YEM Committee Members

  • Aaron Hawkins – Co-Chair & Zone 6 Representative
  • Lan Pham – Co-Chair & Representative
  • Rachel Smith – Zone 1 Representative
  • Austin Rattray – Zone 2 Representative
  • Aleisha Rutherford – Zone 3 Representative
  • Ros Connelly – Zone 4 Representative
  • Alexandra Davids – Zone 5 Representative
  • Craig Watson – Representative


  • Aaron Hawkins cropped

    Aaron Hawkins

    Co-Chair and Zone Six Representative

    Councillor, Dunedin City Council

    Aaron is a second term elected member of Dunedin City Council.  He is the Chair of the Community and Culture Committee, and is a certified RMA commissioner hearing Dunedin’s full district plan review.  He chairs the Dunedin Refugee Steering Group and the Creative Dunedin Partnership, forums made up of community representatives and key stakeholders to support successful former refugee resettlement and the city’s arts and culture strategy respectively.  Aaron is the Co-Chair of the LGNZ Young Elected Members’ Committee and is a member of the Governance and Strategy Advisory Group.  He is passionate, and perversely optimistic, about the role local government can play in addressing the two biggest issues our communities face: climate change (by leading the transition to a zero carbon economy) and social inequality (by building stronger and more resilient communities).  Aaron is also interested in preserving our natural and built heritage; community and neighbourhood led decision making; social enterprise as a driver of local economic development; compact cities and creative urban renewal; better public and active transport; and the social and economic value of our creative industries.

    Prior to election, Aaron worked for longer than is advisable at Radio One 91FM, as a presenter and producer of breakfast radio and the ads that paid for it.  He is currently chair of the Dunedin Fringe Arts Trust, through which he has helped establish the NZ Young Writers Festival, and has served on the board of the Blue Oyster Arts Trust.

  • Lan Pham

    Lan Pham

    Co-Chair & Representative

    Councillor, Environment Canterbury Regional Council

    Lan Pham was the highest polling candidate elected to Environment Canterbury Regional Council 2016, following a campaign from the remote Raoul Island in the Kermadecs on prioritizing the health of our people and planet. Her background is in Freshwater Ecology (MSc) and Environmental Law (COP), and it was her introduction to New Zealand’s quirky and unique, but increasingly rare native fish that first got her engaged in environmental issues. She is the founder and Director of Working Waters Trust, a freshwater restoration and education trust which works alongside communities across Canterbury, Otago and Southland to restore the habitats of New Zealand’s most endangered freshwater fish and raise their profile. Lan is passionate about intergenerational issues – placing climate change at the centre of decision making, improving social wellbeing and building resilience into the management of resources. Lan is a member of LGNZ’s Policy Advisory Group and the New Zealand Freshwater Science Society and is a certified Resource Management Act commissioner.

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    Rachel Smith

    Zone One Representative

    Whangaroa Community Board

    Rachel is a first-term member of the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board with the Far North District Council, beginning her local government experience following the 2016 election.  From a young age Rachel has been active in her community.  She has been involved with a variety of community organisations and charitable causes throughout the Northland region, including roles with Plunket, sporting hubs and social contributors.  Rachel’s drive stems from a firm belief in community involvement and responsibility.  She is motivated to embrace the power of working collaboratively, and has brought this energy to her role on the Community Board to foster effective relationships and communication for the betterment of council and citizens alike.  Particular focus points for Rachel are sustainable planning, youth engagement and enhanced communication channels, both within and outside of local government.  Outside of local council, Rachel is a mother, wife, and marketing consultant who enjoys the sub-tropical lifestyle on offer in the Bay of Islands.  The magic of what can be achieved when different perspectives and alternative inputs are combined with effective processes keeps Rachel motivated for an improved future for all who live in the great communities that are Northland and New Zealand.


