Editorial: Thinking outside box never fails

The decision by Destination Manawatu to rethink Palmerston North's non-motorised Christmas parade is unquestionably the right one, but the organisation shouldn't be disheartened by its failure to win the public over.

Palmerston North is at the heart of an innovative, forward-look region. It is home to world-leading scientists, food-technologists, artists and entrepreneurs. We should never be a place that sneers at anyone trying to do something differently.

Destination Manawatu tried to create something different for the city, something that would set its event apart from the traditional parade that many people felt - quite rightly - had become stale.

The non-motorised concept was an interesting one worth exploring, but was one that was resoundingly rejected by the public. Destination, which runs the parade with the Kairanga Lions Club, took that feedback on board and this week announced a review of the event.

The outcome of that review will almost certainly see the reintroduction of motorised, more traditional floats. Organisers will be bitterly disappointed that the bold new direction in which they tried to take the parade has hit a brick wall of overwhelmingly negative public opinion, but they should be applauded for taking that feedback onboard and responding to it.

It must have been tempting to dig their toes in and hope that the public would eventually come around. They had invested a huge amount of time and energy in trying to make a new way of doing it a success, and accepting that it had failed would have been incredibly difficult. In doing so, though, Destination Manawatu has demonstrated leadership that is responsive to the will of the people, and that is all the public can ask from a civic organisation.

Thinking outside the box can never fail, no matter what the outcome. The drive to innovate, to challenge the status quo, is how we move forward as a society. This region in particular has become a haven for some of the brightest people in the world who are here because they are trying to make things better. Their efforts often go unsung, and in the case of the Palmerston North Christmas parade they are sometimes even publicly ridiculed.

That's a shame, because the organisers have nothing to be ashamed of. I received a lot of positive feedback for the editorial in Monday's paper about the death of a nurse involved in a radio hoax, which I appreciate.

Suicide is an important social issue, and it needs to be debated openly and frankly. Something to ponder, though: if that nurse had taken her life in New Zealand, the editorial I wrote would have been in breach of the Coroner's Act and the Standard could have been prosecuted and fined up to $5000.

Manawatu Standard