I don’t do grey – it’s black and white – that’s me.

But, for better or worse, and as I get older, and apparently wiser, I start seeing more grey … not in my hair(!), but in the advantages this dull and dreary colour has to getting the outcome one desires.

Politics should be black and white – vote for me and this will happen – vote for us and we will lead you left or right.But as we know, politics, and life, has more grey – you move a little my way and I will move a little closer and we start mixing our colours to get what we want.  Why..? Because in power you need to win popular support, so you make concessions and more people come with you.

In Hawke’s Bay we are Black and White, and yet there still seems a genuine reluctance particularly from the leaders of the HB Regional Council and Napier City Council to – dare I say it – amalgamate into one regional authority.

That’s unless it actually is the Regional Council (supporting Alan Dick and the survival of his ship), or as Barbara puts it: “if that’s what the people of ‘Napier’ want”.

Black and White are our Hawke’s Bay colours and they are also our greatest asset. As a potential regional brand identity we are the envy of every other province – yet we are still to capitalise on it.

Hawke’s Bay is the only province in the country that can wear our national colours – black and white – the colours of our sporting heroes –  the All Blacks, Silver Ferns, Black Sticks, cyclists, runners, rowers and the All Whites (and if you didn’t already realise white is the new black, that’s what my daughters are telling me!).

In Hawke’s Bay it’s Black and White all right! We have an untapped advantage over every other province in the country. And with due respect to our national “Kiwi” icon, we’ve even got a bird that flies along with its reputation for showing a bit of mongrel – an added advantage which has apparently been lost from our kiwi psyche .

In 2010, we will see an uprising of black and white jerseys, who will abandon the parochialism that comes from the small minds of the few who keep harping on about the “great divide” between Napier and Hastings.

The identity and history of Hastings and Napier will always continue. Competition is good – it breeds winners (that’s the mongrel in our magpie). Napier and Hastings are two unique cities with many great attributes and these will never change. But we need to think big and aim high as a region – it’s called growth and with growth there comes more opportunity, investment, innovation and economic prosperity.

In 2010 I see black and white flags flying across the region and we’ll be chanting and playing “Come on the Bay” in our streets, in our schools, in our homes and at the game.

Lawrence Yule, the amalgamation “cheerleader”, will publicly push forward. But his black and white jersey will unfortunately show signs of grey as he is forced to negotiate with other players – to win amalgamation at all cost.

On the other side of the bridge there’s Barbara Arnott (and Alan Dick) – dressed in Art Deco garb, not looking at the Hawke’s Bay colours of the future for fear of losing “Napier”.  But Barbara, you’re bigger than that, and so too is the groundswell of people forming in your city who can see a bigger and brighter regional future.

In all teams there are rising stars. The next generation of leaders coming through, who will begin vying for position. So guys, watch your backs because you’re only as good as your last game.

And for the brave, bold player who steps up and stands in Napier supporting amalgamation, they will win the Black and White captaincy.  For this will demonstrate great leadership, a willingness to go where no man – or woman, has been before – and what a campaign win it would be!

Ultimately it will be the crowd of supporters – the voters – who determine who gets to choose the colour of the jersey they wear – grey, pink and purple, art deco … or Black and White.

Touch, pause and engage!  I reckon the people of  Napier and Hastings are ready to pull on the Hawke’s Bay jersey.

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