Alister is an experienced lawyer, currently practising as a Barrister. Alister has had previous experience in local government and health, as a former Christchurch City Councillor serving for twenty years, including as Chair of the Strategy and Finance Committee, and a former Member and Chair of the Canterbury District Health Board.  Alister is a former director and Chair of Christchurch City Holdings Limited (Council holding company for Orion, Lyttelton Port, Christchurch International Airport, and other commercial interests).

Alister has had wide experience in the community and voluntary sector, and became a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order (QSO) in the 2004 New Year Honours List for community services. He has also served as a British Honorary Consul.

Following the February 2011 earthquakes, Alister’s own home in Central Christchurch was severely damaged and demolished two months later. He understands from personal experience the difficulties faced by other residents following the earthquakes.