Mary Lafrentz



Tasman District Councillor


Mary Lafrentz

Mary Lafrentz 22 March 1994. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: C28826.

I was approached by the late Elaine Taylor, a Waimea County Councillor and Kate Light, a Motueka Borough Councillor to put myself forward in July 1989 for a new Motueka Community Board proposed at the time of the restructuring of local government. I then stood in the local government elections of October 1989 and was elected to the Motueka Community Board.

I felt I was on the sideline when attending many Council meetings as representatives from the Community Board had no voting or speaking rights. So I decided to stand as one of the three councillor representatives for the Motueka Ward in the 1992 elections. I stood again in the 1995 elections but was unsuccessful.

Mayor Marshall gave me two portfolios: Health and Friendly Towns. Health was busy with Golden Bay, Murchison and Motueka at that time facing government changes to the local hospitals and health support.

Under Friendship (Sister Cities) I worked with the committee in Richmond, and oversaw the signing of the agreement with Fujimi-Machi in Japan. Motueka was chosen by Kiyosato in the Japanese Island of Hokkaido to be its Friendly Town. This very successful partnership has resulted in student exchanges between Motueka and Kiyosato High Schools. Three exchange students chose to get a university degree which allowed them to travel back to Kiyosato to be employed by that town as English language teachers. I look on my nearly 30 years of involvement with Kiyosato as being great for the community, especially the youth and well worth the "fight" (it was Japan after all).

On the Tasman District Council I did find as a woman one had to work very hard and often you had to prove your knowledge (e.g. on the Works Committee) to be accepted as an equal.

Being a councillor opens many doors. You have to decide if they should be entered. Are you helping them? Do they sincerely need your help?

I would do it all again! It is called walking beside and helping those in your communities.

This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 27. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell. 

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Sources used in this story

  1. Image: Mary Lafrentz 22 March 1994. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: C18968

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Further sources - Mary Lafrentz


  • Lafrentz, M. (1997, Jun 9). Councillors' pay. Nelson Mail, p. 7.
  • Mackay, D. (1995, Dec 16).  On the bus...for one term: Motueka ward tough on women. Nelson Mail, p.13-14.