Sept. 2, 2022, 5:57 p.m.
Ann Court, 2022 mayoral electorate candidate, moved to Northland in 1989 after marrying a Northland man and giving birth to her first baby. Born and raised in Taupō, her father was a civil engineer for the Ministry of Works which meant her family moved around a lot.
"Dad had a reputation as the fix-it man so he was headhunted and worked on many projects mostly around the central plateau but we lived in Taupō, Aratiatia, Mangakino, Tūrangi, New Plymouth, Auckland," explained Court.
Tautīnei asked Court what her favourite things are about our region;
"I didn’t grow up here but I love living here. This is where two of my three children were born and raised and my granddaughter lives. My parents moved here in their retirement to live close by. The people are amazing, the weather, the forests, the beaches, proximity to Auckland is great you can pop down for a weekend and come home to a land of no traffic lights, no congestion, wide open spaces, air you can breathe, water you swim in. What’s not to love – we have it all," detailed Court.
Court, who is the current Deputy Mayor, first became involved in local government after making a submission to Council on the lack of footpaths for mothers with prams, open drains and unsafe roads. She was first elected in 1996.
"The reception I got back in the day, was decidedly indifferent so I took it upon myself to do some research. I badgered everyone from the old Transit Board to MPs in Wellington and everyone in between. I read voraciously every document, strategy, plan I could, and I learned how to navigate the system to delivery," said Court.
This led to her becoming involved in the local business association, getting elected for the first time, working her way up to chairperson, and ultimately onto the Community Board, Community Board Deputy, then Community Board Chairperson onto Council, Committee Chair and now Deputy Mayor.
"I never envisioned a career in local body politics. I’m a radio operator by trade, working ship-to-shore communications and safety of life at sea. But what I learned along the way is knowledge is the key so if I could achieve positive change, I was now in a position to help other achieve change. It became a vocation. That vocation has led to other roles. I was a foundation trustee for Top Energy serving for over two decades as we developed the Ngawha Geothermal Fields and purchased the land for the Ngawha Innovation Park" said Court.
Her accolades have also led to other roles such as a director of Consumer New Zealand and appointments onto National Working Parties such as the ‘Road Pavement Consumption Guidelines’ working group (how long do roads last under different loadings and conditions) and the life-changing ‘Quantifying the impacts of Dust on Human Health’ amongst others.
"I have been Northland’s representative on the Community Board’s Association of New Zealand, an RMA Commissioner and a Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act Commissioner," said Court.
She has been very busy since touching down on Northland soil and has been a key advocate, and hands on contributing factor to:
Road sealing more than 22k over her last term and close to 50k over her career.
Roundabouts and road safety improvements across the district, including: Kawakawa, Waipapa, Puketona, Opononi Foreshore and Kerikeri Roundabout.
New bridge constructions in Taipa and Kaeo.
Reduction of the road toll and getting more youth licensed so they can seek employment and opportunity.
Increasing the subsidy for roads from .62c in the dollar to .69c in the dollar.
Sports Hubs in Kaitāia, Kaikohe and Kerikeri.
New wastewater and water schemes in Rawene, Omania, Opononi, Paihia, Kerikeri and Kaitāia.
Maritime facilities and access: Windsor Landing, Pukenui and Unahi
New Animal Shelters in Kaitāia and Kaikohe.
13km of new footpaths across the district.
"Dust is a killer. There is no safe quantity for exposure to dust from our unsealed network. I wrote the remit and supported the development of the evidence that led to a framework where nationally roads can now be sealed subject to conditions and budget. This is changing lives. My career highlight is the work I have done on dust. The research on the impacts of dust on human health has led to tens of millions of dollars of inward investment to seal known pieces of the network where people live in close proximity to the road and cannot escape the insidious impact of dusty," detailed Court.
She is still currently busy contributing towards improving sports and recreation facilities and opportunities.
"We all need social infrastructure to grow as individuals and communities. Whether this is a sports field, a park, a walking track, beach access – you name it. We need to invest in our health and physical wellbeing."
Court is also investing her time into improving the infrastructure, particularly roading within our region.
"We need safe and fit-for-purpose networks to move people and freight. We are too vulnerable to a lack of investment and deliverables. I have been a relentless campaigner for improved network conditions and funding for Northland. I have at times been a relentless critic of the Government when they keep changing the rules to invest in metros instead of the regions," she said.
Court speaks with authenticity with a touch of tough love for any rangatahi looking at a future in council.
"This is a hard gig I’m not gonna lie. You spend a small fortune of your own money campaigning so you can spend three minutes getting sworn in and three years getting sworn at. But anything worth having in life is worth fighting for. The future of people, of what our towns look and feel like, what services we provide and how we value and protect what matters much is so very much a conversation for our youth. If you are really passionate about people and community, and I mean passionate in the true sense, not the token election speeches, you hear “vote for me because I am passionate and I will listen”. I mean really passionate, so much so that you leap out of bed every day excited to make a difference to someone other than yourself, then this is the job for you," said Court.
The nomination period ran from the 15th of July to the 12th of August 2022. Voting is held between the 16th of September to the 8th of October with results announced on Friday 14th of October 2022.
"You will never win the hearts and minds of everyone, but you can leave a legacy that in the future others will benefit from," said Court.