"Leadership is my passion. I always have an overwhelming need to lead. I love it and all the things that go with it."

Ask Christine Rankin why she's running for the Taupō district mayoralty and she'd tell you it's not because she dislikes the incumbent mayor, David Trewavas.

The pair have a good relationship and get on well together and Rankin said she was "a respectful follower".

"If someone else is the leader I'm very good at fitting into my spot but I'd love to lead," she said.


"Part of it is developing the team, guiding people, to work together really well and really extending their skills.

"I'm also a pretty clear and strong leader, I tell it the way it is, I'm not afraid of confrontation and I always tell the truth about situations, it doesn't frighten me."

Perhaps best-known as the chief executive of WINZ during the late 1990s, Rankin contested the Taupō district mayoralty in 2016 and also stood successfully for the Taupō District Council and the Lakes District Health Board.

While she was the third-highest polling councillor, she was more than 6000 votes behind Trewavas for the mayoralty.

Rankin said on reflection, she probably hadn't been in Taupō long enough for people to see her as a potential mayor and she threw herself wholeheartedly into being a councillor instead.

But she'd rather be in the top job.

"I involve myself in the community, I run from thing to thing and I've made myself available to solve people's problems which I've also really enjoyed so I think people know me a bit better now."

Rankin has extensive local government experience.


She was a member of the Auckland Regional Council and the Upper Harbour Local Board of Auckland Council. She moved to Taupō with husband Kim MacIntyre in 2015.

The Taupō district is growing quickly and Rankin said the community and the council needed to carefully manage change, to welcome visitors and economic development while also protecting what was precious.

"No one wants any change at all. The reality is if we manage it properly, change is great. You just need the right things at the right time. There's absolutely no doubt that we're growing and faster than predicted.

Christine Rankin says she is
Christine Rankin says she is "a clear and strong leader". Photo / Laurilee McMichael

"That [gondola] development on the mountain will bring hundreds of thousands of people to this area that wouldn't be here and that brings huge opportunities for Tūrangi and also for the rest of the district."

Rankin wants to bring in extra expertise to ensure councillors make decisions with the best information, forming a business advisory group to help advise councillors making big commercial decisions.

Communication also needed improvement.

Rankin wants to see more direct face-to-face communication, with councillors and the chief executive fronting regular public meetings.

"I think it's quite a scary concept for some people, but it works. Some of the consultation for the council building and the meetings were incredibly nasty but fronting it was very important.

"I think direct communication is the key because when people know things they understand why you've done it and they understand their part in it and I think that's certainly worth a try."

She was also inspired by a recent presentation by Central Hawke's Bay mayor Alex Walker.

"They have a development plan for every area of over 100 people or more and it's been incredibly successful, [people] know what's planned for their area and when, and it's revised every year and they get input into it. I'm absolutely going to steal [that idea]."

Rankin saw challenges ahead as the need for more post-secondary school learning opportunities, the need for more housing, and the upgrade of Taupō Airport, which she has worked closely on with council staff for more than two years.

The Taupō Airport Authority has an application in to the Provincial Growth Fund for money to redevelop the ageing terminal and other work to make it "the best little airport in New Zealand".

Upgrading infrastructure and public facilities in Tūrangi is another challenge.

Rankin said the council took Tūrangi very seriously and has a plan in place for it, which it was doing everything it could to hasten.

She thought there needed to be a stronger relationship on both sides.

"Every community has every right to ask for what they want and to voice it when they feel that they are being treated unfairly but you have to build trust to go forward.

"There's always been plans for the development of Tūrangi but there's a process and it doesn't happen overnight, but we've listened and I think we've been very responsible in our response," she said.

"I care about Tūrangi and I think it's got huge potential and we just have to work together and make the most of it."

Rankin said it would be a privilege to be the district's mayor.

"I think I've been a hard-working, fully-engaged councillor and really responsive because I've lived it. It hasn't been a chore, it's been a privilege and a joy really. I'm proud of the way the town's developing. We've got a lot of things to get right and manage, but I've loved being part of it."