Among all the Johns (3), Tonys (3) and Davids (3) who claimed
the top jobs in last Saturday's local government elections,
there was only a sprinkling of Liannes, Julies, Margarets and
Fifty-five of the country's 67 new mayors are male and just
12 are female - although females will rule the roost in three
of the country's five main centres, Wellington, Christchurch
New Zealand's mayoral gender imbalance undoubtedly goes all
the way back to 1893 when Onehunga elected the British
Empire's first female mayor, Elizabeth Yates.
But what seems different in 2013 is that since the election,
gender in local body affairs has barely been an issue.
However, it surfaced during Queenstown Lakes
Mayor Vanessa van Uden's search for a deputy.
Contender Cath Gilmour told the Otago Daily Times there were
two reasons she might not get the job.
The first was that she lives in Queenstown rather than
Wanaka; the second was because ''some guys'' might not like
the idea of women holding both the mayor and deputy mayor
Those around during the women's movement of the 1970s and
'80s would have expected such a remark then, but in 2013 do
some members of the community really still vote along gender
And are there men on the Queenstown Lakes District Council
who cannot abide a female chairman?
Ms van Uden maintains gender was ''absolutely irrelevant''.
She appears to have reinforced that point by choosing Mr
Cocks on the grounds he lives in Wanaka - not because he is a
So, Ms Gilmour can take comfort from the fact she was not
passed over for promotion because she's a woman - it's
because she lives on the wrong side of the hill.
And that, apparently, is not discrimination; it's politics.