The Pāpāmoa Residents and Ratepayers Association was out in full force this week for its first meeting post lockdown. And there was one very special guest - mayor Tenby Powell.
"People are genuinely interested what's going on with their council," association member Peter Powley said . "Although we get Steve [Morris] and Dawn Kiddie and Andrew [Hollis] coming to these meetings, we really want to see the mayor because he's the guy everybody wants to see.
"We want to know what he's doing, what his thoughts are. We get the councillors' views but sometimes we like to hear what the man at the top has to say."
Despite stepping into something of a lions' den, the man at the top had plenty to say.
"Good evening, great to see such a turnout here," Powell began.
"As Henry VIII said to each of his six wives, I won't keep you long. Tonight's the night for some honesty.
"Tonight's the night to listen to you and your issues -clearly there are a lot of them. But tonight's also the night to address some historical issues and I welcome councillors, my colleagues here: [John] Robson, Kiddie, Hollis and Morris.
"This is the first time in my life I haven't been part of a team. And I could lie and say we're all a great team but you can read it in the paper – we are anything but a great team."
Rates, roads, wetland planting and the rubbish overhaul were the big talking points.
The association wanted rubbish changes delayed at least five years. But the mayor wanted action that could save residents hundreds of dollars.
"Our recycling is abominable. It's abysmal," Powell said.
"Having eight contractors is not working. Sometimes six of those eight trucks go into cul-de-sacs to collect and they look for a particularly coloured bin or a bag or whatever it is - it isn't working. And the $350 and $450 is going to be more like $250. We hope. That's what we're working towards."
The mayor was asked about the tender process for the new rubbish contracts.
"I was concerned about our waste collection companies losing out on the deal for Tauranga City Council to put the tender out to collect our rubbish," Pāpāmoa local Keegan Millar said.
Millar also had a different view on rates.
"I agree with a rates rise," he said.
"I think it needs to be reviewed on how it's being done and be fairer for everyone. I felt that some of the questions that were asked could have been answered better."
There were plenty of questions for the mayor, including one about the council's consultation process.
"I'm hearing that you haven't been consulted on a range of things. If that's the case we absolutely will do better," he said.
One audience member asked why a footpath outside the new Farmers development was going to cost $8 million.
"It's more than a footpath it's a linear park," Powell explained. "I think about $3 million of it is pipe work under the ground that needs to be done."
Despite the disagreements, it wasn't until the end that questions started to unravel and one local edged down the aisle towards the mayor.
"You did the Phoenix Park, that was an overrun," he said.
But Powell wasn't about to back away.
"With all due respect, that was the previous council but I take your point," he said.
And with that, Powley brought the meeting to a close. Powell had fulfilled his civic duty and left, having survived his time in the Pāpāmoa lions' den.
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