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A bit more about me

September 17, 2016

imageAn interested resident recently asked about my engineering background. When I did my degree, it was an unusual choice for women; there were only four of us in a class of around seventy! Although I have moved in other career directions, the skills learned in my engineering training and work experience have definitely contributed to where I am today. Here is my reply to him:

“I have a BE (electrical) from Canterbury university. I completed it in 1981, so it is a while ago now! But I still run into some of my former engineering classmates and colleagues from time to time, especially since I have been on Council.

I first worked for the old NZED in the Hamilton District Office, working on various projects which included substation upgrades, and work on Karapiro and Rangipo power stations. Following that, I worked down here in the Wellington Head office for a couple of years on various transmission line projects.

At the end of 1986, I married and by then had also retrained as a secondary school teacher. I taught mathematics, science and senior physics at Wellington Girls College, the Correspondence School (as an external tutor) and St Catherine’s College while raising my family.

My career since has moved in different directions but I have retained an interest and close connections with those working in the electricity and energy sectors.

My Masters degree in Public Health (with distinction) examined the links between cold damp housing and ill health and school absences in children, and I then went on to work to set up the Home Advice service for Sustainability Trust, visiting literally hundreds of Wellington households to give advice on making their homes warmer and drier and lowering their energy bills, and running a telephone and web-based national advice service. During this time I also helped set up the Wellington Curtain Bank, which is still going strong.

I have an ongoing interest in seeing our energy resources used most cost effectively and sustainably, and have long seen the potential for more photovoltaics, especially on commercial buildings, and more electric vehicles combined with local energy storage, smart appliances and time of use charging.

Prior to coming onto Council, I worked in a voluntary capacity for the Domestic Energy Users Network, set up by Molly Melhuish, and I was on the Retail Advisory Group of the Electricity Authority for four years. Just recently, I met with representatives of the International Energy Agency when they came to New Zealand to review our electricity sector.”

Of course, Council has lots of engineering projects on the go at any one time, notably in water infrastructure and roading. The picture above shows the upgrade of water pipes in Victoria Street, and the picture below is the wonderful Leonie Gill pathway under construction. My engineering background has definitely given me an appreciation of the complexity of these projects, especially when they involve work underground.



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