Editorial: There needs to be some substance

By Craig Cooper

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MC for the evening Damian Pullen addresses the Forum North audience.
MC for the evening Damian Pullen addresses the Forum North audience.

Straw polls, critics say, have all the power of the material they are named after.

Sheryl Mai has topped two polls - the Whangarei Meet Your Mayor poll and the Pecha Kucha poll conducted this week. Mai combines charisma and delivery of her message well, and it comes across well in a live setting. Being mayor is about so much more, though. It would be fair to say that Mai's challenge in the next few weeks is to demonstrate the depth of her policy and understanding of some of the weightier issues.

Of the other 11?

Candidates with weightier policy who are less at ease with the public side of the campaign, probably need to look at how they sell their messages in a manner that is easier to digest. Voters aren't looking for complexities in a field of 12, they are looking for key messages and easy understanding of what a candidate is about, to help them narrow the field. But they still want depth - is there substance behind the style - is there anything there?

Wednesday's Pecha Kucha evening was interesting because it demanded a certain style. Twenty slides at 20 seconds each requires timing, thought and preparation. Mostly, Pecha Kucha is about presenting on a subject you are passionate about. The theory being perhaps, that you don't need notes, you speak from the heart with some help from your head, and your personality also comes through. Wednesday's political performances ranged from tradesmanlike, efficient, odd, shambolic, awkward, strange, rambling, very good and sublime. Who was sublime?

Well, if Graham Tadman doesn't win the mayoralty, his off-the-cuff speaking skills, humour and honesty would be a welcome addition somewhere in Whangarei's local government scene. Thankfully, on Wednesday Tadman drew the last straw. He was the final speaker, and the night ended with a hilarious bang. As co-organiser Matt Keene noted, it was fortunate Tadman was last, as he would have been a very hard act to follow.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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