From the lab to run­ning for lo­cal coun­cil

South Waikato News - - Backyard Banter - LUKE KIRKEBY

Help­ing de­velop Fisher and Paykel’s iconic Gen­tle An­nie wash­ing ma­chine, AJ Hack­ett’s bungy cord, and the KZ 1 1988 Amer­ica’s Cup yacht are just some of Brian Smout’s claim to fames.

The South Waikato District Coun­cil Toko­roa Ward nom­i­nee, who was the De­part­ment of Sci­en­tific and In­dus­trial Re­search lab­o­ra­tory man­ager from 1986 un­til 1996, is now hop­ing to achieve great things lo­cally if elected in the lo­cal body elec­tions.

That in­cludes look­ing fur­ther than the cur­rent Leith Pl re­de­vel­op­ment pro­pos­als to of­fer some­thing for the wider com­mu­nity as well as mak­ing the cen­tral busi­ness district (CBD) more user friendly for Toko­roa’s ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

The re­tired Auck­lan­der is no stranger to Toko­roa. He’s been ‘‘in love’’ with the place since 1972 when he was brought out by New Zealand For­est Prod­ucts to work as an in­stru­ment tech­ni­cian at Kin­leith Mill.

‘‘I moved here with my wife and young fam­ily and got to love the place straight away.

‘‘My wife was the pres­i­dent of the Plun­ket So­ci­ety through­out the 1970s, she joined the Girl Guides and be­came a com­mis­sioner, and I started the lo­cal archery club so we re­ally got into the fab­ric of the place.’’

‘‘It con­tin­ued re­ally un­til 1986 when the writ­ing was on the wall at the mill. They were cut­ting back so we thought we had bet­ter move on and went to Auck­land,’’ he said.

It was there he took up his role with the de­part­ment which he said was ‘‘an amaz­ing job’’.

‘‘We had the most ac­cu­rate mea­sur­ing ma­chines in New Zealand and did all the stan­dards for Air New Zealand, New Zealand Steel and other big com­pa­nies. It was so in­ter­est­ing,’’ he said.

He moved back to Toko­roa to re­tire in 2008.

Frus­trated with the the state Toko­roa had been left in and the Leith Pl re­de­vel­op­ment he de­cided to run for coun­cil.

‘‘If you want to at­tract peo­ple to the town you have got to make it at­trac­tive and you make it at­trac­tive to peo­ple like my­self who are re­tir­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘At the mo­ment they are go­ing to Te Awa­mutu, Te Kuiti, and Mata­mata as they see Toko­roa as a cow­boy town and un­for­tu­nately it now looks more like a cow­boy town than it did when it was.’’

‘‘I want to take some of the money that they are go­ing to spend on Leith Pl and spread it around the town and like Auck­land I would like to see a Prop­erty and Main­te­nance By­law put in place which would al­low the coun­cil to force peo­ple who own derelict prop­er­ties to do some­thing with them.’’

‘‘If peo­ple see nice look­ing houses, not empty build­ings, they are go­ing to say this has not just got cheap houses but it is also a great place to live,’’ he said.

He said with the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion in Toko­roa bet­ter ac­cess for mo­bil­ity scoot­ers and wheel­chairs also needs to be con­sid­ered.


Brian Smout is stand­ing for the South Waikato District Coun­cil Toko­roa Ward seat.

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