Council won’t pay for statue: mayor

What a possible statue in Invercargill to honour former mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt could look like....
What a possible statue in Invercargill to honour former mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt could look like. IMAGE/PHOTO: ODT FILES
A taxpayers' group says if Sir Tim Shadbolt wants a statue of himself in Invercargill, he should fund it.

Since the former mayor of Invercargill ended his mayoral duties of 24 years last year, there have been discussions across the community about a potential tribute to his work and contribution.

Sir Tim’s partner Asha Dutt said the couple received a call from Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark in February proposing to name the Gala Street Reserve after him and host an afternoon tea.

They did not think it was appropriate because the reserve had a war memorial on it, she said.

Later, deputy mayor Tom Campbell offered to put a plaque on the Gala St fountain, or rename Splash Palace after Sir Tim, but both were declined because Sir Tim had no association with them.

"I , verbally, asked both Nobby and Tom to consider the option of a statue. Both firmly rejected the suggestion," Ms Dutt said.

"Nobby stated statues were solely for dead people and rejected the idea, stating that he considered costing for a statue would be $90,000 and this was unsuitable to him."

The council at no time asked them for real input, but rather offered what Mr Clark thought was suitable, Ms Dutt said.

"The options offered all seem to involve the least-cost scenario without any regard for Tim’s actual achievements and involvements in his near three decades of mayoralty."

Mr Clark said he and Cr Campbell tried to connect with a third party to ensure Sir Tim had an appropriate homage.

However, everything offered was refused.

"Asha, on behalf of Tim, has made absolutely crystal clear [that] she does not want to negotiate with me and I accept that as we had some difficulty last term, but Tom is one of the most facilitating [people] I have ever come across. He tried and has not got any traction with her either.

"Tim and his partner are not going to dictate to the council what they do or what they don’t have — we’re open to suggestions, but there is a cost that comes into it."

While he did not oppose a statue of Sir Tim, he did not think the council should spend the money alone.

"If somebody was to come to me and say, ‘look, we’ve got the funding, and we’re commissioning the statute,’ I’d be delighted with it.

"I wouldn’t be opposed to the council contributing some towards it, but we’re certainly not spending that sort of level of money — I could think of better things to do with it."

Taxpayers’ Union campaigns manager Callum Purves said it was opposed to ratepayers’ money being used on a statue.

"It beggars belief that Tim Shadbolt thinks this is an appropriate use of Invercargill residents’ money, especially considering that the public have already had to pay for his enormous ratepayer-funded mayoral portrait.

"If Mr Shadbolt would like a statue of himself, he is more than welcome to fundraise for one privately."

Through a statement, Sir Tim said the group had never been neutral.

"I’d be more interested to hear ideas from the Invercargill community as to how a tribute could also serve as a drawcard."