When a New Zealand mayor is heading out of office, it is customary for them to receive a parting gift as an acknowledgement of the gratitude the community wishes to show them. When Wellington mayor, Celia Wade-Brown was heading out of office, her request seemed a bit unusual to the government officials. Wade-Brown asked for a tattoo as a parting gift.
Wade-Brown's son had designed a gecko that she wished to have tattooed on her, and when it came time for her to receive her gift, she voiced her request. Unfortunately, the request was promptly denied, and many of the government officials involved in the process were abhorred that she would even think to ask for such a gift. Generally, the ex-mayor would receive a park bench in their honor, but this request seemed a bit too radical for them to oblige.
The a representative of the Taxpayer's Union was quoted as saying, "We found it difficult to believe that an elected official would ask for a tattoo, which we were told was to be on the former Mayor’s ankle. Ratepayer-funded body-art is perhaps the most unusual spending request we have ever come across. Well done to the person in the Council who had the nous [common sense] to say no!"
Wade-Brown's reasoning behind the request was adorable, even if she knew it wouldn't be accepted.
"I was asked what leaving gift I would like. And a tattoo was just top of my mind at the time. My son had designed me a nice little gecko tattoo and he’d said, ‘Mum, you really ought to get a tattoo,’ and I said, ‘Oh, I will one day,’ and so when they said what would I like, I thought, that would be cool.
I already had my suspicions that it wouldn’t be seen as a solid civic gift, so we went for something more conventional. I’m quite happy that there’s going to be a park bench in one of Wellington’s lovely reserves, because I’ve been pretty involved in protecting the natural environment in Wellington."
Wade-Brown eventually got the tattoo anyway, as some of her coworkers put money together to get her a voucher for a tattoo studio. She said, "I took that along to the studio and gave them my son’s initial design, and they did a bit of modification, and I put a little extra money in, and we had a beautiful lizard – which has been walking with me on the 400 kilometres walk over summer from Bluff to Wanaka on the Te Araroa trail."
All's well that end's well. Wade-Brown got her customary park bench and the tattoo her son designed. She's having her cake and eating it too! Kudos to the former mayor, hopefully she has a fruitful career after politics.