Hamilton City prepares for new public utility projects

Councillor Kesh Naidoo-Rauf sets the vision for a better future

Kesh Naidoo-Rauf with her husband Shazeel Rauf (Photo Supplied)

Praneeta Mahajan
13 December 2022

Kesh Naidoo Rauf introduces herself as a mother, a wife, a pharmacist, a vaccinator, a business owner, a City Councillor and an ethnically diverse, sensible, practical young woman living in the beautiful city of Hamilton.

Like many women, she wears many hats and does well in all the roles.

She said that the job as a City Councillor came with numerous highlights, challenges and opportunities over the past three years.

“But most importantly, I have spent this time learning the mechanics of Council. It is a huge machine and to make an impact; one needs to learn and understand the systems and processes first. I have listened, learned and worked hard,” she said.

Describing her second term as a Councillor will be ‘different,’ she said that after learning the ropes and gaining a better perspective of what the role entails, she feels that she is better prepared to action all her ideas and is excited to see her thoughts materialise into tangible projects.

Multicultural values

She said that while it is very exciting to see her vision come to fruition, the process takes its time, and patience is needed to allow the system to work with the utmost efficiency.

Photo taken at the recently refurbished Fairfield Hall Standing (from left) Viknesh Mahadevan (HCC Community Development Team Leader), Lindsey Walters (HCC Staff), ‘Ofa Pouono (Te Whare O Te Ata Centre Manager); Seated (from left) Peter Humphreys (Trustee), Ellie Wilkinson (Chair) and Kesh Naidoo-Rauf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being a South African by birth, Indian by ethnicity, and Fijian-Indian-Muslim by marriage, Ms Rauf comes across as a multicultural person who is rooted in culture and understands the social and traditional values of various faiths.

“I was 15 when my parents, siblings and I moved to Aotearoa. Having spent my early years in a country that marginalised its people by race, I am fully aware of the dangers of a segregated society,” she said during her recent local government election campaign.

She earned her Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Otago, where she met her supportive and loving life and business partner and fellow pharmacist, Shazeel Rauf.

With their children aged seven and two now, she strongly believes that the values taught to them and the example set are important for their happy and healthy future.

Collage of Photos taken at the official opening of the Enderley Te Papanui Community Centre (Website image)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Role, New Opportunities

Having worked as the Deputy Chair of the Community Committee, she has been appointed as the Chairperson during the current term.

Excitement was apparent in her voice when she said, “While it is a profile that fits in perfectly with my priorities and areas of interest, the Community portfolio is ‘huge’ and covers visitor destinations (Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo, Waikato Museum), parks and playgrounds, community houses and facilities, and engagement with different community sectors such as youth, seniors, ethnic groups and the disabled.”

She said that she is looking forward to working with the new team and putting all her experience from the first term to use.

“A lot is happening in the Community portfolio and I want to work with the Economic Development team to gain momentum for Hamilton to achieve higher standards of achievement,” she said.

From river activities and recreation to libraries, playgrounds, community halls and spaces, her role would shape the life experiences of Hamilton residents and she is aware of the value that these projects have for the communities at large.

A dream project in the making

An impressive start during her second term would be New Zealand’s first ‘All-inclusive playground.’ Designed for children of all abilities, the project has got the go-ahead from the Council and is in the process of fundraising.

Ms Rauf said that her passion project remains her work with people in the community.

She spoke about the extensive work done by the Hamilton Council’s community development team, which works relentlessly, engages with community organisations and brings its message to the Council.

“I would like to work and give them the right tools and highlight their role and engagement since that is where we can hope for a more positive impact as a community,” she said.

Ms Rauf said, “You want a seat at the table but true diversity is getting rid of the table and going out to the community and asking people how you can help.”

This resonates with her work in the Enderley area revamp.

Removing disparities

“Having lived in Enderley for 11 years, I am well aware of the disparities that exist within the different areas of Hamilton. I am so proud that my passion and advocacy have led to a larger piece of work between the Council and other stakeholders who are now collaborating to develop an Enderley/Fairfield masterplan,” she said.

Ms Rauf has met community leaders and helped to create trust and empowered them to the point that they can now advise on what their community needs.

A highlight was the official opening of the Te Papanui Community Centre a few months ago.

There are plans for a purpose-built Centre and cultural playground with more housing development projects being undertaken in the area.

Another community project on which Ms Rauf has been working since her first term is the Rototuna Community Library, skatepark and playground. Being a community-led project, there were many discussions and contributions from the diverse members of Rototuna and the project is now taking shape.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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