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Surprise change of direction for deputy mayor, Anna Curnow to leave council



11 July, 2022


thumbnail Anna Curnow-116After an intense soul search, a prime contender for Kaipara’s chief seat has made a recent surprising move in the lead up to the up-and-coming elections by stepping away from local politics.

Kaipara’s second-in-command, deputy mayor Anna Curnow, has announced she is taking herself out of the running for the Mangawhai/Kaiwaka ward and mayoral office following a life reasessment. Although the decision might appear to have come out of the blue for constituents, the Otamatea ward councillor says it’s a decision she has been working through since Kaipara’s incumbent mayor, Dr Jason Smith, changed career direction on June 2 and opted out of October’s local body elections.

“When Jason stepped down a lot of people asked if I was standing for mayor but I never actually had planned to, which made me pause for thought on what my priorities are. I wondered ‘am I going to stand for mayor’ and if not what does that mean?” she says. “It was a very significant decision and I’ve done a lot of thinking… ended up taking myself to an executive coach to help as it was really tough.”

Other priorities such as lifestyle, family health issues and family time, ‘have another granddaughter being born soon’ also weighed in as well as time for other interests such as finishing the second draft of her novel, ‘a post-apocoleptic thriller’.

“Not sure if being mayor would allow me to do any of those things, its such a massive commitment, you’re locked into one particular role for three years. When I serve the community I want to meet their expectations, and when I take on a job I’m the type of person who will give it 110 percent,” she says. “You also have to pay attention when your children, even adult ones say, ‘Mum we want more of you not less’.”

Although contacted by ‘a lot of people’ asking her to stand for the chief seat and feels ‘reasonably confident’ she could do the job, after much consideration Curnow came to the conclusion being mayor will not be ‘the best use of my time’. Simultaneously she also chose to not stand as councillor for the Mangawhai/Kaiwaka ward as originally planned.

Instead she is looking at a consulting/contracting role within local government so ‘to be flexible enough to make the best of what I can do’.

“Going for mayor isn’t the right thing for me right now, I believe I’m best to use my skills elsewhere in local government which I’m very passionate about,” she says. “I love involving people in setting their own aspirations and really want to be part of protecting, enhancing and improving that in some shape and form… I think we can do a lot better than we are now.”

After spending 11 years in local government, Curnow knows the territory well, forming a good network and sound understanding of the ‘reform processes ahead of us’ she says, ‘so somewhere in all that, there is a place for me to be of use’.

“I have no firm plans beyond setting my intention, they are still very nebulous but I have a sense of my direction,” she says. “I’m confident my decision is the right one for the people I’ve served for the last six years. Some will be disappointed and I hope they understand that I’m not forsaking them, I’m just taking a different approach. I believe I’ll be able to continue to have a good impact for this district in a more diverse way, however because I love it, my focus will always be on Kaipara.”


Kaipara deputy mayor Anna Curnow.


“Wouldn’t be the first time in my life that I’ve taken a bit of a punt, gone off in a different direction – sometimes you just have to be true to yourself and see what happens.”

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