By Roger Childs
What an extraordinary journey! The last six years have been absolutely outstanding. Jenny Rowan
Supporters gather to farewell the former mayor
The gathering comprised a diverse group of people — from children to the elderly; former and present councillors; leaders of community groups and organisations; and family and friends.
They all shared a common respect for the former mayor and the contribution that Jenny Rowan, and her wife, Jools Josslyn, have made to the Kapiti District over the last six years.
A positive and enjoyable evening
Although there was obvious disappointment about the outcome of the election, this was not a session about recriminations and analysis of what went wrong.
Rather, the emphasis was on celebrating achievement and community action.
After the well-wishers had gathered, the proceedings got off to a noisy and exhilarating start, as young Taiko Drummers performed with great skill and precision. The group are a favourite of the former mayor and she was delighted with the vigorous display – especially an item composed in her honour.
Accentuate the positive
There were ten speakers representing different groups and interests who had worked with Jenny Rowan and the Council in recent years. All spoke of her legendary hard work, commitment, energy, involvement with a huge range of people and groups, and her devotion to the interests of the wider Kapiti community.
- Te Waari Carkeek spoke of the former mayor’s work with local Maori groups. It’s been a privilege to work with Jenny,he said. The mayor was well known for her knowledge of Maori protocol and beliefs, and her respect for the Kapiti tangata whenua.
- Allie Webber has a close association with Jenny Rowan through the Kapiti US Marines trust and other local groups and ventures. She said, Jenny is the consummate community person.
- Local historian Anthony Dreaver talked about Jenny Rowan’s role in getting the Paekakariki Station Museum up and running, and her place in the overall development of the Kapiti Coast… the whole place has been uplifted; she’s been good for the history of this district.
- Chair of the Kapiti Aquatic Centre Trust, Neil Mackay, spoke of the crucial role the former mayor had played in bringing the state of the art facility to fruition: The Aquatic Centre is a testament to your leadership.
- Max Lutz from the Friends of the Otaki River commented on Jenny Rowan’s enthusiastic commitment to improved access along the river banks, notably the Chrystalls Bend development and the bridge over the river close to the beach. She helped us get things done.
- Otaki Councillor Penny Gaylor spoke warmly of the former mayor’s commitment to progress in Otaki and the wider district, and her role in assisting Penny in her position as a new councillor. Nobody could have loved Kapiti more than Jenny.
- Grey Power’s Betty van Gaalen emphasized Jenny Rowan’s concern for the natural world of Kapiti. …you have supported the environmental sustainability of the District, untiringly, unfailingly…
- Jacob Barker, Head Student of Paraparaumu College, talked about the former mayor’s empathy with the young people of the district and support for the Youth Council. She embraced all of the community and never forgot the future generation.
- Teenager Kendra spoke from the heart about her fear of meeting the mayor, but how contact with Jenny Rowan turned her life around. Next year she will be off to university. She took the time to get to know me. I would not be where I am today without Jenny.
- Pak’n Save’s Glen Taylor commented on the former mayor’s wide involvement with a diverse range of Kapiti enterprises and groups. … a great record of building strong relationships with the community.
The former mayor speaks
Jenny Rowan showed no bitterness when she spoke to the attentive audience. She said she was OK and had taken the election defeat in her stride. However, she did concede that she didn’t sleep well after hearing the result and that she and Jools drove round the district at 3 o’clock in the morning!
She acknowledged the district’s Maori heritage and its spiritual essence and most of her speech was about other people. This evening is a celebration of everyone in this room. What a privilege it’s been to work with you.
She spoke of the teamwork and collaboration of people and groups in building a resilient community. The role of the 2010-2013 Council was the highlight for her and she praised the achievements of the councillors in taking some tough decisions which will, in her view, stand the Kapiti Community in good stead.
She acknowledged the support she had received from many people, especially Jools, Allie and her family who she proudly introduced.
Will her story be told for posterity? She said: I will write a book sometime, but a lot of people will have to die first!