It’s not often council meetings can be described as poetry in motion, but that sums up how two days of hearings on the future of Tauranga’s city centre ended last week.
Keen to share her thoughts with commissioners in a different way, local university student Ashleigh Teina penned and filmed a poem describing her vision for a vibrant city centre that “we can brag about”.
Her motivation came from disappointment at the lack of people and things to do in the city centre, especially on the weekends.
“I study at Waikato University and live in the early avenues, so I spend a lot of time in the city and I’ve noticed that it’s really quiet, even on a Saturday. When my partner and I go out we’re like, this is ridiculous, it shouldn’t be this quiet in a city on a Saturday afternoon,” says Ashleigh.
After seeing a post on the council Facebook page asking for feedback on its proposed civic precinct redevelopment project, she was so full of ideas she put a post on local online noticeboards calling for suggestions, before wrapping it all into an upbeat poem and video.
“Rather than just sending an email or filling out the questionaire I wanted to do something different that I thought might inspire people and that maybe something might come from it,” says Ashleigh.
Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the video is so fabulous she’s watched it about 10 times.
“The way we’re engaging with our communities is changing and this is a great example of the different ways people are choosing to communicate with us. We know filling out forms and making submissions isn’t for everyone and we’re working hard to make it easy for everyone to give us their feedback in whatever way works for them,” says Anne.
Overall, the commissioners were so taken with the young poet’s ideas they filmed a poetic response of their own, which was played to Ashleigh at the hearing.
Beginning with praise for her words, simple, poignant and true, it thanks her for her energy and time and describes her video as sublime.
“Among many other things in her video, Ashleigh mentions silent discos with people wearing headphones and plant covered walls - which really tickled my imagination. We’ve responded with some thoughts of our own and hope that she’ll stay involved in this exciting project as we continue to work with the community to bring it to life,” says Anne.
Commissioners are set to decide how the civic precinct will be brought to life in June.
And here is the commissioners response to Ashleigh's vision: