From the Mayor
Mayor Gray to step down
Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray will be stepping down after nine years at the local body election in October, after nine years in the job.
The 67-year-old has led the town through the 2016 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the isolation that followed. He has been a key figure in the disaster recovery and reconnecting the community through the State highway 1 and railway rebuild efforts.
Though many repairs are still needed, Mr Gray said it is time for him to move on from the role.
“I know it isn’t a great time to be leaving but if I got in again I’d be 70 when I finished, and I want to do other things,” he said.
Spending time with his family, travelling around New Zealand and Australia and enjoying more free time will be his main priorities come October, he says. He is looking forward to staying involved in the Kaikōura Cycle Club and will continue to be involved in the local community.
Mr Gray said the years since the earthquake have been challenging but he is pleased with the progress that has been made.
“All in all I think we’ve done well, Kaikoura is looking good.”
Mr Gray stood for mayor with the intention of getting economic development booming.
“We kept getting kickbacks with the Christchurch earthquake then the Kaikoura earthquake, so that really slowed things.”
“But Kaikoura has always been going to grow – there’s no doubt about that. And we’re seeing it now with the Sudima hotel, and the investor in Ocean Ridge... there is just so much happening and controlling growth going forward will be the challenge now.”
The upcoming election may see more changes within council with Deputy Mayor Julie Howden, Cr Neil Pablecheque and Cr Lisa Bond all undecided on if they will run again.
Cr Tony Blunt said he is also sitting on the fence as the past three years have had an enormous impact on him and his family, but he does feel duty-bound to run.
“I feel that we’ve done a huge amount of work and we councillors all carry a huge amount of information in our heads, so ideally if we could go forward as the team we are now for another three years we would have everything well and truly back up and running.”
Mr Blunt said that anyone thinking of running for council should be aware that councillors average 70 days a year, not the advertised 20 days, committed to council meetings and workshops due to the increased workload from the earthquake.
Cr Celeste Harnett, Cr. Craig Mackle and Cr Derrick Millton will be running as all want to see the outcomes of various council activity.
“Three years goes very quickly. We’ve had changes in our core business in regards to the rebuild and direction for our community,” Ms Harnett said.
“You can’t just pick up and say ‘see you later, good luck’, after all the progress we have made.”
Originally published in the Kaikōura Star written by Adele More
"From the Mayor" column will take a break now and resume after the local elections. Learn more about the local elections.
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