Barbara Heaton



Tasman District Councillor


Barbara Heaton

Barbara Heaton

It was my involvement in the Richmond Community Health Group, Nelson Health Action and other community organisations that prompted me to stand for Council. I felt it was the ultimate way to work for, and with, the community to make positive changes. I didn't stand for any particular issues, except the general wellbeing of my community.

I stood for election in 1992 but did not get elected as one of three Richmond Councillors. However, part way through 1993 one longstanding Richmond councillor died and the Council voted to appoint the next highest polling candidate (me) to fill the vacancy.

Learning the many aspects of a District Council was incredibly interesting and I valued the support offered by the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and women councillors. I was familiar with meeting procedure, which was a bonus, and I thoroughly understood governance versus management.

I was particularly interested to improve communication from the Council to the ratepayers and an informative fortnightly publication was developed. I enjoyed all engineering aspects of Council and felt a woman's voice on that committee gave some balance to what had previously been a male domain.

Chairing a number of public meetings around the district when a new River Rate was being proposed was my biggest challenge. I also chaired the committee set up to establish the Richmond Aquatic Centre. This now hugely popular swimming complex was at the time quite controversial.

During my time there were four women councillors and we were able to support each other and discuss issues, which was valuable.

I narrowly missed re-election in 1998 but went on to be very involved with the Richmond Business Community and re-development of the Richmond Central Business District (CBD).

This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 28. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.

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