Meet the next generation of elected leaders in the South Island

ActionStation are profiling inspiring young independent candidates who are standing in local elections around NZ.

7 min readSep 24, 2019
A colourful collage of seven young people in different outdoor settings
Young independent candidates standing for local councils in 2019

For the 2019 local council elections, we are profiling and promoting young (under 40 years old) independent candidates who agree with the vision and values outlined in our community’s crowdsourced vision Te Ira Tāngata and have demonstrated a commitment to climate solutions and Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

We asked candidates in an online questionnaire if they agree with our community’s vision and to tell us how they will work towards it. We’ve only included the people who responded so this is not an exhaustive list and some young independent candidates may be missing. Please email if you think there is someone we should add!

The following candidates are standing in the South Island.

Rohan O’Neill-Stevens

19, Nelson City Council

Rohan against a blue sky background eating a pink icecream

As a councillor I will work to build a healthy, safe and connected community.

I will be a tireless voice to put environmental considerations at the forefront of decision making, alongside honouring te Tiriti o Waitangi, and ensuring Māori and minority voices are given space to be heard.

By actively consulting overlooked communities and improving transparency and accountability we can reconnect local government to disenfranchised citizens. Investing in affordable housing, public transport and cycle and pedestrian networks will begin the shift towards a low carbon economy, as well as ensuring our city is accessible to all citizens.

Disclosure: Rohan is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Rohan’s Facebook page here.

Julie Nevin

38, Tasman District Council

Julie laughing, looking off camera, at a beach with rocky background

I am standing for courageous leadership, healthy ecosystems and resilient communities.

I will ask: how can we create systems of participation in local decision-making that are representative and honour Te Tiriti o Waitangi? Perhaps by creating ward-based citizen’s assemblies.

How can we build resilience into local infrastructure? Perhaps community resilience plans, facilitated by Council but created by communities, can guide us.

How can we build a sustainable, local, diverse economy that supports the region’s wellbeing beyond GDP?

These are the sorts of questions and considerations that lead me to run for Council. We need a system of governance that enables bold, transformative policy, that acknowledges the interconnected nature of our environment, societies and economy, and is purposefully embedded in the local and the global.

Disclosure: Julie is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Julie’s Facebook page here.

Lan Pham

33, a sitting councillor seeking re-election for the regional council Environment Canterbury (Ecan)

Lan smiling, wearing a blue top sitting amongst green grass

Let’s get straight to the guts of it. We’ve screwed ourselves by pretending that love and compassion for each other, future generations and our environment shouldn’t be the driver for how we exist and operate in this world.

Now, we are facing a climate and ecological emergency and it is timely to recognise that this must be our way forward if we are to not only survive, but ideally thrive as a species on planet earth.

My drive for being on Regional Council is simple — to prioritise the ‘common good’ of both current and future generations, where the fundamentals of clean, safe drinking water, a stable climate, swimmable rivers and an ecologically resilient environment are placed above corporate greed and profit from pollution.

We need to move beyond ideas about ‘polluting less’, or ‘consuming less’, or ‘putting a fence around’ the morsels of biodiversity that remain and start a wholesale onslaught of love, restoration, and innovation with the goal of the creation of a society that not only doesn’t destroy, but enhances nature. Critical to this is the recognition of our history, the need for sustained restitution to mana whenua, and all of our responsibilities in upholding Te Tiriti O Waitangi.

I have had both the privilege, and the pain, of representing Christchurch on ECan this last term as part of a council whose majority was firmly for maintaining the status quo. We cannot leave our problems for our kids and grandkids.

A new, fully democratically elected council offers the opportunity for transformational change. I’m ready to lead this change, and I would love your vote and your support.

Check out Lan’s Facebook page here.

Hamish Keown

27, Environment Canterbury

Hamish looking to camera with a rural sunny landscape behind him

Regional Councils hold a significant amount of sway when it comes to influencing and making decisions that will have a direct and lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of our communities and region.

To support and work towards this shared vision [of ActionStation], I believe that we must strongly and actively address climate change. It needs to be the lens that all decisions are passed through. As we know, this global issue encompasses many of the shared vision statements and its impacts are wide-reaching.

In addition to this, if elected a priority for me will be working hard to ensure that minority communities are engaged and empowered to participate.

Check out Hamish’s Facebook page here.

Scout Barbour-Evans

24, Dunedin City Council

Scout at a local market looking down at a clipboard, couple with pram out of focus in the background

As urban Māori, as one of the youngest candidates in Dunedin/Ōtepoti, and as one of the only non-binary and disabled candidates in the city, it’s really important to me that we continue to improve the representation of all populations that live here.

How can we build communities, lead with compassion and aroha, and ensure true equality if the people around the council table don’t share the rich experiences we all have?

I’m running for the Mayoralty and for council because I believe I have good decision-making skills, and that my social justice frameworks allow me to hear and act on what my different communities need.

My expertise and background is in support work, advocacy and activism. I would like to work towards a city which doesn’t leave anybody behind in the decisions it makes, which centres the needs of our most marginalised so that everyone can access what makes this city great, so that the future we are working towards is one we can all participate in.

Check out Scouts’s Facebook page here.

Finn Campbell

27, Dunedin City Council

Finn standing in front of a beautiful harbour view

I will prioritise public spaces that support a diverse range of users by considering the most vulnerable user of the space as the design priority.

  • Cycleways that support children using them.
  • Bus Services with flat/free fares with easy on and off-ramps.
  • Safe spaces which include design features that allow safe travel at night time by women and minorities. Tactile pavers on the streets for the visually impaired and remove curb edges for the mobility impaired.
  • De-prioritise car private car traffic.

Disclosure: Finn is a member of the Green party, running as an independent.

Check out Finn’s Facebook page here.

Bonnie Mager

32, Environment Southland

Bonnie in a shed, in jacket and hat, with a home made trap on the table

I’m young and passionate but not always great with getting the right words out. I’m fighting to get youth to vote, a more diverse and representative council and for real, drastic measures to be taken to save our earth.

I plan to be a councillor who is engaged with and listens to all the community. To do this I pledge to be responsive and active on social media and to attend regular community meetings including those in Bluff and Stewart Island.

Check out Bonnie’s Facebook page here.

Want to read more profiles? Check out the inspiring young independents running in other areas here:

Want more information before voting?

The Spinoff has a great website with profiles on candidates at this link:

Stuff has candidate profiles based on their climate action policies at this link:

Generation Zero has produced scorecards that rate candidates in Christchurch and Dunedin based on their policies for climate action and liveable cities:

How to vote

Voting is open from 20 September till midday 12 October.

If you’re enrolled you’ll receive your voting papers in the post from 20 September. 📮

If you’re not enrolled, or your papers haven’t arrived, no worries! Just head to your local council office to enrol and vote in person. 🔍 Find details for your council here:

By voting in the local election, and supporting friends or whānau members to join you, we will multiply the impact of our community and elect councillors that will advocate for the ecosystems that sustain life.




Community campaigning organisation bringing people together to act in powerful and coordinated ways to create a fair and flourishing Aotearoa for all.