“I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it” said Basil Fawlty in the Fawlty Towers episode ‘The Germans’.

We had some German exchange students through work recently and, seeking to make them feel welcome, I told them I had German ancestry. “From where in Germany?” they asked. “Poland,” I said.

A couple of months ago I did a family history tour through Europe and went to my great-grandfather’s village, Guben/Gubin; twin towns on the German/Polish border.

Of course, it was once deep inside Germany until they lost territory in the First and Second World Wars. Those who survived lost their homes and moved west to be replaced by Poles who, in turn, had lost their homes to the Russians further east.

Despite a fractious history and different languages, the towns are now planning joint sporting facilities and parks under the banner of a united Europe.

On the other side of the world, three councils are trying to do the same. We share the same language and people in many cases, but we struggle to follow the Guben/Gubin example.

In 2016, Tauranga City Council wrote to both the Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council inviting them to co-locate with us in a new council building.

Who knows? We could have even shared a few staff and saved our ratepayers money. They both declined. Now we are talking about co-locating transport staff. I hope we do, as drivers don’t notice boundaries. We shouldn’t either.

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris