A group of passionate Richmond residents are advocating for more representation as the town continues to expand.
Richmond resident Robin Schiff is no stranger to advocating for her community. Originally hailing from New York, Robin spent time living in the Netherlands before moving to Kaitaia in 2009.
“I became really involved in community projects. It became a sort of pro-bono full-time job.”
Robin spent 8 years advocating for Te Hiku Sports Hub, and in that time she got used to dealing with the council.
“What I realised through that process, is that a community really needs to be engaged with the decision-making process,” she says.
Now, Robin is turning that focus to Richmond, and she believes that a Community Board is needed to advocate for Richmond residents.
The role of a community board is to represent and act as an advocate for the interests of the community. While Golden Bay and Motueka both have community boards and councillors, the only elected representation has is its councillors.
Under the Electoral Act 2001 of, each councillor should represent a minimum of 3.544 people and a maximum of 4.331 people In the 2018 census, Richmond’s population was 17,345 – 4,336 people to one councillor, meaning that Richmond is under-represented when it comes to elected officials.
“I read the long-term plan, and it seemed urgent to me to get involved,” Robin says.
With Richmond growing rapidly, Robin says that development needs to be done in a conscious way if it will turn into a community that fosters healthy lifestyles and engagement.
“The community has a responsibility, and I think a community board is a great vehicle for that,” Robin says.
“Richmond would benefit a lot from having a community board.”
Richmond Ward Councillor Dana Wensley is backing the call for a community board.
“Community boards are powerful when it comes to lobbying for their community, they offer a strong voice.”
Dana says she worries that Richmond may miss out on future projects if residents aren’t pushing.
“We have a fast-growing population, and Community Board’s but in submissions, and turn up to a meeting and say ‘this is what the community actually needs.’”
Dana’s fellow Richmond ward councillor Kit Mailing says that Richmond he is wary of the cost a community association would incur.
“It’s just another cost,” Kit says.
“I think that if all four Richmond councillors were active in the community, representation wouldn’t be an issue,” he says.
His comments come after fellow Richmond Ward Councillor Mark Greening has been questioned over his poor attendance at council meetings and workshops this year.
Kit says that Councillors should be engaged with their community, face to face.
“For Greening, doing it by email from Wellington is just not how you do it. You go out and see residents, face to face. That’s our job is councillors.”