Council run likely for business expert

By John Cousins

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Priority One Business Relocations manager Max Mason. Photograph by John Borren
Priority One Business Relocations manager Max Mason. Photograph by John Borren

High-profile Tauranga business development expert Max Mason has emerged as a likely contender for a seat on the city council.

Mr Mason, 55, said it was "highly likely" that he would stand for the council at October's elections.

Asked whether he was also considering running for the mayoralty, now that Mayor Stuart Crosby had decided to step down, he said: "At this point my thinking is that I would like to be a councillor."

Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, he and wife, Helen, settled in Tauranga nearly 20 years ago.

He joined another possible candidate for the council, marketing consultant and Tauranga TEDx licensee Sheldon Nesdale. "I am in research mode at the moment," he said.

Mr Mason spent six years as a council trouble-shooter, doing a variety of roles including shifting control of the Historic Village to the Compass Community Trust, setting up Tourism Bay of Plenty and the economic development agency Priority One.

"It gave me a pretty good insight into how the council works, both at political and officer level."

He left the council to become the international manager for Adventure Education, charged with attracting international students to study in the Bay.

Mr Mason then began his involvement with the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, starting as a consultant before becoming the business development manager and graduating to chief executive. His next job was manager of the Bob Owens Retirement Village in Bethlehem, saying his 14 months as manager had given him a huge insight into the needs of the retired community.

Mr Mason then did something life changing while his wife Helen was in Boston studying America's health system. He spent six months walking the 3500km Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States. "It was incredibly hard."

He is currently on a six-month contract to re-energise Priority One's business attraction campaign. "I am loving it, selling Tauranga is the best job in the world."

It was a time of challenges for Mr Mason and his wife. Mrs Mason was the new chief executive of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board, taking over from retiring Phil Cammish on February 1.

Mr Nesdale said his research before he made a decision on whether to run for the council included asking friends if they thought Tauranga needed someone like him and asking people why they lived in Tauranga. "What they love and what frustrates them."

He was also talking to current and past councillors to find out more about the highs and lows of the job.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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