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Rural Women NZ members' success in local elections

14 October 2013

Rural Women NZ members' success in local elections

First time candidate Jacqui Church of Onewhero Rural Women has romped home in the 2013 local elections, polling in first place in the Awaroa ki Tuakau ward of the Waikato District Council, according to preliminary results.

She is one of at least ten Rural Women NZ members who secured or retained their seats on community boards, district and regional councils and on District Health Boards around the country.

*Others are:

- Theresa Stark - Waikato Regional Council
- Mary Gamble - Southern District Health Board
- Geoff Evans - Marlborough District Council - Wairau Awatere Ward, (Associate Rural Women member)
- Fiona Gower - Onewhero/Tuakau Community Board
- Hilary McNab - Catlins Ward, Clutha District Council - returned unopposed
- Sharyn Price - Corriedale Ward, Waitaki District Council
- Joan Wilson - Strath-Taieri Community Board - returned unopposed
- Kate Wilson - Mosgiel/Taieri Ward, Dunedin City Council
- Ainsley Webb - Central Otago Health Inc board community representative - returned unopposed

Rural Women National President, Liz Evans, says, "We congratulate these members who have stepped up to ensure that the rural voice is heard. There needs to be strong rural representation on councils, particularly those councils that act as unitary authorities. Services supplied and rating are very different for rural and urban people."

Many provincial local authority areas have lost their ward voting opportunities, which can make it much harder for the more isolated farming areas to be represented on urban-based councils.

"We see this even in provinces which rely for their prosperity on their primary producer ratepayers.

"I am sure these successful candidates will help to raise awareness of rural issues and promote better understanding and fairer outcomes for everyone."

Several Rural Women members also stood successfully for District Health Board positions.

"With rural health outcomes being affected by distance and access to services, it's so important that people who have a real understanding of the issues are able to advocate for rural communities when funding priorities are set and service decisions are made," says Mrs Evans.


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