12 Oct 2013

New mayors for Westland, Buller

5:53 pm on 12 October 2013

Westland District and Buller both have new mayors after the incumbents opted not to seek re-election.

In Westland District, farmer Mike Havill takes over from Maureen Pugh while in Buller businessman Garry Howard replaces Pat McManus, who stood down for health reasons.

Mr Havill said he would be mayor of a new council as well, with only two councillors from the last council returning.

He believed his 30-year background in farming, including serving on Westland Milk Products in a governance role for the past 14 years, gave him a profile across the district.

His priority was to get good financial control of the council budget, he said.

"Looking at the cost of services across the district and across the region, and perhaps learning the areas that we're good at and improving on those ones that we're not."

Voters did not seem to mind that he did not live within the district, instead living on a dairy farm in the middle of the Grey Valley, just over the district border.

Mr Howard said he wanted the community to feel involved with the council, which he believed had been lost.

"Then we've got the structural things such as water, footpaths, roads, and just doing the basics and getting those right."

Another priority was getting the council's framework right, so it could show accountability to ratepayers, he said.