Around the country, mayors elected in October 2016 are reaching the half-way point in their three-year terms.

Local Focus journalist Alexander Robertson talked with Palmerston North Mayor, Grant Smith to reflect on the term so far, and the challenges ahead.

He said the priority was a roading connection for the lower North Island, including a replacement for the slip-prone Manawatu Gorge which has been closed indefinitely.

"We call it accessing central New Zealand," he said.


"We're hoping that NZTA and central Government will make the right strategic decision and we look forward to that in the coming weeks."

Smith said he has a vision and he aimed to do more for Palmerston North.

"We have a new vision for the city, it's about being more ambitious and in the plan is actually doing stuff."

Smith wanted to upgrade infrastructure - such as the library and stadium - to keep attracting people to the city.

He said one of the challenges was "poor old Palmy" being viewed sometimes as a "middle child" as it wasn't considered a needy district or region.

"Because Palmerston North is doing okay, we're not a metro either, so we're not the Auckland, Wellington, Christchurches.

"We just hope this Government does understand that Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu has a place in New Zealand and contributes to New Zealand Inc."

The 6.4 per cent rates increase this year would be spent on infrastructure and paying off debt, he said.

"It's actually relatively modest compared to most metropolitan cities," Smith said.

Made with funding from