Tommy Kapai: Bravery leads to safe anchorage

By Tommy Kapai

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Blooming pohutukawa remind us all that Christmas is on its way again.
Blooming pohutukawa remind us all that Christmas is on its way again.

Summer is so close I can almost smell the early season sweet corn, cooking in the winter boil-up pot, and the sound of the cicadas singing into the duvet-free night are waiting to be welcomed in from the cold.

Only yesterday I saw Santa up at Ted's Garage in Te Puna, getting a warrant for his sleigh, and a mate of mine swears he spotted three wise men hitchhiking down the Kaimais, with a backpack full of prezzies - heading for Bethlehem.

Haere mai summer, I'm over being hibernated and alienated from the sounds and smells of summer.

Haere mai late night shopping and maxed out credit cards and haere mai to the pohutukawa that will soon be putting on their finest frock of rich red colours.

I for one will rejoice, when walking around Mauao - inside a cathedral of crimson korowai as it covers the track from Kuia Rock to Titikawa.

Haere mai summer, the sunblock and the surfboards are ready and waiting, so let's go, bro.

All across Aotearoa excited tamariki will be busy writing letters to hanakoko, putting pride back into our posties, who just like Christmas cards are being twittered out of a job. Who would have thought that a twit or a tweet would lick our letters and be the way the next generation communicates?

But then again, who would have thought that some clever bugger would work out a way to charge us more for water than petrol, at a gas station.

Just as our kids are working out their wishes and sending letters off to Santa it's a good time to ask ourselves what our wishes are for our communities, especially as our councils are coming up with their 100 day game plan.

My wish list goes back and forth like a volley of goal kicks in a tight test match but the game-breaker for me as far as our newly elected members getting it right is to stop paying consultants to tell us what we already know.

Then start listening to the social entrepreneurs of our community who know their needs and given half a chance will steer Tauranga toward the name our ancestors gave it - the safe anchorage.

Right now Tauranga is far from safe and we need to win it back.

Sure, we need business entrepreneurs to create financial wealth. That's a given like a goal kick right out in front of the sticks, but equally important is the need for social entrepreneurs to balance the books and create a community wealth.

For my two bobs worth of any kind of wealth, when we get social and financial wealth into a symbiotic balance, the safe city built on the safe anchorage of Tauranga will return.

Community wealth is a currency of success that we need to engage in at every level, starting at the top with our council.

Failing to do so will see the youth quake of lost kids we have wandering our streets, especially in the Te Papa region, becoming an out of control crisis.

Bringing back a safe anchorage starts with bringing on board social entrepreneurs and sidelining consultants who often have no skin in the game other than the fat fees they charge.

I have no idea or understanding what is required to create financial wealth - that's why I have none, I will leave that to the businessman, bean counters and quarter acre developers.

However, in my line of work I do have a few clues about creating social wealth.

It starts with a shift in attitudinal thinking. It starts by being brave and trying something new when we all can see the old way is not working.

It also takes big kahunas because bravery is needed to turn Tauranga back to the safe anchorage our ancestors and founding fathers dreamed it to be.

Now is a good time to be brave and dare to dream. Not just a Christmas dream of sweet corn and cicadas. Not just world peace, less tax, longer summers or a deeper appreciation of the environment that we are letting slip through our hands like a Papamoa pipi full of toxic algae.

Now is a good time for councils and communities to engage with social entrepreneurs to help bring back the safe anchorage of Tauranga.

Or as a wise man named Einstein once said: "The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them".

Tommy Kapai is a Tauranga author and writer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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