Judy Bell



Golden Bay County Councillor


Judy Bell

Judy Bell. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: 3363A.

I served on the Golden Bay County Council from October 1986 until October 1989 when under amalgamation Golden Bay County Council became part of the Tasman District Council.

At the age of thirty-seven in 1983 I had relocated from Auckland with my partner to a small beef farm in Golden Bay. Leaving my children, friends and family was tough so I was motivated to seek new challenges.

The Golden Bay County Council at that time was dominated by ageing white males and I thought it was time for a change to include a more diverse group of people reflecting the changing nature of the community. In 1986 I stood for Council offering a more commonsense approach, a more open council, negotiation not confrontation and better communicators to improve relations between the community and council.

In the 1986 elections the community elected four women and four men from diverse backgrounds. Change had happened.

During my three years on Council I felt that many of the important decisions on major capital spending were negotiated and made by the County Clerk and the Chairman prior to Council meetings with very little debate by the councillors. We spent more time debating minor issues such as 'tea and biscuits 'and 'remuneration for councillors'.

I quote from a 1987 meeting reported by Carol Dawber in The Nelson Evening Mail. "There was a long and involved discussion about remuneration and Councillor Shirley Nalder got angry reactions from Crs Thomas and Judy Bell when she suggested men on the Council made more financial sacrifices to attend meetings than women."

During 1987 local government was dealt another blow when the amalgamation process was begun by Mr Elwood as Chairman of the Local Government Commission. This resulted in Golden Bay joining the Tasman District Council in 1989. In my opinion this process ripped the heart out of local government in New Zealand from which it has never recovered.

This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 24. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell.

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Sources used in this story

  1. Image: Judy Bell. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: 3363A. 

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