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And on that subject, I want to recognise the indefatigable Jo Bond and her board of Trustees.

I particularly want to acknowledgment Jo’s contribution to Tauranga as she announces her decision to step down as Director of the Tauranga Arts Festival.

The Tauranga Arts Festival has been in our community since 1999 and Jo has been a defining part of it since 2003.

I grew up in the similar circles to Jo here in the Bay and we have many mutual friends. It has been inspiring to watch her journey - and what a journey it has been.

This fierce powerhouse of creativity, passion and integrity has bought world class events to our city for the past four festivals. And I believe Jo has done this without sufficient support from TCC.

Jo and the Festival Board, Chaired by Kathryn Lellman, have worked tirelessly and passionately for our city. The economic return, the social return, the nurturing and showcasing of world class talent, and the spot light they have cast on our city, is extremely valuable for Tauranga.

If I am privileged to become the next Mayor of Tauranga, I will extend an invitation to Kathryn, and her Festival board of Trustees, to meet the new council so we can understand how to better support them. I hope Jo will be there too.

Arts and culture are a vital and enriching part of the tapestry of this city; I believe they deserve to be supported.

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