30 Jun 2021

Former Cabinet minister takes top role at Hawke's Bay Regional Council

7:14 pm on 30 June 2021

A former Labour government Cabinet minister has been elected as the new Hawke's Bay Regional Council chair.

New chair of Hawke's Bay Regional Council

Rick Barker Photo: NZ Parliament

Rick Barker was chosen for the role by fellow councillors today, after former chair Rex Graham recently resigned due to the return of cancer.

Barker was the council's deputy chair. He was the MP for Tukituki/Hastings from 1993 to 2005.

He was a minister in Helen Clark's government from 2002 to 2008, holding portfolios such as Internal Affairs, Courts and Customs.

Barker said he had "strong experience in governance".

"I believe my experience in both central and local government will enable me to provide good leadership and advice to not only the regional council, but the council and a province as a whole."

Hinewai Ormsby, a first-term councillor and the only woman on the council, was the only other nomination.

As a wahine Māori, Ormsby said she could bring Pākehā and Māori together.

"As we move towards a co-governance model with our treaty partners, we need leadership that walks the tightrope towards finding wins for all so our people can succeed.

"Navigating our journey between that of the Pākehā and Māori world view is going to be our region's biggest challenge going forward together. My leadership will bridge this gap, as I'll work my backside off to ensure we walk this path with true partnership."

Six councillors voted for Barker and two voted for Ormsby.

Barker is also chairman of the West Coast District Health Board.

Councillors elected Central Hawke's Bay's Will Foley, a first term councillor, to the role of deputy chair.

A by-election will be held after Graham's resignation.

Nominations are open until 15 July and if needed, a postal vote will take place between 19 August and 10 September.

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