Revved up Mcphee: councils must talk
Anger motivated Gary Mcphee to stand for the regional council.
The former Carterton mayor had attempted to broker a commercial solution to acrimonious disputes over the Rimutaka Summit cafe and the councilowned toilet block, but the council pre-empted his efforts by demolishing the toilet block.
Then the cafe was destroyed in a mysterious fire.
‘‘I tried to stop them [but] they knocked it down at seven o’clock in the morning,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think anyone wanted to clean the toilets but if the cafe was up there they [the cafe operator] would have looked after the toilets.’’
At the time he told longserving Wairarapa regional councillor and sometime council chairman Ian Buchanan that it would cost him his job and, after the 2010 election, Mr Mcphee was in and Mr Buchanan was out. ‘‘ To be quite honest I was quite anti the regional council,’’ Mr Mcphee said.
After a year-and-a-half on the council, his attitude has changed. He said the public does not understand what the regional council does and neither do local authorities.
‘‘In saying that I don’t really think the regional council knows what the territorial authorities do. I basically think there is a whole disjoint between regional and local government.’’
Mr Mcphee trained as a fitter and turner with The Evening Post, and later worked for the Wellington City Council as a diesel fitter before setting up his own business repairing aluminium vehicle wheels.
More recently he has turned his lifelong interest in motorcycles – Harley- Davidsons, Moto Guzzis and BMWS – into a business, custom- building bikes.
Then Mr Mcphee’s son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and had to be helped through three or four years of rehab. ‘‘I had a lot of time to read newspapers and find out what has happened in the community.’’
That led to involvement in local body politics, first in Carterton and then on the regional council. ‘‘ I’m here putting my best foot forward for Wairarapa,’’ he said.
A possible Wellington region super-city isn’t a popular con- cept in Wairarapa, but Mr Mcphee supports discussion.
‘‘There is a lot of information and service replication. I see little bits of it all the time.’’
Whether Wairarapa becomes part of a super- city or not, everybody wants a more efficient region, he said.
‘‘In the end, no-one wants their rates to go up, everybody wants more services.
‘‘I think the best thing is for everybody to get talking and sort out their own problems and not leave it to consultants.
‘‘ The answer is probably [that] you can either legislate and change it that way or get people working together and a bit more information sharing and working together on major projects.’’
He has been surprised by the regional council’s focus on transport – more than 70 per cent of its budget.
Before the Local Government Act, regional councils had nothing to do with transport.
‘‘ Central government is pretty good at saying they don’t want local government to spend our money but they are quite good at giving local government extra work to do and extra responsibility without giving them any extra money,’’ he said.
Size 12s: Regional councillor Gary Mcphee says he is putting his best motorbike boot forward for Wairarapa.