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Negativity grinds Kiwis down

22 November 2007

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says he now appreciates how difficult it is for New Zealand sports teams to succeed given the constant negativity they face.

"I think as a nation we are in danger of becoming a people who are addicted to negativity," he says. "No wonder people are leaving the country for more positive environs. They are tired of waking up day after day to more negative commentary. It’s time to throw open the shutters of our minds and let the sun shine in. This is a great country and kiwis have every reason to feel positive. If we think negative we will get negative, if we think positive, things might must turn out ok. Let’s celebrate achievement and not imagine failure.

"This week I’ve seen examples of that negativity first hand. We’ve secured some great events for Christchurch with the Ellerslie Flower Show and then last night headed off Barcelona to win the rights to host the IPC World Athletics championships. Tonight I am announcing we are bringing yet another event to Christchurch," Mr Parker says.

"It’s a great week for the city and the man of the street is telling us that. I was walking to work and the milkman pulled over and shook my hand bubbling with how great he felt that we were bringing these events to Christchurch. Other councillors are getting that same response. A web poll run by The Press in Christchurch showed that 75 per cent of respondents were positive about the Ellerslie Flower Show coming to Christchurch.

"That’s the feedback that’s important and totally at odds with the current streak of grey pessimism, fuelled by an apparent addiction to negativity that prevails in this country.

"We have won on so many fronts, not only with events, but with the Council’s treasury, Christchurch City Holdings recording a 24% increase in profits. Yet many of interviews I have fronted this week have downplayed the positives and focussed on how we can’t succeed.

"Much of the negativity has been around the cost to the city. When I was elected I told Christchurch people this Council is committed to bring rates down to a sustainable level of around 5 per cent. I stand by that commitment and also the promise I made to continue to take this city forward. Central Government figures estimate the IPC games will bring in $75 million, while the Flower Show is anticipated to bring in over $12 million per annum to the Christchurch economy, without the other benefits of marketing the garden city.

"I now understand that the huge pressure that New Zealand sportspeople face. Even before they kick the first ball they are under the hammer. They go out there, give their best and they are criticised whether they win or lose," Mr Parker says

"It’s a glass half-empty, not half full mentality that prevails in this country. If New Zealand really wants to succeed we need to shift from our negative psyche."

Mr Parker says there is a disconnect between how the real people in this country feel and how that is portrayed in the media.

"The media told us the All Blacks would face a hostile reception when they returned from the World Cup. How wrong. In Christchurch thousands turned out to give them a rousing welcome home and that day and given that response I felt so proud to be a Cantabrian," he says.

"As a country we need to celebrate the good and stop being our own worst enemy.

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