Te Maruata representative/Councillor, Taranaki Regional Council
Councillor, Artist, Advocate, Academic
“People should care because what we do in local government affects every aspect of their lives. Every time they use the water tap to make a cup of tea, flush their toilet, have their rubbish picked up, drive on rural roads or urban streets, that’s local government and they can and should have their say about how things are done and who represents them in their communities.”
Bonita Bigham’s journey into local government began when she was concerned about a proposal to close her town hall, a social hub for her community. She realised that council members were ordinary people, just like her, dedicated to serving their communities.
Bonita believes that people should care about local government because it directly affects every aspect of their lives, from housing to public services. Engaging with local government empowers individuals to have a say in how their communities are led.
Alongside her local government role, Bonita has always been deeply involved with her whānau, hapū, and iwi. Her intimate connection to her hometown of Manaia and the Taranaki rohe gives her valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities for Māori and local government relationships.
What she loves most about Taranaki Ki Te Tonga (South Taranaki) is its unique environment, with beautiful beaches, warm people, and a rich history. While the region has a history of war and land confiscation, iwi are committed to serving their communities to benefit everyone.
Outside of work, Bonita cherishes her time with her whānau and enjoys various governance and advisory roles. She's currently working towards her Ph.D., is an artist, and a passionate advocate for community arts.