Colleen Sheldon

Regional Councillor, Manawatu-Whanganui region

Colleen is a first-generation New Zealander whose Malaysian-born parents came here under the skilled migrant programme in the early 1960’s.

She is in her third term as a regional councillor in the Manawatu-Whanganui region, and contributes significantly to several portfolios, including iwi governance groups. Prior to politics, Colleen was a journalist and local government communications manager.

Colleen has been building her governance portfolio in the past 10 years including as a director of Garvaghy Gold Ltd, a 380-cow dairy farm in Manawatu, which she owns with her husband.

A former NZ representative in Taekwon Do, as well as having two very sporty sons, she is on the Board of Sport Manawatu and the New Zealand Canoe Polo Association. She is also a trustee on Greasy Chain Cycle Events Trust, bringing together an annual local and international cycling event.

Colleen is passionate about women in leadership and is a member of SheEO New Zealand, practicing radical generosity by investing to enable women-led businesses to flourish through loan funds, advice, mentoring and growing wider networks.

A Bachelor of Arts with a Geography major and Economics minor, her social science skills are used extensively. She is a founding member of the Bainesse & Districts Community Development Trust seeking to develop economic opportunities in rural towns and address population decline in the provinces. Their first project, City to Sea Rail Trail, is a shared pathway in the southern part of Manawatu, from Longburn to Himatangi Beach.

Colleen is focussed on ensuring good governance standards are met, which in turn keeps her learning and growing in her understanding through her membership to the Institute of Directors.

A member of Dairy Environment Leaders group, a Dairy NZ initiative, she is involved in planning for the future of dairy and sustainability of all farming in tightening regulatory times.

Colleen and her husband won the regional Dairy Business of the Year in 2017 and were recognised for their leadership in resilience, teamwork, financials, human resources and animal health.

She recognises a changing future in primary industry practice and the need to incorporate social and economic considerations into any regulatory or legislative conversation.

Colleen has recently started consultancy, Attivare, aiming to keep communities informed, resilient and thriving through the communication of key messages, as well as delivering social impact assessments through the RMA process.