Spar­row fo­cuses on com­mu­nity

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By TALIA CARLISLE

Tawa’s close-knit com­mu­nity is some­thing Mal­colm Spar­row has worked hard to de­velop while serv­ing two terms on the Tawa Com­mu­nity Board.

His strong Tawa back­ing earned him a seat on the Wellington City Coun­cil last month, but Mr Spar­row has his eyes set far­ther afield than Tawa.

The com­mu­nity-fo­cused North­ern ward rep­re­sen­ta­tive plans to ex­pand on the suc­cesses of the Tawa Com­mu­nity Board, which won the En­hanc­ing Com­mu­ni­ties award at the New Zealand Com­mu­nity Boards con­fer­ence in Wanaka this year.

Mr Spar­row also in­flu­enced the cre­ation of the Tawa Pri­mary Schools’ Ci­ti­zen­ship Awards, and co-or­di­nated Tawa’s Neigh­bours’ Weekend when 50 street bar­be­cues and events were held around the sub­urb.

‘‘ The com­bined num­ber [ of street events] in the rest of Wellington has not been as great as Tawa on its own, but it could be in the fu­ture, so we’ll see what hap­pens,’’ he said.

Mr Spar­row is in­volved in more than 15 Tawa com­mu­nity groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions, in­clud­ing the Bap­tist Church, Ro­tary, Tawa’s Emer­gency Plan­ning Group and the Mu­sic Fes­ti­val com­mit­tee.

De­spite his busy life­style th­ese days, Mr Spar­row said he was not al­ways as out­go­ing as he is now.

‘‘I was rel­a­tively shy and re­tir­ing in my school days,’’ he said.

His favourite school sub­jects were ge­og­ra­phy and his­tory, and trav­el­ling re­mains one of his pas­sions.

‘‘I like ex­plor­ing parts of New Zealand,’’ he said.

‘‘The West Coast in the South Is­land is a fas­ci­nat­ing part of the coun­try.’’

Mr Spar­row and his fam­ily will travel to Pai­hia and the Bay of Is­lands to cel­e­brate his 60th birth­day on Novem­ber 16.

He grew up want­ing to make a dif­fer­ence, he said.

‘‘My par­ents have al­ways been in­ter­ested in help­ing peo­ple.

‘‘ I was brought up with a Chris­tian back­ground. I’m sure that plays a part in it.’’

He ran a small desk­top pub­lish­ing busi­ness in Christchurch be­fore mov­ing to Tawa in 1996.

Mr Spar­row is re­tired and lives at home with his wife Karen, 20-year-old daugh­ter Ni­cola, two rab­bits and Abby, a choco­late labrador.

‘‘This is a great com­mu­nity in which to live and work and be in­volved, and you want to play your small part in mak­ing it a bet­ter place,’’ he said.

He said he planned to con­tinue his work with Tawa re­tail­ers in re­vi­tal­is­ing the town’s cen­tre and wanted Tawa’s Spicer For­est de­vel­oped as a re­cre­ational area.

He is keen for John­sonville Mall to be re­de­vel­oped, and for ar­ti­fi­cial turfs to be in­stalled in John­sonville and Tawa.

Mr Spar­row’s plans for Wellington in­clude cre­at­ing sen­si­ble road­ing, more ef­fi­cient pub­lic trans­port, and sup­port for busi­nesses to help the econ­omy grow.

He said the big­gest is­sue for Wellington would be amal­ga­ma­tion, but he also has other plans.

He was de­ter­mined to main­tain re­al­is­tic ideas, un­like coun­cil­lors who could get car­ried away in the role.

‘‘Some peo­ple come out with all th­ese grandiose ideas which they don’t have a dog’s show of ever be­ing able to achieve,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s a point­less ex­er­cise as far as I’m con­cerned, but you still have to have some idea of what you would like to achieve.’’

Mr Spar­row said he was on nei­ther the left nor right po­lit­i­cally.

‘‘Some is­sues I might be slightly more to the right, but in oth­ers that might not be the case.

‘‘It de­pends on the is­sue. You do need to be pre­pared to look at other points of view be­fore mak­ing up your mind.’’

De­part­ing North­ern ward coun­cil­lor Ngaire Best had been help­ful while he was cam­paign­ing for his seat, he said.

‘‘ Cer­tainly in terms of cam­paign­ing I got a lot of ideas from her.

‘‘Even now I ask her the odd ques­tion.’’

Mr Spar­row said he was pleased fel­low North­ern ward coun­cil­lor Justin Lester had been named deputy mayor.

‘‘He has done a very good job, and he’s highly thought of in this ward.’’

As for work­ing with mayor Celia Wade- Brown, he said, ‘‘There’ll be as­pects I don’t agree with her, but she wants the best for Wellington, as we all do.

‘‘We’ve just got to agree on the best way of achiev­ing that.’’

Photo: TALIA CARLISLE

In Mal­colm’s back­yard: Wellington City coun­cil­lor Mal­colm Spar­row en­joys Tawa’s bush walks in his spare time.

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