Ruth Copeland


Nelson City Councillor 2010 - 2016

I stood for Council on a whim and made the decision overnight in August of 2010. By October of that same year I was sitting around the Council table. I campaigned on having a progressive perspective, and used the catch- phrase "Sowing the seeds of our future". 

Ruth Copeland
Nelson City Councillor 2010 - 2016

Moving back to New Zealand in itself was a shock to the system, let alone my transition to public office. It was in many ways like stepping back in time about 20 years. I recall being quite perplexed and frustrated at the slow-moving wheels of the public sector and the entrenched male-dominated resistance to change.Taking on a governance role was a pretty big transition for me. I had come from a background of PR and graphic design and had spent the best part of 13 years of my early adulthood in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I loved living there and enjoyed a very progressive social culture, clever infrastructure design and total freedom and respect as an emancipated woman in business.

I was quite outspoken on many issues, and sometimes saw that others simply didn't understand me. I guess that was a continual challenge for me, but great learning throughout that time too.

A dear colleague once said to me "Ruth, keep the people with you, be on the next page, not the next chapter!"

When I look back on that time, and the projects that have come to fruition and cultural shifts that have taken place since, I see that indeed, I did sow some good seeds that eventually sprouted.

I have taken great pleasure in watching those flowers bloom.

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 - Ruth Copeland


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