Smartest city goal for mayor
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.’’
Newly re-elected Palmerston North mayor Grant Smith.