The region's past and present female leaders, who are being recognised for their contribution to Nelson Tasman. Photo: Tim Cuff

Trail blazing women leaders recognised

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Women decision makers in the region’s councils have been celebrated as part of a push to recognise the trail blazers who paved the way for female leadership in Nelson.

A new booklet outlining the role women had in Nelson and Tasman from 1944 to 2018 has just been released. It features 51 women and their stories which have never been collated before.

“This is a major contribution to recognising the history of our region,” said Mayor Rachel Reese, who was the first woman elected mayor of the city.

Many of the women gathered at the Nelson City Council today as part of a ceremony marking the role they have had in the governance of the region.

“I look around this room and see women who are my inspiration for even considering standing for local government.”

The booklet was created by Gail Collingwood, Elaine Henry, Hilary Mitchell and Shelley Richardson.

Gail, a former Nelson city councillor, said that many women there today had travelled from as far away as Auckland to be there. She said that, despite women being eligible to stand for elections in 1893, it was not until 1951 that a woman was elected to the Nelson council.

Rachel said that it was important to recognise the milestone of suffrage on its 125th anniversary and it was fitting to celebrate the local women who had continued that tradition.

“This region can hold its heads high with the women who did incredible things to change face of New Zealand.”

She said she held a sense of responsibility to encourage other women into positions of leadership. Especially because the number of women on councils in Nelson and Tasman was so low – sitting around 21 and 23 percent.

“We need more women sitting at council tables … Young women should be encouraged, always, to strive for leadership roles.”