I had the pleasure of sitting in with Mountain Scene veteran news hound Philip ‘Scoop’ Chandler during an interview with new Tourism Industry Association boss Martin Snedden recently.
Snedden comes into the role fresh from his successful steering of last year’s New Zealand-hosted Rugby World Cup, which he says part-inspired him to go for the TIA job.
This is a guy who believes tourism is important not just to NZ’s economy and profile but it’s actually the reason many smaller towns exist.
Now he just needs to convince some Members of Parliament and Wellington policy wonks that that’s the case.
Snedden pointed out one of his priorities is to construct the case for tourism to be seen as a very important plank to the future growth and prosperity of the nation, given recent criticism of it as just a low-wage sector that’s detrimental to NZ improving its living standards.
The former international cricketer appears to be a savvy, hard-working man of action who’s unencumbered by woolly thinking – and if anyone can sheet an argument home, it’ll be him.
No doubt one person he probably doesn’t have to convince of tourism’s value is Prime Minister John Key, who is also the Tourism Minister.
Key has our back when it comes to that portfolio which is why he’s always keen to come down at opportune moments to present medals at the Winter Games, open Winter Festival and take part in the NZ PGA Pro-Am Championship of golf (although, a trip to paradise for any of those events is hardly a chore).
I’ve lost count of the number of tourism industry insiders who’ve told me it’s a major advantage to the sector having the PM in that portfolio.
Speaking of top people in Queenstown-related roles, don’t expect to wait too long before Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley makes his presence felt.
I did mercilessly take the michael out of him on this page last week, but to his credit it didn’t prevent him coming into the Mountain Scene offices for an informal meet-and-greet with the editorial team this week.
The former Serious Fraud Office boss and man behind Eden Park’s pre-Rugby World Cup redevelopment comes across as someone who is keen to get under the skin of the community, find out what makes it tick and ensure council is performing in such a way that the place ticks even better.
Back when it was announced he’d got the job, Feeley did tell Mountain Scene that Queenstown shouldn’t expect a steady-state kind of guy, so it could get interesting.
As always, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but whatever the results, I don’t expect we’ll see Feeley faffing about behind his desk doing nothing too much during the coming year.
Certainly well-regarded local lawyer and businessman Mike Holloway – whose funeral I attended last Friday – wasn’t one for faffing.
Holloway packed an incredible amount into his 62 years on the planet, and did it with plenty of attitude, being described by one of his nine offspring as a “glass full to the top” kind of guy – who, if it were possible, would most likely dive into that glass and swim naked.
At times during the many colourful stories told at the packed service at City Impact Church I found myself marvelling at how he fitted it all in – boating, tramping, all those children, plenty of parties and celebration, a professional law career of 25 years, and a new business to boot.
I always enjoyed running into him – he invariably had a strong, unique opinion on whatever might have been in the paper recently.
I can still remember him once telling me with gusto, after an editorial I’d written slating party pills: “Keen, you’re mainlining – you’re actually writing what a lot of people are thinking,” and then slapping me on the back before racing off to do whatever he was in the middle of at the time.
That’s the thing about Mike, as his wife Jenni McBride remarked to me at his wake in Prime afterwards – he was always doing something.
One of Queenstown’s genuinely good guys who sucked the marrow out of life. Rest his soul.