Special candidate standing for Gisborne District Council
9 August 2013
A man who cannot read or write and who was described by authorities as ‘mentally retarded’ is gaining wide support in his bid to become a Gisborne District Councillor.
Hemara Donnelly has lived in Kaiti all his life and is a well-known personality around Gisborne. He is most often seen in a hi-vis vest pushing his lawn-mower that he uses to earn extra income to supplement a government benefit.
“My grandfather taught me things only get done when you go through the proper channels, that is why I’m standing” said Mr Donnelly. “I have knowledge of the local community and what needs to be done.”
A Facebook campaign page for Mr Donnelly has one thousand ‘likes’ from supporters and his campaign video on YouTube has been viewed more than twelve hundred times.
Mr Donnelly has been supported in his campaign by current District Councillor Manu Caddie.
“I think it is great Hemara is doing this. He has talked about it for years and now he has got himself organised enough to give it a good go” said Mr Caddie who helped fill in the Nomination Form and transcribed Mr Donnelly’s candidate profile statement.
The amount of reading required by councillors will be challenging for Mr Donnelly but he has had offers from people who can read Council papers out to him. Mr Donnelly will need over 4,000 votes to be one of nine Gisborne city ward councillors. “Every citizen has a right to stand for Council, that is what democracy is all about.” said Mr Caddie.
“I will keep a close eye on finances to let residents know when things can be done for their area. People need to better understand how Council finances work so that everyone gets their share” said Mr Donnelly who has helped get speed inhibitors and a roundabout installed near his home to slow cars where children often play. “To keep rates affordable sometimes it means waiting a little while for our area to get fixed up, but it can be done.”
Mr Donnelly said his strength is knowing the community and people who don’t usually connect with Council. “I want to help people connect better with the services available. We all need to work together with agencies, businesses and Council. We have many pressing issues like housing, youth and employment and many people don’t know their rights. I have been and always will be an advocate for the people.”
Some of the comments on the page ask if the campaign is serious, but many more encourage Mr Donnelly offering support for the campaign and donations for campaign costs.
FACEBOOK PAGE COMMENTS:
> “Finally someone for the people. No behind the scenes popularity schemes. Just a logical person who sees what most do not. Goodluck and keep your head up.” - Janna Leigh Walker
> Proud of you Hemara. Despite a lot of adversity you have shown that a disability is not an excuse. You are up and working every day, at a job you created for yourself. - Janet Mackey
> “Too much you, raising your status from gizzys lawn mower guy with the vis vest to a member of a council. I wish you goodluck and all the best.” - Shanti Te Haeata Katipa
> Too much Hemara, Youve got my vote alday....Takes alotofguts to put yourself out there into the public eye. Meanmaorimean. - Tricia Walsh
> Tu Meke Hemara ! What I just saw on video this Iconic brother stands tall and proud of Turanganui akiwa! His thoughts regarding what he can do and bring to the table has got to be recognised ! he gets into the trenches AND MAKES THINGS HAPPEN! As for the read and write factor. not sure if he can korero Maori if he can Ming can korero with him . I say MING ..hes my choice has my vote and support . As far as putia goes to support his campaign where to etc..I will kick it off and have other whanau here in Oz Brisbane Melbourne Sydney Tautoko... – Ron Westrupp
> This guys Sooo educated holds a lot of knowledge knows his stuff an is annoying as, if anybody can get shit moving it be him. Good on you hemara - Jolene Matete
> Well done Hemara if I was there I would tautoko u dnt listen 2 any negativity I thnk it is a gd thing tht u r using all ur knowledge 2 help the people back there sum ppl may nt tak u seriously bt I say do ur best n go hard!! – Toni Brown
> As a kid in Oxford St, i remember this man. At the time i wasnt aware he had a disability i just knew he watched out for us. With strong working hands a kind and gentle heart, with good intentions. I choose to support his campaign. Good luck Hemara glad to see you are still taking care of home. - Krissy Kokiri