A Mayor must have a strong vision for the future of the District. Council has a vision of Leading Edge, but I’m not happy with that – its just not specific enough – it doesn’t hone in on our unique qualities that will set us apart from the crowd. Its a competitive world out there and unless we work to our strengths we will be anonymous.
Its clear to me that our heritage buildings are our singular unique visual feature that we must preserve. If we lose those buildings we lose our character and we’ll be just another rural district.
We have one of the best preserved CBD’s in New Zealand, and the wonderful landscaping created by local Architect Bruce Dickson is coming into its own. Tourists just love our buildings and are frequently seen snapping away. We can make more of this feature by encouraging our building owners to upgrade and upkeep those frontages – see my article under “Goals” for more information.
Building on our built heritage we offer great heritage tourism, both on the Waimarie and other river boats, a genuine cultural experience on Marae up and down the river, our Regional Museum, Sarjeant Gallery and the Alexander Research Library. Heritage tours, behind the scenes at the Opera House or a wonder around our monuments and sculptures tell a story of huge interest to visitors and we are not taking advantage of these existing assets.
Sports and Adventure
Our sporting facilities and easy access to a river and sea are huge attractors for events and adventure sports. We should be seen as the best regional centre for sports and adventure in New Zealand.
Artists are flocking to Whanganui to live and with our beacon Sarjeant Art Gallery we have the highest number of active artists per head of population compared to any other centre in New Zealand. We are affordable to live and work and many internationally renowned artists are based here. Where there are artists, people follow.
We’re small, we have all the natural and built assets found in bigger and more renowned centres and our quality of life is second to none. Our boutique shops thrive on visitors. We must promote this more.
Quality of Life
Our river, beaches, cycleways, airport, hospital and being the closest NZ city to a skifield give us a huge advantage over other centres to provide quality of living. Not only that, we are an affordable place to live. Despite the common myth that there aren’t jobs, there are great quality jobs. I constantly hear from employers they cant get the right staff. Many of our businesses are in expansion mode and we are crying out for more retailers with the passion and a bit of cash to set up new businesses.
We are incredibly friendly. I’ve really noticed how often I say hello to people on the street and get a friendly response. Where else does it happen that complete strangers great each other on a daily basis?