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.