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Carterton Mayor has high hopes

Carterton’s newly elected Mayor is upbeat about his first few months in office

Ron Mark described the period since taking office last October as “busy”, including discussions with fellow Mayors and Deputies from across the region that were “hugely rewarding”.

He said he is optimistic the new council will be productive and hard-working: “I’m feeling positive but realistic.”

Right now, however, a great deal of Mark’s focus is on the region’s upcoming biennial signature event.

That’s because he holds another key regional role in addition to his mayoralty – that of chair of the Board of Trustees of Wings over Wairarapa, which takes flight at Hood Aerodrome next month.

Mark has previously worked as a volunteer at five air shows and expects this year’s will be better than ever, with healthy early ticket sales promising a record turnout at the event, which will feature a guaranteed, yet-to-be-announced, ‘surprise’ participant.

“The goal is to come out of the covid cloud, put on an air show and get Wings over Wairarapa – an iconic event – back for the public to enjoy,” he said.

“We are fortunate we have Sir Peter Jackson’s support and the vintage aviators. We have available to us the largest private collection of World War One fighters in the world.

“We are so privileged to have that support. You would travel the four corners of the world to see 21 WW1 fighter planes in the air,” he said.

“We are the largest and, I’m pretty confident, the most expensive event run in the lower north island.”

Mark is looking forward to the show but remains tight-lipped about the mystery entrant, although he said the surprise is “something quite special”.

Early ticket sales are promising, although full details are not available.

“Suffice it to say they are well ahead of this time in 2021,” he said, with a smile.

“Which is quite phenomenal because Wings sales have been traditionally slow right up to the last couple of weeks. That’s understandable because people generally worry about the weather and that sort of thing, but this year I think people want to get out.”

Mark said a lot of work had gone on behind the scenes, including getting sponsors, but the region was expected to benefit.

“We do know that every dollar we spend putting Wings on injects seven to eight dollars back into the local economy.”

The success at recent shows of a dedicated student day, where pupils from schools across the region attend, is expected to be replicated this year.

“What we are doing is something quite unique and quite different. What started as an idea blew out to 4,000 students in the first year and over 5,000 in the second year. Our goal is to hit that target again.”

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