Diane Ammundsen retired last year from the Kapiti Coast District Council (KCDC). She served on council for 27 years, longer than anyone else. She was on the very first governing group, when KCDC was established under the mayoralty of the late Barry Hadfield.
She did not stand for election in 2016 and is now enjoying retirement. She is still involved in community affairs and among other things, is a member of two conservation groups.
In the interview below, Diane reflects on her long period of service to the Kapiti District.
Why did you first decide to stand for Council?
I worked for the Council for nearly ten years so got to understand how Council operated and believed I could contribute to this. My children (and later grandchildren) were living in the district and I wanted to make the Kapiti Coast a great place to live, work and play.
Why do you think the voters kept returning you to office?
I think other people thought about issues in a similar way to me and appreciated my input to Council especially my emphasis and work on environmental issues.
Do you think having a surname starting with A helped?
A few people told me it did and possibly it helped, but I prefer to think it is the work I did that people appreciated!
Who were the best three mayors you worked under?
I was not a Councillor under June Oakley but I worked with June and admired her enormously for her dedication, vision and determination to do her best for Kapiti. In my view she was a woman ahead of her time.
Alan Milne was also a very good mayor in my opinion, he also had vision and worked particularly to improve Kapiti’s relations with other cities and towns and agencies in the Wellington region so that we worked more collaboratively and productively with them.
Jenny Rowan was also a hardworking mayor, enthusiastic, energetic and dedicated. She involved many people in Council projects and activities, especially young people – she started the Youth Council and also the Council of Elders.
Which triennium do you think was the most productive for the Kapiti District
I believe that the most productive triennium was under Jenny Rowan’s leadership, the refurbishment of the Council building (which was very much needed), the development of Otaraua Park, and the new Aquatic Centre were the all big projects and of benefit to the district.
What have been the three most significant Council achievements in which you have played a major part?
1) Recycling and the Composting Operation were something I worked very hard to see established on the Kapiti Coast.
2) I represented Kapiti on the Wellington Regional Environmental Agency which helped me learn from other Councils and achieve a better focus on environmental issues and solutions for the coast, including helping to form restoration groups, restoring streams, rivers and lakes in our district.
3) I led the community fundraising for the new Aquatic Centre which was a rather large task!
How did you find the relationship between the elected council and the professional staff over the years?
I have found the staff to be always positive and professional and have appreciated their help and input on the many projects I was involved with over my time on Council.
You have had a long time interest in conservation on the Coast. Why has this been important for you?
As a Christian I believe we must care for our environment and I have tried to do that and have found support from many willing volunteers on the coast over the years
What have been the two or three most significant changes in the Kapiti area since you first took office?
The change from Kapiti Borough Council to the Kapiti Coast District Council in 1989 which incorporated Waikanae and Otaki into the district.
The expressway (which I was not initially in favour of), will change this district forever. Council joining the Alliance to build this was of great benefit for the environmental issues on the coast eg: the creation and preservation of wetlands and the enormous planting projects which have been done.
How are you finding the post-Council lifestyle?
I am enjoying no longer having the responsibilities that I had as a Councillor and I love the freedom to choose for myself what I would like to do rather than what I should do!!