Although it's still six months until the next local body elections, Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis made the shock announcement yesterday that he won't be standing again.
Mr Ellis told district councillors he was putting himself out to pasture because of ill health.
"Commonsense, which is duly lacking in this day and age, tells me I've had a wonderful innings, but now I'm personally struggling with health issues and most of all, acute deafness, so it's time to go to the back paddock," Mr Ellis said at yesterday's monthly council meeting.
Mr Ellis said the mayoralty has been an exciting and challenging role, but no walk in the park.
"My philosophy in life is that you do things 100 per cent," he said.
"However, I'm not sure I could do that for another three years and Tararua must go forward."
Although he realised this was a premature announcement, Mr Ellis said in later years different organisations, charities and sports are becoming more appealing.
"The trout might get more plentiful, a hole-in-one would be good and it would be great to see the Woodville Racecourse thrive."
In October 2013 Mr Ellis was returned for his second term as mayor, receiving more than 4746 votes, a majority of 3892 over his only mayoral challenger, Sheryll Hoera, who received 944 votes.
And although he admitted he would have loved to finish three projects, the Pahiatua and Woodville water storage and the last leg of the Saddle Rd upgrade, Mr Ellis said he's proud all three are in the throes of being "nailed".
"I've fought hard to get money for these projects and hopefully they will be finished within two years. I've had to learn to be patient as the bureaucratic world has its own clock - something which doesn't come easily to an ex-army rank officer, a sheep contractor and a farmer with a history of getting things done at a far more rapid speed."
Mr Ellis' wife Phillipa, the principal of Norsewood and Districts School, told the Dannevirke News her husband had spent a lot of time weighing things up before making his decision.
"It's been a very hard decision for Roly to make as he's passionate about what he's been doing in this district," she said.
And although it will be very strange for them both, Mrs Ellis said they will be involved in the local community, but out of the spotlight.
"My wardrobe costs won't be so high, Roly will like that and it's going to be interesting to have him home and weekends to ourselves will be different," she said.
However, Mrs Ellis said she has no plans to retire from her principal's position.
Mr Ellis joined the British Army on January 6, 1966 when his father dropped him off at Mons Officer Cadet Academy in Aldershot, just two weeks after he'd left school, but now 50 years of working life is coming to an end.
"My father's last words as I entered the camp gates were, 'work hard, play hard and never give up', words that I've tried to adhere to. The helm [at Tararua District Council] needs to be taken up by a much younger person. Someone who is IT savvy and can read and digest tree-loads of policy documents before deciphering it all."
After working for 50 years, 99.5 per cent of it seven days a week, Mr Ellis said there have been many opportunities he has missed with family and friends.
He is the president of the Dannevirke and Districts RSA and was recently elected to the committee of the Woodville-Pahiatua Racing Club and these are two of the interests he wants to pursue in retirement.
District councillor Shirley Hull has told the Dannevirke News she will be standing for the mayoralty at the local body elections in October.
"I told Roly last week I was standing and I've also told council chief executive Blair King," she said.