The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 55
The Grey River Argus, — Published Daily
The Grey River Argus,
The applause which last night greeted Mr Kennedy's announcement that he would withdraw his notice of resignation may be accepted as the strongest possible evidence that the board would be very loth to lose his services on she board, and that the public are of opinion that he is the right man in the right place. For it must be remembered that the applause was not confined to the members of the board, but also burst spontaneously from the townspeople present, and there was a goodly number of them. Although Mr Kennedy made a brief statement as to the reasons which actuated him to reverse the decision he arrived at on the Tuesday previous, he made no reference to the attitude he will assume towards the board in future. If he intends to claim the powers that on Tuesday last he considered necessary to be reposed in the chairman, then the omission of all reference as to the future relations between the board and their chairman may lead to further jarring, and that in all probability very speedily. If, however, Mr Kennedy means to fall back on the line of conduct in his capacity as chairman that he laid down for himself in his inauguratory speech, then it was wholly unnecessary that he should make any reference to what transpired at the meeting he tendered his resignation. There may be a tacit understanding between the chairman and the board on this point, but if anything of the kind has taken place the public do not know it, and have had no opportunity of knowing it. It will be seen, however that the point is a most important one, and on it to a great extent must necessarily depend the success or failure on the board's administration. When Mr Kennedy assumed the chairmanship he stated his view of what should be the duties and position of Chairman. The substance of it was that he considered he was the servant and mouthpiece of the board, to regulate the conduct of business at their meetings, and see that their wishes were given effect to; but not to exercise an independent executive authority except in such small matters that no objection would be taken. These are not the words that he used on the occasion, but they fairly represent the spirit of his remarks. It was a proper and constitutional view to take of the position, and if it had been strictly adhered to there would have been no hitch between the Chairman and the board, and no earthly necessity for resignation on his part or a unanimous wish-from them that he should reconsider his decision, which, when translated according to the ethics of every-day life means petulant wilfullness on the one side and dependence and want of moral fibre on the other. Unfortunately the position taken up by Mr Kennedy when inducted into the office of chairman was reversed after a short experience with his coadjutors in the practical work of administration. They appeared not to be up to his business mark, as he expressed dissatisfaction at the way it was proposed to carry on the business of the board. It seemed to him that there should be more flexibility in the administrative machine. It wanted an intermediate power between the board and its head officer, the engineer—a sort of universal joint, as it were, to use a mechanical term—and the chairman he considered was the proper and only person to act in that capacity. On this point the board were not unanimous. The action of the Chairman on his return from Wellington was not calculated to put the board in an easy frame of mind. For while they were prepared to place more power in his hands than probably any Chairman of any other local body is usually entrusted with, they were not prepared altogether to become cyphers by voluntarily yielding up to their own appointee the functions with which they had been entrusted by the power that appointed them. They were prepared to go a great way, further perhaps than is usual in such cases, on account of their confidence in the Chairman; but there is always a limit that even the most subservient member dare not pass if he has any respect for the dignity of the position he holds. It goes without saying that all things considered Mr Kennedy is the fittest man on the board to occupy the chair. The large interest he possesses in the port and its trade, his wide business experience and remarkable energy, all page break point to him as the the most suitable man for the position; but the other members of the board are not without a deep interest in the place, nor entirely without
knowledge and experience, and they, too, have a desire to do their best to promote the welfare of the place, so that those they leave after them may not be driven elsewhere to seek a living; consequently their endeavors will not be less earnest than those of the Chairman. It is unnecessary to dwell at any length on this little epsiode in the initiatory stage of the board's existence. Nobody is any the worse for it. Like a thunderstorm, it has cleared the air, and business will probably progress more smoothly in future. The Chairman may rest assured that he is not likely to feel any irritating restraint while he recognises the superior power of the board, and the members of the board, on the other hand, will be inspired with greater confidence in the chairman.page break
The Rev. Mr Dodds, who preached at All Saints' Church last evening, took for his text the following passage from the Book of Kings:—"And this thing became sin into the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth " In the course of his sermon the preacher made the following remarks:—"I do not like to refer to politics from the pulpit, but I cannot help recording my conviction that the state of government that we have come to is a very bad omen for the future of this country. Look where you will, where will you find another instance of a Christian nation daring to place at the head of affairs one who professes to ignore the Christian God altogether? Bad men of all sorts the world has seen without number, no doubt, entrusted with the reins of government; but to prefer to such a position of trust one whose boast is his infidelity to his God and his denial of his Saviour is a step at any rate not towards national honor and prosperity."