Garry Poole's Farewell

27.03.13

E ngā iwi, e ngā mana, e ngā reo
Tēnā koutou tēnā koutou tēnā koutou katoa
Ko te kupu tuatahi o tenei hui he whakamihi ki te kaha o Garry Poole ki te whakahaere i te taone nui.
Haere ra, e Garry, te kaiwhakahaere matua ki te kaunihera o Pōneke.
Ngā mihinui ki a koe i tēnei ahiahi
Ngā mihinui ki tō mahi i ngā tau tekau mā rima
Nga mihinui ki tō mahi hou ki Tauranga
E Garry, tēnā rawa atu koe.

This evening we farewell Garry Poole. It is one of several farewells - from staff earlier today and from other Wellingtonians. There will be a private function for Councillors and members of the Executive Leadership Team following Council tonight.

Several of us remember being in this Chamber when Garry was appointed, by a unanimous decision, in this room in 1998. Few will be present in fifteen years’ time.

It is entirely appropriate that we thank and farewell to Garry in this Council Chamber, at the meeting where we decide the annual budget. Garry has provided fifteen years of committed service to the Council, the City and the People of Wellington in his role as Chief Executive.

He has effectively provided executive leadership for the Council organisation, support for elected representatives and services to the people, businesses and visitors of Wellington.

Mayors Wilde, Blumsky, Prendergast and Wade-Brown have offered a range of political challenges to any Chief Executive. Mr Poole has been professional in his public expression of  free and frank officer advice.

Several in this chamber remember the context of Garry’s arrival fifteen years ago. Staff morale was low. Garry energised the organisation, provided leadership for staff and made the Wellington City Council a place where people wanted to work.

During his time at the helm Wellington City, and the Council, has faced numerous challenges, has responded to many changes, achieved good projects and enabled many dynamic events. Our initial notes ran to many pages so I have highlighted a few of many successes in managing change, building projects and successful events. Each elected member will have many more to add.

Changes that Garry has traversed have included the changing dynamics of Council as elected members and senior management have come and gone. There have also been significant changes in the expectations of the local government - the four wellbeings in 2002, various accounting and legal changes and another shift in the repurposing of local government under the current government.

The way we operate as an organisation has transformed with new technology, needing to respond to the public’s appetite for public information and accountability. Council’s new website, which is portable across many different platforms, and our CBDfree service are but two examples.

Under Garry’s executive leadership, Wellington City has achieved the completion of projects that provide great dividends now and for future generations.

Garry’s a sporting man and is justifiably proud of the on-time, on-budget completion of the ASB Indoor Community Sports Centre and its community usage, the school pool partnerships that have delivered learn-to-swim programmes to our youngsters, and the artificial turfs that have been a tremendous success.

On the urban development front, Chews Lane is an exemplar of inner city improvement, and the conversion of the Kilbirnie bus depot to the Rita Angus retirement village is a most successful redevelopment. Our Social Housing upgrade project is creating better, healthier, warmer and safer homes for Wellingtonians who need them, and have also provided jobs and investment for our economy.

Community infrastructure has been expanded including the Newlands Community Centre, Karori Library and Garry has effectively managed the increasing physical resilience of the city.

Wellington remains the Events Capital of New Zealand, and we should all take pride in the International Festival of the Arts and the World of WearableArt remaining successful in the capital, visitors had brilliant experiences in Wellington during the Rugby World Cup 2011 and, of course, those simply magnificent world premieres for King Kong. The Return of the King and the first Hobbit movie.

Those events are part of our shared history, and now we bid farewell to Garry and wish him all the very best for his future in Tauranga. Garry’s knowledge of local government will enable his strong contribution to another metro - Tauranga City. We will still meet through LGNZ and the Metro Sector meetings, among many other occasions, and all those organisations will do well to draw upon Garry’s wealth of experience, his  knowledge and his considerable skills.

Wellington has thrived, Wellington has sparkled, And Wellington has - and remains, despite tough times - the Coolest Little Capital in the World.

Thank you Garry. Kia ora and Haere rā!