The late and laughingly great Robin Williams once said "spring is nature's way of saying, 'let's party!'"
For many of us, especially those on the south side of 60, getting to another spring is like a lifeline. "Haere mai summer" we say "Warm us up and breathe fire into those cold hangi stones deep inside, who have been lying dormant since the first feijoas of autumn hit the ground and we hit the heat pumps."
So here's the thing with spring. Is it the farewelling of the old and cold or the heralding in of new beginnings and long hot summers?
September and spring for me brings out the inner optimist who seems to have been in slumber mode for far too long. Just when winter has done its best to turn us into flu-filled, tissue-soaked, sad asses, along comes an iti of hope Maori call koanga (spring). Ko is to dig and spring is a time to prepare the land for the growing season, and like my old Coromandel hippy mates used to say "Life is a garden - if we dig it".
Driving in to work this morning there was a bit of both saying "hi" and "goodbye" all along the sidewalks and council approved-launching pads, for signs to sell promises by councillors and mayoral wannabees.
It was the line-up that got me laughing a la Robin Williams.
In between each photoshopped well-manicured vote-for-me billboard, were mixed messages of dog training, blossom festivals and rug sales. Imagine the confusion on the faces of our foreign visitors with limited knowledge of what goes on here in the spring time, especially in election year. But then again, the sign further on up the road that says "roadworks" must be equally confusing. There's fun to be had by spinning these signs, not physically but verbally.
Coming over the Kaimai there was a sign "Vote Jan Barnes for Mayor of Matamata", to which I made a mental as anything, working class man kind of note to self - change Jan to Jimmy.
Further up the motorway heading to Auckland a council candidate with the last name Cox had a myriad or mental as anything notes to be made to lighten up an early spring morning and the more I look at election signs the funnier they become.
So what will this election be about? What will be the kicker that gets the new fresh faces across the line and into the corridors of power in local body politics? Money and mana, whare and forward thinking, are the firestarters to get my hangi stones warm apres winter when it comes to voting.
No longer will it be enough to promise every lolly in the party pack scramble and like many of my mates, we are looking to leadership that really does understand that mana not money is the currency of success our rangatira running for council should be aspiring toward.
A very wise and respected kaumatua once told me mana was all about the ability to do good deeds for the benefit of others and not yourself, and that is what we need now more than ever, if we are to consider the crisis we have in housing and homelessness.
Water could well be another key issue, more so in the national elections next year. If only I could have foreseen water costing more than petrol at a petrol station 20 short years ago. Then I could have built a thousand new homes for the homeless and still had enough left over for a couple of stadiums, a museum and half a dozen iconic cultural attractions, such as a Maori warrior statue equal in size to the liberty one in New York to welcome overseas visitors to our shores.
We get a chance once every four years to make a difference in our communities by voting in who will serve us with mana. We get a chance to hand over the keys to our cities to forward thinkers who can drive us into the future, and see over the horizon to what our kids will inherit by the decisions they make today.
The challenge is for us all to look past the promises made on flash billboards with mixed messages and photoshopped faces and vote for change, because what is happening in housing and the "soul" of our city is unacceptable.
If spring is the time for change, a time to prepare the lands for a fruitful summer and beyond, then let's start with voting in fresh faces as our leaders.
Fresh forward-thinking faces who can come down off their high horses and flash billboards, and be there for mana and not money.
Tommy Wilson is a best-selling local author and writer.