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Rehette Stoltz 
Gisborne Mayor 


Keynote Speaker

Born and raised in South Africa, an OE brought Rehette to Gisborne in 2001, and she immediately fell in love with Tairāwhiti and its lovely people - she has called Gisborne home for the past 23 years. 

Rehette was elected as Mayor of Gisborne in 2019 and loves tackling challenges alongside her community. 

Rehette is passionate about environmental sustainability, wants to encourage and enable balanced economic growth and she values the wonderful bi-cultural community that is unique to Tairāwhiti.

Rehette has a Masters Degree (M.Sc) in Cardiovascular Physiology, and before entering the world of politics, she was actively involved in cardiovascular research and lecturing. 




The Steep Recovery Journey in Tairāwhiti

Tairāwhiti has seen its unfair share of natural disasters in the past few years. They have dealt with 16 extreme weather events since 2017. Rehette will share with you her journey of what resilience looks like for a small, isolated community and how her community quickly had to learn to be prepared for numerous relentless severe weather events. Being the Mayor during 2 cyclones and 7 other extreme weather events in 2023, tested Rehette, her Council and Tairāwhiti Civil Defence to the max. She will discuss the challenges of being in a constant state of response and recovery for months on end and the impact on staff and Council.

She will talk about leading a devastated community when everything is broken. 

One of the biggest challenges she and her Council are facing - as a unitary authority, how do you balance the fine line between being the regulator as well as the owner of infrastructure destroyed by these events. How do you balance the expectations of your hurting community with the legal responsibilities you have as the Regional Council?  How do you deal with community anger and frustration in regard to woody debris destroying infrastructure, beaches and waterways? Rehette will share the legal, economic and emotional challenges facing her community as they travel together on this very steep recovery journey. 

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