The current members of Te Maruata Roopu Whakahaere are:
Te Maruata Chairperson
Councillor, South Taranaki District Council
Bonita Bigham (Ngaruahine, Te Atiawa) has been chair of Te Maruata, Local Government New Zealand's national collective of Māori in governance roles in local government since mid-2016 and has served on the committee since 2012. She is Te Maruata’s representative to LGNZ's National Council.
She has been a councillor at South Taranaki District Council since 2010, is an accredited RMA commissioner and until recently was STDC's appointee to two external boards. She has an unwavering commitment to kaupapa Māori and a strong background in governance, including her iwi's Treaty settlement work, as well as active involvement in a wide variety of community organisations. Bonita was appointed to the Lottery Oranga Marae Committee this year, recognising her expertise in trusteeship and marae development.
Bonita is an artist and freelance journalist. She completed her Masters in Fine Arts in 2018 and intends to complete her Masters in Māori Visual Arts this year before contemplating doctoral study focusing on the revitalisation of indigenous knowledge. Her biggest cheerleaders are her husband Kevin, mum Hinewaito and son Te Rei.
Councillor, Gisborne District Council
Josh Wharehinga (Māhaki, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa) describes himself as ‘first and foremost, a father’ to his six teenagers. Born and raised in Gisborne, Josh’s background is in education, social work and driving community initiatives. As a second term Councillor, Josh holds many portfolios, among them he is deputy chair for District Licensing, Finance and Audit and a Hearings Commissioner. He also sits on Community Development and Environmental Planning and Regulations.
Josh holds other governance positions, having also been elected to the Tairāwhiti District Health Board and Te Mana Whakahaere, the board for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Councillor, Auckland Council
Councillor, Waikato Regional Council
Councillor, Environment Canterbury
Iaean Cranwell (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) was elected by Ngāi Tahu to fill one of the two seats created by the Environment Canterbury (Transitional Governance Arrangements) Act 2016. This current situation finishes at the 2019 local body elections, and he is working towards retaining these seats to have a mana whenua voice in Regional Councils.
As a first term Councillor, Iaean is on many portfolios, among them CWMS/Water/Infrastructure, Biosecurity/Biodiversity and Planning, Consents and Compliance. Iaean is passionate about the protection and restoration of waterways, particularly as it relates to Kāi Tahu mahika kai species and practices.
He is also heavily involved in competing in, organising and promoting waka ama (outrigger canoeing).
Councillor, Bay of Plenty Regional Council Toi Moana
Te Arawa representative, Rotorua Lakes Council
Te Arawa, Te Whanau-a-Apanui, NgaiTai, Te Whakatohea
Gina has worked in the field of resource management and environmental planning for over 15 years, and specialises in Māori resource management to ensure that traditional environmental pedagogies are integrated into resource management and environmental planning solutions. Gina holds a Master of Science degree, with a double major in Resources and Environmental Planning, and Earth Sciences. As a result of her personal interest in rongoa Māori (traditional healing methodologies) her Masters Thesis investigated the environmental factors that influence the production of essential oils in the leaf of the Kawakawa (Macropiper excelsum) plant. She is currently a certified Independent RMA Hearing Commissioner, having sat on a number of complex resource consent hearings. Some of Gina’s extramural activities include traditional ocean voyaging and navigation, and she is an advocate for kaitiakitanga as a contemporary solution to achieve sustainable use and development of our taonga-tuku-iho. In 2015 Gina was elected to Te Tatau o Te Arawa (partnership Board with Rotorua Lakes Council). She is an appointed member of the Rotorua Lakes Council RMA Policy Committee and the Strategy, Policy and Finance Committee.