Congratulations to Onewhero Rural Women NZ member, Fiona Gower, a first time candidate, who was elected to the Onewhero-Tuakau Community Board in the Local Elections 2013.
Fiona, what inspired you to put your hand up for local body politics?
Being involved in the community in other ways, I saw an opening for me on the Board. I also had a couple of people I know approach me and ask whether I was interested in standing, and this is really what got me thinking about it.
Has being a Rural Women NZ member influenced your decision to stand?
Yes, being a member did influence me in a number of ways. Of course, firstly, being on the Agri-Women’s Development Trust Escalator Programme this year has enhanced my governance, strategic and financial skills, along with leadership and communication skills. This has given me the ability and confidence to stand. Also being a Rural Women member has shown me the importance of supporting our communities, and this is one way of doing it. I have built up a wonderful network in the area through our local Onewhero group and our activities, which means I feel I have a good chance.
What do you see as the most important qualities for a community board member?
- Good governance skills, being able to create, follow and change strategic plans, and able to evaluate their effectiveness;
- Good communication skills – being able to talk to the communities and ready to listen to their issues, then report back to get points across
- Being able to work in a group, often with a range of personalities and backgrounds
- Being involved in the community, the issues and knowing the people in it, so people know who to go to if they have an issue, and board members and councillors knowing strategic people in the community to go to about issues or with information.
What are the top three rural issues facing the Onewhero community?
1. Change of land use with the population growth potential, and housing for these people.
2. Equality of services with urban counterparts – roads, communication etc
3. Rural representation on all district/board issues, to make sure the rural voice is heard.
If you could change one thing affecting your rural community during your term in office, what would it be?
That the community has a better idea of what the Community Board does and how they can interact with it and have a voice for their issues – so they have somewhere to go to raise issues and be heard, other than by their local councillor. And to make sure things are heard and dealt with by the Council.
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