Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby has promised to give the city a new vision and direction if he wins a fourth term as the city's mayor.He wants to set aside the first hundred days of 2014 for a groundbreaking project to restore a sense of pride and identity to the city.
Mr Crosby said the lack of pride had bothered him for a long time and so he decided to make it one of the planks of his re-election campaign.
He did not agree with comments that Tauranga was a city without a soul. ''We are young and have not developed a true heritage yet.
We have the Maori side, which is great, but we do not have a proper understanding of who we are or what we are.''
Mr Crosby said one of the consequences of Tauranga's rapid growth to become a prominent New Zealand city was that it had not developed a strong sense of community. ''It's a city with an identity issue.''
Part of the context for the work was to create an environment where children brought up in Tauranga saw their future in the city, and to overcome difficulties that some of the city's corporates were having to fill key vacancies.
He said people wanted more from Tauranga than its beautiful natural environment. ''They want to see city pride, and that is what we lack. It is something that older, more-established cities have.''
The council's emphasis for the past 10 years had been on infrastructure, and although that would continue, he said the city was ready to take a step up.
Mr Crosby said it was not about ''should we have this and should we have that''. It was about focusing on what was needed to make the city attractive and to help grow the economy.
''The value of the city is at stake, and the value of people's properties. A positive, vibrant city creates value.''
Mr Crosby said he was not predicting what the outcome would be. Asked if it would encompass something tangible like a new rugby stadium, he said it was not about ''we need''.
''It was not physical and tangible things but who we are in New Zealand . . . we need to have vision of where the city is going as a whole.''
He said the time was right to begin the process because a new council would be in place alongside the newly restructured management team and new chief executive Garry Poole.
Mr Crosby was asked whether he had been motivated by Mr Poole's previous experience as Wellington's chief executive in driving the capital's 'Absolutely Positively Wellington' branding.
He said he had been thinking about the project since well before Mr Poole applied for the job, but that he had since had quite long discussion with the CEO and he was sure he could bring his experience to the fore.
The work would be driven ground-up from the community, Mr Crosby said.
Mayoral candidate Mike Baker applauded the idea as a way to help promote Tauranga and focus on the city but questioned the mayor's timing.
''I would have thought he'd had thousands of days to do this, why now?'' Mr Baker said.
''It's sort of a curve ball. He's been there for nine years. I don't think it's a bad idea. I wonder why it's taken nine years?''
Fellow candidate Kelvin Clout said the idea was noble but ''I'm not sure how he would do that or what he would actually do to achieve that''.
''A mayoralty is a full-time role and he's pretty much already doing that anyway.''