From the lab to running for local council
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.