Cr Kevin Malcolm

Councillor - Moeraki Constituency


Tel 027 838 3003


Second-term Councillor Kevin Malcolm has lived all over Otago and done everything from working as a bank officer, livestock agent, sawmill manager, property developer, referee trainer, and risk management adviser. He’s traded sheep and real estate, farmed cattle and grown organic broccoli in Totora’s rich volcanic soil.

Kevin and his wife, Jane, live on 5 hectares just outside Papakaio in Waitaki. Once a plant nursery, the land’s gravel seam was washed in by the ever-changing braids of the mighty Waitaki River; in the strata beneath is the floor of a prehistoric ocean, once home to plesiosaurs and giant penguins. This area has magnificent soil for cropping, horticulture and farming. Time and history are intertwined, and Kevin backs the same long-view approach to the role of council. “Our vision is too short,” he says. “An elder from Moeraki marae once told me they look ahead 500 years, and this is what we should be doing. Most councillors only look three years ahead, probably because they want to get elected again. We need to look far into the future and make sure what we’re doing isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction to what’s happening at a certain moment in time.”

Kevin is a rugby man, anyway. Rugby player, rugby coach — he has also trained referees to test-match level.

Favourite team?“There’s only one team: the Highlanders.”

Favourite player? “My two sons, Blair and Dean, who both played for Kurow; and Sona Taumalolo, who played for the Chiefs and Tonga. He should have been an All Black, but that’s another story. He’s my son-in-law.”

Kevin has played every position himself and suffered no major injuries apart from a dicky finger (broken in the line out). Rugby is all about whanau, he says. Kevin coached the Kurow team for four years before retiring. When the Kurow coach went on holiday, he was asked to come back to fill in. “My son Dean was playing for them at the time, and I didn’t want to step on his toes. The minute I hung up the phone, though, it rang: it was Dean saying, ‘Want a lift to practice?’”

These days the only red cards he’s handing out are metaphorical ones to people who answer emails during council meetings instead of keeping their eye on the ball.

What does Kevin bring to the table? A huge knowledge of Otago, and a unique problem-solving philosophy that comes down to cups of tea. “You’ve got to have a thousand cups of tea,” he says.

“The best way to solve something is to sit down with the people a particular issue is affecting, find out where they are coming from and find a solution that’s workable. If we engage with people and work alongside them, we can get to a place where even if folks don’t necessarily agree with every single thing, they have something they can work with. Take the Te Hakapupu catchment, for example — there are so many people working so hard to make that work. The catchment group is the real catalyst; a council should always be an enabler for the community to thrive. ORC is the regulator of the environment and needs to support and help the community care for the environment. Our key drivers are our science, our knowledge of policies, and our relationship with the community.”

“A really critical part of engaging is first understanding what the community know. High flow, low flow, when the eels are there — it’s vital that we learn from them before we start writing policy. Models are not reality.”

Kevin’s head labourer and cherry seller for his daughter Erin, who lives next door. He’s also on the committee raising money for Waitaki’s new event centre. “It’s taken a serious number of cups of tea.”

Page last updated 21 June 2024.