Ayers reflects on 36 years of challenges


David Ayers. Photo: Supplied
David Ayers. Photo: Supplied
Outgoing Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers would like to see barriers reduced to encourage more diversity around council tables.

Mr Ayers, who retires on October 12 after a career in local government spanning 36 years, says it is getting harder for young people to serve in local politics.

''The work of a councillor is much harder than it used to be and it's getting very difficult to be a councillor and have a job or run a business or a farm,'' he says. ''And to me that's

the biggest barrier to having more diversity around the council table.

''Across the whole local government sector, reducing those barriers should be seen as something to be considered with some urgency.''

Mr Ayers said he never looked on local government as a career. ''It was something extra I did'' he said, because it did not have high job security, being three years at a time. ''You can't assume you will be re-elected''.

For him, the mayoralty was something he could do when he retired from his career as a teacher and deputy principal.

''That's a question for a younger mayor. Do you do it for 30 years, or do you suspend your career for three, six, nine or 12 years?

''And do you simply go back to your career, or can you go back to your career?''

He says the community and its priorities have changed significantly over the last 36 years and he has had to change with it.

Thirty-six years ago climate change was not talked about as much ''and the question of human impact wasn't widely understood'', but it is likely to be the dominant issue for the incoming council.

As he geared up for his last ordinary council meeting, Mr Ayers said the atmosphere around the council table had usually been friendly.

''There have been times of tension, but certainly in the last nine years I haven't found chairing the council difficult.

''It's been a rewarding experience having a variety of people around the table and sitting with people who care about their community.''

Last Friday, on the day of the student-led climate strike, Mr Ayers said he wondered how many of his council colleagues had attended a protest or demonstration.

''I have been in lots,'' he recalled.

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