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Mike Ward

Nelson probably always was one very beautiful city but in the forty years since I retired from the class room to be an artist and brought my family home, Nelson has become spectacularly gorgeous and outrageously successful.

More beautiful and successful than other New Zealand Cities?  It isn’t a competition but ours has to be one of the most beautiful as well as people, cyclist and dog friendly, and in my experience one great place to play, dine, shop, be an artist and do business.  For forty years I have drawn and designed stuff and made and sold my festoonery in this city and played… and pondered what it would take to make life here more enjoyable, and while I made, sold, played and pondered, individuals,  businesses and the community in partnership with successive councils have just got on with adding trees, flower baskets, festivals and events, Founders, the Wakatu Marae, shared pedestrian/ cycle ways, cafes, restaurants,  bars and on street dining,  the finest market in the country, WOW, mountain biking, the Great taste trail, a marina, cinemas, galleries, and theatres, the finest book store in all of New Zealand, the Cawthron Institute and Pic’s peanut butter. We have heated, roofed and built swimming pools, built new libraries, developed Saxton’s Field and hosted international sporting events. Our port and airport companies are successful and innovative.  We have great schools, and brilliant tertiary education opportunities. We roast and brew great coffee, make excellent craft beers and wines, and visitors who flock here in unprecedented numbers tell me every day that we are friendly… and that Nelson is their favourite city.

I am a story teller and I don’t repeat bad stories.  If you talk about empty stores or business closures I will remind you about the successful start-ups and the vastly greater range of breads , cheeses, pickles, oils and creative, recreational and dining opportunities… and I will talk about what else we might aspire to be… More gorgeous, more fun, friendlier, safer, healthier, kinder, more generous, inclusive, prosperous, creative, wise, thoughtful, sustainable, resilient… and what folk are already doing to realise our aspirations.

The world faces unprecedented challenges but the idea of our wee city being one of the planets great lifestyle and sustainability role models, in the light of our achievements to date, doesn’t seem at all fanciful, but it will take a commitment to a shared vision and a team effort if we are to bequeath to our children a city that they will want to stay in or return to… Do they deserve anything less?

So when you go shopping, shop where your money is most likely to find its way back into the pockets of the people you care about, and whatever you do, do it with flair and a smile and if you were wondering how you might make a difference or contemplating buying bling you might consider visiting the loveliest studio in the whole of Morrison Square (above the Morri Street Café by Morrison Square), where we fashion festoonery… differently gorgeous finger, wrist, lapel and throat furniture and ear gear to die for (and where everything comes with personalised packaging and a pedigree…)

Mike Ward

28th February, 2018

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