Alison McAlpine QSO JP


Alison McAlpine
Nelson City Councillor 2007 - 2010

Nelson City Councillor 2007 - 2010                    

I was elected to the Nelson City Council in 2007 with a group of five others on a "Hands Up" ticket. We anticipated being able to drive significant change as this was the mandate we stood for and had gained considerable support for through the voting system.I served one term until 2010 when a Caucus appointment to Chair the NZ Teachers Council unhappily compromised the time available for local government.

I believed (naively) that we, the Hands Up group, could make a difference. We did not understand that we would inherit the work plan from the preceding Council and there would be very little time to deliver on our vision and promises within our first term.

I had come from a role of having a vision and making it happen. I was previously the Principal of Nelson College for Girls for 19 years. I found the Local Government Act a barrier and the endless consultation, albeit necessary, very time-consuming and frustrating.

I grew to appreciate the hard-working staff and gained an understanding of their challenges to be all things to all people. They, and we as a Council, were often in a no-win situation. I guess this is the price of democracy!

A huge time burden was the volume of reading necessary to be able to contribute meaningfully at various meetings. This preparation was never factored in to our small financial reimbursement. However, while financial reward was not a motivation, I wish more people could appreciate the fine work, endurance and time commitment their elected representatives give in service to their community.

The role gave me personally yet another opportunity to contribute, along with my colleagues, to the growth and development of our city. This was a privilege.

  This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p.44. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.

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Further sources - Alison McAlpine QSO JP


  • Richardson, S., Henry, E., Collingwood, G. Mitchell, H. (2018). Women decision-makers Nelson and Tasman 1944-2018. Nelson, New Zealand