When asked what skills and attributes are needed to serve on council, former Southland Regional (Environment Southland) councillor and chair, Marion Miller says that listening to people, asking lots of questions, and keeping an open mind are key.
“You need to keep an open mind, and you want to hear all of the facts. You learn from the dissenters, and you listen to different perspectives. You never make a decision until you’ve got all of the information. And there are no silly questions – you need to ask a lot of questions,” says Marion.
“You always need to make sure that you are listening to, and hearing, what is being said.”
Serving for a total of 18 years over two timeframes, Marion was elected onto the inaugural Southland Regional Council in 1989 following widespread local government reforms. She was inspired to stand after hearing that a new organisation was being set-up that was focussed on the region’s environment.
Of the role, Marion says the learning opportunities are exponential.
“It (council) is an exciting place to be because there’s so much learning involved. All the science is peer reviewed; it’s robust and credible. It’s a really dynamic place to be.”
One highlight was the launch of the first Regional Policy Statement – Southland’s most significant planning tool and the guiding document for all resource management decisions for the region. “We had to go through it sentence by sentence,” she says.
Being part of the Environment Awards was also a highpoint. “We visited so many exciting places where people were doing such interesting things. We met so many wonderful people. It restored faith – people were beavering away and doing the best that they could do.”
Looking ahead, Marion hopes to see more women put themselves forward for the regional council.
“Women often think about things in a 360 degree way and in many cases they are a carer (of someone). They bring with them a completely different perspective. They want the environment to be better for their children and grandchildren,” she says.
Marion’s message to women considering standing for council? “You can do it. And you’ve got a responsibility to do it. You’ve got the perspective that is missing from around the table. I do hope a lot stand”.
Nominations for candidates are open from now until to noon, Friday 16 August 2019. You can find out more on our website or by attending one of our candidate information sessions. Please check our event listings for more details.