LACHIE ASHTON

I grew up in the electorate being raised on a 3,000 hectare farm at Waitahuna.  Born at Milton hospital in the days when rural communities had good health services and thriving businesses, providing young people with the opportunity to be able to stay and work in their home towns enabling a better socioeconomic structure for the regions.

After completing primary school at Waitahuna and High School at Lawrence I started working on farms in the district on a casual basis building up a team of dogs before going full time casual mustering mostly in the Queenstown, Wanaka and Northern Southland districts. I have a special interest in high country stations, farming, conservation and the environment through my work and recreational pursuits such as trail running, multi-sport, adventure racing, rogains and tramping, camping and mountain biking with the family.

I have spent most of my life working and living in many parts of the Otago and Southland Region in different roles and I think I can safely claim that no other candidate will have placed their footprint on as much of the electorate or been involved in as many occupations and businesses.   

Such a background has given me a healthy respect, empathy and understanding for other people, their roles, businesses, backgrounds, points of view, struggles, dreams and aspirations. There is nothing like standing in their shoes to give you a good dose of reality and understanding of what it is like for them. I have worked with extremely successful businessmen and farmers to Access Trainees trying to get out of unemployment and into their first job while a Farm Tutor for the YMCA at Otahuti.

I have had my fair share of struggles and successes and know how vulnerable you can be to government policies and actions having been self-employed and in business during the Rogernomics era. Right now, we are all vulnerable to what sort of government we might get and whether or not it will affect us in a good way or a bad way and it is something we have no control over other than voting which unfortunately hasn’t worked for a lot of us either.

In farming, I have gone right through the ranks from farm worker, head-shepherd, farm manager, leasing and farm ownership in Australia, experiencing the worst drought in Australian history. I have been involved in the racing industry and used to hold a private trainer’s and open horseman’s licence, served on the Roxburgh Trotting Club Committee and Central Otago Owners Trainers and Breeders Association and am still interested in supporting the industry.  

While my goal has always been farm ownership, some of the things I have done along the way include, contract fencing, retail, live deer recovery, builders labourer, stableman, night shooting for rabbit boards, freezing worker, truck driver, sales representative, customer services manager, sales and export manager and real estate agent. I wouldn’t call myself a shearer but have done over 150 a day as a teenager. When I have had the opportunity, I have done tertiary courses in business, economics, information and technology and real estate. I am married, have four children and work as a rural real estate agent in Canterbury.  

While working and living in Canterbury severely affects my ability to campaign in the electorate I wanted to stand for the Clutha Southland because it is where I come from and have spent most of my life in that region, including Queenstown where I have spent 3 years as a Real Estate Agent and another 6 working on many of the high-country stations in the area. We also have family ties to the district going back to the very early days of European settlement.

I also wanted to stand up and be counted again for those of you who voted for me last time and I thank you for that.