He’s the first person to reveal he will run for Marlborough District Council in the upcoming elections. The new kid on the council block explains to Paula Hulburt why he’s so keen to cut his teeth in the September local elections.
Matt Flight is stopped several times by people he knows. A smile and a chat and he’s on his way again, but only briefly before another voice rings out in recognition.
It’s encounters like these while out and about in town that makes Blenheim such a great community says the town’s first new council candidate to announce he is running for election.
But there is, he feels, room for some improvement.
At 43-years-old the father-of-two has revealed his intention to run for council.
It has not, he says, been a snap decision.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while now but wanted to do my research first.
“I spoke to friends Trevor Hook and Terry Sloan who are of course councillors. I wanted to make sure I could devote the time necessary to do this properly.
“While there’s no true means of really finding out how much time the council demands, I have a good understanding of what’s involved,” he says.
Married to wife Dallas Flight, with children Logan, 11, and Eli, 7, Matt has lived in Blenheim for 18 years after moving from Manawatu.
The town is “one hundred per cent home,” to the family who are woven into the fabric of everyday life in the community.
Microbiologist Dallas has worked at the lab in Wairau Hospital for 15 years and the couple’s children were both born there.
Helping shape the future of a town that means so much to him has been a major factor in driving his decision to stand.
“I wouldn’t consider any other towns as great as here.
“It really is such a nice area; nowhere else in New Zealand can you go just 20 minutes down the road and find such a vast array; from the sounds to the vineyards and wine, it’s all here.
“It’s very much part of who we are.”
Employment, ensuring the town’s growing elderly population are less isolated, a better bus service and encouraging younger people to live and work in the region are top of Matt’s priority list.
He believes he might well be the “missing puzzle piece” that council needs.
“It seems to me that councillors are each like a piece of a puzzle that seems to slot well together under John’s [Marlborough Mayor] leadership,” he says.
“Some younger blood would help too, mix it up a bit and bring a different perspective to the table”.
The up-and-coming councillor hopes to bring the benefit of his experience in a variety of roles to the curved desk that takes pride of place in Marlborough District Council chambers.
Apart from coaching junior rugby, soccer, basketball and hockey, Matt is also a former DJ and vice president of Central Rugby Club.
“I seem to put my hand up for all sorts of stuff, mainly because I enjoy it.
“Becoming a councillor is another way I can assist; another chance to help,” he says.
As his thoughts turn to campaigning, Matt is already vlogging about his candidacy and the journey he hopes will see him elected.
His role as contract manager for building construction business Switched On is, and will remain, important to him he says.
Responsible for the building maintenance of 450 Housing New Zealand properties in Marlborough, Matt is determined his skills make a positive difference.
Skills, he says, that are transferable to council.
“I come from a big trade background and have the ability to see things from a front-line perspective.
“I can see how to make decisions that will see the nail hammered straight in when that’s needed, not a scenario where you work around it,” he says.
“I want to see things get done that need to be done. I’m not afraid to get stuck in and do what needs to be done”.
And the energetic manager already has three votes he can count own
“When I spoke to my employers about my plans it was a bit nail-biting, but they were quite chuffed that I wanted to run.
“Of course, Dallas has been very supportive too, I couldn’t do this without her.
“The future’s wide open but as long as there’s my family, my kids and the area which I love, I’ll always give 100 per cent effort.”