Christ­mas mes­sage from mayor’s chair

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - TANGI UTIKERE, DEPUTY MAYOR

Just over six years ago I was elected to our city coun­cil. I was born and raised in Palmer­ston North and have al­ways felt a strong con­nec­tion with our com­mu­nity. At the time I was work­ing as a his­tory teacher and Head of School at Frey­berg High School, a job I en­joyed.

As I be­came more in­volved with lo­cal govern­ment, I ap­pre­ci­ated the op­por­tu­nity to rep­re­sent our com­mu­nity, res­i­dents and ratepay­ers. I then de­cided to move on from my po­si­tion in the ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor to fo­cus on my coun­cil re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and com­mit the time re­quired to do the role jus­tice.

With two terms un­der my belt, I’m now more than ready to serve as Deputy Mayor. My fo­cus re­mains on strong and ef­fec­tive lead­er­ship, tak­ing the coun­cil out into the com­mu­nity, and build­ing a city where peo­ple want to live, raise their fam­i­lies, and start their own busi­nesses.

I’ve re­tained the ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio, which now in­cludes sci­ence, re­search and in­no­va­tion. I will be sup­ported by Coun­cil­lors Leonie Hapeta and Brent Bar­rett, and will also con­tinue to lead the mul­ti­cul­tural port­fo­lio with the sup­port of Coun­cil­lor Lew Find­lay.

It’ll come as no sur­prise that I’m par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion and help­ing our young peo­ple thrive.

One of our fo­cus ar­eas will be mak­ing it eas­ier for young peo­ple to get the skills they need to move into paid work, as well as fos­ter­ing our re­la­tion­ships with our many ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion providers.

Sci­ence, re­search and in­no­va­tion are also key ar­eas for Palmer­ston North, es­pe­cially as we stake our claim as the agri­food cap­i­tal of New Zealand.

Dur­ing my last term, Coun­cil­lor Aleisha Ruther­ford and I spear­headed the city’s dig­i­tal strat­egy. The in­ter­net of­fers the op­por­tu­nity for life-long learn­ing, and con­nec­tiv­ity brings ben­e­fits for peo­ple of all ages and stages.

I will con­tinue to back this work as it di­rectly sup­ports our drive to be lead­ers in sci­ence, re­search and in­no­va­tion, and to make Palmer­ston North a great place to raise a fam­ily, se­cure mean­ing­ful work, or start a busi­ness.

I’m look­ing for­ward to re­turn­ing to coun­cil du­ties in 2017. We have a strong group of elected mem­bers who I be­lieve will work well to­gether to make the best de­ci­sions for Palmer­ston North. I would like to thank all elected mem­bers and coun­cil staff for their hard work and ded­i­ca­tion through­out 2016. To­gether we’re mak­ing our city the best place it can be.

I wish you all a very merry and safe Christ­mas with your fam­ily and friends, and en­cour­age you to take a good break be­fore an­other busy year be­gins.

Sci­ence and In­no­va­tion Min­is­ter Steven Joyce (right) with Massey Univer­sity vicechan­cel­lor Steve Ma­harey (left) and AgRe­search chief ex­ec­u­tive Tom Richardson (cen­tre) at the pro­posed Food HQ site.

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