Focus on Porirua’s strengths: Mayor
Porirua’s new city council should focus on the positives and nurture the city’s talent, mayor Nick Leggett said in his inaugural address last Tuesday night.
Dozens of family members and friends gathered in Pataka’s spine for the inauguration of Mr Leggett and the city’s 10 councillors.
Each read and signed a declaration during the swearing- in ceremony, with deputy mayor ’ Ana Coffey and Litea Ah Hoi making their addresses in Maori.
Ms Ah Hoi had the most enthusiastic supporter in the crowd, a toddler who shouted ‘‘go granny, go granny!’’ from her mother’s knee.
Mr Leggett gave a warm welcome to the only novice councillor, Izzy Ford, who did a fist pump after signing her declaration.
‘‘I feel you’ll fit into the swing of things and I’m looking forward to working with you,’’ he said.
Ms Ford was supported in the crowd by her family and her political mentor, former Mana MP Winnie Laban.
The council’s challenge for the next three years was to enable gifted and ambitious locals to thrive, Mr Leggett said.
‘‘There are so many talented and exciting people in our city and our job as a council is to celebrate them and to build an ethos in our city that allows more talent to flourish.’’
Councillors also needed to continue to challenge Porirua’s poor image, Mr Leggett said.
‘‘Too often we hear things that are negative in the media by people who don’t live here, and collectively we have to live up to what’s great about our town, not what’s not so great.’’
People wanting to improve the city should start today, Mr Leggett said, quoting Ms Coffey: ‘‘Nobody who lives here has to wait for permission to do great things in our city.’’
On Wednesday the council met again in chambers, and Mr Leggett’s nominations for portfolio and committee leaders were approved.
Euon Murrell will continue as Te Komiti chairman, with Ms Ford and Denys Latham as his deputies.
Council kaumatua, Ngati Toa’s Taku Parai, was awarded speaking rights at any council meeting he chooses to attend, which Mr Leggett said would allow councillors to draw on the iwi’s cultural expertise.
‘‘It’s important that we have an ongoing relationship with the mana whenua.’’
Ken Douglas said an issue for the council was the ‘‘vexatious and frivolous’’ overuse of Official Information Act requests by individuals in the community.
Mr Murrell singled out the Titahi Bay Residents’ Association for criticism over its recent newspaper advertisement assessing Western ward councillors’ performances.
‘‘ We fund some of these residents’ associations for rent and other costs. Sure, they’re allowed to criticise, but funding an ad in the paper which we’re paying for, I find just not the thing. I’ll be taking a harder line with that particular association.’’
Young and diverse: Porirua’s four councillors aged under 40. From left, deputy mayor ’Ana Coffey, 35, Bronwyn Kropp, 22, mayor Nick Leggett, 34, and Izzy Ford, 39.