Pauline Waqaniboro – Labasa
Pauline served as a Councillor with Labasa Town Council. She was the only female Councillor and also served as the Deputy Mayor during her term
‘Actions speak more than words’ – I truly believe in this statement and strive to make this part of my character. I think people respect that.’
I come from a small village in the Province of Cakaudrove – Viani Village. I traveled to Labasa for education. I never thought that one day I would become a Councillor.
The Big Decision
As a youth representative in my district (Navatu) I organised many activities and small micro-enterprise ventures. Through these activities women and youth would meet and share their problems with me. Often my role was to help them in whatever way I could when they asked me, ‘what shall I do?’ Not only Fijians came to me, others too. This is what spurred me stand in the council elections.
In 2005, my friends recommended I run for local council because I had successfully helped a lot of people. They said, ‘we need a leader like you’. Their support strengthened my courage and gave me the confidence to take on the task and face whatever challenges might come about one-by-one and head-on.
I contested a seat that was traditionally regarded as an Asian Party seat. My Fijian community did not support me and two of my colleagues ran against me. I just kept quiet and stuck to my aims, motivations and morals and at the end of the day I was voted in.
I facilitated the Clean-up Campaign involving Labasa’s business community, youth and women’s groups. Part of the campaign included successfully sourcing the donation of new rubbish bins. The campaign was the first of its kind to involve civil society in council initiatives. It is now being encouraged in other municipalities as a positive way to encourage civic engagement and pride, with the added benefit of reducing costs.
I have also been instrumental in securing resources for community projects including new computers, books for the municipal library, and funding for school maintenance, infrastructure and convenience facilities.
Words of Advice
Once elected, you have to think as well as act in a bigger way because once you are voted in you are a mother to those who voted for you and also those who did no. You are there for everybody regardless of race, colour, creed and gender.
Looking back over my time in local council, it is important to:
• Learn to listen
• Take whatever may come as a challenge
• Learn to be patient
• Be respectful
• Work for racial equality
• Respect all rights