Aiming to build strength in Dunedin communities, carry the city forward

What do you know about the 14 candidates contesting the 2019 Dunedin mayoral elections? City council reporter Chris Morris puts the questions to Christine Garey.

Christine Garey

  • Age: 63.
  • Brought up: Oamaru, moved to Dunedin for university, then returned early 1990s.
  • Occupation: Councillor, former tour guide, manager, educator, small business owner.
  • Council/governance experience: City councillor, community board member, deputy chairwoman and chairwoman, LGNZ community board executive committee representative.
  • Political orientation: Declined to say.
  • Describe yourself in three words: Positive, courageous, collaborative.

Dunedin city councillor Christine Garey says she has entered the mayoral race with a clear aim - to win it.

The first-term councillor, previously chairwoman of the Otago Peninsula Community Board, is promising more than just a steady hand on the tiller.

She wants to build strength in Dunedin's communities, while addressing the city's climate change, housing and transport challenges, and is promising to be a fulltime mayor if elected.

Why should people vote for you to be mayor?

I've got a positive vision, I'm experienced, I understand what the job involves, I've had 12 years' experience in local government ... I understand what's ahead of us in terms of challenges, and I have the courage to address those.

And I believe that I provide that steady hand at the helm ... I think, for a lot of people, they're concerned we may go backwards depending on who's elected. It's really important that whomever the voters elect, that it carries the momentum of the city forward. We're at a really exciting point. We've got a really bright future, but it requires whoever it is leading the city to keep their nerve and carry on that momentum.

Christine Garey
Christine Garey

What would your priorities be as mayor?

There are the obvious ones of strengthening communities - that's really important in the face of climate change. Climate action has to be right at the top, because we've made a commitment to the community and it's of particular urgency.

Housing and transport issues that need addressing urgently, too. The Mayors' Taskforce for Housing and the action plan that came out of that, supporting that work and carrying on that plan, to improve the quality of the housing stock, and the availability and affordability of it as well. The quality of it is particularly important to the wellbeing of our people.

Even though we don't have control of the buses, an efficient, effective, affordable bus system is pivotal to us solving the issue of parking, and to cutting our emissions. That work we've started on providing an inner-city bus loop, with a low emission bus free for people in that central city CBD, I see as really important towards that work.

What makes you qualified for the job?

I have the experience of 12 years in local government. I don't believe it's a job you can parachute into with no local government experience. The other thing I bring is a total focus to it. I've got a long-held view that this job is a fulltime role.

What is the city doing well, and what could it do better?

We are doing very well at attracting new residents. People can't wait to come to Dunedin. They're excited about it ... I think we could do better at communicating with our residents about things that we assume they know.

How do you balance the need to keep investing in growth and the infrastructure needed to accommodate that, and the need to keep rates affordable?

I absolutely understand we have people on fixed incomes, and low incomes, and the amounts of money that council talks about are eye-watering amounts of money. Those are at both ends of the spectrum.

We need help from central government for the kind of work we're doing on climate change. That's going to have to have some help from central government.

Do we have a parking problem and what can be done?

Of course it is. As somebody who has a member of their family with a mobility issue, I'm very aware of this on a day-to-day basis ... it is an everyday challenge.

There is a perception we have removed a heap of spaces. Actually, we've kind of rearranged the deck chairs.

What we do need is to get some of the population out of cars ... it's cheaper to take a couple of kids in the car than catch the bus. How ridiculous is that?


She voted for the massive rates increases of the last 3 years and still wants to tax us more to support the buses. Another tax and spend councillor. Vote such people out who have no financial responsibility and love taxing us to the moon.


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