Red Alert

Yes Sir-ee Bob

Posted by on December 31st, 2012

Mayor Bob of the West picked up a gong today. It is great to see Bob Harvey honoured. He has made a huge contribution to West Auckland, elected six times in a row as Mayor of Waitakere City.

Bob is a man of many parts. As a young ad man he brought modern advertising to Labour’s election campaigns in the 1970s, and played a key role in the re-making of two Labour Prime Ministers: Norman Kirk and David Lange. He served as Labour Party President 1999-2000 and is a life member of the party. He has been a lifelong surf lifesaver and high profile advocate for the sport. He swam the Dardanelles and the Manukau Bar. He has been an active member of the international nuclear disarmament movement Mayors for Peace. He now chairs the board of Waterfront Auckland.

You never quite know with Bob what creative and/or outrageous idea he is going to come up with next. His transformation from ad man to mayor was seamless. His life has been a series of brainwaves and it is a tribute to him that quite a few of them have been turned into reality.

Waitakere, the eco-city, was one such idea. Bob and the councillors he drew around him, took a sprawling collection of neglected dormitory suburbs in Auckland’s West and over twenty years made this community proud. They invested aggressively in infrastructure and community facilities. They worked to bring jobs and urban renewal to the West. They worked with Labour in Government to protect the Waitakere Ranges from suburban sprawl. The Council worked alongside community organisations on pioneering environmental and social projects like Project Twin Streams.

But perhaps Bob’s greatest achievement was to craft a sense of identity out of the place and the people. He and the people around him made it something special to be a Westie. He did what great politicians do – he lifted people’s horizons, appealed to their better instincts, and communicated a vision of how their community could be better.

Listening to Bob speak at community events is a treat. He acknowledges the land and the place, he reaches back into history, there is a big idea or two, and he always appeals to our humanity.

On behalf of Labour, congratulations Bob on an honour well deserved.

5 Responses to “Yes Sir-ee Bob”

  1. Trevor Dagg says:

    Nice one Phil. Did you check with Helen about her views on knighthoods?

  2. bbfloyd says:

    Recognition well overdue in my opinion… If bob had been a tory, he would have been knighted years ago…

    And my, havn’t there been a lot of refugees from the whaleoil school of etiquette coming on here lately…This must be the “silly season” people told me about…

    Maybe it’s just difficult for some to grasp the reality that socialists are people too..

  3. GeoffC says:

    Well I don’t see a whole lot of merit in the so called public recognition of dames sirs etc. new Zealand honours yes old hat feudalist gongs no.
    Personally I think Helen Clark did a positive thing regarding this issue, sure these people needed public recognition but in at rely new Zealand way not a artificial status elevating one borrowed or leftover from colonial times.

  4. bbfloyd says:

    “new Zealand honours yes old hat feudalist gongs no”…Quite right Geoff…The avtions of the raiding party in reinstating the “old order” exposes a level of insecurity within the reactionary leadership that should have worried people(maybe it did, but we’re never going to hear that from “fourth estste poodles”.

    It’s ironic that the barking dogs of the tory machine deride socialists, and democrats, for “living in the past” when equitable social policy is touted by those groups, yet spend their time recreating the feudalism that served them so well CENTURIES ago….

    Hypocritical like only a tory can be…

    I stand by my comment that Bob deserves recognition though. He’s presided over the period when waitakere went from nothing, to a city in it’s own right… and did an excellent job of stewardship..

    Whether that is a pommie gong, or recognition by the future “republic” of New Zealand, his loyalty, and commitment to waitakere is beyond debate….

  5. Hagar says:

    One does not have to accept a knighthood. So bob joins Cullen, I bet that “Sir” James Bolger and “dame” Helen Clarke were offered a title and had the honesty and principle if not accepting .