"We aim to make sure this farce doesn't happen again," new Mainstreet Whanganui chairman Mark Simmonds told the city centre group's annual meeting on Thursday evening.

"Farce" may be over-stating it but, after a tumultuous year, the organisation had to negotiate some troublesome issues at the meeting at Heritage House.

The annual report only being available as members arrived for the meeting; proxy votes in the election of a new chairman; and a constitution that most seemed to feel needed an overhaul were among fraught moments as the meeting progressed.

Lack of information and communication were raised by members who are, in the main, business owners, retailers and building owners in Whanganui's central business district.


District councillor Helen Craig, whose portfolio covers the town centre, and former mayor Annette Main both questioned process and transparency.

Mark Simmonds ... new Mainstreet chairman.
Mark Simmonds ... new Mainstreet chairman.

Simmonds, who was elected chairman in a ballot with accountant Stephen Lace, Mainstreet's treasurer, acknowledged things had to change.

"There was major upheaval for Mainstreet last year – we had the chairman and general manager going in short succession, and a large code of conduct issue to deal with.

"It's a huge job fixing things ... the constitution needs to be re-written. Next year things will be done properly."

Mainstreet had three chairmen last year – Peter Robinson, Ross Fallen and Simmonds in an acting capacity when Fallen left, shortly after general manager Amanda Gibbons resigned.

On the positive side, new general manager Des Warahi, who takes up his role on December 3, was introduced to members, and there is likely to be the implementation of recommendations from a $16,000 strategic review undertaken last year.

Simmonds vowed to be a pro-active chairman and said he had plans to boost activity in the CBD with a new board ready to make a fresh start.