Tommy Kapai: Council project barking up right tree

By Craig Nicholson

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The council is to be commended on such an innovative taonga for our tamariki _ big and small to enjoy.
The council is to be commended on such an innovative taonga for our tamariki _ big and small to enjoy.

Here's a cool game to play when talking politics with people, especially a wannabe candidate in these final voting days of the local elections.

When engaged in a brow-beating, self-serving conversation, steer the subject toward a contentious election issue, say the Hairy Hounds sculptures.

Then mention the most ardent supporter or detractor of the project and let the good times flow. You will immediately get a handle on the person and their politics.

This will usually open up a floodgate of 400 reasons why this or that person should not be in charge of their child's piggy bank, let alone the purse strings of an entire city.

Then before you know it the ranting by the 'informed' two-term billboard bragging, never-elected-before candidate is on auto pilot and you, the supposed other person in the conversation, can kick back and remind yourself why you would never vote for them.

When they break for a breath, if it comes, kickstart them again by asking "why not the Hairy Hounds?"

The wisest words I have heard from any local body candidate is vote for them on what they have done, not what they say they will do.

So on that basis, if I qualified to vote in the TDC electorate, I would vote for those who gave the gift of Linley Dodd's creative brilliance to all of the tamariki of Tauranga Moana - and all of the generations to follow.

For my two bobs' worth of Bottomley Potts I think the Hairy Hounds are the coolest kaupapa this council present or past has voted yes on for 50 years. That was when Bill Barnard - The Mayor of Tauranga in the early 1950s and his crop of councillors gave the thumbs up to Humpty Dumpty being built in Memorial Park.

Growing up in a large family where outings were based on buck shish not bangs for your buck, the visit to see and sit beside Humpty Dumpty was a big day out and thousands of kids have done so since.

To this very day it has left such a lasting impression on me that I now look exactly like him.

Talk about role models.

Surely there is nothing wrong with having a pack of cool cats and their Hairy Hound mates strutting the streets of Tauranga in years to come?

Sometimes as a special treat we would drive down to see Humpty on a Friday night in our trusty, rusty putter bom-bom Mark 1 Zephyr.

With our hands clasped around an Adams Bruce ice-cream we would snuggle up and watch the pretty colours of the rainbow magically appear across the face of the water fountain right next door to Humpty.

It was family fun at its absolute best and didn't cost a cracker as long as Bill Skelton and the TAB had been kind to dad to cover the creamy Adams Bruce treats.

How cool that today's tamariki will be able to do the same down on the Strand when the Hairy Hounds come to town.

Maybe we should take it one step further and have A Strand of Sculptures just like Hollywood has The walk of Fame. We could start at one end and tell the story of Tauranga via starting with Henare Wiremu Taratoa and Heni te Kirikaramu, the true heroes of The Battle of Gate Pa.

Then weave our way through our founding fathers John Lees Faulkner, Dr Maharaia Winiata and others, all the way through to a Churchlesque statue of Sir Bob Owens and a funky one of Stan Walker.

The council is to be commended on such an innovative taonga for our tamariki - big and small to enjoy.

It will be an instant attraction just as Humpty Dumpty was for us many moons ago.

Yes, I know we could have got a new waste water pump for the same price or a shilling shaved off our rates, but sometimes we have to stand up to the "joy police" and look beyond today's fiducially frown-causing budget restraints and focus on a resource called fun.

Sometimes we have to trust in another process called environmental intelligence and if it is free-range kids that we want to grow, then feeding them backyard Hairy Maclary heroes is a brilliant start.

It may well be what this election and the current councillors will be remembered for long after the banners have been taken down and the promises for the future put away.

Tommy Kapai is a Tauranga author and writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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