Diversity without discrimination


Voters in the Oamaru ward of the Waitaki District Council were spoilt for choice with a strong field of candidates seeking election.

The successful ones were: Melanie Tavendale, Colin Wollstein, Jeremy Holding, Kelli Milmine, Jim Hopkins and Hana Halalele.

That’s 50% female and the District’s first Tongan councillor.

I don’t live in the ward and so couldn’t vote for them, nor can I speak for anyone who did. But after listening to them speak at the meet-the-candidates and learning more about them after that I would have been happy to vote for them on merit.

Waitkai isn’t the only council to have more diverse representation. Environment Canterbury is younger and gender balanced:

. . . Based on Saturday’s progress results, the new council will have seven women and seven men, a much younger cohort of councillors, and a wide range pf experience in environmental matters. . . 

Bryce Edwards writes:

The results of the local government elections appear to show that New Zealanders are generally supportive of a more diverse range of representatives, having voted in greater numbers for candidates from traditionally under-represented groups.

The elections have therefore modernised our councils in a small but very significant way, helping address some long-standing imbalances in representation. Certainly, when it comes to gender and age, New Zealand’s local authorities have become more diverse over the weekend. In terms of ethnicity, it’s more complicated, and it will take longer to work out whether progress has occurred. 

Talking to the NZ Herald’s Simon Collins, I termed the result “a diversity burst” and stated that a focus on diversity seems “to be the zeitgeist — people are wanting to see greater change in our local representatives.”  – see: Local council elections: ‘Diversity burst’ shatters council old boys’ club. . . 

Are people wanting to see greater change in local representatives or did they want good people who will serve well?

Dare I hope it’s the latter and that it’s a sign of the times that democracy is now delivering more diversity without discrimination because there is a more diverse range of candidates of merit standing?



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