Tears shed as half of Marlborough's councillors retire

7:14 pm on 26 September 2022

By Maia Hart, Local Democracy reporter

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Marlborough Mayor John Leggett Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Memories were shared and tears were shed as half of Marlborough's councillors and the mayor bowed out during the last full council meeting of the term.

Councillors Jenny Andrews, David Oddie, Cynthia Brooks, Michael Fitzpatrick, Mark Peters, Francis Maher and Marlborough Mayor John Leggett attended their last meeting on Thursday.

Collectively that's over 70 years of council experience.

Assets and services iwi representative Richard Hunter and environment committee rural representative Ross Beech were also farewelled.

Jenny Andrews

Leggett told Andrews her 24 years on council, 12 of which as deputy mayor was an "immense contribution", was "rightly recognised" when she received a Queen's Service Medal for her services to seniors and local government in June this year.

He said she was "certainly respected" by the Marlborough community, as proven during polling every election as she was always "right at the top".

Andrews said joining council back in 1998, and being appointed deputy mayor was the "steepest learning curve".

She said she had attended nearly 3000 meetings since - and her highlights included seeing Stadium 2000, the ASB Theatre and soon to open library built.

Cynthia Brooks

Through tears, Leggett told Brooks he had worked with a number of councillors, but none were as in tune with the community as her.

"Cynthia, you are just the heart and soul of what you have achieved here, and it's always been a pleasure," Leggett said.

"We will miss your scones ... all I need to know is how much salt, how much sugar and is it fan bake?"

Brooks said her initial decision to stand for council was spontaneous, and came out of gratitude.

"To my fellow councillors across the three terms, it's been a privilege to share the mahi with you."

She recognised the "wonderful fellow wāhine" around the council table in particular, and told Leggett she would always treasure the years of service she had alongside him.

Mark Peters

Leggett told Peters he was one of the heavy lifters, achieved off the back of his "very impressive" business background.

"You've been a person everybody has trusted. More than that ... you've always treated everyone, including fellow councillors and members of the public with respect."

Peters, who celebrated his 50th anniversary with his wife this year, was retiring from council to lighten his commitments, after an extensive career serving on various public and private company boards - such as the New Zealand Rugby Union and Highlanders Rugby finance director.

"One of the things we have got is a council that has unity," he said.

"We have a strong balance sheet, that comes not from the work we've done, but those before us."

David Oddie

Leggett told Oddie he had the respect of all the councillors and everybody in the building.

He said Oddie's lasting "legacy" would be the work he had put into the Marlborough Environment plan.

Oddie said when he entered council in 2010, he went on a "really steep learning curve".

"I hope that the district is a place that is better off from my involvement here as a councillor," he said.

Michael Fitzpatrick

Leggett acknowledged the business approach Fitzpatrick brought to the council table, off the back of a successful career.

Leggett said he hoped to one day see Fitzpatrick back at council as he thought he had a "hell of a lot" to offer.

"I know you're going to do a bit of travel ... just don't put that living the dream sign on the back of your campervan."

Fitzpatrick said after many years of listening to people complain about the council while in his shop, he thought it was time to do something about it.

Now, having sat around the table for two terms, he understood why some things do take a while, he said.

Francis Maher

Leggett told Maher he was pleased to see him back around the council table at the start of last term.

He admired that when it came to decision time Maher never hid, always had a strong voice, and was always decisive.

"I think local government needs that," Leggett said.

Maher said the "hardest pill to swallow" was that the council did not have all the answers at present to the ongoing roading issues.

"I've worked with a lot of really good councillors, and mayors. I think really, it's the staff that are going to be my lasting memories," he said.

John Leggett

Deputy mayor Nadine Taylor told Leggett they could not have asked for a better person to serve as mayor.

She said the role required the person to provide leadership to councillors, the community and perform civic duties.

"John has excelled in his delivery of all three," Taylor said.

"I don't want this to sound like a disaster movie, but if it were, then John would be the leader that you would hope would be on the ship, or the aeroplane."

She said he gave off his time and attention freely, and he was leaving the council stronger, healthier and better.

"Thank you for your strength and guidance and wisdom, thank you for your friendship and humour."

Leggett said the role of councillor and mayor was a "real privilege".

"There are heavy lifters stepping away," he said.

"It is time for others to step into the role. I don't have any fears about that."

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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