It was an odd feeling on Thursday night listening to our four Hawke's Bay mayors complimenting each other and their councils.

The occasion was the launch of the website of our region's new economic development platform Great Things Grow Here.

You may remember the controversy when the branding was launched by Hastings District Council a while back now. It was not very well received by the other mayors, particularly Napier's Bill Dalton.

Mr Dalton said at the time that the initiative was done in secret and that Hastings council was using it to push amalgamation.


At the time, in September 2014, I wrote an editorial calling for Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule and Mr Dalton, in particular, to put their differences aside and work together for the good of the region.

How times have changed. On Thursday night, it was clear that all mayors, from Wairoa's Craig Little to Central Hawke's Bay's Peter Butler, were genuinely supportive of the initiative.

It was quite remarkable actually and had people pondering what had happened to change their minds.

Well, for one thing the divisive amalgamation referendum is a thing of the past, so no one could accuse anyone else of amalgamation by stealth.

The second key thing is that the initiative was explained to all councils and they were given a chance to buy into it. To do this, Hastings District Council needed the right person for the job and it appears they got that in Sam Jackman, who is their new marketing advisor and the man driving the Great Things Grow Here initiative.

Sam is well known in Hawke's Bay. An old-style marketing man, he has done a lot for the Havelock North Business Association in recent years.

Judging by his presentation this week, he has put a lot of work into this and has managed to convince the region's leaders that this is a goer.

And it certainly seems it can be.

From a marketing perspective it will be brilliant to have our region under one brand out there for the world to see. The website certainly tells the stories of the Bay. It probably does need more statistical info to attract investors to our regions, but I am sure there is more to come.

I hope many local companies sign up as champions and get the Great Things Grow Here logo out there.