McGrail resigns after quarter of a century
Matamata-Piako District councillor and former deputy mayor Bob McGrail has decided to call it a day on a career spanning nearly quarter of a century in local government politics.
Cr McGrail entered politics in 1992 as a Matamata community board member and within the last 24 years has held the positions of deputy mayor and councillor for the Matamata ward. He will not seek re-election when the current three-year term ends in October.
Cr McGrail came to Matamata from Wanganui with his wife Robyn in 1961, ‘‘with a kit of tools’’ and bought an old furniture factory on Broadway, which became R.J. McGrail LImited. It was after retiring from a successful business, Cr McGrail decided to get into local government.
‘‘I thought it would be nice to be at the sharp end of something, that perhaps I could put something back. The old-school had run things for a long time and I was still comparatively young and I thought we need younger input, we need to be thinking about things to attract young people and hold them in town.
‘‘We are dealing with ratepayers money, we must give them as much value as we can.
During his time on local government, Cr McGrail has stood under three mayors, Ken Thomas from Morrinsville and Hugh Vercoe, of which he was deputy mayor for nine years of Vercoe’s term. He stood down as deputy for mayor Jan Barnes, as he knew she was ‘keen’ to be mayor.
‘‘I enjoyed that (deputy mayor), I went to a lot of things I never would have had a bar of going to, it enlarged my perspective.’’
Building the BMX track, being on the Hauraki Gulf Forum and the Te Manawhenua committee, representatives of council and iwi are three of the things Cr McGrail says he is most proud of.
‘‘I have a good rapport with the Maori people, always have,. We started a Te Manawhenua committee and it’s grown into something really powerful.’’
Cr McGrail, 79, is still as excited about the community as he was when he first entered politics.
But he has decided to retire to focus on other things, and continue restoring furniture, hunt, fish and become involved with Grey Power.
‘‘With respect to Robyn, because she’s been with me all the way, I thought, no, there’s other things I can do...get out on a high. I’ve enjoyed every last minute , there’s been some fantastic people on council.
‘‘At the end of my run, so to speak, it has been really good to be involved overall, and to work with the Matamata councillors. Matamata has given Robyn and Ia really good way of life.’’
Councillor Bob McGrail and his wife Robyn.