A surprise second guest with a natural talent for storytelling was a delightful and humourous  addition to an already highly anticipated guest speaker. Bob Clark described Steve and Marion as the “Morecambe & Wise” of comedy leaving the gathered crowd wanting to hear more stories and watch this duo bounce off each other with their intelligence, wit and genuine respect. Steve Walker spoke to us last year on the Wildlife Hospital that continues to go  from strength to strength. He is currently campaigning for local politics and is involved in the social enterprise ‘Thankyou Payroll.’ A Labour MP from 1996 - 200, Marian Hobbs has had many roles; Minister of the Environment and Assistant Speaker of the House to name a couple. With a wealth of experience, she is now standing for Otago Regional Council.

Steve Walker

Sitting in a bar in the middle of Transylvania looking no doubt at Dracula’s Castle, Stephen G rings asking if he would like to come back and speak. What seemed like a good idea at the time coincided with campaign week from hell, however and I suspect Steve sees the silver lining in many clouds, he is actually quite delighted not to have to speak about politics for a few hours. With a slightly indecipherable accent, Steve is often asked his country of origin. He vehemently addressed his audience with the knowledge that while born in Singapore to a Scottish Father and an Italian Mother, he carries a NZ passport. Extensively travelled, he has even been to Chennai a place Rajesh knows well.

What does one do when you have a brainy wife who gets an impressive job at Otago University and suggests being a homemaker...come up with a plan to ruin retirement of course!! Once all the home tasks were completed, Steve started to cast his eye around his local community...the idea of a cycleway from Ravensbourne to Port Chalmers was born and has now come to fruition. Local body elections followed along with further projects that Steve could sink his teeth into all for the benefit of his community, with only a small but well delivered slight from Rosemary M over the "rather tall" native trees replacing the unsightly Sycamores. Retirement seems a distant memory for this busy philanthropist and now he is throwing his hat into local government. He still has his favourite projects, those he is very proud to be apart of; Keep Dunedin Beautiful - early morning graffiti removal by Taskforce Green, paying it forward as a committee member helping Syrian Refugees to settle in Dunedin and Quizmaster extraordinaire. As a Director for Thankyou Payroll, a social enterprise that puts purpose and profit side by side now employing 25 people for over 10,000 clients, the joy for Steve is giving the profit back to deserving charities via the Thankyou Charitable Trust. His last bit of wisdom comes from the project he is most passionate about, the busiest Wildlife Hospital in NZ - a documentary has been filmed, it will be on National Television over the summer, Dunedin looks amazing -  WATCH IT!!!

Marian Hobbs

Born and bred in Christchurch, there is however, a Dunedin connection with flat bit of rock down by the St Clair Salt Pool and her Mother’s house circa 1910. Born after the war, Marian Hobbs feminist emerged age 1 thanks to her curly haired brother - imagine there are a few stories to tell on that score. Marian’s brain works exceptionally fast, my poor handwriting and genuine fascination with her stories could not keep pace. Snippets of off track conversations are sprinkled through my notes: A melting pot of religion growing up in the Hobbs household, educated by the Dominicans, why on earth is one fighting to save the Heritage building at St Joe’s? Possibly the coldest building ever!! 

Trained as a teacher, it was during her stint at Avonside Girls’ High Marian became tired of National Government and joined the merry band in Wellington as a Labour MP for “12 long years.” Asked to be the Environmental Minister, Marian admitted to her Arachnaphobia but was told that that was Conservation not Environmental and her 13% Science mark was non incidental. For Marian the joy was and continues to be seeing a problem, work out a solution, working with with not telling the local people, letting those that look after areas of Environmental concern set and write the boundaries, i.e nitrate farming around Lake Taupo.   

In an off the record conversation with her then boss, Marian thought she might not renew her time on the Front Bench, The Boss very quickly replied “alright Marian you can go!’ That then was that.  A quick stint as Assistant Speaker with plenty of opportunities to use her ‘Teacher voice’ Marian had to remember that she was no longer in the Classroom!! On that note Marian needed a change so off to teach in the UK was next, meeting a delightful Welshman, who only knew her as a rock climber and tramper. Eventually they happily settled in Dunedin until his passing a few years ago. Marian has chosen to stay here wishing to continue her work in water and land use bringing solutions not decrees, hence standing for the ORC.

Steve Walker and Marian Hobbs were an absolute delight to listen to. They genuinely enjoyed each other’s company and as said before, respect the contribution each brings to the local council table. A sincere note of thanks from Bob C for taking the time to speak to us and we wish you every success in your Campaign.