  • CV Austin Rattray 2017

    Austin Rattray

    Zone Two Representative

    Councillor, Hauraki District Council

    Elected to Hauraki District Council in 2016 and a local business owner since his late teens, Austin has a keen interest in regional economic development and currently sits on Hauraki District Council’s Economic Development sub-committee. Austin is also on the District Plan Committee and recently became a qualified a Resource Management Act Commissioner. He is and has been involved in several local community organisations including Waihi Community Vision, It’s Not OK! (as a local champion for an on-going national anti-family violence campaign), Hauraki District Council's Ultra-Fast Broadband committee and Go Waihi (town promotion) where he was recently Chairperson for five years.

    Austin is looking forward to being the Zone 2 representative on the Young Elected Members’ Committee and is keen to encourage other young elected members to be involved in driving their communities forward to be the very best they can be.


  • Aleisha Rutherford cropped

    Aleisha Rutherford

    Zone Three Representative

    Councillor, Palmerston North City Council

    First elected in 2013 as Palmerston North's youngest ever city councillor, Aleisha is currently serving her second term.  Aleisha is Chairperson of the Community Development Committee, Deputy Chair of Planning & Strategy, spokesperson for Youth & Students, support spokesperson for Digital & Technology and Rural & Villages. She is a member of all council committees, represents Palmerston North City Council in Zone 3 and is a Resource Management Commissioner.  Aleisha is motivated to bring about change during her time on council and has a keen interest in youth development, increasing diversity of representation, lifting voter turn out and the environment.

  • Ros Connelly

    Ros Connelly

    Zone Four Representative

    Councillor, Upper Hutt City Council

    Ros Connelly was elected to the Upper Hutt City Council in the 2016 Local Government elections. She is a member of the City Services Committee, and the Policy Committee. Shortly after starting university, Ros became actively involved in student politics. She has served as President of both the Otago University Students’ Association and the New Zealand University Students’ Association and was Chair of Student Job Search Aotearoa. Ros holds a Master of Public Management from Victoria University and works in public administration. Ros is Mum to Fionn and Niamh and has spent a lot of time dedicated to the community level governance of early childcare centres, kid’s sports teams and schools. Ros is passionate about ensuring the sustainable use of our natural resources, promoting women’s leadership and participation in decision making, and creating buildings, services and environments that are inclusive and accessible to all people, including people with disabilities.     

  • Alexandra Davids cropped

    Alexandra Davids

    Zone Five Representative

    Member, Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board, Christchurch City Council

    Alexandra is a member of the Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board.  She values strong, thriving and prosperous communities, clean waterways, and ecological and sustainable decision making that always prioritises future generations. After being elected to the Hagley/Ferrymead Community Board in 2013, Alex has become Chair of Keep Christchurch Beautiful, is a trustee of The Graeme Dingle Foundation, a representative on the board of Keep New Zealand Beautiful, Canterbury Neighborhood Support and the Estuary Association along with being the Community Board liaison to several projects and rebuild committees for a variety of community facilities. She has retained a high level of involvement in her ward and across the wider Christchurch area. Alex has always had strong involvement in the youth sector, helping to run youth camps and conferences, predominantly in Canterbury, but also at a national level. She was also a mentor for the Project K programme. Alex believes in having a positive attitude in everything she does and chooses to see perceived problems as challenges that allow opportunities for the creation of extraordinary achievements and outcomes to benefit her community.

  • Craig Watson

    Craig Watson


    Councillor, Selwyn District Council

    Craig is a first term Selwyn District Councillor, from the Selwyn Central Ward, representing Rolleston, West Melton and surrounds.  He is the Deputy Chair of Selwyn District Council’s Audit and Risk Committee.  Craig has been involved in a number of community groups over the last ten years and knew that stepping up to stand for local government was the right decision for him.  He is committed to encouraging, supporting and inspiring younger community members to put their names forward for local government elections.  Selwyn District had three people under the age of 40 put their name forward at the last election, and all three were successfully elected.  However, with financial constraints, public scrutiny and the potential for career stalling, Craig understands the hesitations that many young people feel when considering public office.  Craig is thrilled to have been elected by his peers from around the country to represent them on the Young Elected Members Committee, and is committed to working to make it easier for younger people to take up public office and fulfil their duties while in public office.  Craig is currently appointed to the Area Committee for St John and is organising the inaugural conference for young elected members as well as a large motor festival for the Selwyn District.  He is grateful for an understanding family and a supportive employer!