Wellington City Council is paying tribute to cultural advisor Billie Tait-Jones who passed away recently. Billie was an integral part of Wellington City Council’s governance and assurance directorate, a key member of the Tira Poutama Iwi Partnerships team and a valued apiha with council for 14 years.
In a book created as a tribute to Billie and given to her whanau at a tangi held for her at Pipitea Marae, council said Billie had been “the beating heart, warm soul and the gentle guide of tikanga Maori” for all her time with council.
“Billie touched everyone’s lives through her warmth, kindness, mana and knowledge. Her fun sense of humour, joy for life, and cheeky laugh will long be remembered. She was a long-time friend, whanaunga, supporter and advocate of various groups including the art, ethnic and multicultural, and LGBT communities.”
In a press release, mayor Justin Lester said Billie was a beloved colleague who gave decades of service to the city. “As cultural advisor, Billie helped foster a much greater understanding of tikanga Maori in Wellington.”
He said she was a wonderful woman – kind, optimistic, supportive and always positive.
“Billie took real pride in serving her city, and treated everyone she came across with empathy and grace.
“For me, what was most defining about Billie was her commitment to people. For someone who was routinely advising senior managers, politicians and parliamentarians, Billie’s real focus was always on people in need.”
CEO Kevin Lavery wrote in the book of tributes that Billie had had a big impact on him “by simply being human – the quiet joke, her kindness, the cheeky grin and, on occasion, that steadfast will”.
“Billie was one of a kind. She had a positive impact on almost everyone else at council too. Billie saw light over dark, love over anger and above all else, she always put people first.”
Deborah Howse, head of assurance wrote, “I will really miss seeing her infectious smile, hearing her laughter, her easy mix of English and te reo on the phone and her encouragement, but above all, the aroha she gave so freely with no conditions attached.
“Rest at peace with your tipuna Billie. We were lucky to have been around you and richer for the kindness you showed us.”
This article was first published in the December 2017 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.