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