Mayor's Message: A call for patience and tolerance

20/11/2021 11:09am

It turns out the renowned Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” probably didn’t have its origins in China, but none the less there is no denying that our current environment is not only “interesting” but also very challenging for our whole region.

And a key task for Nelson in this environment is how we as a community address the many issues that we face.

As a region, we have a good track record of working together in tough times and emergencies and we can cite the community reaction to the Pigeon Valley fires and a range of local initiatives to support environmental projects and endeavours to support the refugee community alongside the good work undertaken by the Nelson Community Foodbank.

Responding as a community is often more straight forward when there is a specific task or emergency to be addressed than when complex issues have to be debated and a consensus needs to be developed to allow us to progress as a group.

Many of the topics currently up for discussion will involve interaction with every part of the community, including Iwi, community and volunteer groups, lobby organisations and business.

It is important at times such as these that we engage in discussions and debate in a respectful and tolerant manner to ensure all voices and points of view are heard and we as a community can develop a common ground to move forward.

Where topics are contentious, we need to follow basic ground rules to help understand different perspectives, including providing space for other people to speak and listening to their point of view, focusing on the issues and not making the discussion personal.

We need to be honest and open in our discussions and address the topic at hand without feeling a need to get everything off our chest at once.

Keeping name calling and stereotyping out of the discussion allows people to feel safe and able to clearly articulate their opinions. It’s important to remember that even when we disagree, we are all part of a community that needs to function going into the future and has to continue to work together. Everyone has their own perspective and brings their singular personal history to the table.

A strong test of how we function as a community looms with the introduction of the new Covid-19 rules as well as the likely occurrence of Covid-19 cases in our community. We’ll need to work together and demonstrate patience and tolerance, especially as levels of anxiety rise and we face the challenge of needing to go about our daily routines safely while protecting those who are vulnerable.

I'm very comfortable that we as a community are up to this challenge.

Ngā mihi