Park bench a parting gift for councillor

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 18/09/2013
Retiring councillors, from left, Norman Elder, Thelma Buck and Carolyn Dean
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ
WINDING DOWN: Retiring councillors, from left, Norman Elder, Thelma Buck and Carolyn Dean relax on the park bench presented to Cr Buck for her service on the council.

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A park bench in a cemetery - it's not a typical retirement gift, but it's exactly what councillor Thelma Buck requested.

Invercargill City Council tradition dictates retiring councillors receive a gift for their service, but Cr Buck, stepping down after 21 years on the council, said she could not decide what to ask for.

"I've got a house full of junk now - I don't need anything else. There's too many ratepayers out on the street who are finding it difficult and I certainly don't want that on my conscience."

So, when visiting Eastern Cemetery recently, she saw a family with young children sitting on wet grass and decided to request a park bench as her leaving gift.

There was hardly any seating in the cemetery grounds, which made it difficult for people to grieve or reflect, she said. "People just don't want to go and put down flowers and walk away."

Cr Buck was presented with the bench, carefully manouevred into council chambers for the occasion, before the full council meeting yesterday.

She was earlier told the park bench should last for 100 years.

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said Cr Buck had been controversial but never deceitful during her time on the council.

"Although we've had disagreements from time to time, it's always said to your face."

Fellow outgoing councillors Norman Elder and Carolyn Dean were to be presented with their gifts at a council function following the meeting last night.

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- The Southland Times

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