St Catherine’s Head Girl calls out condescending councillor


At the Let’s Get Wellington Moving forum last week, Steph Edlin asked Chris Calvi-Freeman why Wellingtonians should have faith in councillors to get it right with the $6.4 billion transport initiative.

The St Catherine’s College head girl said Calvi-Freeman had “immediately focused” on her age rather than the substance of her question.

He told her that he had been involved in transport governance since before she was “even a twinkle”.

Edlin said his response was condescending and a symptom of why young people didn’t feel they could participate in politics.

“He basically said ‘I’ve been doing this for ages and you don’t know anything’. He was generally quite condescending.

“It’s a bit crap to talk down to me when I’m trying to engage in politics.

“I was already doubting myself, that my question was relevant because I’m a teenager.”

Calvi-Freeman said the situation was “unfortunate” and he had “not intended to disempower in any way”.

“I was about to point out Wellington had a very good bus service for 27 years, and there was no reason we couldn’t have one again.

“I know that because I helped to develop it.”

While Edlin was “not at all” deterred from engaging in politics, she thought the behaviour didn’t send the right message to young people about democracy.

She said she might like to be mayor of Wellington one day.

23-year-old Chlöe Swarbrick’s election to parliament seems to be inspiring other young people to seek public office.

In Wellington, five people under the age of 25 are standing for election in this year’s local body elections:

  • Teri O’Neill for Wellington City Council’s Eastern Ward
  • Joshua Trlin and Rabeea Inayatullah for Porirua City Council’s Northern Ward
  • Sophie Handford for the Kapiti Coast District Council
  • Victoria Rhodes-Carlin for the Greater Wellington Regional Council


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