Keen to get things done

Malcolm Maclean has been a councillor for seven months. So how does it he find it?

Malcolm Maclean has been a councillor for seven months. So how does it he find it?

RUGBY STALWART: Malcolm Maclean pictured at Rugby Park after winning the Patutahi ward seat on Gisborne District Council last year. Malcolm was a rugby referee for 27 years and served on the Poverty Bay Rugby Football Union executive for 18 years, 13 of them as chairman.

Picture by Liam Clayton

Part of the intake of three new councillors after last year's election, experienced businessman, sports referee and administrator Malcolm Maclean talks with John Jones about the council and his views after seven months here.

New District Council member Malcolm Maclean has found things a little frustrating since he was elected last October because of the time it takes to implement changes — but he is positive about the council, despite the strong challenges it faces.

Elected to represent the Patutahi Ward, he admits he has found a big contrast between local government and his former life as a businessman.

“If I ran my business the way the council has to be run because of the government system under which it has to operate, I would not be in it,” he says.

However, he is positive about the council and its new chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann.

Malcolm has no doubt that the main issues the council faces are the city wastewater upgrade, the DrainWise project to reduce wastewater being discharged into city rivers and on to people’s properties during heavy rain, and the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme improvements.

The wastewater issue

“The big issue is definitely wastewater,” he says. “That is bigger than the council building replacement. This project was put in place long before us but it does not mean we are going to spend $64 million or anything like it. If we can fix it for $20 million let’s go there.

“I have asked the question before with the wastewater, how many people have died through the outfall? None. The surfing fraternity tell me there is nothing out there, not like it was when I came to Gisborne 43 years ago.”

He remembers seeing the plume from Kaiti Hill.

“There has been a huge change. We went down there the other month to be shown around. The water was coming out pretty clean, there were just a few bits and pieces.”

The wastewater problem was emphasised through the stormwater overflows and DrainWise. The two went hand in hand.

“There is some emphasis on that now — it is moving forward, which is good.”

He supports reducing the time for the DrainWise project, which involves wastewater pipe renewals and improvements as well as working with property owners to help fix problems with wastewater and stormwater drains. As it stands it has a total budget of $22 million over 10 years.

Waipaoa River Protection Scheme

The other big issue is the Waipaoa River Protection Scheme. It is not a case of if a flood will strike, it is when, he says. Weather extremes are being seen right around the world.

“That is another thing that should not be taking the time it is, but hopefully there will be a start next year. That is probably a major priority for me because it is in my ward. It is very frustrating, the time it takes to do things on the council. I understand there is a system, and I have to learn to be patient, but sometimes I think we could move a lot faster than we do.

“It is like the Observatory. I think that is a real plus for the town. I have been up there a couple of times over the years and I think for our young people today, especially with the rocket launching pad at Mahia, it is a must. By the sound of it at the meeting last week, it does not sound as though it is going to be as expensive. Why couldn’t we be told that earlier?

“I am not a negative person with the council — I like to think everything is good. That is not looking through rose-tinted glasses but I like to be positive. I feel very confident with the change of our chief executive. I am very confident in Nedine. With discussions we have had, we have both got some ideas. Each one has come out really positive. She knows how to be tough if she has to. I have got a lot of confidence in her and so have the other councillors.

“Our meetings are really good when she is there. She is respectful, which demands our respect as well. I think it is important we are a team and the public sees we are.”

Council has a good balance

Malcolm attended some meetings before the election and was amazed at how much was involved. He struggles to believe that someone can be in full-time employment and be on the council.

“Although it is facing some big challenges I am really positive about the council.”

He believes the council has a good balance in its elected representatives.

“It is good to have the young people flowing through but you need the steady-Eddie types like Pat Seymour and Brian Wilson. We have got a lot of respect between each other and that is important to me.”

Born and educated in Dunedin, Malcolm moved to Wellington in 1965 and was a travelling rep when he first started visiting Gisborne. Every time he came here the weather was superb compared with Wellington where he was a rugby ref training in the rain — so he moved here in 1973.

“I thought, yep, this is me and I have been here ever since.”

Business in Gisborne

He has been a successful businessman, starting with his first business, Midway Service Station, which he bought in 1984. Shell developed that into the first of the Shell shops. It grew from there, with Shell Wairoa and Shell Ormond Road. He left that business in 2009.

He and his wife Katherine, who have been married for 23 years, also operated the Cosmopolitan Club restaurant and the Mill and Wild Food Bakery and Café. Katherine has continued in the hospitality business with The White House. He also had the lawnmower shop, Kibworth Machinery, and developed Handy Rentals from the service station days, starting with a tip ute and one minibus, growing to 21 vehicles when he sold the business last year. It was an instant transformation to local government.

“I always believed I was not going to stand for the council if I was running a business. I have done a wee bit of homework. The day I got paid was the day I registered for the election.”

Running against two others in the Patutahi Ward he was a convincing winner, with more than 60 percent of the vote. Sport has always been a big focus. He was a rugby referee for 27 years, reaching provincial level and a ranking among the top 15 referees in the country for two years. Probably his favourite game was controlling New Zealand Maori versus East Coast at Whakarua Park.

