This week's Rotorua Daily Post Newsmaker is Rosemary Michie, who has organised a petition against plans to build a shared library and children's health hub in the central city.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My husband, Alan, and I together with our four children came to Okawa Bay Motor Camp in 1972 from Alberta, Canada, where we had lived for 17 years. We left England in 1955 just after we were married. We enjoyed Canada but the long cold winters had started to get to us. We enjoyed running the motor camp for 10 years and then moved on to other jobs. I still live in Mourea by Lake Rotorua. Alan passed away in 1999.
Why did you arrange the petition and why are you opposed to the idea?
I believe so strongly that libraries (and aquatic centres) are important facilities that councils need to provide for their communities. Rotorua has a lovely library well patronised by a community of all ages, ethnicities and from all walks of life. I am impressed by the young people's and children's section and activities. The computers and giant chess board are well used by the youngsters. I had hoped someone would arrange some opposition to this bizarre juxtaposition of a medical centre in a library. As no one did I thought a petition might be the best way for library users and others to have their say on the plans. I have had excellent support and help from friends. I also do not believe that providing medical facilities is the responsibility of councils.
You've served as both a district and regional councillor, and stood for Parliament - where does your passion for politics come from?
In both Canada and Rotorua I have always been involved in community organisations such as school committees, ratepayer groups and others. It was the state of Lake Rotorua that inspired me to stand for council in 1980. I felt perhaps I could help find a way to improve the water quality. I became increasingly concerned about our natural environment.
What was your biggest achievement during your time in politics?
Achievements on councils are always the results of teamwork between the councillors, the staff and the community. I was pleased to have been part of the debates on the Springbok Tour and the nuclear issues in the 1980s. We had some fine debaters on council at the time. Also to be part of getting our present library, Wohlmann House Arts Centre and the improvements in the wastewater treatment. On regional council the continuing improvement of our lakes and the establishment of the Maori Wards.
Why do you think it's important for people to have a say in what's happening in their towns?
It is the people's hard earned money that council is spending so obviously people need to have a say. The people working and living in the community often have a better understanding of how the district really works. It is particularly important in Rotorua which is a low waged district and many are struggling to make ends meet. Fortunately we have some wonderful volunteer groups and are a caring community.
Some see retirement as a time to relax - do you have much down time?
It is important for older people to stay involved in their activities for as long as possible, whatever they are. I hope to wear out, not rust out. Gardening, reading and music are my main recreational activities and of course being with family when we can.
What do you love about Rotorua?
I enjoy the great diversity of people and cultures in Rotorua, which I also found interesting in Canada. The environment is so beautiful so when I draw the curtains in the morning and see the lake and the birds it is good to still be here. Rotorua is a friendly place and I have some great friends and wonderfully kind neighbours.
What are three things people might not know about you?
I am quite inept with modern electronic technology and my children and grandchildren seem to find this amusing and a great source of teasing to their aged parent and grandparent. I remain a staunch Labour Party supporter. Margaret Thatcher is a distant relative.