On the afternoon of December 21 when Ailian Su filed her nomination papers for the Howick Local Board Botany by-elections, she thought she was the only woman standing.
“I checked the council website and there were only three men contesting the by-elections,” she says.
Which is why she was surprised when she later learnt that two other women were also in the running for the hot seat.
A registered nurse with Highland Park surgery for more than 10 years, she believes that women tend to communicate better, are more caring, bring an element of balance and negotiate well if there is a problem.
Ailian in Mandarin means a lotus opening with the rays of the morning sun, she says.
And living up to her name, she has gently touched lives of migrants over the last 20 years.
As a Justice of Peace and a nurse, she has worked with many different cultures, she says.
“I have often had conversations with people who visit the surgery on how we can better the transport system and other social issues, and a lot of them have liked my ideas and suggested that I should discuss them on a larger platform.”
Mrs Su is familiar with broadcasting on the local Chinese radio as she has often been invited to talk to new migrants about many topics including the transportation system, road safety and various government services.
“I have always wanted new migrants to have a better understanding of how to be a good New Zealander,” says the mother of two adult children.
“I’ve also helped promote the cervical smear screening and mammogram screening programmes.”
Mrs Su has recently moved from Somerville to Flat Bush and believes that to encourage people to move to new developments “we need to first fix the problems, like expanding the local shuttle bus services that link to major public transport hubs”.
“We need to improve the car park facilities by the bus stops and train stations as well.”
She also suggests that more fruit trees be planted at public reserves and parks to help provide shelter and make it more inviting for people to spend more time at the parks.
There are plenty of other ideas she wants to discuss.
“I’d like to work through the local board with schools and communities organisations to provide more after-school care and school holiday programmes for children to develop hobbies instead of sitting all day with their cell phones and computers,” she says.
“It would help to develop healthy lifestyles for the generation next.”
So why should people vote for her?
“I have the experience and passion to serve the community,” she enthuses.
“I love the community and want to contribute to it. I am very committed and I speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese—this will help me serve the diverse communities living in Botany more effectively.”