Emotional farewell for Tararua District mayor

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Emotional: Retiring Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis reads his farewell words to district councillors and council staff at the end of his final meeting on Wednesday afternoon. 
Reporter: Chr
Emotional: Retiring Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis reads his farewell words to district councillors and council staff at the end of his final meeting on Wednesday afternoon. Reporter: Chr

Rome wasn't built in a day but Tararua District Mayor Roly Ellis has given it a good go during the past six years, his councillors agreed this week.

In an emotional farewell to district councillors and council staff at the end of his last monthly meeting on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Ellis admitted that, after six years, "it had been quite a plod".

And while he reflected on his past six years as district mayor, Mr Ellis also took a swipe at some of the electioneering.

"It's been interesting sitting at most of the election candidate meetings and hearing what some candidates say. You would have thought little has been achieved over the past six years, according to some. Sitting councillors should be aggrieved because we've so many achievements to be proud of."

After reading a huge list of those achievements, Mr Ellis thanked retiring deputy mayor Bill Keltie and North ward councillor David Roberts, who have both put in 15 years of service, while holding down fulltime jobs.

"Most mornings of the week at 7.10 Bill and I have discussed a vast range of matters behind the scenes. We've not always agreed, but after careful thought, one of us has come around," Mr Ellis said.

Mr Ellis also remembered the two great councillors who died during his time at the helm - Brenda Dodunski and Keith Fenemor.

"Both too early and with so much still to give," he said.

"Our [council's] forestry surplus would have never been as good without Keith and it turned our forestry finances right around after some years of mediocre performance. That proved having a portfolio holder who knew what he was doing on council went a long way. Keith was ever the fox terrier."

And Mr Ellis had a message for environmentalists.

"As a signature to the Manawatu River Accord, Tararua has done extremely well with dairy farmers and council cleaning up our rivers. Many millions of dollars have been invested and as I've said time and time again, it takes time to get traction and turn the Queen Mary around. Perhaps the environmentalists need to open their cheque books and give major volunteer time to help out.

"Instead of them being know-alls and pedantic, let us all get pragmatic about solutions rather than throwing grenades around."

While thanking staff and management, Mr Ellis had a special word for Peter Wimsett, council's manager of strategy and district development.

"Peter, my life has never been so complicated by your policies, strategies, technology and deep thinking. You are certainly a man with a difference and respected by all for your thoughtfulness."

Council governance manager Richard Taylor also received special accolades.
"You're absolutely brilliant," Mr Ellis said.

Councillor Jim Crispin said he hoped the back paddock Mr Ellis was retiring to was fully stocked.

"You've been a good mayor," he said.

Mr Roberts said there was a certain sadness in leaving.

"I'm sad to be going, but it's time to let someone fresh come in," he said.

And Mr Keltie praised Tararua Alliance for the dramatically improved roading.

"Since the move to the alliance, we've had more bang for our buck," he said.

Before leaving the council chambers district council staff and councillors gave Mr Ellis a standing ovation.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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