Rachel Reese – A Bit About Me

Tuesday 29 October 2013 marked the swearing in of the first woman to hold the office of Mayor in the 139 year history of Nelson City Council.

I was elected Nelson’s first female Mayor on 12 October 2013 and re-elected 8 October 2016, having previously served on Nelson City Council for six years, including three as Deputy Mayor.

I stood for Mayor because I truly believe in the value of using my skills to serve my community in local government.

After graduating from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Commerce, I departed New Zealand in the 1980s, like so many, to find work in Australia. In Australia I built up a professional career and established a successful design and logistics business in the real-estate industry in Melbourne, as well as starting a family.

But New Zealand was always home and I wanted my children to grow up knowing their whanau, the sea, the sky and the certainty of being kiwis. My journey back is constantly being repeated by others – now more so than ever. 

As a young family we settled in Nelson. My grandparents and parents lived in Marlborough so living ‘over the hill’ in Nelson was a risky proposition! But it all worked out and Nelson/Whakatu is certainly my home of choice. And now it’s my mother’s too! Life has been good to me here and I have a strong family ethic of community service that ensures I give back to the community that has welcomed me. 

Since returning to New Zealand I’ve built a second and third career. To my role in Local Government I have brought extensive experience and expertise in resource management involving business and the community, including over 15 years’ experience in resource consent and plan change processes for private clients and as a Council decision-maker. I am an accredited Resource Management Commissioner and qualified mediator and arbitrator.

Like most families in Nelson, we love and live in the outdoors but we also value art, design, music and theatre.  All of our children are very proud to be Nelsonians. All of them want this to be the place they raise their families. 

My life has certainly changed over the years – the children are grown and, for the first time, my husband Richard and I are supposedly ‘empty nesters’. (Although the chicks do like to return to ‘Nest Nelson’ as often as they can).

Between us, Richard and I have three children – Thomas (29) who is an Environmental Scientist working in the mining industry (you guessed it – in Australia), Sophie (27) is a Lawyer in Christchurch, and Joel (19) is a student studying Land and Property Management at Lincoln while he also challenges himself to become a professional cricketer.

My long-time partner Richard, who became my husband January 2017, is a financial adviser.  Originally from Somerset in the South-West of England, Richard is a former professional cricketer who combined his cricket career in England for 16 years with experience in sales and marketing before joining the Financial Services department of a large accountancy practice in the UK in 1996. Richard moved to New Zealand permanently in 1999. 

As parents, Richard and I understand the challenges of building a good life for children and (one day) grandchildren. I’m committed to keeping Nelson family-friendly and ensuring our community remains the best place in New Zealand to raise children.

In my limited spare time I enjoy walking, cycling, fishing, and occasionally – if I can find a quiet spot – there’s nothing quite like sitting down with a novel and simply having a good old read. I’ve let Richard take responsibility for the garden!

My Community Roles:

  • Mayor of Nelson City – Head of Council and First Citizen
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Ex-Officio Member Council Committees and Sub-Committees
  • Member Nelson Regional Transport Committee
  • Member Nelson Tasman Civil Defence Emergency Management Group
  • Member Arbitrators’ and Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand
  • Member Resource Management Law Association
  • Resource Consent Commissioner
  • Member Environmental Legal Assistance Panel
  • Member Whakatu Marae Committee
  • Trustee Cawthron Institute Trust Board
  • Member Rotary Club of Nelson
  • National Council Member Local Government New Zealand
  • Patron: Nelson United Bowling Club, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award for Nelson; Nelson Friendship Force