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Methodist mayor’s to-do list includes arts centre, energy efficiency, affordable housing

By Katherine Armon

In October the citizens of Nelson welcomed their new mayor, Kerry Marshall, and his team to office.

The Marshall family has deep roots within the Methodist Church, and spirituality and faith play a strong part in Kerry’s life at home and in the workplace.

Nelson Mayor Kerry Marshall

“I believe the Christian principles are as good as you get and are still my guide. I find my spirituality in the natural environment – be it bush, mountain, beach or river,” Kerry says.

Originally a teacher, Kerry’s career has led him down many different paths. He was awarded an MBE in 1990 for his services to local government and he has received Nelson’s outstanding citizen of the year award. Kerry says he intends to bring lots of energy and insights to the mayor’s office.

“I have a wonderful team of councilors and we intend to make a difference. There are things to be done and there is an expectation that we will get on with the job and do them.

“Nelson needs a performing arts centre. We need to be a sustainable, energy-wise city. We want to build on our arts and cultural heritage, and we need a buoyant economy and affordable housing. Most importantly we want Nelson to be a safe and a wonderful place to live, work and play.

“I know local government from top to bottom and I have remarkable networks of wonderful people who will help me in my role. I see my role as the conductor of the orchestra, the captain of the boat or the kaumatua of the team. I am a broker and a facilitator and I work by consensus.”

Kerry says local government affects us all on a daily basis. It provides a suite of services from libraries to refuse collection, from water supplies to cycle ways, from affordable housing to civic events.

“You can’t escape it, so we need to take an active interest in it and be involved one way or another. Nelson city’s social, cultural, economic and environmental issues are not too dissimilar. The devil of course is in the detail and the emphases. Some of our key issues are affordable housing, provision of civic amenities, sunshine wages, safety, public transport and being a sustainable city.”

Not only is Kerry experienced in local government he runs his own business. The Kerry Marshall Company delivers consultancy in leadership, management, facilitation, administration, communication and public relations. He sits on numerous boards and he regularly appears in theatres and debates on radio.

On the subject of where the church fits into our modern times, Kerry comments that churches’ roles have changed.

“In my early days they were community centers of a sort; it wasn’t just going to church on Sunday but there was a menu of social activities that revolved around the church environment. In my father’s day they had a Wesley basketball team and on the church grounds was a small gymnasium.

“I see a revival of that model in the new life churches whereas the traditional churches appear to be struggling to compete in that area. The numbers attending church continue to decline but their social welfare contribution is still huge. Churches still have a role in supporting community – nobody else does it as well. After all our society is built on Christian values and it needs some massaging.”

Family also plays a great role in Kerry’s life.

“I believe in family and Whanau at three levels – firstly my immediate family. My two children have recently returned from Europe and our daughter is living with us in our family home with her partner and our two grandchildren. Secondly our extended family, we have had the odd family reunion and my brother Russell is a key encourager. My third family is my friends and acquaintances and the wider community.”

Kerry talks with passion about his new role as mayor of Nelson “I am energized by my new position and responsibilities. Being the mayor of a great city that has a wonderful history and heritage is a real honour.”

In September Nelson will celebrate its 150th anniversary as a city. Kerry is having discussion about to best celebrate the milestone.