Home' The Eye : May 30th 2013 Contents 12
The Eye 30.5.13
Elder calls time on politics
I want to finish off the
inner city development
-- that's my
Ready to roll: Invercargill City
Councillor Norman Elder is
standing down from the
council at the local
Deep in thought: Councillor Norman Elder from 2010.
Photo: BARRY HARCOURT 624500462
Who: Norman Elder, 55
What: Not seeking re-election on
to the Invercargill City Council in
October after a 15-year stint
Elder's last goal: ''I want to finish
off the inner city development ---
that's my pet project.''
Did you know: Elder has a
collection of four Mercedes Benz
After 15 years as an Invercargill city councillor, Norman
Elder is stepping down. He talks to Louise Berwick about
serving the city and his love for Mercedes Benz cars.
Norman Elder is not
lying when he says he
is busy --- there's
barely room to sit in
He's surrounded by mountains of
paper work, piles of folders and
hundreds of reports.
In one corner there is another
pile, one branded with the
Invercargill City Council, and
that pile is destined for the bin in
October. Mr Elder has announced
he will not be seeking re-election
after 15 years on the Invercargill
He has been the face behind many
council projects, the driving force
behind redevelopments and a
stickler for the rules, but now it's
all coming to an end.
''I am really trying to get politics
out of my life.''
It has been an interesting 15 years
around the council table for the
former Riversdale boy. He never
even thought he would get elected,
let alone remain so long.
''It's been longer than a life
sentence,'' he joked.
That ''sentence'' began in 1998
when Mr Elder took up a seat
around the council table when,
with a double degree in law and
politics, he was determined to
change New Zealand's, and the
world's perception of
He's still working on that, but
it is getting better all the time.
''The big issue facing
Invercargill is to try and
increase its population.''
He is clearly passionate about
the city and there's no doubting
his good intentions to help to
Mayor Tim Shadbolt agrees. He
credits Norm, as he calls him, as
one of the most intelligent people
''It has been an honour to serve
He was also one of the people we
have to thank for such a low rates
increase, Mr Shadbolt said.
''I think he's left us in a really
healthy financial position because
of the work he has done on our
But from Mr Elder's perspective,
his biggest achievement has been
the formation in 2001 of Venture
Southland, the joint enterprise,
tourism and community
development committee of the
Invercargill city, and the
Southland and Gore District
But it has also been a frustration
because Venture Southland was
only supposed to be the start of his
''I would have liked to have seen
one council for Southland, but I
am not quite sure of the format of
that,'' he said.
''The closest we have
got was the sharing
of services and
that was always
my preference 15
''I would hope that
in my lifetime I
will see that
someone else is
going to have to
worry about that.''
There are also other council
developments he would like to see
completed before the October
There's the skatepark to be built,
as well as the museum to be
upgraded. He wants both built in
the inner city, but that's unlikely
to happen now, he conceded.
''I want to finish off the inner city
development --- that's my pet
He does not deny he has a bad
couple of months during the past
year in council, but he stands
beside his decisions.
He was the centre of controversy
late last year after he resigned as
chairman of the subcommittee
handling the appointment of the
ICC's chief executive.
The committee changed the
appointment process midstream
to allow them to interview
candidates and have a say on who
should be on the shortlist.
Mr Elder resigned because he
wanted the appointment process
more open and transparent.
''I think people have got to
understand the rules and play by
the rules and not try and change
The saga followed the drama
around the council-owned
Deveron St car park to building
company Calder Stewart, of which
he is a director, for $1 million.
However, that sale, and fall-out,
had no influence on his decision
to step down, he maintains.
''There are just some political
machinations in the council that I
just don't want to be a part of
Despite that, he does have a lot of
respect for his fellow councillors
and their quirks.
''They have all got unique
characters and personalities, I
suppose I have, too.''
The reports, agendas and
submissions that he has read
religiously for the past 15 years
will soon be a thing of the past,
along with the tiresome politics.
But you get the feeling he won't be
There are directorships he wants
to pursue, mountains he wants to
bike down and classic cars to
polish. The 55 year old can't wait
to have more time to spend on his
collection of four Mercedes Benz
cars, including a V8 recently
imported from England.
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