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The Eye 9.5.13
The buck certainly stops here
Long-serving city councillor says it's time to step down
By LOUISE BERWICK
Who: Long-serving Invercargill city councillor Thelma Buck
What: Is retiring from local government politics at the election in October
She says: ''The last four months I have been really upset that I can't be as
active as I was. That's the main reason why I won't have another go.''
The end: Invercargill city councillor Thelma Buck has announced she will not be standing in the next election and will be
saying goodbye to local government politics.
Photo: LOUISE BERWICK 627907672
When I was active I felt as
though I was doing a good job
. . . The last four months I have
been really upset that I can't be
as active as I was. That's the
main reason why I won't have
Outspoken, staunch and
That's the Thelma Buck
many love and respect
but there's so much more to the
The 68 year old is also a proud,
doting grandmother, whose Oreti
St house is filled with pictures of
She is also devoted to her friends
but it is as a local body politician
where she has made her mark,
having served on the Invercargill
City Council for two stints
covering 21 years.
But now it's coming to an end
because Mrs Buck is not seeking
re-election in October and is
retiring from council duty.
The time has simply come for her
to give up her seat and say
goodbye to local government
politics that have been a big part
of her life for two decades.
''I still think I am 21 but nothing
goes (or works) like I am 21.''
But even in her 60s she still
manages to stir up a storm at
meetings and no-one knows that
better than Invercargill Mayor
Tim Shadbolt, who said he would
Mrs Buck as a
free spirit, who
anxiety'' in the
system and that
she was always
said it exactly
as she saw things.
''That included telling me in 1994,
when I wanted to go to France on
council business, that if I was so
determined to get to France, I
should get to France in a bath tub
-- without a plug,'' Shadbolt said.
Mrs Buck certainly gets straight
to the point and does not muck
around or spin a story.
She gets worked up about rates,
debt and unnecessary expenses ---
issues she has always stamped
her feet about.
''My biggest fear for Invercargill
is there seem to be a lot of things
that all seem to want done at the
same time,'' she said.
''There will be money outstanding
on the stadium, museum and
She is not against them but she
wants Invercargill to be a user-
But she knows all too well the
impact it will have on the
''How do we fund anything that
we need money for without
making it hard for ratepayers to
But it was not rates or over-
spending that first fired her
political career in 1989.
A plan to introduce a one-way
system in South City really got
her going because she thought it
would see the end of South City.
She stood for the Strathern ward --
the only woman to stand -- and
much to her surprise came second
and won a seat on the council.
There have been nerve-racking
elections since then.
One saw her miss out on her seat
on the council in 2004 but she kept
up with politics, continuing to
make submissions, read agendas
and answer phone calls from
She was re-elected in 2007 and it
was onwards and upwards from
there, back to meetings, nights of
reading agendas and advocating
for the underdog.
''When I was active I felt as
though I was doing a good job,''
''The last four months I have been
really upset that I can't be as
active as I was. That's the main
reason why I won't have another
She had seen a lot in her 21 years
but it was hard to pinpoint things
that stood out, she said.
thing that I am
proud of is, as a
and helped the
alone on issues,
councillors in high regard.
''Neil (Boniface) knows
everything back-to-front and
Norman (Elder), if he doesn't
know it, he goes away and gets it
all sorted out.''
She admitted there had been
times when she had said words
that should not have been said in
the council but did not regret it.
She hopes those sitting around the
table during the next term will
make good decisions because
spending had already gone
overboard, she said.
''I would be damn disappointed if
they went and got in to debt.''
Disappointed? Most certainly but
it is time for a new chapter in
Thelma Buck's life.
She will still be outspoken and
will remain an advocate for south
She is also looking forward to
having more time with those
beloved grandchildren but life
certainly won't be the same away
from the council chambers.
''I will have to find some new
hobbies of some sort,'' she said.
''It's going to be a lonelier sort of
life for me.''
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