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Thank you the fabulously appreciated four hundred and eighty-five

by 14 Oct 2007Local0 comments

Undercutting open-ground plants

Millions Needed: One of the motivations for Cimino Cole’s candidacy was to seek support for forestry-style production of indigenous plants, as a means of making council money go much further in protecting the Mahurangi, and other catchments. photographer Jonathan Barran

Membership of Mahurangi Action once reached 330.

That was on the back of the launch of Jade River : A History of the Mahurangi. Since then it has slipped back to around half that figure, where it has been, more or less, for much of the group’s existence.

The projects during that period have necessitated much mailing out of invoices, invitations, ballot paper and publications. It is on those occasions, when the number of items to be stuffed and stamped seems endless, that the reality that anything approaching two hundred souls is significant body of people who care sufficiently about the Mahurangi to subscribe, year after year, to Mahurangi Action.

Local body elections call for a far more deliberate choice for voters, than do central government elections. Only half the number of people vote and this is almost certainly because there is insufficient name recognition, or where there is name recognition, insufficient knowledge of that candidate’s values and policies. In stark contrast, virtually every New Zealander of voting age has a sense of what the Green, Labour, Māori, National and other parties represent.

As one who strives to work inclusively, I deliberately downplay my name and role. This presents a difficulty for a local body candidate, particularly when further reducing name recognition by choosing that particular time to adopt a new surname. That 485 people both know me and chose to vote for me, or voted for me on another’s recommendation, is enormously humbling. Certainly, few of those votes could have resulted from publicity—the entire campaign cost was a $20 haircut.

Would I do it again? Possibly. To be paid to do what one is passionate a rare achievement, but a necessary goal, if that work is to be sustainable. Big chunks of my life have been devoted to working fulltime for weeks and months at a time on Mahurangi projects:

  • Jade River : A History of the Mahurangi
  • Jamieson Bay public foreshore access
  • Mahurangi Action Plan
  • Mahurangi East and Warkworth wastewater solutions
  • Mahurangi Regatta Ball
  • Mahurangi West Hall Conservation Plan
  • Te Muri car-free access

…and innumerable smaller projects—including the district, annual, long-term and regional park management plans—that consume days each, and the annual events, notably the Mahurangi Regatta (thank heavens for Michael Gordon) and the revived Mahurangi Regatta Prize-Giving and Dance. This cost has mostly been borne by my partner, Sarah Ransom. I now need to focus on Plan A whereby I can continue to work for the Mahurangi, but in a way that is not ruinous to family finances.

The only way I know to thank you, the 485 who voted for me, is to work even more effectively for the Mahurangi. I am humbled by the number, calibre and humanity of all those who advised me that they were voting for…

…Cimino Cole.

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