Talk us through your day / week
It depends on the time of the year. During the long meeting breaks in January and July I focus on projects. For instance, last year I reviewed the standing orders, and two days before we went into lockdown, Council adopted an updated, more sensible set of standing orders.
When Council meetings are back on, my focus is mainly Strategy and Policy committee meeting agendas and minutes and procedural advice to officers and elected members. I prepare and distribute the reports in advance, make sure public participants have all the information they need, and prepare chair’s notes for the chairperson and runsheet for the organisation. Councillors email their amendments to me and officers, so they need to be organised too.
Here at Wellington City Council we take minutes live, which is a service you rarely see anywhere else in the country. After the meeting I finalise the minutes and publish them.
I also like to wrestle on Mondays with my wrestling buddies at Tawa Tigers, and go to the gym most nights if I’m not too tired.
Best bit of your job?
Helping members of the public speak to their Council. I personally love petitions! And in fact, one of the areas of improvement I found was our e-petition system. We reviewed the process and made it 100 percent democratic. Wellington City Council is the only Council in the country that provides residents with the opportunity to lodge a petition electronically. As a matter of fact, I received a call from the City of Vancouver wanting to know more about our e-petition system.
As someone who works closely with staff from across the organisation and from a variety of ranks, I know that Council officers work hard to action the resolutions made at Council. It makes me sad when I hear people criticise Council workers.
Most interesting meeting?
For me personally it was the social housing rent setting hearing last year where I had the pleasure of interpreting an oral submitter. I speak four languages, Persian, Italian, Korean and English. At this meeting I was translating Persian. It was quite interesting as I had to remove myself from the governance advisor seat next to the Chair and sit at the public participation end with the oral submitter, and then go back to sit next to the chair!
I have liked all the meetings I have managed as lead advisor and support officer, apart from one. The gambling policy hearings. Some of the stories people had were upsetting.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a total exercise freak! I’m currently studying to be a personal trainer as I really want to share my energy and passion for being healthy and fit. Hopefully I can influence and make people’s lives better, both in their health and mental wellbeing.