Deputy mayor off to face new challenges

02:05, Feb 21 2013
Ali Boswijk
BUSY: Nelson's deputy mayor Ali Boswijk and great dane Zeus on the lawn outside their new home.

After six years on the Nelson City Council deputy mayor Ali Boswijk will be waving goodbye to local body politics at this year's elections.

In August last year Ali was appointed World of WearableArt manager for international projects.

In October last year she and her husband Eelco Boswijk bought the historic St John's Methodist Church on Hardy St complete with parsonage and hall.

Ali and Eelco and their two teenage sons now call the parsonage home and are a running the church as a performance venue.

This week Ali sat down with The Leader for a chat about life on the council, her job at WOW and her remarkable home.

So how come you're quitting council?


The biggest reason is because I've got so much going on. A lot of the things I'm involved in could potentially cause a conflict of interest and consequently I'd be removed from any decision-making around them, so for me it would be a waste of time and it would be unfair to the voters.

What will you miss?

I'll miss a lot of the people. There are a lot of great people at the council and I'll miss knowing everything that's going on because I'm really nosy. I'll also miss being involved in council business like the Heart of Nelson strategy.

What won't you miss?

There's lots I won't miss. I won't miss the petty politicking. I won't miss the vitriolic letters to the editor that are full of half-truths and supposition, and I won't miss being accused of having hidden agendas when I've been very overt in my agendas - just because people don't like them doesn't make them hidden.

How has being on the council changed you?

In a negative sense it's made me more risk-averse. It's made me always look at the negative possibilities of something and the reasons not to do it because that's easier. It's also made me more aware of lots of people's situations in life and what motivates and influences them and I think that's been a good thing. It's also made me a lot more patient.

What advice would you have for anyone considering running at October's elections?

First, attend council meetings. Go and sit and watch council in action - it's important they get a sense of how it works - then be prepared to work harder than you think you might and be prepared to keep an open mind.

Would you recommend the experience of being a councillor?

I would. I've learnt so much, I met some amazing people and I think if people want to understand how you shape a place, physically and socially, being on council is a good place to learn that.

How's the new job going?

It's going really well. I'm getting a much clearer picture of what the potential is for WOW internationally over the next two to three years. A big part of the international focus is going to be getting the show offshore in ways that encourage new designers to enter.

If WOW was going to become a global event, wouldn't it have done so by now?

Not necessarily. WOW is in Wellington but what WOW has is these amazing designs that can be used in other ways to showcase WOW. WOW has taken off internationally in that one third of the designs come from overseas.

How's the new house going?

Messily. There are still lots of boxes and walls in the wrong place but we're loving being in the middle of town.

Does it ever seem a bit much to be the owner of a parsonage, hall and church?

If I thought about it, it might. You could let it overwhelm you if you wanted to but if you attack it bit by bit it's not overwhelming. The way we look at it, it's like an urban lifestyle block.

How did it feel seeing the church full for its first concert last week?

It was amazing. It was actually quite overwhelming. I had no expectation that that many people would come. It was wonderful.

If you had a motto for life what would it be?

I think it would be "live and let live".