Taking a new path

Christchurch Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner’s decision to exit local body politics at this year’s October elections surprised many. Metropol editor Lynda Papesch looks back on his career and at his path ahead.

Taking time out to enjoy life is at the forefront of Andrew Turner’s thoughts these days. After October, Christchurch’s deputy mayor will have time on his hands, for strolls on the beach with two small dogs, and increased flexibility for new challenges.

His exit is still four months away, but he’s already started thinking about his future. He’s eager to use the experience gained, both at the Christchurch City Council and sitting on various boards and trusts including CCHL and ChristchurchNZ, to pursue other governance roles.

“I’m keen to continue to contribute to the life of the city, but there is a breadth of opportunity outside of Christchurch which is also attractive,” he says.

“The ideal for me would be a combination of governance roles, maybe some advisory or contract work, and the ability to use my experience to contribute to Christchurch and to New Zealand.

Exactly what that looks like remains to be seen, although there are some conversations already under way and I’m looking forward to some exciting opportunities ahead.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to enjoy living in Lyttelton, maybe even spending a bit more time there, and with [partner] Glen and our two small
fluffy dogs.

Andrew met Glen while visiting Christchurch in 1997, and this year they’re celebrating their 25th anniversary. “It’s fair to say he provided both the incentive and the opportunity to settle here in Christchurch,” Andrew says. “We have lived here permanently since 1998, and have been in Lyttelton since 2003.”

His decision to bow out of council surprised some, particularly given some expectation that Andrew would run for the mayoralty in 2022.

“I deliberately took time out during summer to think about what the next period of my life could look like, taking valuable and honest advice from trusted people close to me. These considerations led to my decision not to contest the next election,” he explains.

“Being elected and playing a full role for the last 12 years has been a huge privilege and immensely enjoyable, yet also time-consuming, taxing and at times very challenging.

“It’s time to move on. I will be 55 this year, and will soon enjoy having the time and flexibility to do things that being an elected member simply doesn’t allow for.”

He looks back proudly on achievements during his time, such as keeping the council’s finances and budgets under control during earthquake recovery and regeneration, a successful settlement of council’s earthquake insurance claim, and the rebuild and betterment of many council facilities and infrastructure.

“I have loved being an effective representative for Banks Peninsula, and have built some great relationships along the journey. Resolving wastewater disposal issues for Lyttelton and Akaroa harbours, the upgrade of the Diamond Harbour wharf, implementation of the Lyttelton Master Plan, the acquisition, design and completion of Albion Square, the rebuild of the Lyttelton swimming pool, and the investment in the Lyttelton cruise berth are particular local highlights for me.”

Advice to aspiring councillors

1. These are roles not jobs, and they are all-consuming. It’s not that you work as a councillor – you are a councillor. Think about the very public nature of the role, and its effect on you, your family and those close to you.
2. People sometimes assume that being a councillor is a part-time role. I often work 50-60 hours a week. Ensure you have time to genuinely commit. It is not a 9-5 commitment – the phone can ring, and meetings and urgent issues can arise any time, day or night.
3. The breadth of the role and the responsibility are also huge. These make the role interesting, but don’t underestimate the huge amount of information, reading and preparation involved for meetings,as well as meeting attendance.
4. If elected, make time to ensure work-life balance. I regularly go to the gym, go for runs, and maintain an active and rewarding social life. This keeps me fit and healthy, and engaged with people outside of work, but requires deliberate planning.

Looking back

Andrew’s career has spanned hospitality, sales and marketing, business development, retail, small business ownership, property development, local government, and governance.

Born in the United Kingdom, he grew up in York, studied in Nottingham, then lived in Brighton and worked in London prior to heading for Sydney. While based in Sydney, he worked on a three month contract in Christchurch, and enjoyed it so much he returned regularly, moving here in 1998 after meeting his partner Glen.

The couple moved to Lyttelton in 2003, buying and refurbishing the Empire Hotel building, including reinstating a hospitality and boutique accommodation business, and establishing the Empire General Store.

Andrew’s local body career began when he was elected to the Lyttelton Harbour Business Association, and then became its Chair, leading it through the challenging earthquake period.

“It was that work that led to suggestions I should run for election to the Community Board, which I did successfully in 2010. That then led to the opportunity to be successfully elected to represent the Banks Peninsula ward on the Christchurch City Council for the first time in 2013, and to be appointed deputy mayor in 2016.

Previous Post

From the editor: 9 June 2022

Next Post

Expanding our universe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *