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Experienced Gisborne district councillors and passionate newly-elected councillors will work hard to achieve the aspirations of the community they love, says mayor Rehette Stoltz. Gisborne’s 11th district council was sworn into office yesterday at the Lawson Field Theatre.

Mrs Stoltz said the district was blessed to have a council with the community’s wellbeing at heart.

The three years ahead would be an exciting time with hard work required on social, economic, environmental and cultural needs that needed “our urgent attention’’.

It would be up to councillors to prioritise the district’s needs.

Mrs Stoltz said she looked at the re-elected councillors — Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Andy Cranston, Shannon Dowsing, Amber Dunn, Larry Foster, Josh Wharehinga, Bill Burdett, and Pat Seymour —with pride.

“Thank you for the journey we have been on together.”

Passion shone through in their decision-making.

Some had guided new councillors such as herself.

The re-elected councillors had decades of experience and would guide their new colleagues — Debbie Gregory, Tony Robinson, Terry Sheldrake, Sandra Faulkner and Kerry Worsnop.

“Welcome to our team of new councillors,” Mrs Stoltz said.

“Each of you has shared your aspirations for our community with us.”

They had shown “passion and love for our place’’.

Mrs Stoltz thanked retiring councillors Graeme Thomson and Brian Wilson, councillors since 2001, and one-term councillors Karen Fenn and Malcolm MacLean.

Mr Wharehinga, sworn in as deputy mayor, thanked Mrs Stoltz for her confidence in appointing him when former mayor Meng Foon resigned, and again for his formal appointment after the election.

He told ‘‘the team’’ — the new council — that he was really excited by the enthusiasm, by the energy, by the effort “and the want to get engaged in all of these complex and heavy issues that sit across the council table”.

Mr Wharehinga said at times during the election, he had the uneasy experience of coming home and only being able to see his children as they slept in bed.

Councillors thanked their families for their support and expressed gratitude for being elected or re-elected.

Mr Burdett said it was a privilege to represent Matakaoa-Waiapu, although he had been returned “by the skin of my teeth’’.

Thanks from new faces at GDC table He was re-elected by 331 votes to 309.

Mrs Seymour thanked her ward of Tawhiti-Uawa, but said councillors represented all of the district.

Ms Gregory, a granddaughter of Gisborne’s first female councillor, Frances Gregory, said, ”dreams do come true”.

Terry Sheldrake, husband of former councillor Kathy, said that during her time on the council she had at times come home frustrated and said, ‘‘you should be there’’.

“Look what’s happened,’’ Mr Sheldrake said.

Kerry Worsnop, elected in the Waipaoa ward by 1285 votes to 350, said she would try to justify the considerable confidence shown in her by voters.

Mrs Stoltz thanked her friends, and family including her sons and husband Deon.

“You and I make an awesome team.”

Her father and brother were watching on livestream from South Africa.

Her mother Ronelle Louw and sister Helene van Wyk, had flown ‘‘halfway around the world’’ to attend the ceremony.

Mrs Stoltz thanked chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann for her hard work.

Council had dynamic directors and lovely staff who had helped new councillors ‘‘come up to speed’’.

“Because council waits for no one.”

Ms Thatcher Swann said Gisborne had bucked national trends during local body elections with a near 50 percent voter turn-out, the highest Gisborne turn-out in the past three elections.

The turnout indicated the diversity of the candidates, she said.

The council confirmed the first ordinary meeting for next Thursday, November 7.

The new-look Gisborne District Council team, elected last month. From left, Terry Sheldrake, Sandra Faulkner, Kerry Worsnop, Larry Foster, Pat Seymour, Amber Dunn, Josh Wharehinga, Rehette Stoltz, Shannon Dowsing, Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Tony Robinson, Andy Cranston, Debbie Gregory, Bill Burdett and GDC chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann. Picture supplied by Gisborne District Council