WelCom December 2022
Palmerston North’s new deputy mayor, Debi Marshall-Lobb, is a former Catholic school principal, including at Hato Pāora Catholic Māori Boys’ College and Masterton’s Chanel College.
Mayor Grant Smith sees a positive future for Marshall-Lobb (Rangitāne and Ngāti Rangi), who is fluent in New Zealand’s three official languages – English, Te Reo and New Zealand Sign.
Despite being a first-term councillor, Smith says the former Catholic school principal would bring mana to the deputy mayor’s role.
‘Debi’s appointment is a real milestone for Palmerston North, with this triennium being the first time our city has had Māori ward councillors and the first time we have a wāhine Māori as deputy mayor.’
Smith said Marshall-Lobb’s previous leadership and governance experience chairing the NZ National Teacher’s Council and as a school principal would be assets.
‘She has a passion for education and a real commitment to bringing people together and strengthening communities. Debi is the perfect fit for a deputy mayor, and I look forward to working with her.’
The mother of four is currently the acting head of Māori department at Palmerston North Boys’ High School.
Marshall-Lobb says the 133 ethnicities represented in Palmerston North is a real tāonga.
Asked what she would like to achieve in the next three years, she says she hopes she’ll be able to look back and see people were not afraid of ‘things Māori’ and could see the Treaty partnership had benefits for everyone.
All the councillors voted in at the election were officially welcomed in October with a pōwhiri in Te Marae o Hine. Following that ceremony, the councillors were sworn in and the inaugural council meeting was held in the council chamber.
Marshall-Lobb’s appearance in the council chamber for the swearing-in of the new council was personally poignant. Her mother was a city councillor from 1989 to 1995.
‘I know my late mother, Yvonne Marshall, would be looking down and smiling as I follow in her footsteps,’ Marshall-Lobb says.