On to 'another stage in journey'

Otago regional councillor Louise Croot is standing down. Photo: Linda Robertson.
Otago regional councillor Louise Croot is standing down. Photo: Linda Robertson.
Standing down after 27 years  on the Otago Regional Council, Louise Croot refuses to say she is retiring.

The 74-year-old said it was more like "slowing down a bit" and "going on to different things".

"It’s another stage in a journey, really."

For both Cr Croot and the council, it is the end of an era.

She stood for the council when it was created, after local government amalgamation in 1989, and she is believed to be one of the longest-serving regional councillors in New Zealand.

She said at age 47, she was asked to stand for the Otago Regional Council by the former Citizens’ Association, because she was a female, and because of her previous work on the hospital board and the area health board.

She had a passion for rural life and a keen interest in the Resource Management Act, she said.

"It was just something that appealed to me."

The rest is history, and Cr Croot said she was proud of the achievements the council had made during her tenure — particularly in her areas of interest, which include regulatory issues, consents, people issues, environmental issues and economic issues.

"It’s been quite a while.

"It feels right to leave now. The time has come for some younger ones to continue."

Despite not standing for re-election,  she would continue to float around the corridors of the ORC as an unelected independent person, Cr Croot said.

Her accreditation as a commissioner would not run out until June 2018, and she hoped to continue doing resource consent work at the council, she said.

She was also looking forward to spending more time with family and friends, and travelling more.

Cr David Shepherd is also standing down from the council, after nine years, during which he held a number of senior governance roles, including deputy chairman between 2010 and 2013.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead paid tribute to the retiring councillors, who attended their last council meeting this week.

He said their wisdom and experience across a broad range of portfolios had served the Otago Regional Council and the Otago community well, and their respective contributions, particularly in resource management as hearings commissioners, were significant.

"Louise, as a councillor representing the Dunedin constituency, has always had a strong commitment to good governance and putting communities first; while David, representing the Molyneux constituency, has been notable for his advocacy for rural communities, having had a professional background as a banker and farmer."

ORC chief executive Peter Bodeker said their knowledge and experience in local government had been invaluable and would not easily be replaced.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz 

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