Hamilton could soon have New Zealand’s first Muslim woman elected to local government, with long-time community campaigner Anjum Rahman standing in the Hamilton East ward.
Ms Rahman may not be a born Hamiltonian – her family are originally from India – but she is a bred one, having lived in the city for more than 40 years and attending Fifth Avenue Primary, Silverdale Normal, Berkley Intermediate and Hillcrest High School.
She is a chartered accountant; holds bachelor and masters degrees in Management Studies from Waikato University; and has been a supporter of community organisations for many years.
While she was not certain she was the only female Muslim to have run for local government, she was sure no others had ever been elected.
Ms Rahman was a founding member of Shama – aka the Hamilton Ethnic Women’s Centre – an organisation set up in 2003 to provide support for ethnic minority women, and is a trustee of the Waikato Community Broadcasting Charitable Trust which operates Hamilton community radio station Free FM.
She is also a member of the city’s Interfaith Council and has been involved in many community projects.
Ms Rahman said she decided to run for the council to put her experience in governance, financial and organisational management to work for the community.
“Not only do I have significant financial experience, I serve as treasurer for a variety of not-for-profit organisations and believe these are vital skills to bring to the governance of Hamilton City,” she said.
“The council is a not-for-profit organisation, so needs to be run in ways that are significantly different to a commercial business.”
Other issues she sees as important include transparency, debt and democracy.
“I don’t like hiding behind commercial sensitivity to deny people a say in major decisions.
“I believe in being involved in building community. I love Hamilton and want to do what I can to ensure it becomes the thriving centre it deserves to be.”