Motueka Borough Councillor
I was appointed to the Motueka Borough Council in 1983 and served just the one term. I was asked to stand by Councillor David Ogilvie and as there were no other nominations it became a fait accompli once I had paid my $ 100.00 election deposit
I was quite excited by this new interest in my life. I had recently moved from Gore, by comparison a slightly bigger, more affluent and better appointed town in Southland. I had been surprised by what I considered to be low rates and poor quality or lack of some amenities and by the fact that some of the councillors were proud of the low rates. In my nai'vete I mentioned this and it was not taken well.
I probably did not have the right temperament for the job. I found it to be daunting and frustrating. Daunting at first because of my ignorance in the running of councils and frustrating because of the male domination on the council. After doing all that reading and preparation to find at the meeting that several members had been discussing the agenda beforehand was most frustrating and I was often left out in the cold wondering why I had bothered.
At times I felt patronized and the intransigence of one or two of the men was annoying. They were always very polite and would appear to listen but I often got the feeling I was there to rubber stamp their proposals. I hope this does not seem that I feel all' bitter and twisted' by this but it was not overall a happy experience for me.
The big topic of the time for discussion was the looming amalgamation with the Tasman Council and I think that when this happened it was for the good of both councils.
I think that the other two women on the Motueka Borough Council at the same time as me, namely, Ethene Gibbs and Pat Burnett, found attitudes to be much the same as me but they were prepared to stand again for further terms.
The general public's attitude was much the same as today - quick to complain and slow to praise or thank. I often got the impression that I was very brave or foolish to have put myself in such a position!
I left the Motueka Borough Council having learned a lot about its workings at the time and about myself. I can only praise those men of today who have come far in their attitudes to women and equality and hope that the others who haven't, catch up soon.
This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 19. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.
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