McGrail re­signs after quar­ter of a cen­tury

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - REXINE HAWES

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.

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