NZ's only Māori Mayor - Lyn Riesterer, Mayor of Ōpōtiki District Council

By Kereama Wright

Lyn Riesterer is the first gay Māori woman elected as the mayor of the Ōpōtiki District Council.

"It was time to stand up and be counted I think. And I was quite delighted," says Riesterer.

"When I was busy visiting both down the coast and in town, there were actually a lot of men who said, 'It's time we had a woman mayor.'"

With 1,378 votes, Riesterer won by more than 700.

62-year-old Riesterer worked as a PE teacher in New Zealand and England for many decades, before returning home to Opotiki 20 years ago with her partner Kate Adams.

"Being a woman, being gay, Māori, that's very important, but I think she was the best person for the job," says Adams.

Riesterer replaces longstanding former mayor of 18 years John Forbes who succeeded Lyn's father Don, who was mayor of Ōpōtiki for 12 years prior.

"It was probably in 2006 that I went to my father and said dad I'm thinking of standing in council," says Riesterer.

A formal welcome by Ngāi Tai iwi onto the marae will be held on November 19.