Paul Eagle confirmed as Wellington's first Maori deputy mayor

Wellington's new Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle and Mayor Justin Lester share a hongi outside the city council building.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington's new Deputy Mayor Paul Eagle and Mayor Justin Lester share a hongi outside the city council building.

Wellington will have its first-ever Maori deputy mayor when Paul Eagle is formally sworn into office.

New mayor Justin Lester confirmed Eagle as his second-in-command on Thursday. The southern ward councillor will serve as deputy-mayor elect until a formal vote at the city council's inauguration ceremony on October 26.

Eagle, who has iwi affiliations with Waikato-Tainui and hapu, Ngati Naho and Ngati Tipa, was the most popular candidate in the southern ward this election - as he had been since 2010 - scooping up 4716 votes.

Lester says Eagle has hit the ground running and provided him with excellent support and leadership.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Lester says Eagle has hit the ground running and provided him with excellent support and leadership.

He said it was a privilege to be the capital's first deputy mayor of Maori descent, and pledged to draw strength from his culture in the performance of his duties.

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He had always taken a very "Maori approach" to being a councillor by "talking to people on the ground" and refusing to put issues on the shelf until they had been sorted properly, a la the Island Bay Cycleway, he said.

"On the marae you debate all night until you get an answer."

While many councils around the country had no maori politicians, Eagle said Wellington city had been fortunate to have himself for the past six years and veteran Ray Ahipene-Mercer at the council table for the past 16 years.

But despite that, Eagle wanted to see more Maori representation around the council table in future, and he hoped his appointment would send a positive message in that regard.

Paul Eagle and Justin Lester congratulate each other after the election result is announced.
MAARTEN HOLL/FAIRFAX NZ

Paul Eagle and Justin Lester congratulate each other after the election result is announced.

Many of the big issues facing Wellington - homelessness, begging and a shortage of housing supply - directly affected Maori communities, and Eagle hoped to play a major role in finding solutions.

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"I acknowledge the responsibility that comes with the role and will work tirelessly to fulfil that responsibility."

Lester said having Eagle as his right-hand-man was a historic moment for the council and the capital city.

"I am keen to see more Maori in leadership positions at the council, having a stronger influence in decision-making in the future of the capital," he said.

"Paul has hit the ground running and provided me with excellent support and leadership and I look forward to working with him as deputy mayor."

A bit further up the road, Mike Tana became the first Maori mayor of Porirua, 51 years after Porirua officially became a city.

 - Stuff

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