New elected councillor still digesting success


The newest Dunstan face on the Otago Regional Council says he is still digesting his success.

Gary Kelliher was last weekend elected as one of the three Dunstan councillors, alongside re-elected councillor Michael Laws and newly elected councillor Alexa Forbes.

Mr Laws, Mr Kelliher and Ms Forbes received 9329, 7806 and 7706 votes respectively.

Two-term councillor Graeme Bell received 6311 votes, and Phill Hunt and Richard Bowman received 6094 and 5251 respectively.

It was third time lucky for Mr Kelliher, who served as a regional councillor from 2013-16 but then stood unsuccessfully in the 2016 election and a subsequent by-election.

He said he had been uncertain if he would be elected this time around.

“I had gotten used to knowing how it feels both ways [being elected and not elected]. It’s all about how you deal with it. I had got my head around all of that.”

Mr Kelliher said he was looking forward to resuming the “coffee and a chat” sessions he used to have throughout the district as a councillor, and getting to know more of his constituents and raise the profile of the regional council.

He said he would now stand down from his roles as Otago Water Resource Users Group Manuherikia sub-group chairman, and Manuherikia River Ltd acting chairman.

But he thought his knowledge of irrigation issues would be an asset around the council table.

Ms Forbes said she was also looking forward to meeting more Dunstan constituents.

She felt well-versed in Queenstown-Lakes issues, and was looking forward to learning more about Central Otago and other Otago issues within the regional council’s responsibilities of air, water, land and transport.

Mr Laws said his priority would be to continue promoting Dunstan issues “within an organisation that needs to shift a good amount of its staff and resources up here [Dunstan region]”.

He also wanted a “more proactive, science-based and empathetic ORC than the one that has been on display these past six years”.


It is business as usual for Central Otago Health Incorporated (Cohinc) as all board members have been elected unopposed.

Tracy Paterson will remain the board’s chairwoman until the next general meeting after the AGM and normal board practice will follow after respective positions are appointed.

Board members also include Britta Christensen and Caroline Tamblyn, who have been newly-elected, while Robert Roy, Leigh Overton and Mrs Paterson were re-elected.

Collectively their roles will provide a link between Dunstan Hospital and the regions within Central Otago.

They will also appoint directors of Central Otago Health Services as required.


Central Otago’s two candidates for the Southern District Health Board have missed out on election to the board’s Otago constituency.

But other members may still be appointed to the board.

The successful Otago members of the board are John Chambers, of the Otago Peninsula, and Dave Cull, Ilka Beekhuis and Lyndell Kelly, all of Dunedin.

Malcolm Macpherson, of Alexandra, and Graham Clarke, of Tarras, were unsuccessful. Dr Macpherson was the fifth highest polling candidate, on 9353 votes, and Mr Clarke received 1423 votes.

Health Minister David Clark will appoint the new chairman of the board, and may also appoint up to four other board members.

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