Mayor Maurice heading down under

WHITBY town mayor Maurice Hatton is setting off shortly on a Cook s tour with a new slant.

Coun Hatton is combining a holiday in New Zealand and Australia with civic visits to Whitby s twin towns all of them originally logged by Captain Cook on his famous voyages.

First on Coun Hatton s list is Whitianga, on New Zealand s Coromandel peninsula where Captain Cook landed. Then it s on to Whitby, a village suburb of Porirua, north of Wellington.

After touring South Island, Coun Hatton intends flying on to Australia to visit Cooktown in Queensland.

New Zealand s Whitby is not yet twinned with its Yorkshire big brother but the town s civic leaders are hoping it can be arranged.

Coun Hatton will discuss the issue with his opposite numbers there. The editor of the local newspaper, Whitby Newsbrief, ran a two-page spread in a recent edition by their reporter Jackie Edkins following her visit to Whitby, Yorkshire.

During her visit here, Jackie talked about twinning to Gazette editor Damian Holmes. Later, she wrote to say she was contacting local organisations including schools and would be happy to act as a point of contact if any Whitby children, residents or groups would like to write or form e-mail friendships with their opposite numbers in Whitby NZ.

She also pointed out that there was some contact a number of years ago between the two communities and a councillor recalled an exchange between cub packs.

Coun Hatton, who is funding his trip himself, is looking forward to meeting fellow councillors across the world, even though he ll be on a tight schedule.

"The night I arrive, I have an invitation to an annual Rotary barbecue in Whitianga if I get there on time," he said.

And he ll also enjoy meeting up again with Whitianga resident Paul Bacon who dropped in unexpectedly at Whitby Town Council offices recently while on a rugby tour in this country.

Whitby is twinned with towns throughout the world visited by Captain Cook on his voyages of exploration including Anchorage, in Alaska, the island of Kauai, in Hawai, the Falklands and Tonga.

The Gazette will give further reports about Coun Hatton s trip Down Under and the e-mail address for anyone who would like to contact Whitby NZ is edkins@extra.co.nz.