Inauguration speech - 29/10/2007
Wanganui District Council
(The Inauguration Address by Mayor Michael Laws delivered after his swearing-in as Mayor at the Council Chambers, Guyton Street, Wanganui)
Councillors, Rural Board Members, Ladies & Gentlemen:
The inauguration of new councils is always an important event in the public life of a city and community.
It is a dedication of service by those who have been elected but it is also a celebration of those chosen by their community to play a leadership role over the next three years.
Especially to those new councillors Danny Jonas and RanaWaitai but also to those new rural community board members
we pay you a special welcome today. We are delighted that your families and friends can be here to share this significant occasion.
Your election, and now inception, is a big deal.
The electors of Wanganui have entrusted you with significant responsibility.
In effect, they are saying that they entrust you to represent their best interests. And to create a better Wanganui for both them and their family.
And they do trust you. You would not be here otherwise. And the bond between an elected representative and the people is both an historic and sacred trust. It is not a power bestowed lightly
and it is not one to be undertaken lightly.
if anything does go wrong
it is your fault!
Lesson of 2007 Elections
Three years ago, this was a very different inauguration.
The people of Wanganui had voted not simply for reform, but for something that approached a democratic revolution. They elected a new mayor
8 new councillors
and 4 new rural community board members.
This most recent 2007 election was different.
This was an election in which the citizens of Wanganui demonstrated a real confidence in their chosen representatives.
For the first time in 9 years, the mayor will enjoy a substantial majority of voter support.
For the first time in almost two decades, there has only been one councillor who has not been re-elected.
In essence, the result confirms the councils own survey in May of this year. That Wanganui likes what this council has done
and this is the important part wants to keep it carrying on with that progress.
Certainly, this is no time to have a cup of tea.
We must carry on with the forward momentum.
- keep running an efficient council that ensures rates are low and affordable;
- keep developing civic amenities that all the community can enjoy;
- continue our direct democracy partnership where Wanganui citizens choose the priorities for capital spending;
- keep creating a family-friendly Wanganui that improves the quality of life for every citizen;
- keep getting involved in the great social issues of our time, and of direct relevance to our community.
At this point I want to pause to thank those who allowed this momentum to happen and who are not now part of our team.
To Crs Murray Hughes, Sue Reynolds and Graeme Taylor councillors who were an integral part of the reform of our council I pay public tribute and thanks.
To Cr Don McGregor re-elected but, sadly, unable to join us on the next part of this journey
I speak on behalf of us all when I say
we wish Joy and especially yourself every strength over the next few weeks and months.
Dons civic contribution was, simply, outstanding. There is a gap: he will be missed. There can be no higher tribute.
To our former rural community board members chairman Steve Anstis and Sara Ross again, our grateful thanks. The rural community board really did play a role in the last council. Steves leadership was a significant reason as to why.
The next 3 years:
I have already alluded to the council policies that, I believe, must be maintained over the next three years.
But now I would like to explain just a little more as to the mayoral vision over the next three years.
Concisely, it is to create the most family-friendly city and district in New Zealand.
To arrest our downward population decline by ensuring that every person, every family that lives here
believes or comes to believe that nowhere else in New Zealand offers the same opportunity or quality of lifestyle.
I want Wanganui people to be proud that they live here.
I want Wanganui people to regard Wanganui as not only their home but the home that will always be.
I want Wanganui people to know that we offer their kids and themselves a range of modern, up-to-date amenities that are free, inviting and fun.
I want Wanganui people to feel safe, and know that their health and welfare can be catered for no better than here.
That means in my view doing the following;
- Extending the riverfront walkway and developing the riverfront as the citys premier entertainment and recreational area;
- Reviving Kowhai Park so that we return it to being the best and most inviting childrens playground in New Zealand;
- Getting involved in all the social issues that blight our community gangs, graffiti, littering, stray dogs, declining health services and playing a positive and proactive role;
- Sprucing up and reviving the entranceways to our city our best daily advertisement as to who we are and to what we aspire We are starting with the airport terminal upgrade this Wednesday
but the Marybank straight, the SH3/Cobham Bridge entrance, and the SH4 Parapara entranceway
all require significant, inviting and attractive plantings, design and welcome features;
- Making the best of our current jewels Virginia Lake, the Bason Botanic Reserve, our Twin Towers (Durie and Bastia)
not simply restoring them but developing them into places that are both tourism spots and family destinations.
This is, by no means, an extensive list.
But I use it to illustrate my purpose over the next three years.
To retain families and to attract new ones by improving the quality of life for all our citizens.
We must not be satisfied with second-best.
We must not contemplate the status quo.
We must not surrender to mediocrity.
We must lead.
That is my overriding, over-arching commitment for these next three years.
And I believe that Wanganui has delivered the mayor, the council and the elected representatives to do so.