Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Retiring councillor not ready to take it easy (+video)

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Glenys Searancke has spent 30 years on the Rotorua Lakes Council, but is not about to take it easy.  Photo/Ben Fraser
Glenys Searancke has spent 30 years on the Rotorua Lakes Council, but is not about to take it easy. Photo/Ben Fraser

After 30 years as a district councillor Glenys Searancke will not be seeking re-election, but says she's not about to put her feet up and retire from community life altogether.

"Oh, I'm still going to be busy, but I really want to get back into the pool and take up swimming again. I used to swim a lot and I've missed that."

But, to say she's going to take it easy would be far from the truth.

It's also hard to believe she's going to be 74 in November this year - on All Saints Day - November 1.

She's back on the Rotorua Musical Theatre committee, she's deputy chairwoman of Whare Aroha, chairwoman of Rotorua Brass and of the Contact Trust, that runs two premises in Rotorua for people coming through mental health rehabilitation, to name but a few, all of the positions are voluntary.

She did not think back in 1986 she would make it onto council at her first attempt and has served under four different mayors - John Keaney, Grahame Hall, Kevin Winters and Steve Chadwick.

But, she said she'd like to see some changes on the council after October's elections and thinks mayoral candidate Reynold Macpherson from the Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers group, of which she is chairwoman, would make a good mayor.

"We have done a lot of work on policy and alternatives and I think he would steer a very steady ship.

"I'd like to see at least three or four new faces around the table. People who are community-based and have a good connection with their people.

"I think there will be change, definitely, but it might be difficult with 35 candidates running for 10 seats.

Video


"I also think people who have some life experience and knowledge of what makes up the functions of council would be good.

"But name recognition has always been a major factor in Rotorua's elections."

She said it was a bit strange someone with a background in the arts would take such an interest in things like infrastructure and roading.

"It's what you have to do on council, it's our core business, and it was my baby. It was black and white and you didn't have to get emotional about it."

Some of her highlights include the renovation of the back stage of the Civic Theatre and the four-laning of both Lake Rd and Fairy Springs Rd.

"Another was the redesign of the CBD in the early '90s under the leadership of Grahame Hall. It's a bit sad to see the old City Focus gone.

"And of course hockey. Where we managed to get one of the best turfs in New Zealand built at Smallbone Park, I was very proud of what we did together with the hockey association."

She's had a few disappointments too.

"The removal of the Eastern Arterial designation is a big one...

"The four-laning of Te Ngae Rd is just a sticking plaster and we will regret that decision in years to come.

"I also argued against the development of Rotorua Airport to become international, there was never a plan B.

"There was a lot of money paid and wasted to have Air New Zealand to fly into Rotorua - $9 million," she said.

"And then when I took over the chair of the Pro-Democracy Society, as it was known then, the mayor felt I had a conflict of interest and had 'lost faith in me'.

"I have never opposed iwi representation on council, I always felt the proposal was undemocratic and it was very sad to be labelled as a racist because I did not support the Te Arawa partnership as it was.

"It's taken the shine off 30 years on council."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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