New blood . . . Elected as new Gore District councillors in the 2022 local election are (from left) Keith Hovell, Joe Stringer, Paul McPhail and Robert McKenzie. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Prioritising people is a common theme among the Gore District’s four new councillors.

Elected in the district-wide ward were former planning consultant Keith Hovell and Yrless director Joe Stringer, and CaveFM studio manager Robert McKenzie and SBS St James Theatre manager Paul McPhail were elected in the Gore ward.

Mr Hovell said he was grateful and excited by the opportunity given to him by the voters.

‘‘I got elected promoting representing the public and that is what I intend to do.’’

He would advocate for transparency, efficiency and better consultation with the public.

Having worked as an adviser to the council for 18 years, he felt he had a lot to offer.

‘‘My background and expertise, I feel, is something that will be extremely useful and it’s a matter of working through with the mayor, whoever that may be, and other councillors on how that skill set is used.’’

Mr Stringer said he was ‘‘ecstatic’’ with the result.

‘‘It’s a positive change for everyone. There’s going to be a lot of fresh faces on the council there and there’s people on there who’ve got the experience as well, so it’ll be good getting in there and working with them and getting started.’’

He hoped to‘‘get back to the basics’’ and focus on the things that mattered like road maintenance and public engagement.

His success was a team effort, he said.

He and Mr McKenzie both ran under the Team Hokonui ticket with mayoral candidate Ben Bell and Janeen Reti, who was unsuccessful in her campaign for council.

Mr McKenzie said after 63 years in Gore, people had got to know him.

‘‘It’s a very humbling experience knowing that amount of people have confidence in you. I mean, you’re dealing with ratepayers’ money.’’

It was a responsibility he was not going to take lightly, he said.

‘‘The books need to be totally opened for public scrutiny. We need to really look at prioritising where ratepayers’ money is spent.’’

Already, people quite often came to Mr McKenzie to talk about issues they had.

‘‘Where I can, I will aim people in the right direction now. I do my best to help people.’’

Mr McPhail said he was going into his new role with an open mind.

‘‘[I will] listen to both sides of an issue and try and make an informed judgement.’’

He would be joining his brother Richard at the council table, making it the first time the Gore District had two brothers sitting as councillors.

‘‘My father was a councillor for 12 years on Environment Southland. We’re a very community-minded family,’’ he said.

It was his passion for the community which motivated him to run for council and would always be front-of-mind when he made decisions.

‘‘Everything’s got to be for the greater good of the community. We’ve just got to look out for everyone.’’