Gail Collingwood


Nelson City councillor 1995 - 2013 Deputy Mayor 2001 - 2007

I stood for election in 1995 as I had been involved with lobbying Council with submissions on various issues like resource consents, annual plans and specific consultations through my membership of the Nelson branch of National Council of Women.

gail collingwood
Gail Collingwood NCC councillor 1995 - 2013 Deputy Mayor 2001 - 2007

Following the election I was the only inexperienced councillor at the table as previous councillors had been returned. The decision-making carried on as usual and for me it was sink or swim as at that time training for councillors was non-existent.

Fortunately during my first year government reviewed and changed legislation relating to local government introducing different procedures and processes. Training workshops supporting these changes levelled out the knowledge of all councillors.

I indicated to the Mayor my preference for challenging roles and responsibilities taking me out of my comfort zone rather than those connected to my background skills.

During the six terms I served on most council committees from Corporate Governance to Environment and the Regional Transport Committee. I chaired many committees: Housing Forum and Trafalgar 200, Infrastructure, Policy and the Hearing Panel, becoming one of the first people trained and certified to act as a Resource Management Commissioner. I was a member of external committees such as Joint Shareholders, Provincial Museum, Emergency Management, Total Mobility and Kotahitanga Hui. I held positions on working parties such as The Bus, Housing, Heritage, Water Quality and Dog Policy.

Other responsibilities included Sister Cities, brass band, Whakatu Marae, Founders Park, Broadgreen Society and award judging. Nationally I served on the Local Government New Zealand Prostitution Response Project Team 2003.

Matters relating to toilets became a recurring theme starting with a toilet tour visiting every Nelson City Council toilet, consent hearing for sewage ponds, holding tank disposal facility, Montgomery Super Loo upgrade and lastly opening the Cock toilet on the 1903 site. Photos of the toilet opening went worldwide.

In the absence of the Mayor I held responsibility as Acting Mayor several times. This added new dimensions and exciting opportunities. The top highlights of my council experience were welcoming the Dalai Lama to the city and hosting the Maori Queen Dame Te Atairangikaahu for the Trafalgar 200 commemorations. New ambassadors and diplomats visited to present their credentials to the Mayor's office, many making return visits to enjoy the special character of Nelson.

Sister City delegations of Mayors and officials including students of all ages from China, Japan and USA were very special, rewarding and exhausting. Special award presentations and citizenship ceremonies where newcomers become citizens of New Zealand and Nelson were heart-warming. These tasks made council life daunting, challenging, interesting and exciting.

In the 2008 Queen's Birthday honours I was appointed to the Queen's Service Order for services to local body affairs, women  and the community

 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 - Gail Collingwood


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