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Bruce McLaren grows as a symbol of can-do Kiwi

20 January 2007

Bruce McLaren grows as a symbol of can-do Kiwi

Cabinet minister and Progressive Party leader, Jim Anderton was at the A1 Grand Prix event at Taupo today as a part of the team announcing the proposed film on the life of Bruce McLaren.

"One of the privileges of my job is to talk to people all over New Zealand and see their creative potential. If I can inspire creativity and ambition in New Zealanders, then I can make a difference," Jim Anderton said at the press conference.

"A story I have told countless times and one which never fails to inspire is about a boy in my class at high school. The school was Seddon Memorial Technical College (now Western Springs College) in Auckland and it wasn't a glamorous high school, nor one with many advantages in those times. The boy in the story is Bruce McLaren.

"Bruce McLaren decided to enter a hill climb race up Mt Eden. Bruce was always tinkering with cars in his father's garage. He was just a school kid like us all so we all looked on his ambition to enter this race with adolescent scepticism.

"The day of the race dawned and a group of us went along to give 'solidarity' to Bruce. He turned up with his car, which had more in common with a red rocket than a racing car. It was purpose-built, but not big on style!

"The cars took off up the Mt Eden cone road – and amazingly Bruce had built a car fast enough to beat the Aston Martins and the Austin Healys. With just one gear, the car took off. The red rocket won! It was an amazing feat of inspired ability and determination.

" I've often told that story of Bruce McLaren – because New Zealand needs - and has – its own heroes. Colonel William Malone of Chunuk Bair, Ed Hilary of Everest and other adventurers, scientists, artists, engineers who have all helped to make New Zealand the greatest small country in the world.

"Bruce McLaren symbolises Kiwi creativity and can-do determination, excellence and innovation, uniqueness and talent. In other words, he symbolises the ingredients of success for New Zealanders competing in the world.

"What made Bruce a global success? He had initiative and a belief he could achieve his goals. He was innovative. He took the world's best ideas and made them better.

"People often make the mistake of thinking his story is about the 'Number Eight wire' mentality; but it isn't. Using a piece of Number Eight fencing wire to do a job is about taking something not quite right for the job and 'making do'.

"But world-class innovation is much better than that - in fact it's almost the complete opposite. World Class innovation comes from taking the best and finding ways to improve on it. New Zealanders are good at world-class innovation and creativity.

"New Zealanders like Bruce McLaren have shown it can be done - we can produce world-class performance.

"So for me the value of this project is much more than its direct contribution to New Zealand. It's greatest value is its potential to inspire and motivate New Zealanders to emulate Bruce McLaren's ambition, his creativity and his innovation," Jim Anderton said in Taupo.

ENDS

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