Time to give back

. . . by jumping in the deep end

. . . by jumping in the deep end

DISTRICT COUNCILLOR FENN: Karen Fenn says her life is about others now.

Picture by Paul Rickard

Karen Fenn most likely came to your attention smiling out at you from a campaign billboard as she ran for local council in November. Sophie Rishworth spoke with the new Gisborne district councillor about why she ran for local politics, and what is most dear to her heart.

Karen believes in growth and being the best person you can be.

“The only way you can do this is to jump in the deep end, get out of your comfort zone and feel the vulnerability. I did that and the growth that came was amazing,” says Karen.

Karen, 47, is talking about her run for council, putting herself out there publicly because she wanted to make a difference. Getting out of her comfort zone included seeing her face all over town and public speaking. She dived in the deep end and swam with her trademark openess, toughness, and honest approach of just saying it like it is.

She received more than 4500 votes and she was the eighth highest polling candidate for a person who a couple of months before was a virtual unknown in the world of local politics. First and foremost she wants to thank those who voted for her.

“I am no better than anyone else, I am just a regular person who has stood up to speak for you. This is a great place and I have a vision of our community continuing to work together to make it even better. We have a great team of councillors who bring diverse representation to the table but we are all collectively motivated for the community as a whole.”

'This journey has put my life into perspective'

Karen explains this new council is already governed by an existing Long Term Plan that ends next year. So for now it is about maintaining the work already in progress, while beginning to think about the new Long Term Plan.

“This means it is important for councillors to have a positive working relationship with council staff, who have the expertise in their specialised areas. Building this relationship enables you to positively work together for the future.”

The whole experience has matured her, she says.

“This journey has put my life into perspective. I’ve had my fun days and it is now time to give back to this beautiful place that has so much potential. I have children and I understand how important it is for young people to be supported to succeed."

Depression, suicide and poverty are plaguing today’s youth and Karen knows employment is one of the answers for our young people. Helping the young people of Gisborne become employable is one of her goals. She hopes to achieve this goal as a district councillor and through her role at Activate Tairawhiti as the employability works co-ordinator.

“I will work hard and make the best balanced decisions that I can.”

There's a toughness to 'being little'

Karen comes from a rural and equestrian background. She has a physical and mental toughness about her that she puts down to “being little”. At 5ft 1.5 inches without heels, Karen will fight for what is right with a “let’s get on with it and get the job done” personality to go with it.

Karen was raised with her family on Huiarua Station, a 21,000-acre farm owned by H.B. Williams at the time. She has an HT licence and can skin and gut a sheep if she has too. After her schooling in Gisborne she moved out of town to follow her equestrian career. She returned to Gisborne where she and her husband, refrigeration engineer Kieran Fenn, raised two children.

“I am now at an age where my children are independent, I am not climbing any corporate ladder and it is now about what I can do for this community.”

Life has changed somewhat and it has brought extra attention. Someone stopped her in the street recently and asked, “did you used to be on Shortland Street?”

“I just told them, ‘I’m not famous — I just ran for council’. But what I like about it is young people who say, ‘hey, I know you, you were on that picture thing by the YMCA and you help youth. Thank you for doing this for us’.”

Karen is a positive personality who likes to work with vibrant, positive and like-minded people who want to make a difference to this region as well.

'I've made the right decision'

Karen has been in her new role as councillor coming up five months and says, “I love it. I’ve made the right decision, it is where I want to be.”

For the last 18 years she has worked in various roles, which have all revolved around youth, employment, organising and planning — her strengths. She wants to reach as many young people as possible to get them to an employable stage. One of the issues facing Gisborne at the moment is the ageing population, and again, this is why the youth are so important, she says.

Karen would like to thank her friends and particularly acknowledge the support from her family. She remembers fondly when her son said to her, “You’ll get in Mum — I know you will”.

Karen Fenn most likely came to your attention smiling out at you from a campaign billboard as she ran for local council in November. Sophie Rishworth spoke with the new Gisborne district councillor about why she ran for local politics, and what is most dear to her heart.

Karen believes in growth and being the best person you can be.

“The only way you can do this is to jump in the deep end, get out of your comfort zone and feel the vulnerability. I did that and the growth that came was amazing,” says Karen.

Karen, 47, is talking about her run for council, putting herself out there publicly because she wanted to make a difference. Getting out of her comfort zone included seeing her face all over town and public speaking. She dived in the deep end and swam with her trademark openess, toughness, and honest approach of just saying it like it is.

She received more than 4500 votes and she was the eighth highest polling candidate for a person who a couple of months before was a virtual unknown in the world of local politics. First and foremost she wants to thank those who voted for her.

“I am no better than anyone else, I am just a regular person who has stood up to speak for you. This is a great place and I have a vision of our community continuing to work together to make it even better. We have a great team of councillors who bring diverse representation to the table but we are all collectively motivated for the community as a whole.”

'This journey has put my life into perspective'

Karen explains this new council is already governed by an existing Long Term Plan that ends next year. So for now it is about maintaining the work already in progress, while beginning to think about the new Long Term Plan.

“This means it is important for councillors to have a positive working relationship with council staff, who have the expertise in their specialised areas. Building this relationship enables you to positively work together for the future.”

The whole experience has matured her, she says.

“This journey has put my life into perspective. I’ve had my fun days and it is now time to give back to this beautiful place that has so much potential. I have children and I understand how important it is for young people to be supported to succeed."

Depression, suicide and poverty are plaguing today’s youth and Karen knows employment is one of the answers for our young people. Helping the young people of Gisborne become employable is one of her goals. She hopes to achieve this goal as a district councillor and through her role at Activate Tairawhiti as the employability works co-ordinator.

“I will work hard and make the best balanced decisions that I can.”

There's a toughness to 'being little'

Karen comes from a rural and equestrian background. She has a physical and mental toughness about her that she puts down to “being little”. At 5ft 1.5 inches without heels, Karen will fight for what is right with a “let’s get on with it and get the job done” personality to go with it.

Karen was raised with her family on Huiarua Station, a 21,000-acre farm owned by H.B. Williams at the time. She has an HT licence and can skin and gut a sheep if she has too. After her schooling in Gisborne she moved out of town to follow her equestrian career. She returned to Gisborne where she and her husband, refrigeration engineer Kieran Fenn, raised two children.

“I am now at an age where my children are independent, I am not climbing any corporate ladder and it is now about what I can do for this community.”

Life has changed somewhat and it has brought extra attention. Someone stopped her in the street recently and asked, “did you used to be on Shortland Street?”

“I just told them, ‘I’m not famous — I just ran for council’. But what I like about it is young people who say, ‘hey, I know you, you were on that picture thing by the YMCA and you help youth. Thank you for doing this for us’.”

Karen is a positive personality who likes to work with vibrant, positive and like-minded people who want to make a difference to this region as well.

'I've made the right decision'

Karen has been in her new role as councillor coming up five months and says, “I love it. I’ve made the right decision, it is where I want to be.”

For the last 18 years she has worked in various roles, which have all revolved around youth, employment, organising and planning — her strengths. She wants to reach as many young people as possible to get them to an employable stage. One of the issues facing Gisborne at the moment is the ageing population, and again, this is why the youth are so important, she says.

Karen would like to thank her friends and particularly acknowledge the support from her family. She remembers fondly when her son said to her, “You’ll get in Mum — I know you will”.

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