Penny Smart, Kaipara-based new chair of the Northern Regional Council

Penny Smart chairs NRC

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara-based councillor Penny Smart has been appointed to chair the Northland Regional Council for the next three years, after being re-elected unopposed in the local body poll.

Hokianga-Kaikohe constituency representative Justin Blaikie, another second-term councillor who was also re-elected unopposed in August, was elected as the council’s deputy chair.

Unlike district councils, whose mayors are chosen by the public through local elections, the regional council’s equivalent, its chair, is voted in by their fellow councillors.

When appointed last week, Cr Smart said the council was “a vibrant, hard-working and forward-thinking council that still has a long way to go.

“Our role is supporting, enabling and empowering people. We need good leadership, and it’s about mindset as much as skillset,” adding she has an “open-door policy and welcomes feedback in order to improve things.”

The NRC has four new members; Jack Craw (Whangarei Urban), Amy Macdonald (Coastal Central), Marty Robinson (Coastal North) and Colin ‘Toss’ Kitchen (Te Hiku).

With the election also delivering Cr Joce Yeoman (Coastal North) a second term and Cr Macdonald’s election, the council now has three serving women councillors for the first time.