You TubeFacebookTwitterflickrGoogle plus
Thursday, 21 March 2019 05:18 am

Carterton council says kapai to new Maori mayor Mark

Jan 28th, 2011 | By | Category: Featured Article, Features, Front Page Layout

RON MARK, the newly elected mayor of Carterton, is not only bringing his ideas to the table – he is also giving the council a taste of Maori culture.

He is making history by being the first of the local iwi to be an elected member of the district council.

Mr Mark says it is a big responsibility: “I’m the first to hold office… I guess it’s of significance and note to all the hapu, to all the aunties – you know, ‘the aunties’,” he laughs.

“So I’m very mindful of the responsibilities and my duty. I need to do a good job.”

He has already sent away the mayoral chain to get fixed and the first link on the shield is dated 1887.

Affiliated with Nga Hapu Karanga, he says he doesn’t think the council has given much attention to the culture of the town.

“It’s an old community and an old district… We had the very first whakatau (welcome) ever held in Carterton District Council.”

The councillors have been hugely responsive and receptive, he says.

“The feedback from the whakatau was absolutely wonderful. They found it added meaning and dignity to their swearing in… I think we will see greater engagement in tangata whenua, especially with the local hapu, on matters of importance. Tanagata whenua have their place.”

Carterton has had a mayor of Maori descent – the popular Georgina Beyer, who served two terms and who, like Mr Mark, has also been an MP. But she is not of the local hapu, Mr Mark says.

Mr Mark had not thought about being the mayor of the small town, and was approached by for former mayor Gary McPhee who asked him to stand.

“Gary impressed upon me that he had done his bit and that Carterton needed to move on from him. In his words, ‘it’s time for a different type of person’.”

The newly elected mayor of the third-smallest district in the country, Mr Mark says he is “privileged” and “excited” by the job. “Carterton’s great. I’m really excited about the opportunity.”

The father of four was born in Carterton, but he was raised mainly in Pahiatua, in a number of foster homes.

Mayor Mark spent 15 years in the New Zealand Army, and rose through the ranks to captain. He also served five years soldiering in the Sultanate of Oman, and was awarded the Oman Peace Medal.

Mayor Mark has only been living back in the district about four years – but the locals have taken him well.

“To get that level of support is humbling, but it is also good in that it is clear that I have a mandate to do the things I was talking about in my election campaign,” he says.

In the campaign, he emphasised the need to build a vibrant local economy and create a family-friendly community.

He speaks of the town with an affectionate tone: “It doesn’t matter if you are going to the Oak, the Marquis or the Buckhorn… the support is overwhelming,” he says (though he doesn’t use the local pronunciation of Marquis, instead saying “Marquees”).

He says the mayoralty is not a full-time job as it is a small district of approximately 7100 people (in 2006), and the salary he gets is not enough. “We wouldn’t be able to service our mortgage on the mayoral salary.”

As mayor, he receives an annual salary of $55,200.

He says most mayors of small districts continue their day jobs, but can do some of the council stuff during work hours, and a lot of it after hours.

Mr Mark is also the chief executive officer of Federation of Maori Authorities, which has its office in Wellington, and travels there when he needs to.

It gets a bit demanding, but the federation’s board is happy for him to continue. “The day they are not – I’ll quit,” he says.

His partner, Chris Tracey, is a big support in his career: “We’re a bit of a team.” He pulls out the thick folder she gave him that morning, with a to-do list on the first page.

He says Chris recently quit her senior appointment in Parliament and wants to spend more time in the Wairarapa, helping him out with the “mayoral stuff”.

He says his military experience allows him to “see a bigger picture”.

“Military gives you organisation, structure, planning and discipline, focus and a no excuses mentality. It also gives you compassion and humility.

“You can’t travel the world as a soldier, see the things you see and not understand compassion, and not be driven by the inequality that you see.

“You learn things by being exposed to things – it teaches you respect and dignity for other people.”

Mr Mark spent 12 years in Parliament after being elected as a New Zealand First MP in 1996. He was an MP for four terms, and lost a 2008 bid for Rimutaka.

He admits he has thought about going back to national politics.

“I want to finish this job here… and the mayoral appointment is a three-year job and I mean to see that through.

“I’ll never say never to it, but I’ve put [Parliament] on the backburner for now.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Radio News