She says Rotorua needs a mayor who doesn’t hesitate. Photo/Andrew Warner
Senior Rotorua politician Merepeka Raukawa-Tait has revealed she’s not just considering a Miss Rotorua crown – she’s ‘considering’ running for mayor.
Outspoken district councilor lines up as Miss contestant
Rotorua Beauty Pageant, but hasn’t ruled out being in the main race for Rotorua’s other top title.
She told the Rotorua Daily Post that she had supported the competition for seven years, including as a judge last year, but this year she wanted to “focus on myself” and invent a “more modern version of Merepeka”.
“I haven’t hit the pause button in years…I haven’t changed my hairstyle in 40 years, I never wear makeup and I want to learn and my dress sense needs an update complete.”
But at the same time, when asked about the upcoming election and whether she would consider running for mayor, she blurted out that the thought had now become a consideration.
“I tried to avoid the question of the town hall, but in recent weeks, the inquiries have followed one another.”
She said she would stand for a final term as councilor, but she knew Rotorua faced serious problems.
“We’re on the front page for all the wrong reasons and tough conversations need to happen and action needs to be taken. It takes more than a cursory knowledge of the issues. I have that. So yes, I’m considering the position of mayor.
“We cannot thrive as a city if we do not tackle the alarming social issues facing Rotorua. I think we need leadership that is hands-off and understands that we have no time to waste.”
Raukawa-Tait has been a councilor since 2011 and a member of the Lakes District Health Board from 2010 until joining Health NZ this year. She was the former chief executive of Women’s Refuge and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Rotorua in 2007 and Wellington in 2001. She has also played a role in central government politics. She was the former deputy leader of the Christian Heritage Party in 2002 and was named to the Maori Party list in the last election.
She said her decision to enter the pageant had nothing to do with the election because she tried to attend pageant classes last year, but organizer Kharl WiRepa gave her a ” big fat “no”, telling him “you can’t choose, you’re either totally into it or not at all”.
“I don’t mind if some people think I’m entering the contest to get noticed for local elections. As long as I know why I’m doing it, that’s all that matters. I can’t believe that I’m participating I’m the one who’s really brave.
The pageant isn’t your average beauty queen pageant – rather it follows contestants of all ages on a 12-week journey where they learn new skills and are crowned in different categories, including Ms. Rotorua, in the contest. ‘a gala. It was the subject of a TV show, Gowns and Geysers, last year, with the second series being filmed for TVNZ on Demand and Māori Television this year.
Raukawa-Tait said she had never entered a beauty pageant before and that Miss Rotorua was not your stereotypical pageant as it was for women of all ages, ethnicities, sizes and backgrounds.
“It’s a charity event and I support that it raises awareness of the social issues facing our community. I love that the pageant promotes inner beauty as much as outer beauty and doesn’t have time for l ageism.”
The competition includes a “talent” section but she wasn’t too sure yet what she would come up with for it.
“I love to dance and sing, but only at home, but I may need to learn more about it because I’m not very good in another area.”
Walking in stilettos will be another challenge, but she was willing to give it a shot and was grateful the contestants had already entered “stiletto camp” as part of the competition.
Raukawa-Tait admitted she grew up with two “really pretty” sisters and was forced to make the most of what she had.
“My mother always said I was beautiful, but maybe that’s because I was fat growing up. Don’t we just love our mothers… As I got older, I realized that beauty comes from within. The most beautiful people I know are women with life experience who live life out loud and dance to the beat of their own drum. They are my age.
The competition has 23 competitors.
Six people have confirmed they will contest Rotorua mayoralty, including councilors Tania Tapsell, Raj Kumar and Reynold Macpherson. The other candidates are Fletcher Tabuteau, Ben Sandford and Kalaadevi Ananda. Holder Steve Chadwick did not show up.
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