He went on to serve on the Poverty Bay union executive, spending 18 years on the executive, 13 of them as chairman. He was also an international-level cricket umpire standing at New Zealand women’s matches against England and Australia and under-20 New Zealand men’s matches against Australia, South Africa and England. These days a lot of his time is spent reading agendas and reports but he has taken to his new role with his customary enthusiasm and gusto.

Part of the intake of three new councillors after last year's election, experienced businessman, sports referee and administrator Malcolm Maclean talks with John Jones about the council and his views after seven months here.

New District Council member Malcolm Maclean has found things a little frustrating since he was elected last October because of the time it takes to implement changes — but he is positive about the council, despite the strong challenges it faces.

Elected to represent the Patutahi Ward, he admits he has found a big contrast between local government and his former life as a businessman.

“If I ran my business the way the council has to be run because of the government system under which it has to operate, I would not be in it,” he says.

However, he is positive about the council and its new chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann.

Malcolm has no doubt that the main issues the council faces are the city wastewater upgrade, the DrainWise project to reduce wastewater being discharged into city rivers and on to people’s properties during heavy rain, and the Waipaoa River Flood Control Scheme improvements.

The wastewater issue

“The big issue is definitely wastewater,” he says. “That is bigger than the council building replacement. This project was put in place long before us but it does not mean we are going to spend $64 million or anything like it. If we can fix it for $20 million let’s go there.

“I have asked the question before with the wastewater, how many people have died through the outfall? None. The surfing fraternity tell me there is nothing out there, not like it was when I came to Gisborne 43 years ago.”

He remembers seeing the plume from Kaiti Hill.

“There has been a huge change. We went down there the other month to be shown around. The water was coming out pretty clean, there were just a few bits and pieces.”

The wastewater problem was emphasised through the stormwater overflows and DrainWise. The two went hand in hand.

“There is some emphasis on that now — it is moving forward, which is good.”

He supports reducing the time for the DrainWise project, which involves wastewater pipe renewals and improvements as well as working with property owners to help fix problems with wastewater and stormwater drains. As it stands it has a total budget of $22 million over 10 years.

Waipaoa River Protection Scheme

The other big issue is the Waipaoa River Protection Scheme. It is not a case of if a flood will strike, it is when, he says. Weather extremes are being seen right around the world.

“That is another thing that should not be taking the time it is, but hopefully there will be a start next year. That is probably a major priority for me because it is in my ward. It is very frustrating, the time it takes to do things on the council. I understand there is a system, and I have to learn to be patient, but sometimes I think we could move a lot faster than we do.

“It is like the Observatory. I think that is a real plus for the town. I have been up there a couple of times over the years and I think for our young people today, especially with the rocket launching pad at Mahia, it is a must. By the sound of it at the meeting last week, it does not sound as though it is going to be as expensive. Why couldn’t we be told that earlier?

“I am not a negative person with the council — I like to think everything is good. That is not looking through rose-tinted glasses but I like to be positive. I feel very confident with the change of our chief executive. I am very confident in Nedine. With discussions we have had, we have both got some ideas. Each one has come out really positive. She knows how to be tough if she has to. I have got a lot of confidence in her and so have the other councillors.

“Our meetings are really good when she is there. She is respectful, which demands our respect as well. I think it is important we are a team and the public sees we are.”

Council has a good balance

Malcolm attended some meetings before the election and was amazed at how much was involved. He struggles to believe that someone can be in full-time employment and be on the council.

“Although it is facing some big challenges I am really positive about the council.”

He believes the council has a good balance in its elected representatives.

“It is good to have the young people flowing through but you need the steady-Eddie types like Pat Seymour and Brian Wilson. We have got a lot of respect between each other and that is important to me.”

Born and educated in Dunedin, Malcolm moved to Wellington in 1965 and was a travelling rep when he first started visiting Gisborne. Every time he came here the weather was superb compared with Wellington where he was a rugby ref training in the rain — so he moved here in 1973.

“I thought, yep, this is me and I have been here ever since.”

Business in Gisborne

He has been a successful businessman, starting with his first business, Midway Service Station, which he bought in 1984. Shell developed that into the first of the Shell shops. It grew from there, with Shell Wairoa and Shell Ormond Road. He left that business in 2009.

He and his wife Katherine, who have been married for 23 years, also operated the Cosmopolitan Club restaurant and the Mill and Wild Food Bakery and Café. Katherine has continued in the hospitality business with The White House. He also had the lawnmower shop, Kibworth Machinery, and developed Handy Rentals from the service station days, starting with a tip ute and one minibus, growing to 21 vehicles when he sold the business last year. It was an instant transformation to local government.

“I always believed I was not going to stand for the council if I was running a business. I have done a wee bit of homework. The day I got paid was the day I registered for the election.”

Running against two others in the Patutahi Ward he was a convincing winner, with more than 60 percent of the vote. Sport has always been a big focus. He was a rugby referee for 27 years, reaching provincial level and a ranking among the top 15 referees in the country for two years. Probably his favourite game was controlling New Zealand Maori versus East Coast at Whakarua Park.

He went on to serve on the Poverty Bay union executive, spending 18 years on the executive, 13 of them as chairman. He was also an international-level cricket umpire standing at New Zealand women’s matches against England and Australia and under-20 New Zealand men’s matches against Australia, South Africa and England. These days a lot of his time is spent reading agendas and reports but he has taken to his new role with his customary enthusiasm and gusto.

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