Do it our way be­fore it’s done to us

Our re­gional coun­cil­lors don’t have any­thing like the pub­lic pro­file of city coun­cil­lors. Who are they, where have they come from and why are they serv­ing on the coun­cil? Cen­tral Com­mu­nity News­pa­pers re­gional reporter JIM CHIPP is find­ing out with reg­u­lar

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

There is only one valid gauge of how well hold­ers of pub­lic of­fice are do­ing their jobs, says re­gional coun­cil­lor and health board deputy chair­man Peter Glen­sor.

‘‘I have come from a pretty hum­ble back­ground my­self and I think it’s im­por­tant that the pow­ers that be mea­sure their suc­cess by how they help or hurt the most vul­ner­a­ble.’’

Af­ter leav­ing Here­taunga Col­lege, Mr Glen­sor served a term with Vol­un­teer Ser­vice Abroad in a re­mote part of Sarawak, ac­ces­si­ble only by plane or boat be­fore study­ing at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity and the­o­log­i­cal col­lege in Auck­land.

The ex­pe­ri­ence gave him an aware­ness of an­other world and of cul­tural dif­fer­ences.

‘‘It com­pletely changed my life,’’ he said. ‘‘I be­came in­ter­ested in aid and de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.’’

Re­turn­ing to New Zealand, he at­tended univer­sity and in­volved him­self in the Boys’ Bri­gade and the Methodist Church in Up­per Hutt, which in turn led him into the aid or­gan­i­sa­tion Corso, where he worked for two years.

‘‘ That was a very for­ma­tive thing for me, be­cause I met peo­ple who to­day are in very prom­i­nent roles around the coun­try and was im­mersed in all this hot de­bate and dis­cus­sion – to keep giv­ing peo­ple food or to teach them to grow food; trade bar­ri­ers. It was a hot-bed,’’ he said.

‘‘For me as a young man – 18 or 19 – it was ex­cit­ing stuff.’’

Af­ter Mr Glen­sor fin­ished univer­sity he found him­self pulled in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.

He at­tended the World Coun­cil of Churches five-yearly assem­bly in Kenya, and then for five years was a Methodist min­is­ter in Master­ton

He served as Welling­ton sec­re­tary of the national net­work of churches for five years, tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for young peo­ple, in­ter­na­tional af­fairs, aid and de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘Dur­ing that time I did some very ex­cit­ing stuff with young peo­ple. This was all po­lit­i­cal. I was see­ing things. To be in­volved in the church was to help build a bet­ter com­mu­nity. This was how we framed our re­li­gious be­liefs.’’

In 1987 Mr Glen­sor be­came a part-time com­mu­nity worker in the now in­fa­mous Po­mare Hous­ing New Zealand es­tate.

The other half of his time was spent work­ing on Treaty of Wai­tangi is­sues.

‘‘I had this re­ally in­ter­est­ing dou­ble job, and it was dur­ing this time we did all that ex­cit­ing work get­ting the com­mu­nity house built and set­ting up a health ser­vice.’’

Both the National govern­ment of the time, and the Labour Party were very in­ter­ested in the new ser­vice and later pri­mary health or­gan­i­sa­tions were partly mod­elled on it, he said.

When the Hutt Val­ley District Health Board was set up in 2001 Mr Glen­sor was in­vited to join the board. He was elected to the board in the first elec­tion, and has been on it ever since, serv­ing two terms as chair­man. He has also served as a city coun­cil­lor in the mean­time and, since 2004 has been a re­gional coun­cil­lor.

Last year the Health Min­is­ter Tony Ryall co-opted him to serve as deputy chair­man of the Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board.

The peo­ple of the re­gion need to think hard about how lo­cal pub­lic ser­vices are pro­vided and how their coun­cils can best ad­vo­cate on their be­half, Mr Glen­sor said.

‘‘My view is that we need to be proac­tive in look­ing at dif­fer­ent ways we can or­gan­ise the re­gion.

‘‘The re­al­ity is that one-third of the [coun­try’s] pop­u­la­tion live in one ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­ity and the other two-thirds live in 76 lo­cal­i­ties. If we want to be no­ticed we need to be very fo­cussed in or­der to press our case.

‘‘We in Welling­ton need to be singing the same song and singing it to­gether. We have eight ter­ri­to­rial au­thor­i­ties [city or district coun­cils] for less than half a mil­lion peo­ple,’’ he said.

His per­sonal pref­er­ence would be for two-tier sys­tem of rep­re­sen­ta­tion, with lo­cal boards de­cid­ing lo­cal pri­or­i­ties and an over­ar­ch­ing au­thor­ity col­lect­ing rates and mak­ing the de­ci­sions that make sense to be made re­gion­ally.

‘‘My fear is that, if we keep talk­ing, af­ter the next gen­eral elec­tion, we will end up get­ting told what to do like they have been in Auck­land.

‘‘I’m say­ing to peo­ple ‘let’s do it our­selves be­fore it gets done to us’.’’


Main man: Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil’s eco­nomic well­be­ing com­mit­tee chair­man Peter Glen­sor is re­spon­si­ble for pub­lic trans­port, flood man­age­ment, spa­tial plan­ning, and eco­nomic and busi­ness is­sues.

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