I recently announced the achievement of my goal of visiting 1000 more homes in my campaign for election onto the Tauranga City Council.
I’m a meticulous note keeper and recorded the ideas that residents shared with me.
I have analysed what they told me and distilled their thoughts into these 7 lessons.
1. We All Love Tauranga Deeply
- This probably won’t surprise you because you probably love Tauranga too
- I knew I loved Tauranga, but I didn’t realise how deep this passion went with everyone I met
- Would you get the same response if you sampled any city or town in New Zealand? Perhaps. But do they have the same depth of passion as we do in Tauranga? Perhaps not
2. Six Topics We Love To Talk About Most
- Our traffic
- The primary issue I’m campaigning on. Have you read my list of 32 solutions to Tauranga’s traffic?
- Our recycling
- The other key issue I’m campaigning on. Have you read my 4000 word report on how to fix Tauranga’s recycling?
- The proposed museum
- See below for details
- How proud we are:
- To be born and bred here
- To have lived here for decades
- To have lived in the same house for decades
- Whether you’ve lived in your house for 1 hour, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years. It’s home.
- Daily annoyances of things that could be better in our neighbourhoods
- The performance of the current council
3. We Talk About Transportation + Parking. A Lot
- We are frustrated when our car journey’s coincide with a rush hour
- We prefer to drive our own cars around (and a lot of the time we are the only occupant)
- We are not attracted to public transport / buses. They seem inconvenient, expensive, and not much fun
- We think the options for cycling are improving but progress is slow
- We commonly think that “adding more lanes” will fix it, but the research shows this does not work, and we don’t realise that a 4-lane road can cost $40k per metre
- Some of us don’t come into the CBD anymore because parking is too hard
- What can we do? Check out my list of 32 solutions to Tauranga’s traffic
4. We Are Very Passionately For / Against A Museum
- We don’t want a dusty collection of relics sealed behind glass that we might visit only once in a decade
- We don’t want to pay for it from our rates or by adding on debt to the city. Alternative funding must be sought
- We are frustrated that the Long Term Plan proposed 3 equally undesirable options
- We are envious of so many other cities that have a museum of their own
- We do like the idea of our unique local stories told via interactive exhibits
- We would like a way to draw in revenue from our 200k annual cruise ship passengers
- We can see our 10k+ school kids going a few times a year each
- We can see the potential for events and exhibitions that change when needed
- I can see both sides, but in my estimation I think the referendum will show 75% of us are not in favour at this time
- The comment I heard most was “the timing is not right, we have bigger problems to fix right now like our traffic”
5. We Want A Council…
- That provides better value for money:
- We talk about downward pressure on rates
- We talk about how our debt levels make us feel uneasy
- We hate the thought that our rates dollars are wasted with inefficiencies
- We want key infrastructure built just-in-time to deliver for our growing population but without putting a burden on today’s rate-payers
- That is decisive and gets on with projects that benefit the city
- That listens and is willing to change direction based on our feedback
- That communicates effectively and keeps us up to date with what’s important
6. We Are A Diverse Bunch
- We are such a diverse city
- So many nations are represented here
- So many languages are spoken
- So many different food smells!
- Some people I visited can not speak a word of English (I’ve had 5 year olds and 8 year old translate for me) but this is their home too
- Many, many times, I’d turn a corner and see extreme poverty or extreme wealth just a few metres away from each other
- The 2 biggest groups are our elders and our young families
- Our elders get together a lot! There are so many groups that meet regularly
- Our families are busy
7. We Rely Heavily On Our Gut
When forming our own reaction to a hot topic, we mostly just rely on our gut.
We rely heavily on the media for our information:
- Sometimes just the sensationalised headline
- Sometimes just the photo
- Sometimes just the first paragraph
Most of us care very much about what is happening in this city, but we don’t have the time or energy to get deep into the source material information.
A precious few of us:
- Read through the large volumes of council documentation, research and reports
- Meet with the specialists with expert knowledge to ask their opinion
- Get well organised and form groups and mobilise them to get involved/protest or voice their concerns en-masse
- Write submissions to council
- Propose an alternative course of action
- Lobby our council representatives for what we believe in
Do you see yourself in some of these statements? What have I missed? Have your say in the thoughts below.