Waitaki mayor Gary Kircher may or may not have a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when she visits Oamaru next month, but he does have some topics he would like to discuss with the nation’s leader.
Ms Ardern will officially open Waitaki Boys’ High School’s redeveloped science block at a ceremony at the school on April 5 as part of a lower South Island visit, which also includes Queenstown and Wanaka.
It has not been confirmed at this stage if she will add to her Oamaru itinerary.
Mr Kircher had not made a formal approach to have a meeting with Ms Arden, but said he would be “very grateful” if the opportunity to sit down with her arose.
“There’s nothing booked in at this stage, but there’s some things she probably would want to meet with us about, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Given Ms Ardern was Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and had in the past described the way Oamaru had embraced its heritage and preserved its history as “phenomenal”, Mr Kircher believed any meeting had the potential to be beneficial.
“We’ve got some stuff we want to talk about around what we’re doing here and what we want to achieve under that umbrella, so that’s certainly something, if we get time with her, we’ll cover in more detail.
“I think, for the most part, the chance to share those concerns with her would be a great opportunity.
“There’s a number of other things where we have concerns, but it may not be appropriate to talk about those directly with the prime minister – everything from tourism pressures to the census, which is a pretty topical one.”
Ms Ardern will unveil a plaque dedicated to the largest capital development at Waitaki Boys’ in more than 20 years, which Waitaki Boys’ High School rector Darryl Paterson said was “great news”.
“When thinking about how it should be opened, I flippantly said to the planning manager, ‘Why don’t we get the prime minister down here?’ We got in touch with Zelie Allan (Labour candidate for Waitaki) . . . she got back to me quite quickly and said, ‘April 5’.”
Mr Paterson said the project was 15, if not 20, years in the making and would be of huge benefit to the school’s pupils.