Ann Lewis QSM
Golden Bay County Councillor 1980-1989
Chair Golden Bay County Council 1986-1989
Tasman District Councillor 1989-1995
I served on the Golden Bay County Council from 1980 - 1989 and on the Tasman District Council from 1989 - 1995.
I never considered standing for Council and when our local librarian suggested I do so I laughed and forgot about it. A couple of weeks later our vet made the same suggestion so I began to think about it and eventually stood successfully.
At first I felt the men were uncertain about how I would fit in, but at the end of one meeting one of them pushed his chair back and said "I meant to tell you blokes". Silence, when he remembered that one of the group was not a bloke. I laughed and said I did not mind being a bloke and from then on we all had a good working relationship.
On a regional committee, the tea trolley was brought in, the men stood politely back whilst I poured a cup of tea and before I could pick it up, one of them took it. As I did not regard myself as the tea lady, I held firmly on to the next cup and saucer whilst pouring the tea and stood back to allow the men to help themselves - no more problems!
In 1986 I was elected Chair of Golden Bay County Council and in that position also became a member of the Nelson Bays United Council. I understand that although there were several women Mayors, I was one of only two women in New Zealand to chair a County Council.
I also attended several regional committees as the first and only woman. Hopefully I always did my job to the best of my ability and had few problems with gender issues. However, I noticed that when these were raised it created a divide between the male and female members of the group, which did not help matters.
On the formation of the Tasman District Council, we had an excellent Mayor who helped to develop a good working relationship between members and there seemed to be few problems.
Many of the organisations I had become involved in were as a result of being a councillor.
In 2006 I was awarded the Queen's Service Medal.
Sources used in this story
- Image: Ann Lewis 18 March 1994. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: C19113.
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Further sources - Ann Lewis QSM
- Newport, J. N. W. (1975). Golden Bay: One hundred years of local government. Takaka, New Zealand.: Golden Bay County Council. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/4809463
- Service to bay recognised. (2006, June 5). Nelson Mail. p. 3.
- O’Connor. N. (1989, November 4).Golden Bay’s leading women. Nelson Evening Mail. p.4.