Smartest city goal for mayor

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN

Mayor Grant Smith’s vi­sion for Palmer­ston North in­cludes be­ing New Zealand’s smartest city.

Smith used his in­au­gu­ral speech on Wed­nes­day to put a twist on the coun­cil’s of­fi­cial vi­sion for Palmer­ston North— to be recog­nised as a vi­brant, car­ing, in­no­va­tive, sus­tain­able and pros­per­ous city— and smart. He said the city al­ready had much go­ing for it. It had the most post-graduate de­grees per head of pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try.

Latest cen­sus data showed 2.15 per cent of Palmer­ston North res­i­dents held doc­tor­ates, ahead of the na­tional av­er­age of 0.7 per cent, and the cap­i­tal’s 1.8 per cent, with the clos­est ri­val, Dunedin, on 2.1 per cent.

Palmer­ston North also had a lower share of res­i­dents aged 15 years and over with no qual­i­fi­ca­tions com­pared with the New Zealand av­er­age.

The city did bet­ter than the av­er­age for New Zealand on the pro­por­tion of stu­dents who left school achiev­ing NCEA Level 2 or higher, but was marginally be­low for univer­sity en­trance.

‘‘We have the best ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els, from pre-school through pri­mary, in­ter­me­di­ate, sec­ondary schools to ter­tiary.’’

And he said those in­sti­tu­tions had no prob­lem re­cruit­ing qual­ity teach­ers.

Smith’s vi­sion was that all the city’s youth should be well ed­u­cated, that the coun­cil’s re­la­tion­ship with Massey Univer­sity and the ter­tiary sec­tor would be at an all-time high, and there would be many lo­cal jobs for grad­u­ates.

But he said be­ing smart was about more than ed­u­ca­tion lev­els and aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

That was why he re­jected the idea of a re­turn to the ‘‘knowledge city’’ brand­ing, be­cause it ex­cluded too many peo­ple who were smart in other ways.

Smith said for the vi­sion to hap­pen, the city and wider Manawatu re­gion had to be more am­bi­tious.

‘‘And that needs to start from the mayor and coun­cil­lors.

‘‘I do be­lieve we are on the cusp of some ex­cit­ing times and have started great things for our city.’’

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Newly re-elected Palmer­ston North mayor Grant Smith.

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