Steve Chadwick: Six months in

By Matthew Martin

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It's been six months since Steve Chadwick was elected mayor of Rotorua in a landslide victory in October last year. Rotorua Daily Post senior reporter Matthew Martin spoke to Mrs Chadwick about her first six months in office

ALL-ACTION: Steve Chadwick hit the ground running after her election as mayor of Rotorua and has settled into her new role quickly. PHOTO/BEN FRASER 110414BF4
ALL-ACTION: Steve Chadwick hit the ground running after her election as mayor of Rotorua and has settled into her new role quickly. PHOTO/BEN FRASER 110414BF4

Steve Chadwick says her new role as Rotorua mayor is far better than being in central government - "you can actually get things done".

Mrs Chadwick's first six months as mayor have been hectic but she and her new council are getting into a rhythm now and are excited about the city's future.

"I thought it would take about this long.

Celebrating the election victory.
Celebrating the election victory.

"But I cannot believe how much better it is than central government.

"You can do things so much more easily and nimbly, but I have to stress it's a lot to do with the new executive, who are keen and enthusiastic."

She says the success of the district's future will be down to "partnering".

"It's the real trick - partnering and networking."

She says one of the most profound meetings she's had was with a group of about 30 young people which was organised by staff at Destination Rotorua Marketing.

"I said I'd come to them at any place and at any time.

"We went to a house and sat outside having a glass of wine and they told me their stories.

"What was missing, what could be better, what we could build on and what was great about Rotorua - I came away brimming with ideas."

She says she has also realised the old way of public consultation was rather archaic and did not engage enough of the wider community.

"I don't mind anyone griping and groaning, and there's enough to gripe and groan about still, but this is a long journey.

"I like constructive criticism and I always ask 'what can we do to fix it?'

"We have to get feedback differently. I've had meetings with all sorts of groups, like the Freemason, Probus, Spectrum.

"It's how I like doing things and it's groups like these whose input is critical to us all moving forward."

She says the feedback so far has been exciting and reaffirming.

"Before the election I was often being questioned about debt and now I feel we have smashed that right open and people see we are doing something about it.

"People will measure me and my performance as a leader in two and a half years.

"I have the energy, but boy, they can be long days."

Her biggest challenge was building a team.

"Every day is challenging and I like it, especially intellectually, but I don't work on my own, I work with others and that's how it has to be done.

"It's getting that mandate and the six or more people over the line on an issue to agree on a decision.

"But there's a lot more to it than that. It's work behind the scenes making sure people are informed, meetings with councillors, meetings before council meetings and debriefings after those meetings."

Building a strong community neighbourhood by neighbourhood is also a priority for her.

"It's not all about the high-end stuff about growth and jobs, it's also building a strong and resilient community that can take the shocks and this is incredibly important."

Doing the small things well makes a real difference, she says.

An emotional welcome.
An emotional welcome.

One of her future challenges will be building a much stronger relationship with iwi.

"A lot of iwi-based decisions have been profoundly wrong in the past and we have to get it right.

"These things are very complex and I have to keep learning there and our partnership with iwi is essential to us moving forward."

In the next six months she says Rotorua can get excited about new plans for the heart of the city, announcements regarding jobs, forestry and geothermal products.

"And I really hope we win the bid for the mountain biking [world cup].

"Mountain biking is just exploding and we have to realise the impact it has on Rotorua," she says.


Steve's highlights


October 12: election win.
Appoints Dave Donaldson as her deputy.
October 31: Inner City Focus Group meeting.
November 16: official welcome by Te Arawa.
November 28: council endorses Rotorua 2030 vision and 2016 priorities.
December 10: decision to scrap development contributions.
December 23: decision to review Te Arawa Standing Committee.
January 15: local business given more opportunity to tender for local work.
February 5: Council takes action to reduce debt levels
February 14: Independent review of past financial disclosures announced
February 18: Council approves draft policy to limit sales of legal highs.
March 9: "Safe as Houses" project launched in Koutu.
March 20: Joint initiative between council and tourism operators launched.
March 27: Council and Fordlands community partnership launched.
April 1: Visit to Japanese sister city Beppu.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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