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For those who served in the Military, you will know that recruit training focuses on dress, bearing and teamwork. Learning how to iron uniforms, polish boots, make a bed to perfection, and platoon drill, dominates the first few weeks. It instills self-respect and respect for others. Importantly, it develops teamwork.

The old saying that a smart soldier is a good soldier is equally applicable in civilian life as it is to the Military. Fundamentally it’s about professionalism. So, what are my five big take-outs from Military service and how will they apply to the role of Mayor of Tauranga.

First and foremost, I learnt ’I can’t do everything myself’. A team, and ideally a multidisciplinary team, is critical to success. For a team to work well, it needs effective leadership. I believe this is fundamentally lacking in the Tauranga Council and we therefore have a divided, ineffective team.

Secondly, the military honed into me the importance of ‘being decisive, with a team united behind me’. The caveat to this is recognising the line between confidence and arrogance, just like the line between bravery and stupidity. This decisive, team-based approach will transform the Tauranga City Council and empower the Chief Executive to make pragmatic decisions about resource allocation. One of the first tasks will be to fix the Mauao base track – New Zealand’s most loved walk!

Thirdly, it’s important to ‘learn from the experience of others’. In the army, you quickly learn to listen to and respect the opinions of those with broad operational experience. As your Mayor, I will bring broad leadership and team-building experience, and importantly, I will bring compassion.

Fourthly, the human factor - ‘respect for your fellow men and women’. Whilst we need to plan well and harness cutting edge technology, we must remember that in every plan and every decision, we are dealing with people. The culture of an organisation, flowing from the senior leadership team, should be one of performance, empathy and respect. One of the current Elected Members describes TCC as “The Machine”. It is not a machine, it’s a living, breathing organism; a place of work in which people are employed. To describe TCC as a machine explains much of the cultural problems with the current organisation and why their interactions with the residents of this city often lack the respect that I seek to instil.

And then there’s this: ‘you always have something more to give’. Most don’t know their limits until they join the Military. Most haven’t really endured serious discomfort for weeks on end, been so tried they hallucinate, or experience the overwhelming weight of physical and psychological pain. Luckily, this is not part of the job description for Mayor! What it’s taught me though, is respect, empathy and compassion towards others. We cannot have another Bella Vista. We cannot let families down in the same uncaring and disrespectful way that the Bella Vista families, and others, were treated. As your Mayor, I will always have something more to give!

I love this city of Tauranga. It is my home. I am a local, and whilst I have been away and travelled the world on business and in the military, this always remained my home. Having served my country, I now seek to serve my city. It would be my honour to serve you as your next Mayor of Tauranga.


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