There are four pillars that support a sense of community. One of them is influence. Influence is not just about authority, prestige and power; but also authenticity, effectiveness and stewardship; concepts that sit nicely within the Maori concept of "mana".
In a new twist on the old saying "the first shall be last", sociologists say that "people who acknowledge that others' needs, values and opinions matter are often the most influential group members; while those who always try to dominate others and ignore the wishes and opinions of others are often the least powerful members".
Or to put it another way, those who have the most influence are those who give before they start asking others to do things.
Now the cynics out there might find what I am going to say next a little hard to swallow - but I'm going to take the risk.
Nearly every government in Western democracies like ours is rethinking what "good" looks like, in respect of the delivery of public services. That desire to find better ways of doing things has resulted in the development of a concept known as "public value".
As the name suggests, "public value" is all about working out what the public values; and how government agencies can work together, in more effective ways, to do a better job for the communities they serve. In other words, there is an increasing emphasis on the "service" element of being a "public servant".
I know there is an old saying that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. But with my hand on my heart, I can assure you this is one of the exceptions. However, it won't be easy and the hard bit is moving from theory to action.
Achieving this change will involve changing mindsets and dismantling a model of bureaucracy that has been built over many years. However, I am encouraged by the fact that there is real unity among Rotorua's leaders to facilitate this change; and we are already well ahead of any other community in New Zealand when it comes to developing a plan for making this real.
More on this to come. In the meantime, I'll finish with a word of encouragement.
Last week, I attended two hui where the main topic of conversation was how we might strengthen the Rotorua community, so more families can move from surviving to thriving. The first was at Te Koutu marae where Helen Potiki from the Ministry for Women was leading a discussion about reducing family violence.
On Saturday night, I attended the "Re-claiming Te Koutu" event in Karenga Park. Over 100 people braved the biting cold to support that kaupapa - which was an encouragement in itself.
Good things are happening and if you look, you will find evidence in many different places of people working towards making Rotorua a stronger community. So be encouraged, and start thinking about how you can help our community thrive. Ka kite ano.