Neil Holdom takes his mayoral duties seriously, but on a recent visit to Tui Ora he showed he can roll with a punch-line too. Read the story on the Stuff website here(external link) or below.
Management at the community-based health and social service providers challenged each team within its organisation to create a Christmas tree and the New Plymouth Mayor was guest judge along with kaumātua Sonny Murray.
The not-so-serious competition had a choice of three themes, New Zealand Christmas, Pick a colour, and Enviro tree. Team members were encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.
And they did, because some of the trees were out of this world but all conformed to the one unbreakable rule - no real trees could be harmed, because mother nature needed them.
"I'm really feeling the pressure today over judging some of these," Holdom said, as he and Murray compared their sweet scented wrists after sampling balms decorating Rongoā Māori coordinator Mihi Henry-Hatcher's tree.
Henry-Hatcher constructed it entirely from Maori medicines, balms, and towels she uses in her practice.
When the judges moved on to the next one they left both smelling good and impressed enough to later judge her's overall winner.
"I wanted to showcase rongoā Māori medicines," Henry-Hatcher said.
Holdom said points were awarded for creativity, originality and bonus points if they were created from scratch.
"I'm looking for one that has that X-Factor," Murray said.
Many do not associate creativity with a finance team but Tui Ora's team thought out of the box to create their tree. Holdom thought so too and awarded their massive tree the Most Creative.
Constructed from an old box, it was a spiral that hung from the ceiling, adorned with golden globes.
The crew were humble when it came to spouting about their artistic talents. "It didn't take us long at all and the construction guys doing up the other building [on site] cut it out for us," said finance team member Lyn Hoskin.
The HR team took home the runner-up prize with a New Zealand Christmas theme and instead of a subtle approach it screamed Kiwiana.
Their sandy beach scene with mini jandals in tow, had a driftwood tree decorated with plastic tiki key-rings. Incorporated into the design was a genuine Kiwi feast of mini pavs, mini savs, mini Tip Top icecream tubs and even mini whitebait fritters - bonus points perhaps, for being edible too.
Joking aside, the general consensus among the large crew was that the slightly unorthodox, but hilarious competition, was an opportunity for the mayor to see what they were all about and bring the team members from the various services closer together.
"I had been here before, but I never realised how huge this place is, or all the services they offer," Holdom said. "It's been an absolute ball."