Tasman District Councillor
In 2016, a few weeks before the local body elections, I was approached to stand for Tasman District Council. Initially I was surprised and declined.
However, others encouraged me to go ahead and after a brief trip to Auckland I returned and took part in the run-up to the election. I had retired two years previously from a senior nursing position, after forty-five years in the health sector. Having done a couple of years' voluntary work I was ready for a new challenge.
On being elected as a Waimea Moutere Ward councillor, there was a change of pace in my life. There was a lot to learn, in particular the Resource Management Act 1991, the Local Government Act 2002, etc. Many committee meetings, workshops, Local Government webinars, and community association meetings later, I had a better understanding of the requirements of the electorate, the role of a Unitary Authority and the need to see constructive progress for ratepayers throughout the whole district. Local government is an inefficient machine which is both enhanced and encumbered by protocols, plans and processes which have to be followed.
The challenges are huge, the system is slow and sometimes I wonder where common sense and fiscal responsibility have gone. Society has so many needs and a lot of what council does takes time and is not noticed until something affects them or goes wrong - like a burst water main. There are new requirements from Government for councils to implement, infrastructure to maintain, replace and add to, facilities to provide, transport needs, natural hazards, climate change, growth, debt to pay off and rates to keep down. Never a dull moment! The best part is working with people to acquire the best outcomes for everyone.
This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 36. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.