Liz Thomas



Golden Bay County Councillor


Liz Thomas

Liz Thomas. Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: 3363A

I was one of the wave of so-called alternative life-stylers (some would say hippies) who moved into Golden Bay in the seventies. We formed a group called the Rural Resettlement Association (RRA) to persuade the Council to change their rural policies and allow scrub-covered pakihi land to be subdivided for rural residential living. This resulted in RRA member and local teacher, Philip Woollaston, being elected onto the Council as Chairman, from 1979-1980. When he left, after introducing a forward-thinking District Plan, the Council reverted to a conservative group of businessmen and farmers , with one woman, which in no way represented the changed demographic in the Bay.

I was elected at a by-election four years later in 1984, narrowly beating two women farmers by ten and twenty votes. As a younger woman I was regarded with some trepidation by fellow councillors, and often found myself as the sole voice on some controversial issues.

Just before the next election in 1986, the County Clerk at 6 am on a Saturday morning bulldozed down a one-hundred-year old laurel hedge which was the subject of an inquiry by the ombudsman. The community was outraged, and only the two women councillors were re-elected. The new Council of four women and four men had an average age about 20 years younger than previously, with women as both Chair and Deputy Chair (me). Sadly this was the last term of the Golden Bay County Council as, despite our best efforts, we were amalgamated into the Tasman District Council in 1989.

This was published in: Women Decision-Makers Nelson and Tasman 1944 -2018, p. 22. Compiled by Dr Shelley Richardson, Elaine Henry, Gail Collingwood, Hilary Mitchell. 2018

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Sources used in this story

  1. Image: Liz Thomas (date unknown) Nelson Provincial Museum, Nelson Mail Collection: 3363A. 

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