The youth, gender and climate quake hits Hamilton

First published in the Hamilton News on 18 October 2019

Well if that wasn’t a disruption to the status quo I don’t know what is.  With such a big shake up to our elected council let’s look at the winners and losers.  To start with, the winners were women and those who wanted a better gender balance around the council table.  Regular readers will know this is something I’ve been working behind the scenes on for over a year, so it’s been hugely satisfying for that mahi to come to fruition.  In 2016 we had eight female candidates stand for council with only three elected.  Fast forward to 2019 – there were sixteen women campaigning and six (possibly seven) elected.  That’s phenomenal.  A mihi to the YWCA of Hamilton who did some great work in that space too.  The millenials are celebrating!  In 2016 we had no councillors under 35, and now we have two (possibly three).  I was fortunate to have been involved with Seed Waikato who have championed the work to support candidates and get more people enrolled to vote – ka pai to mahi e hoa maa.  The decreased average age of the council is great for representation and advocacy for issues young people care about.  Another winner was the environment and those pushing hard for climate action.  This is a far more progressive council than we’ve seen in the past with many campaigning for cycleways, restorative planting / green spaces and public transport.  Finally, democracy wins.  Yes our voter turnout is still far too low, but a 5% increase, and being the highest since 2004 is certainly something to celebrate.  The losers? I’ll keep it short.  The candidates who pushed for keeping rates down with no other platforms or vision…  Climate change deniers, racists and anti-vaxxers.  This election result is off the chart!  Thank you Hamilton.

The election results – in short

Well that’s a wrap. Another election pretty much done and dusted and thankfully without the huge disappointment experienced in 2016 – in terms of participation and diversity.

If you haven’t been keeping up… Paula Southgate is our new Mayor elect beating incumbent Andrew King. She’ll be joined in the council chamber by…

East Ward
Mark Bunting
Kesh Naidoo-Rauf
Maxine van Oosten
Margaret Forsyth
Ryan Hamilton
Rob Pascoe

West Ward
Angela O’Leary
Martin Gallagher
Geoff Taylor
Sarah Thomson
Dave Macpherson
Ewan Wilson

Those following the voter returns for the weeks leading to election day know we were tracking to beat turnout for 2016 and 2013, and with special votes still to be counted we’re at 38.78% a 5 % increase. The highest turnout since 2004. Still painfully low but an encouraging increase nonetheless.

I’m celebrating – improved gender balance in our elected council, going from three women to six.

I’m celebrating because in 2016, none of our councillors were under 40, this time we have two – and an overall younger council.

I’m celebrating – councillors elected who advocated for the environment, climate action and cycleways.

I’m celebrating because we unseated four incumbents, which is basically unheard of – we traditionally like the status quo. Consequently we got rid of climate change deniers / racists and an anti-vaxxer.

We get the final final final results on Thursday – I’ll post again then. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for Louise Hutt to take the sixth seat for the West.

Podcast: Politics with Paul

On the first Friday of every month Paul (the other one) Barlow joins me on Free FM to recap the month in city politics.  We talk about the players, the game and the issues. In this podcast (from 17min) we round-up the candidates who have announced their intention to campaign in the upcoming election.  Candidates for Hamilton East have been coming through thick and fast (and I’m excited by them all!) – West and Regional Council a bit slower – but hey, its over a month until nominations actually open (July 12th).

New candidates include Matthew Small, Meleane Burgess, Louise Hutt, Anna Smart, Tim Young and Kesh Naidoo-Rauf.  Please spend time from now until October getting to know more about the people who want to make city decisions – on your behalf.

If you’re specifically interested in finding out more about the women campaigning – and want to support them – Political Women Waikato.

In terms of our city’s low voter turnout and lack of diversity, its been exciting to see new and diverse faces announce.  Which took us to talking about diversity, and what “f##k the status quo” actually means. 

Have a listen to the podcast – let us know what you think!

Disclaimer:  Our own un-paid opinions.  Please feel free to clarify facts if we get them wrong – we do try to be fair. Please join me in thanking Hamilton Taxis for sponsoring local content on Free FM.

One of the last taboo subjects

About 25% of women in Aotearoa have had an abortion, yet we don’t talk about it and it still comes under the Crimes Act.

In this Free FM podcast I speak to Terry Belamak from ALRANZ (Abortion law reform). I ask why this matters (human rights), the current process to access abortion in NZ, whether there is equal access across New Zealand and the process to change a 40 year old law.

Listen to the podcast, interview starts at 12min: http://bit.do/episode-133

To support ALRANZ’s petition to government – giving ministers a clear message that we want the law to change. Sign the petition below.

https://our.actionstation.org.nz/pe…/reform-our-abortion-law

You can sign more than one! Here’s another petition to change the law

https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions/document/PET_87931/petition-of-aimee-wilson-remove-abortion-from-the-crimes

Before this interview – I watched Paula Penfold’s Big Decision. Recommend!

https://interactives.stuff.co.nz/2019/circuit/

Why I think women say no to politics

In 2013, I watched the election campaign of father and son Nick and Paul Ravlich. I liked seeing people who weren’t politicians putting their hand up to make decisions for our city. Councillors always seemed the same and they certainly weren’t hanging out where I did, or making decisions congruent with my priorities. So, in 2016 I thought… ‘I’ll give it a go’ and stand as a Hamilton West candidate.

Apart from wanting to prove that you don’t have to be a rich old white man to be elected, I love this city and want to look after the things that are important to me and my family, like the environment, our community and arts and heritage. I saw local politics as a way of doing that. I changed my mind the day the nomination forms were available… there were lots of reasons – I’ll break them down.

Here are 10 reasons I think women don’t run for council

  1. It looks boring. Have you watched a council meeting?
  2. The vagueness of expected time commitment makes it hard for people with young families to decide if they can do it or not.
  3. We don’t have thousands of dollars to risk on a campaign.
  4. The job is one thing, but putting together a campaign and trying to sell ourselves to strangers is terrifying.
  5. Public speaking
  6. Being vilified in media, abused and threatened while doing ‘our job’. Particularly the stress on our family when this happens.
  7. The other councillors don’t look like ‘my kind of people’.
  8. Even if I do vote one way, the rest will vote against and I won’t be effective. What’s the point?
  9. I’m not sure I want to participate in a broken political system.
  10. Rinse and repeat.

Tomorrow I’ll be meeting with other women who want to change politics, and support other women to campaign in the election. Watch this space.

If you want to come along 10-12pm Saturday May 4th. YWCA Hamilton (Pembroke Street).

Waikato Wahine: Louisa Higginson

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader

This week: In this special Anzac commemorative episode historian and author Jane Tolerton talks about the role of women in the war – before Kelli uncovers the story of Louisa Higginson, a Waikato nurse who paid her own way to London before signing up to serve in Malta and Egypt.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz or listen to the podcast right now via this link

http://bit.do/WaikatoWomen-LouisaHiggonson

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.



Waikato wāhine: Eva Rickard

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine is an exploration into the lives of trailblazing Waikato women. Over five weeks I will tell the stories of a politician, businesswomen, artist, activist and Te Ao Maori leader.

This week: Eva Rickard worked tirelessly for land rights, social justice and for the government to honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Telling Stories: Waikato Wāhine airs 5pm Tuesday on Free FM 89.0;
 live streamed via the Access Internet Radio NZ app, via TuneIn or from freefm.org.nz or listen to the podcast right now via this link

http://bit.do/eva-rickard

This Free FM series is supported by the Ministry for Women, New Zealand Suffrage 125 community fund and Browsers Bookshop in Hamilton.