On 19. May 2018 over 150 Whangarillians had a great evening with Gary McCormick and Tim Shadbolt at the Denby Golf Club.
The Whangarei Golf Club was established in 1907 and is one of the oldest clubs of its kind in the country. Eric Adams, the Club President, entertained the audience with smooth music. Brett Rowley, the Vice President, who was seated at our table, was roaming around to make sure everything was going swimmingly well.
For those who do not know, the 65 year old Gary McCormick is a poet, radio (MoreFM) and television personality, debater and raconteur. The now 71yr old Tim Shadbolt is the longest serving Mayor of NZ (twice in Waitakere and then in Invercargill, 1993 to the present day). And they are fantastic, young at heart stand-up comedians, promoting their fictitious party.
In 2000 Tim/Invercargill Council introduced zero fee education in Invercargill attracting overseas students from as far afield as Mongolia.
The free education in Invercargill resulted in international and New Zealand students relocating to the region. A huge boost for the local economy, resulting in a billion dollar economic growth impact.
Perhaps we could learn from what they have achieved in Southland.
In Northland NIC has been talking with Senior Management at NorthTec, the local PolyTec, for over two years to suggest making strategic parts of their educational offerings free. With Electric Vehicles (EV) numbers growing substantially, the idea is to get some of the annual 400 automotive engineering students to learn how to service and repair EV’s. At the moment if you own an EV, including a $120,000 expensive Tesla, it has to be sent to Australia to get fixed. Wouldn’t it be fantastic, if Northland could teach these new skills and be the EV leader in the country. The skills learned would include electronics, mechanical and software engineering, as well as battery management. These are transferable skills which can be used outside of the automotive industry as well. They could result in more high value, local jobs. NIC is still working with MITO/ NorthTec to make this happen. Bold leadership like Tim Shadbolt’s in Invercargill would be very useful to kick this initiative along.
In 2002 Tim/ Invercargill Council introduced the “Freebie Bus on the Purple Circle” – free public transport in parts of Invercargill. As the 42nd Mayor of Invercargill, he knows the answer to everything, but may have forgotten the question (only makes sense if you read the Hitchhikers Guide to Galaxy)… Again, addressing the low patronage of Whangarei’s public transport with new concepts sounds like a jolly good idea. EV sharing, car free inner city and EV/AV pods working towards Vision Zero (no emissions, no crashes, no hassle) are deemed critical to turn Whangarei into a thriving destination rather than a thoroughway to the Bay of Islands and beyond. The art initiative is the town basin, the wonderful loop walk are already working towards this rejuvenation and re-imaging.
Anyhow, besides writing books like “Bullshit & Jellybeans” (the black ones are his favorite, he admitted after the show), featuring in films (“The World’s Fastest Indian” with Anthony Hopkins), shows like the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Dancing with the Stars”) he is the most innovative local politician in New Zealand.
We hope to tap into Tim’s vast knowledge on strategic initiatives like free education, partially free public transport, innovative tourism like the Southern Scenic Route, the Hump Ridge Track and many more.
In summary, it was a fun evening, inspirational thoughts, lots of laughs, great food and wonderful company.
Thank you Gary and Tim for great evening out.