mr Dobie posted his thank you on social media.

“Thank you to those people who voted,” he said.

“A special thank you to Kara, my wife and family and friends who have supported me during this election campaign. This loss hurts.”

Mr Dobie asked that his supporters should “please continue to believe that standing up for what’s right is worth it.”

“It is worth it and no one can say, he died wondering,” he said.

Mr Dobie said he rejoiced “in our local democracy to know that Opotiki people have, in numbers larger than the national average, turned out to vote and I accept their verdict”.

“It’s great to see several younger candidates succeeding.”

Mr Dobie said that while it would have been a privilege and an honour to serve as Opotiki’s mayor “that role has fallen to another”.

“I have, however, been blessed as only a few people have and this result will afford me the time to spend with my newly arrived twin grandsons,” he said.

“My focus will be on helping to shape their lives and future in a positive way.”

Newly-elected councillor Debi Hocart said she’s “incredibly humbled, because I got so many votes”.

“It makes you realise you have a job to do, that people want me in there,” she said.

Mrs Hocart said she was excited about becoming a councillor and that she was looking forward to serving the community.

“It will be great, but it won’t all be easy,” she said.

“Getting the community onboard will have its own challenges. Different people will want different things, but it will all be for the good of the town.”

The Opotiki News has been unable to reach former councillor Haki McRoberts, who lost his position on the coast ward to Mr Rapihana.

Preliminary election results – as of 5pm Monday, October 14