The Otago Daily Times is profiling mayoral
candidates in Otago's heartland. Today, Christina McDonald
talks to Vanessa van Uden, standing in Queenstown Lakes.
Queenstown Lakes district's mayor for the past
three years, Vanessa van Uden, showed no hesitation in
standing again, spurred on by ''people seeing positive action
being taken, more efficiency and simpler interaction with
[the] council''. Though she insists ''there's always more
work to be done''.
Why are you standing for mayor?
''We have started the job of making this council an
efficient, effective and well-governed organisation. I want
to finish the job. Great steps have been taken in the last
three years and we need to continue to focus on finding ways
to make it easier and more efficient to work with council. I
have the experience to lead a council that wants to deliver
better outcomes to the community it serves.''
Will you be a hands-on mayor and why?
''I have been for the last three years and I intend to
continue in the same way. This is not a 9-to-5 job and it is
important to recognise there are commitments all over our
district. I have travelled the whole district many times and
I think it is important that the mayor is able and willing to
do that. I have found it is also important to be involved on
a daily basis as your understanding and knowledge about what
is going on.''
What position do you think the district is in?
''The Queenstown Lakes is a wonderful place to live and we
are in good heart. Results from the recent ratepayer survey
showed that residents feel a great sense of pride in the
district and that is something we all want to ensure
continues. When I open conferences here, I always talk about
the buzz you feel around the Queenstown Lakes and that is
from the people who live here, who chose to be here and are
happy to be living in a wonderful natural environment. Sure,
we have some challenges but we are can do people and I think
that is reflected in the prevailing attitude of let's get on
What are three issues facing the incoming council?
''1) Ensuring the changes made in the organisation review are
settled in and keeping their eye on achieving the ultimate
outcome - a better council serving the Queenstown Lakes
''2) Making the district plan reflect a balanced approach to
our future, protecting our valuable environment and enabling
us to keep living here, growing and getting out of the
never-ending Environment Court cycle.
''3) Getting all of our communities to work together to
deliver better outcomes for all.''
What would be one thing you would like to have achieved by
the end of your term and why?
''To have brought both sides of the Crown Range closer
together. I would like to see us working together to grow and
enjoy living here rather than sniping at who has what and who
gets more. ''Undoubtedly, there are some challenges
associated with this but if everyone starts of with an
attitude of `let's make it happen' rather than patch
protection, we can achieve it.''
Do you think Wanaka people are adequately catered for by
the Queenstown Lakes District Council and why?''
Absolutely. There is no inequity between decisions made for
Queenstown and decisions made for Wanaka. We are both
distinct communities with different needs and that is
recognised around the council table.
''In the end, decisions are made based on need, rather than
want, as you do in all aspects of life. The council does not
have a magic money tree and we are making decisions on what
to do with other people's money [which they have no choice
about paying to us] and we need to do that responsibly.''
Is affordable housing for Queenstown Lakes an issue for
''Affordable housing is an issue for everyone in the
Queenstown Lakes not just council. be it the young families
that are trying to put roots down here or the business
wanting to employ skilled staff who are able to stay here
''Council has a role to play and we continue to do that
through support of the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing
Trust, implementation of changes to the district plan to
recognise the issue and keeping a tight lid on rates.
Developers also have a part to play in releasing the
available zoned land to the market.''