Fam­ily ties to help ORC re­fo­cus


Wanaka mother and daugh­ter Mag­gie and Ella Law­ton hope their new po­lit­i­cal po­si­tions will help re­fo­cus the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil on the Queen­stown and Wanaka ar­eas.

On the week­end Ella learned she had been re­turned to her seat on the Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil while Mag­gie was the high­est polling can­di­date for the Dun­stan con­stituency on the Otago Re­gional Coun­cil.

‘‘It would have been a bit bit­ter­sweet if one of us had been elected and not the other,’’ Mag­gie said.

Both women have sig­nif­i­cant aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions. Mag­gie is a sci­en­tist work­ing as a con­sul­tant fo­cused on wa­ter man­age­ment, ur­ban de­sign and sus­tain­able con­struc­tion. Ella works across law, ecol­ogy, strate­gic lead­er­ship, ur­ban de­sign, and so­cial well­be­ing.

They are both in­ter­ested in sus­tain­abil­ity.

They are also both aware that the Dunedin-based Otago Re­gional Coun­cil has lit­tle pres­ence in the Queen­stown Lakes District.

It’s been at least ten years since there was a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the coun­cil from the Queen­stown Lakes District and the coun­cil closed its Queen­stown of­fice last year af­ter its sole staff mem­ber died.

‘‘There’s a field of­fi­cer in Wanaka and no one in Queen­stown,’’ Mag­gie said. ‘‘That’s ridicu­lous. Just crazy.’’

The re­gion was one of the most iconic parts of the world and was fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant threats to its wa­ter bod­ies but there ap­peared to be very lit­tle in­ter­est from the re­gional coun­cil, she said.

‘‘I’m not sure why they’ve been quite so lax here but I will find out and I will do some­thing about it,’’ she said.

The Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil was also grap­pling with growth prob­lems in­clud­ing trans­port in Queen­stown, which the re­gional coun­cil had re­spon­si­bil­ity for.

Ella said she hoped to see the coun­cils work­ing more col­lab­o­ra­tively in the fu­ture as the elec­torate had sent a strong sig­nal.

‘‘The re­sult showed re­ally ob­vi­ous con­cern by our com­mu­nity and district say­ing we need more fo­cus on this area by the ORC.’’

It was ‘‘amaz­ing’’ to have her and her mother elected at the same time, she said.

Mag­gie said they talked about pol­i­tics a lot any­way.

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