Why I’m standing for Queenstown: AJ Mason


We’re privileged to live in an exceptional place, surrounded by people of an extraordinary community. But we also live inside an economy built historically at the expense of our people, on exploitation of our place and without awareness of climate change.

This election represents an immediate choice. We can use the momentum of visitor and settler demand to springboard into a better today and a brighter future, founded on a stronger, highly productive, climate-champion economy – keeping the best of tourism but also growing high-value economic sectors like screen industries, education and technology.

Or we can continue exploiting our people and place until we’ve ruined both.

Council must lead. Councillors must have the courage to challenge the status quo, the humility to listen and learn, the foresight to chart the way forward, the technical knowledge to provide meaningful democratic oversight to our billion-dollar infrastructure spend, and the dedication to champion our community environment and wellbeing.

Over years of community and professional activities, I believe I have demonstrated that I offer this.

I’m a technology strategist, originally an astrophysicist. I grew up in Invercargill and Queenstown and studied math, physics and engineering as an undergraduate in NZ, going overseas for further study and work.

From university I went to [Washington] DC to the President’s Council on Sustainable Development at the White House, contributing science and technology to tackle economic and environmental challenges. I’ve been in sustainability, science, and technology ever since.

For several years I’ve been working to advance us along the path to a better, brighter future – major steps being Queenstown council’s economic development strategy and office, chairing Innovation Queenstown, and co-founding Startup Queenstown Lakes. I’m delighted to have been joined on this path by other candidates, and welcome their company on the next steps.

Some measures are needed immediately: council must lead us into becoming a living wage community; QAC [Queenstown Airport Corporation] must take on community objectives as its own, as required by law; we must become climate-change champions rather than laggards; prioritise the health of our air and freshwater, our land and ecosystems; and develop a spatial plan and community infrastructure – including arts, culture, and education – to support an easy, safe and friendly place to live and grow.

A better today and a brighter future are within view, with higher individual incomes, regenerative environmental outcomes and greater community wellbeing, but only if we vote for those ready to lead us there. I’m asking for your vote.

Arrowtown’s Athenaeum Hall, Wednesday, October 2, 7.30pm. Tickets $25, from eventbrite.co.nz. $5 from each ticket will be donated to Alzheimers New Zealand