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I have made no secret of my admiration for the work carried out in Takapuna by the dynamic outgoing duo behind the Takapuna Beach Business Association for the past few years – Chair Dave Donaldson and GM Peter White. I don’t think I need to declare my bias. It is not a bias that comes through any long-lasting friendship, as I have met both gentlemen ‘on-the-job’ as they say. Yes, as a result of my time working with them both on the TBBA, and Pete White on the North Harbour Club Charitable Trust board as well, I have come to admire their commitment and passion for what they do. They are now valued friends. When it comes to Takapuna they have lived and breathed the place over the past few years and Takapuna is much the better for it. Many of the 'runs on the board’ that have been achieved in recent times are either a direct result of their work and influence, or hugely influenced by the work they have done in bringing people, businesses and ideas together.
Dave and Pete are not without their critics. In fact over the past couple of years a letter writer has sent me anonymous creative letters, criticising my support of them and alluding to the fact I give them too much publicity and that there are too many photos of them in this fine magazine. This is going to annoy that person then isn’t it, a piece celebrating their contribution to my home patch. And what a fantastic contribution it has been. I caught up with them at The Commons in Takapuna for a chat in late August, just a few weeks before their official retirement from TBBA duties.
AIDAN BENNETT: Dave, why did you get involved with the TBBA and become Chair?
DAVE DONALDSON: After a year on the TBBA board I was confident I could give the board some direction and place a much greater focus on the marketing intiatitives needed for the TBBA if I was the chair.
AB: Pete, what have you enjoyed most about the GM role at the TBBA?
PETER WHITE: The friendships that I have made in working with people whom are as equally passionate as I in ensuring Takapuna reaches its full potential as the outstanding destination for people to reside, work and visit.
AB: Dave, given the progress that has been made under your watch you must be thrilled with the way things are heading for Takapuna?
DD: As Chair I have been able to work with Pete, our GM, and share ideas and also to harness the talented committee that have made a valuable contribution to the direction the TBBA has headed. Pete and I have certainly worked as a team which has enabled us to connect with a whole range of people and organisations. It doesn’t happen overnight as it takes a lot of work and meetings. Many meetings.
AB: Pete, what have been the biggest achievements during your time at TBBA?
PW: To convince people from a variety of different sectors (Landlords, Politicians, Developers, Council Officers, Residents and Workers) to share our vision for Takapuna and then to watch as it develops.
AB: Dave, what have the biggest achievements been?
DD: Takapuna is the jewel in the Auckland City crown and we have to stay focused on helping customers, landlords, shop owners and businesses understand the magic of Takapuna as a metropolitan area. It has taken us some time to educate people of the fact that we must lift the bar to a new level for the good of the future of Takapuna. We are starting to see the fruits of that now with some of the quality developments starting to take place.
AB: Pete, you must be proud of the achievements?
PW: I cannot take credit, as my investment was only time and passion. It is those who have invested substantial amounts of money – both landlords and council – that should be proud of what has been achieved in the time I have been involved. However, in saying that, I am extremely happy with how Takapuna is developing and strongly believe it is set for a bright future.
AB: Dave, what has frustrated you along the way?
DD: The snail-like pace it has taken to get a strategic plan for Takapuna Beach produced, agreed to, funded, and then make sure the plan is carried out. I am used to things happening quicker so this has been frustrating for me.
AB: Pete, what people or entities have contributed to the runs you have got on the board?
PW: Landords – We are extremely lucky to have access to our major landlords (many of whom are Takapuna locals and really do want to make a difference). Dave (Donaldson) led the way with the Takapuna Beach Cafe and The Department Store; Alan Wiltshire was responsible for getting rid of the $2 shops, building the McKenzies precinct and attracting destination retail. John Copson has provided quality fit outs for the retail, commercial and hospitality sectors (including the Main Beach development); Ben Cook is bringing quality retail to Halls Corner (Madam Woo, Superette, 3 Wise Men); Bob Jones has realised the value in Takapuna and purchased three of our large office buildings with his partner David Rankin chairing the landlords Association for a number of years.
Governance – The TBBA has been extremely fortunate in having astute governance, with Kevin Schwass and Dave Donaldson, respectively, as Chairman.
Council – We are also most lucky in having a extremely capable group of planners who have had a strong interest in, and given great deal of support for Takapuna. Dave Sanders, Catherine Edmeades and John Stenberg wrote the Takapuna Strategic Plan, an outstanding document which has been, and continues to be, the blueprint of Takapuna's future development. A succession of politicians have also been most supportive of Takapuna, especially in ensuring Takapuna attained Metropolitan Centre and priority funding status.
TBBA Staff – We have had a number of extremely hard working staff who have shared the passion and devoted themselves to Takapuna (including Anna Wishart, Matthew Braithwaite, Cat Howell, Bree Williams and Amy Howell over the last few years).
AB: Dave, what is still to be achieved that will take Takapuna to the next level?
DD: Always difficult to sell the concept that every little improvement has a flow on effect. For example, scruffy signage at a doorway to a business sets a very poor example of the standard we drive for in Takapuna. I have always tried to sell the concept that we must lift the standards with everything we are doing.
AB: Pete, what has been frustrating?
PW: Nothing happens fast. There are some people who do not want to see change and although I believe that contrasting views help to bring better outcomes, Takapuna will change due to intensification. It is up to us to ensure that the best possible urban design is employed and that Takapuna has outstanding infrastructure in place to cope with this growth. Resisting change and growth is not an option.
AB: Dave, I know you are passionate about caring for our special beach?
DD: Yes, Takapuna Beach is our jewel driver and everything we can do to clean it, remove the stormwater from running over it, and protect it with a passion, is critical. No other main Auckland shopping precinct has a beach and there are not too many other urban beaches quite as special. We need to look after it.
AB: Pete, what are the key issues facing the Takapuna (BID) area from your perspective?
PW: I believe that the key issue our retailers face is moving into the digital age, developing omni channels to remain competitive with online shopping and attracting Marketshare – something that I am sure that my replacement Terry Holt will be working hard on for our members.
AB: Dave, you are excited about the future for Takapuna because….
DD: Because of quality developments like Hurstmere Green and the upgrading of Hurstmere Road that’s on its way. These have and will set a new benchmark. Upgrades have a major flow on effect and I believe building owners and shops will respond positively to this upgrade. It can only be good for Takapuna in the long run and new quality operators will also be attracted to the area. We have already seen this happening.
AB: Pete, you are excited about the future for Takapuna because….
PW: Because Takapuna is an outstanding place in a spectacular location. Intensification will bring scale which will provide vitality, sustainability and further investment. Located next to New Zealand's best urban beach, Auckland's only Lake and 10 minutes from the CBD – Takapuna offers an unparalleled lifestyle.
AB: Dave, what are you going to do now?
DD: I am having a change from Commercial Property and am currently running a Dredging Business that operates in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. Big boys toys!
AB: Pete, what are you going to do now?
PW: Semi retirement spending more time with my wife Jayne, family and grand children. I am going to continue to work with the North Harbour Rugby team (and hopefully be part of a similar renaissance as that experienced by Takapuna) and will also be working with visiting International rugby sides. Auckland Council have also spoken to me about doing some contract work.
AB: A big thanks to you both from Channel Magazine and the people of Takapuna!
Channel Magazine: Issuu 58 September 2015