Babbie Joyce


Nelson City Councillor 2001 - 2004

My husband and I sailed from the east coast of the USA and arrived in New Zealand in 1990. We decided to get residency in 1993 and citizenship in 1997. In 1998 we sailed into Port Nelson harbour and decided to make Nelson our home.

babbie joyce
Babbie Joyce, councillor 2001-2004

In mid-2001 I was encouraged by several people to run for a position on the Nelson City Council. I decided to do my part in helping to make Nelson a better place. I was delighted and honoured to be elected as a Nelson City Councillor in October of 2001. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me as this was my first time serving a community in politics. The learning curve was steep but I was up for the challenge.

I was appointed to a portfolio that included the Prosperity Committee (later to be the Economic Development Programme), the Safer Community Council and the Community and Whānau meetings (where Nelson Tasman Housing Trust began). We had responsibilities to attend, read all paperwork before the meetings and make decisions for the Nelson district. There was a fine balance between the social, economic, environmental and cultural aspects of our strong and vibrant city. I believe that I was truly a servant to represent the people of Nelson. With two university degrees, I brought knowledge, life experience and an understanding of the culture to the table.

After serving one term on the City Council, due to family responsibilities, I was unable to put my name forward for another term. Fortunately over the next ten years, I was able to continue the work, as a volunteer, with the Community and Whānau meetings and the Safer Community Council. During my time as a councillor, I was part of the decision to support the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. Over the next fourteen years, my husband and I supported and did extensive volunteer hours on that project.

I remember a local government workshop that the new councillors attended in Christchurch in 2002. An older gentleman approached me and another new female councillor from Nelson. He said, "Oh, you must be the Mayor of Nelson's Girls!" I immediately replied, "No, you don't understand. He is one or OUR BOYS!" We all had a good laugh. We just had to set the record straight.

This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 54. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.

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Further sources - Babbie Joyce


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