Appointment likely for busy Featherston board

1:24 pm on 20 April 2020

An appointed fourth member on Featherston Community Board is likely after South Wairarapa District Council received no nominations in its recent call-out.

No caption

A fourth chair at meetings has been empty in Featherston since the October 2019 local government elections (file photo). Photo:

The district council's rules require four people on the boards for each of the three wards in the district - Featherston, Greytown and Martinborough.

A fourth chair at meetings has been empty in Featherston since October's local government elections.

In February, Sophronia Smith was elected to join chair Mark Shepherd, deputy chair Indigo Freya and Claire Bleakley.

But Freya resigned from her post soon after, opening another spot on the board.

The timing of the request for nominations coincided with the national lockdown for Covid-19 alert level 4.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said it was likely that an appointment would be made, rather than a third election in little over six months.

Beijen said the timing for the Featherston board had been unfortunate.

"It's situational. Everyone is very busy out there."

With Greytown also needing a by-election, South Wairarapa was one of four councils nationwide to have multiple vacancies on its boards after October's elections.

There are 111 boards in 78 districts across New Zealand, with a total of 555 members.

Board chair Shepherd said he agreed that the vacancies were down to bad timing.

"People just aren't thinking about that at the moment. I think there is another option of posting someone into that position. We [Beijen and Shepherd] will have a chat about what's involved."

The board is next scheduled to meet in late May, lockdown rules permitting.

In the meantime, Shepherd said current members had been working with community groups to help people in need during the lockdown.

He said that councillors and board members had been busy connecting isolated people in the community with organisations who can help.

"The big thing about Featherston is that when something happens, we can deal with it. The community deals with it, and we just help each other move on."

Shepherd said residents in need of help during the lockdown should contact him on 027 3088 035, or one of the following local agencies:

  • South Wairarapa Food Bank (06 3903 663 or 022 549 7690) for emergency food parcels, emergency clothing, blankets, etc
  • Wairarapa Whānau Trust (027 809 2615) for emergency firewood, food and youth support
  • Pae tū Mōkai o Tauira ( for emergency firewood and food
  • Digital Seniors (0800 373 646) for free technology support for seniors
  • Fab Feathy (Jack Sheppard 027 663 0385 or Sophronia Smith 021 382 062) for support services
no metadata

Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs