Takaka Town Board Councillor 1947 -1956
Golden Bay County Councillor 1956 - 1959
Ella Bydder was the first and only woman elected to the Takaka Town Board which was amalgamated with the Takaka County Council and Collingwood County Council in 1956 to form the Golden Bay County Council. She then became the first woman elected to the Golden Bay County Council. She was also the second woman elected to local government in the Nelson/Tasman region.
It is no longer known what motivated Ella to stand for election but we do know that this former nurse was interested in the welfare of the community. Busy as she was with four children and supporting her husband in his sole medical practice in the 1940s and 50s, she found time to take an interest in local politics.
She was instrumental in getting a morgue built at Rototai Cemetery in Takaka. This meant that the bereaved family no longer had to accommodate the deceased person at their house until the undertaker from Nelson could arrive and transport the body over the gravelled-surface Takaka Hill to Nelson. Once the body had been attended to in Nelson it was brought back to Takaka for the funeral.
Her family recall that Ella's husband did not always share her views on council matters and he had been known to tell her how to vote on a particular issue. However being an independently minded woman she would make up her own mind. On occasions this would lead him to being surprised and sometimes quite indignant when he found out via council minutes that his advice had not been followed.
Ella was well-respected by her community and her experience as a doctor's wife in Golden Bay features in Christine Hunt's book "Speaking a Silence". She died in 1985.
This was published in Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 10. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.
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