It's the little things that count for Lawrey

02:54, Dec 12 2013
Matt Lawrey
MANY PARTS: Matt Lawrey with his new book The Little Things - more sanity-savers for mums and dads, and his Nelson City Councillor badge.

Former Nelson Leader reporter and current movie critic, sometime broadcaster, family man and co-originator of The Little Things cartoon, Matt Lawrey has never seemed one to sit back and wait for things to happen.

Just weeks after leaving the Leader he was elected, as second highest polling candidate, for a place on the Nelson City Council.

Around the same time, the second publication of the cartoons he co-creates with Nelson illustrator Peter Lole was launched. The Little Things - launched in the Nelson Mail in 2010 - is now published in newspapers around New Zealand and also in Australia, and More Little Things, a Craig Potton Publishing mini-book, has arrived on time as a Christmas stocking-stuffer.

The Leader managed to take over two minutes of Matt's busy schedule.

What's your time management formula and is it something you could patent?

There are two reasons I've been able to do so many different things; the first is that I haven't had a fulltime job since 2001 and the second is that my wife and I bought a cheap house. Not having somewhere to go 40 hours a week and not having a big mortgage buys you a lot of freedom. I also do quite a bit of work at night when Tania and the boys are asleep. It's not a formula you can patent but it works for me.


Do you ever get quiet "you"' time and if so how would you spend it?

The places I get the most time on my own are when I'm at the movies, I tend to see films on my own, when I'm doing lengths at Riverside Pool and when I'm on my bike. I find all three do wonders for my mental health.

How many publications now take The Little Things and do you see it cracking further overseas markets?

Our cartoon now appears in 14 titles. We've had interest from more papers in Australia and one in the UK as well as a Scandinavian syndication firm, so there is a lot of potential out there. The trick is getting editors to commit and that's not easy in these challenging times.

What do you love most about Nelson, what do you most dislike, and what is the one thing you'd change if you had that power?

The thing I love most about Nelson is that, generally speaking, it's a kind, beautiful and creative place with a lot of heart. If I had to pick something I dislike it would be the fact that some people seem determined to make it just like everywhere else.

There is also a strain of snobbery running through this town that is a bit of a joke.

If there was one thing I could change, it would be undoing the damage we've done to the stunning environment that gives us life, especially Tasman Bay. I'd also bring an end to the way the urban area is spreading out over the landscape that gives us food and in many ways defines our region.

If we keep going out we'll kill the golden goose. We need more people living in town. It's time to go up.

What do you see yourself doing five years from now?

Hopefully I'll still be a Nelson City Councillor. So far I'm loving the work and I'd like to make a real contribution at that level. I'd also love to see The Little Things become an internationally recognised cartoon and hopefully I'll still be spending heaps of time with my family.

Favourite movie so far this year?

It's a tie between Gravity, because it was an awesome cinematic experience, and Prisoners because, while it was gruelling, it really got under my skin.

It's the only movie this year that has stopped me from getting a good night's sleep.

Do you have a favourite TV show?

We hardly ever watch TV in our house. One show I have totally fallen head-over-heels in love with, though, is Borgen. It's a wonderful series from Denmark set in the worlds of politics and the media. It is so good! I'm also a huge fan of Homeland but TV3 stuffed that up by losing the rights to it.

What's something about you that hardly anyone would know?

Once, when I was a teenager, I went to a drag party all dressed up in my very stylish mother's clothes, with make-up, stockings, jewellery and high heels on. I thought people would think it was really funny but a lot of them thought I was an actual girl. To make matter worse, the party got gate-crashed by a bunch of thugs, a couple of whom thought I looked damn fine and tried picking me up.

How has your first month or so on the council gone and what do you hope to achieve?

There is a fair bit to get your head around but most of it's interesting and all of it is relevant to the future of Nelson. The politics side of it is fascinating. Figuring out where people are coming from, what they're about and what they want is a big part of the job and one I really enjoy.

One particular highlight was a three-hour session at the pub on a Saturday afternoon with councillor Eric Davy. It may surprise some of your readers to know that we got on like a house on fire.

As far as what I hope to achieve goes, you learn pretty fast that you can't do anything around the council table by yourself. If three years from now people feel that this council has served them well and that city is moving forward, I'll be a happy man.