Equal gender split welcomed

Hilary Calvert
Hilary Calvert
Marian Hobbs
Marian Hobbs
Gary Kelliher
Gary Kelliher
Queenstown Lakes District councillor Alexa Forbes. Photo: Supplied
Alexa Forbes
Kate Wilson
Kate Wilson
Kevin Malcolm
Kevin Malcolm

The Otago Regional Council has joined a national "women-quake" as the organisation doubles its number of female councillors.

Provisional results on Saturday, with about 95% of votes counted, had the 12-person council half-filled with people not there last term.

It also has an equal male-female split, and follows some other New Zealand councils in getting higher numbers of women at the table.

Dunedin's highest-scoring candidate was former Act MP and Dunedin City councillor Hilary Calvert (15,443) followed closely by former environment minister Marian Hobbs (15,189).

Ms Calvert said her message must have resonated with people.

"I think because I talked about the issues that the regional council has got, especially around spending money."

She was not concerned about the number of new appointees, as some incumbent councillors did not ask questions of council operations, she said.

Ms Hobbs said she was "very excited" to be at the table.

"We have to learn how to work together. We come from a whole lot of different backgrounds."

The council needed to deal with water issues through the lens of climate change.

The gender balance of the council was "excellent", she said.

"I was the principal of a girls school, so I'm quite biased."

It was third time lucky for Dunstan candidate and 2013-16 councillor Gary Kelliher (7806), who lost the election last term in a recount by five votes, and was later beaten in a by-election.

"I'm very relieved. I had my head more around not getting there."

The council needed to work together, he said.

Former Queenstown-Lakes District councillor Alexa Forbes (7706) also made it on, in the Dunstan Ward.

She was "really pleased" at her success in a competitive area.

She wanted to improve the council's relationship with territorial authorities and the communities they represented.

Former Dunedin City councillor Kate Wilson (4242) claimed one of two Molyneux seats.

She was "thrilled about the calibre" of candidate on the council.

"I'm excited about continuing some good stuff, but there's also some change needed. I expect good robust discussion."

Former Waitaki District councillor Kevin Malcolm (2835) was elected as the sole Moeraki ward candidate.

He wanted the organisation to assist people instead of impeding progress, he said.

"I want it to become an enabling council that attracts new people and businesses."

The successful incumbent councillors are Gretchen Robertson (13,770), Andrew Noone (12,451), Bryan Scott (12,273) and Michael Deaker (11,552) in the Dunedin Ward, Michael Laws (9329) in the Dunstan Ward and Carmen Hope (4345) in the Molyneux ward.

Dunstan incumbent Graeme Bell (6311) lost out.

As of Saturday there was a 41.22% voter turnout.

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