OUTGOING Opotiki Mayor John Forbes extends his thanks to colleagues and community. Photo Sven Carlsson OS0153-12

MAYOR John Forbes was farewelled last week, after 33 years of service to the Opotiki District Council including 18 years as mayor.

Surrounded by friends, colleagues past and present, and his wife, Robyn, Mr Forbes’ work in the community was acknowledged on Friday.

Those invited to the farewell were treated to refreshments while stories were recalled, the future was discussed, and laughter was shared.

Council works manager Ian Castles gave one of the first stories of the evening, recalling a flooding incident when he first began work at the council.

Over the tale, Mr Castles explained that Mr Forbes had remained calm and collected throughout the flood, despite staff becoming alarmed.

Mr Castles said staff had stayed calm as well after seeing Mr Forbes’ demeanour.

However, Mr Castles’ main point was that following the resolution of the flooding, Mr Forbes had redirected community praise to staff.

“He pointed at staff and said, ‘they’re the ones who did the work’,” said Mr Castles.

Many stories like that followed over the evening, with a common theme of congratulations to Mr Forbes for his work in and as an advocate for the community.

Mr and Mrs Forbes were then gifted a few items on behalf of the council, including a sizeable greenstone necklace and woven bag.

The Whakatohea Maori Trust Board also gifted the pair a carved wooden statue and flowers.

Following the speeches from attendees, Mr Forbes took the floor to extend his own thanks to his colleagues and community over the years.

“It has been my privilege to have worked with this community,” he said.

“The pleasure has been mine.”

A final round of applause signalled the end of the ceremonies, with attendees mixing and mingling over finger foods and drinks.