Elaine Taylor M.H.Sc
Waimea County Councillor 1985-1989
Tasman District Councillor 1989-1992
Born and raised in Wellington, Elaine Taylor (nee Weeber) graduated from Otago University with a M.H.Sc. (first class honours) in 1944 and was employed by the Department of Nutrition Research, Otago University Medical School. She then married agricultural chemist, Robert Taylor, and the couple travelled and worked overseas. Upon their return to New Zealand they settled in Lower Moutere; Robert continued working as an agricultural chemist and together they established an orchard and raised three children.
Elaine Taylor's involvement in local government was preceded by a lengthy period of active community engagement. She was heavily involved with young people's groups and schools and at various times secretary of Lower Moutere Scouts, the Lower Moutere School Committee, Nelson School Committees' Association, and the Motueka High School PTA.
She also chaired the Motueka High School Management Committee for one term and later served on the Board of Governors. In 1977 she was a founding member (along with Kate Light) of the Motueka district branch of the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL), an organisation committed to seeking equality for women in all areas of life, which encouraged women to seek public appointments and to be active in public life. Between 1977 and 1997 she held various positions within WEL Motueka and served as WEL's national treasurer 1986-7. (1)
Elaine later credited her involvement with the Motueka district's WEL as giving her the confidence to stand for local government. She successfully contested a by-election in 1985, aged 63, to become the Moutere member on the Waimea County Council, joining the trail- blazing Colleen Twin as one of two women on a council historically dominated by retired, male farmers. Like most county councils at the time, Waimea County Council's main focus was on roads, bridges and public works. Relatively unfamiliar territory for Elaine, it required some quick self-education. Shortly after her election she declared: 'It's good to watch the area develop. Bridges are more interesting when you are responsible for them. I've done a lot of listening and background work learning rules. I've enjoyed that.(2) She was to remain Waimea County Council's Moutere member for four years and served on the transition committee overseeing the amalgamation that established the Tasman District Council in April 1989. She was highest polling candidate for the Motueka ward in the Tasman District Council's March 1989 elections and served one term on the newly created council. Her campaign platform emphasised the need to balance the requirements of rural and urban interests, 'remembering that the prosperity of the town depends on the wealth provided in the country'. She supported the push for a free public library and was a persistent advocate for rural women and children.
In 1993 she curated a touring photographic exhibition, 'Honouring Women in Horticulture' and in the same year was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Medal. She continued her involvement with WEL until 1997 and died in Motueka in 2013, aged 91.
This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 23. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell. 2018
Sources used in this story
- Preddy, E. (2003). The WEL Herstory: the Women's Electoral Lobby in New Zealand 1975-2002. Wellington, New Zealand: WEL New Zealand with Fraser Boob. p.106. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/155859936
- Cessford, C. (1986, July 29). Bringing a female perspective to local government. Nelson Evening Mail.
- Image: Elaine Taylor 24 September 1992. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: C12480.
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Further sources - Elaine Taylor M.H.Sc
- 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
- Preddy, E. (2003). The WEL Herstory: The women’s Electoral Lobby in New Zealand 1975-2002. Wellington, New Zealand. WEL New Zealand. p. 54-55.http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/155859936
- Cassie, F. (March 16,1991). Single vote decides TDC rating debate. Nelson Evening Mail.p.3