Colleen Twin QSM
Waimea County Councillor 1983-1989
Tasman District Councillor 1989-1992
Because I had been involved in many activities in Wakefield over the years and had just successfully completed a campaign to retain the Wakefield Police Station which involved including the wider rural community, I had a high profile throughout the area. After being approached by many people over the years to stand for Council, a by-election in January 1983 was a chance to see if the ratepayers' expectation was justified and to see firsthand how Council worked.
There had been several issues that had been of concern, namely water supply, sewerage, pensioner housing and footpaths and I wanted a chance to seek resolution to these issues. What did surprise me was the financial and organisational support that the rural community gave me and so I was conclusively elected over the other candidate who had been a longstanding councillor. I became the first woman councillor on the Waimea County Council in its 106-year history.
It didn't take me long to realise that the support I had got from the rural community was motivated by political reasons and I was determined to prove that I could be my own man independent of political games.
I was successful in a further two elections, 1983 and 1986. During that time I chaired the Community Services Committee and established management committees for all sports grounds and halls on council-controlled land, and also management plans for reserves. I was also successful in establishing a redesigned sewerage scheme to all the Waimea basin and alternative funding schemes which worked well by reducing the amount of loans required.
Over the period 1986 to 1989 I was on the transition committee to combine Motueka, Richmond, Waimea and Golden Bay Councils into Tasman District Council, a challenging yet successful outcome.
In 1989 I was elected to the Tasman District Council where I once again chaired the Community Services Committee and was on the Planning Committee so I was able to see previous policies carried through to the new Council.
From being the only woman on the Waimea County Council in 1983, I was joined by Elaine Taylor in 1986 and Jo Raine in 1986. After the election for Tasman District Council in 1989 there were five women.
It was interesting to see the Council dynamics change with women on the Council. Apart from bringing a wide spectrum of background and experience they have the ability to see issues from a wider perspective. Councils seem to work on "an old boys club" syndrome when involving Engineering Works in particular and to a certain extent Finance and Property Committee responsibilities. Yet it seemed to be women who were questioning the rationale of policies and direction. I noted that when women councillors had a major input in these matters it was because they were prepared to do their homework and they came from an informed position to question and debate an issue. There was no need to form political cliques and be rubber-stamped.
This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 21. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.
Sources used in this story
- Image: Colleen Twin 31 December 1993. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: C17936.
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Further sources - Colleen Twin QSM
- Gregory, K. (c1976). Land of streams: life in the Waimea County province of Nelson: 1876-1976. Nelson, New Zealand: Waimea County Council. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/983459840
- Cassie, F. (1991, March 16). Single vote decides TDC rating debate. Nelson Evening Mail, p.3.
- Former Tasman councillor's public service recognised (1993, December 31). Nelson Evening Mail, p.3.