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Familiar ground for veteran

Mike Gray with former South Wairarapa mayor Adrienne Staples in 2007, opening a 100-year-old time capsule buried in Greytown. PHOTO/FILE

HAYLEY GASTMEIER
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Mike Gray says his objectives for wanting to be a councillor are the same now as they were in 1992, when he was first elected to the South Wairarapa District Council.

The Greytown Community Board member and former South Wairarapa deputy mayor will be sworn in as a Greytown ward councillor at an extraordinary council meeting on March 18.

Gray is filling the vacancy left by Paora Ammunson, who resigned from the council in December last year.

Gray was the highest polling contender for the Greytown ward, who didn’t win a seat, in the 2016 local body elections.

His campaign slogan was, “doing the right thing, the right way, and for the right reasons”, which he says was essentially the same principle he entered local body politics with 27 years ago.

But Gray’s involvement with local government goes back further, to 1978, when he became the regional training officer for all the borough and county councils in the Waikato region.

He was a main player in the development of the certificate in local government administration, and was later brought on as a consultant in the amalgamation of the three South Wairarapa borough councils and the Featherston County
Council in 1989.

Gray served on the council from 1992 until 2004, then again from 2007 to 2013, and was deputy South Wairarapa mayor from 2001 to 2004.

He was chairman of the Greytown Town Centre development steering committee, and he has been a trustee on the Greytown Trust Lands Trust for 12 years.

Gray said he fell for Greytown when he first visited Soldiers Memorial Park in the early 1960s.
“I just thought ‘this is fantastic’. When I opened the car door, I just had this unique ‘gotcha’ moment – it was the smell of the burnt grass which reminded me of my childhood in Central Otago and with that view, I felt like I was coming home.”

Soon after, he met his late wife Kay.

They moved away from Greytown in 1969 but moved back in 1985 to be closer to their children’s grandparents.

Gray said striving for “good governance” and restoring “power to our people” through localism was his driving force in returning to the council.

He will be sworn in at the Waihinga Centre on Monday, March 18, at 1pm.

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