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New Zealand city makes 5 year-old Mayor for a day


New Zealand city makes 5 year-old Mayor for a day

An adorable 5 year-old boy from Rotorua was today bestowed an unprecedented honour by his resident city - to be Mayor for a day.

Jack Thompson received the offer from incumbent Rotorua District Council Mayor Grahame Hall at an afternoon event to mark the launch of a new Rotorua advertising campaign, in which Jack stars.

The advertising campaign is based on the adventures of a little boy called Walter (played by Jack) who discovers just what makes Rotorua a destination worth visiting. Walter experiences everything you can do in Rotorua and he is buoyed along by Rotorua's unique 'manaakitanga' (spirit of hospitality, blessing).

Rotorua Mayor Grahame Hall says Jack is a worthy recipient of this unusual gift.

"I am delighted to offer Jack the honour of being Mayor for a day, in recognition of the enthusiasm and hard work he underwent during the production of the television commercials to promote our region. He is about to become the 'face of Rotorua' and will help people from all over New Zealand to see our city's attractions through fresh eyes.

"Jack's irrepressible nature and sense of discovery is clearly evident in the advertisements, and in his approach to everyday life. I believe he, with the support of his parents, will enjoy the opportunity to be Mayor for a day and see his city from yet

another perspective," says His Worship, the Mayor.

Mayor Grahame Hall said he wanted to talk to Jack about what he would like to do but he thought that with Jack's promotional bent he might ask Jack to help with waving the chequered flag at the start of the Hella Battery Town Rally of Rotorua in July. This is a major event on the international rally circuit and is contested over seven rounds throughout the Asia Pacific region.

"Who knows, we might even make a trip to Wellington and talk to the Minister of Tourism about Rotorua's plans for tourism. There has been significant investment going into destination Rotorua and there are some exciting developments in our plans. Domestic tourism is a vital part of our visitor industry and we want to make sure that it is encouraged," His Worship, the Mayor said.

When Jack was told about the opportunity he said that he wanted a little bit of time to think about what he would do. He said that he would make a list of things that he would like to do after he had talked to his school friends, his brother Ben, his mother and father and his grandparents.

"One thing I will do is check the playgrounds around Rotorua to see if they are all okay for kids to play on," said Jack.

On the idea of a trip to Wellington to tell people all about Rotorua, Jack said he thought that would be good because "you can have a lot of fun here."

Rotorua is a key tourism destination in New Zealand, both for international and domestic tourists. In 2002 Rotorua attracted 1.8 million international and domestic visitors.

Don Gunn, General Manager of Tourism Rotorua, says the campaign is designed to increase top of mind awareness of Rotorua as one of New Zealand's most diverse and exciting visitor destinations.

"There has been huge investment in Rotorua's visitor offering in recent years and there are a wide range of leisure activities to suit all sizes of pockets.

"From beautiful bushwalks and fishing to action and excitement and some superb insights into New Zealand culture and heritage. There is also a great range of accommodation from luxury lakeside lodges to award winning backpacker accommodation. Come and check it out for yourself," says Mr Gunn. "Walter's enthusiastic about our destination and so are we!"

Five year-old Rotorua schoolboy Jack Thompson was selected from a talent search of over 80 Rotorua youngsters to play the lead role as 'Walter' in the advertisements.

He will be able to redeem the 'Mayor for a day' offer at any point in the next few months - preferably when there are no long Council meetings scheduled!

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