Who is Jill Day?

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE -

A teacher, sci­en­tist and stay-at-home mum from Tawa is now Welling­ton’s deputy mayor.


A stay-at-home mum, a teacher, a sci­en­tist – and now Welling­ton’s deputy mayor.

Jill Day’s ca­reer could have gone in many di­rec­tions, but it’s clear the Tawa­mu­mof three is now in her el­e­ment as a Welling­ton city coun­cil­lor.

All that’s miss­ing from her life is a dog – she’s des­per­ate for a furry friend to join her fam­ily.

The first-time coun­cil­lor was elected last Oc­to­ber, and last week took over the deputy mayor man­tle from Paul Ea­gle.

The 38-year-old is the first Ma¯ori woman se­lected for the deputy role in Welling­ton’s his­tory. She ran for the coun­cil be­cause she wanted to do more for Welling­to­ni­ans in need – es­pe­cially young peo­ple and fam­i­lies.

‘‘That’s who I will al­ways pri­ori­tise in the work I do as deputy mayor,’’ she says.

Born in Palmer­ston North, Day has lived in Christchurch, and moved to Welling­ton when she was 14. She lives in Tawa with her hus­band and chil­dren, aged 8, 11 and 13, and was a stay-at-home mum­for 10 years.

It was a big change for her fam­ily when she be­came a coun­cil­lor, and now they are ad­just­ing to the ‘‘big deal’’ of be­ing the deputy mayor.

‘‘It’s been a bit of a jour­ney for my fam­ily, but they are re­ally ex­cited and sup­port­ive.’’

She cred­its the ‘‘amaz­ing sup­port net­work’’ in the Tawa com­mu­nity for help­ing her get where she is. ‘‘I built a strong com­mu­nity around me and have close friends who made this job pos­si­ble. It’s a big ad­just­ment for my chil­dren, and all the peo­ple in the area have helped.’’

Although Day al­ways wanted to be a teacher, her fa­ther, who was a ca­reers guid­ance coun­sel­lor, ad­vised her to get some­thing else un­der her belt. Tak­ing his ad­vice, she gained a de­gree in bio­chem­istry and molec­u­lar bi­ol­ogy be­fore go­ing back to teach­ing.

She stopped teach­ing to start her fam­ily, but stayed in con­tact with the ed­u­ca­tion world when she be­came the pres­i­dent of a play cen­tre. ‘‘That was the start of my lead­er­ship jour­ney.’’

When her youngest daugh­ter went to school, she worked a part­time job for three years, help­ing chil­dren who were fall­ing be­hind with read­ing. She man­aged the Bikes in Schools pro­gramme and started to lobby her lo­cal coun­cil­lor, Justin Lester, who urged her to run in the coun­cil elec­tions.

‘‘I started see­ing changes in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and I wanted to do some­thing about it. I’d love to start hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions with the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion and will be mak­ing con­tact with schools – it’s im­por­tant we have those con­ver­sa­tions about op­por­tu­ni­ties.’’

Of­ten she saw kids with pro­longed ab­sence from school or ill health but, when she scratched the sur­face, she found they were liv­ing in damp homes.

Hous­ing is an im­me­di­ate fo­cus for the coun­cil, and she wants to be a voice for peo­ple who are strug­gling. There is des­per­a­tion in Welling­ton, she says, and she saw it first-hand when she sup­ported a fam­ily who did not have a house for three weeks and were liv­ing in a camp­site.

‘‘It’s scary and should not hap­pen in New Zealand. We need to up the game with hous­ing - sup­ply, af­ford­abil­ity and qual­ity. It’s a huge chal­lenge but it’s ex­cit­ing to be part of a coun­cil that wants to take that on.’’

Dur­ing coun­cil de­bates, Day is of­ten quiet but says she be­lieves in speak­ing when she is needed and when she can in­flu­ence.

‘‘Some­times peo­ple will talk just to fill space, and I am com­fort­able only talk­ing when I need to, and peo­ple will lis­ten.’’

Af­fil­i­ated with Nga¯ti Tu¯whare­toa, Day says her links have shaped who she is, and she takes pride in the re­la­tion­ships she has built with mana whenua since be­ing elected.

She has been learn­ing Ma¯ori for four years, but is yet to be­come flu­ent.

Dur­ing Oc­to­ber’s elec­tion, she ran as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date, but ‘‘it’s pretty clear I’m a left­lean­ing po­lit­i­cal be­ing’’.

She hasn’t thought about join­ing her Labour col­leagues, but has not ruled it out.


First-term coun­cil­lor Jill Day, who has been on Welling­ton City Coun­cil for less than a year, has been ap­pointed deputy mayor.

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