By PHILIP CHANDLER
“It’s time for my generation to be stepping up and making decisions that affect us and our kids.’’
So says 37-year-old Queenstowner Olivia Wensley, who’s today announcing her mayoral candidacy for October’s local body elections.
She’s the second person to put their hat in the ring after former Southland Labour candidate Jon Mitchell declared his bid last month — in the same week incumbent Jim Boult announced he’s standing down.
Married with two children, aged five and three, Wensley’s CEO of Startup Queenstown Lakes Trust, which fosters tech start-ups.
But she’s best known as a former lawyer who blew the whistle on sexual harassment in the legal profession, becoming the de facto founder of New Zealand’s #MeToo movement.
‘‘That’s something that I feel is a strength, that I will speak up and stand up for what I think is right, and I’m a passionate advocate, whether it’s women’s rights or equal opportunities.
‘‘I firmly believe I will be a great advocate for Queenstown because I’m doing it already, I’m already meeting with Ministers, I’m already saying, ‘this is the vision’, so I just think we need some one with drive and dynamism, and I can do that.’’
Though she’s not been a councillor, and won’t stand for a council seat, Wensley says she’s familiar with local government as Startup’s part of council’s economic development unit.
And she also worked with council when she was a lawyer, she says.
‘‘When it comes to experience and leadership, there’s women my age across the world that are leading countries — I’m the same age as the Prime Minister of Finland.
‘‘It shouldn’t be some thing that holds you back, in fact it’s actually a really positive thing.
‘‘I think people want to see innovative thinking, and what’s really important is having a candidate who understands how we’re going to be impacted by technology.’’
For example, she’s speaking to someone keen to introduce autonomous network transit technology to beat traffic congestion.
Wensley also sees the tech sector as providing higher-value jobs and an alternative to Queenstown’s reliance on tourism — ‘‘we simply cannot have all our eggs in one basket any more’’.
Wensley also warns ‘‘we must take the climate emergency seriously’’.
She’s also putting the call-out ‘‘for some fresh, innovative [council] candidates who [also] want to create meaningful change’’.