On 19 September we celebrated 125 years since New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Although it wasn’t until 1919 that women were eligible to stand for Parliament and another 40 years before Elizabeth McCombs became Aotearoa’s first elected female member of parliament.
Ellen Melville, the first woman elected on to Auckland City Council in 1913, stood unsuccessfully for parliament in 1919 for the electorate of Grey Lynn. She went on to stand a further six times always polling highly but blocked from achieving her potential by the sexism of the time. The Ellen Melville Centre in Freyberg Place was erected in memory of her 33-year membership of the Auckland City Council. To coincide with the one year anniversary of the re-opening of the upgraded Ellen Melville Centre the local board and the Auckland Branch of the National Council of Women recently hosted a morning tea in honour of The Rt Hon Helen Clark who has a room named after her at the Centre. The former Prime Minister continues to be a strong advocate for women’s rights.
I’m grateful for all the women who fought vigorously for the right to vote and for the right to stand for public office. I ultimately owe my career to them. I was first elected on to the Local Board in 2010 on the City Vision ticket but in 2009 I experienced my first taste of political campaigning when I stood unsuccessfully as an independent in the Auckland Energy Consumer Trust election. Now renamed Entrust, the 5 Trustees are elected every three years by the 320,000 Auckland electricity account holders. Entrust owns a 75% share in Vector providing an annual dividend to consumers. The Entrust election usually goes under the radar resulting in a very low voter turnout. However, what has been described as the “least well-known political soap opera in Auckland” has been blown open. The C&R trustees, who have held all spots on the Trust for 9 years, are infighting and have dumped long standing Vector chair, Michael Stiassny. There are indications C&R are planning on selling down the Vector shares. There are serious issues at stake that hopefully will encourage far more electricity account holders to exercise their right to vote even if it does require a trip to a post box!
Pest Free Auckland 2050
As part of Conservation week, Auckland Council recently hosted Pestival 2018 an annual event to showcase community-led conservation and an opportunity to discuss best practice to create predator free environments that encourage the return of native birds.
Broadcaster and Grey Lynn local Jesse Mulligan was MC for the event. He paid tribute to the many volunteers who are working on Pest Free Auckland 2050 initiatives. Jesse is also coordinator of Predator Free Grey Lynn, a local group that aims to get rid of native bird killers like rats and stoats. There are other local Predator Free New Zealand groups that can be found on Facebook or via Auckland Council’s website page Pest Free Auckland 2050.