It’s amazing to see so many incredible women put their hands up and run for Hamilton City Council this year. This week we are speaking to second time runner Meleane Burgess, also known as an everyday accountant, founder of Waikato Pacific Business Network, Good Collective Board Director and a recipient for the Suffrage 125 Waikato Women – just to name a few. We spoke to Meleane about what her goals are for council, where she would like to see local politics in the future and what she has to say to women who don’t think voting is important.
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Meleane Burgess and I live in Hillcrest with my family. An alumn of the University of Waikato School of Management, I am an Accountant by profession and have held a number of governance roles both local and at a national level. I am the Director of Dynamic Advisory Limited and also the founder of the Waikato Pacific Business Network. I am a member of the Pacific Steering Group for the Ministry of Social Development and was also a former member of an advisory committee for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. I am a Pacific Island woman of Samoan decent. I am currently on the board of directors for the Good Collective and board of trustees for Hillcrest High School. I was a recipient for the Suffrage 125 Waikato women in recognition of my services and contribution to the community. A devoted wife and mother of 3 and I love spending time with my family where I have instilled my values of hardwork, respect, integrity and leadership.
What made you want to run in the upcoming local election?
I was asked to stand in the 2018 by-election for the Hamilton East Ward where I narrowly missed out being 4th overall out of 15 candidates. I was determined then that, given the outcome and the support I received, I would give it one more go and here I am running again.
If you are voted into council what are your main goals?
I stand for a fair and balanced city council. I strongly believe that the current council does not represent the diversity of the people that live in Hamilton. I want Hamilton to continue to be affordable for all residents, family friendly and safe.
If I win this election, I will;
(1) listen to the people of Hamilton;
(2) work hard to achieve the best for the people that I represent;
(3) ensure sensible, well informed decisions are made and be held accountable for the decisions that I make.
Do you think being a woman will affect your campaign?
Not at all. Everyone has an equal opportunity of getting in. Some may have a better chance than others due to their name recognition, but that is part of local elections. A campaign should not be about gender, it should be about the value and the skills / capabilities that each candidate brings to the table that will add to effective decision making at a governance level for the Hamilton City Council.
Where would you like to see local politics in 5 years?
In the next 5 years, there are a few things I would like to see for local politics:
(1) at least 80% participation in voter turnout;
(2) elections changing to a single transferable vote (STV)
(3) more diversity around the council table.
What would you say to women who dom’t think voting is important?
Voting is very important, it is your right and responsibility in shaping our local/national democracy. It is that vote that will put someone on the council table that will decide on what needs to happen in the city that we live in. If we ignore this process and don’t vote,then things will stay the same or get worse. When you vote, you will get new leaders that will listen to you, have new ideas, energy and share the same/similar values.