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Marae setting for robust council debate

Gisborne district councillors took their first meeting out to the community yesterday as Mayor Rehette Stoltz stamped her mark on council proceedings.

Mayor Stoltz said she campaigned on taking the council out of the chambers and that it was wonderful to see the new council team gathered at Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae.

It was a peaceful venue for the meeting, which got under way after councillors were welcomed on to the Ngati Oneone marae by Albie and Charlotte Gibson about 8.30am.

The setting did not prevent robust discussions over stored public art, a new committee structure and alcohol bans, although no members of the public turned up to the meeting.

Councillors were all given a chance to make their point but not to labour it, as Mayor Stoltz called for elected members to vote on recommendations without delay.

The public section of the council meeting and subsequent civil defence and emergency management committee meeting concluded about 11am.

Councillors stayed on to discuss in private the appointment of members to the district licensing committee and of a director to the council-controlled trading organisation, Gisborne Holdings Ltd.

Councillor Tony Robinson challenged this, saying he could not identify the reason to exclude the public from discussions over the Gisborne Holdings director appointment.

But his protest did not win over councillors, who voted to close the meeting, with deputy mayor Josh Wharehinga and councillor Andy Cranston both saying the discussion risked infringing the person’s privacy.

WELCOME TO WORK: Gisborne District Council members and staff are welcomed on to Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae for the new council’s first meeting yesterday. Picture by Liam Clayton