Former mayor to quit regional council

By Don Farmer -
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The more formal face of colourful councillor Gary McPhee.
The more formal face of colourful councillor Gary McPhee.

Wairarapa's sole regional councillor Gary McPhee is not seeking re-election and has thrown his weight behind potential candidate David Holmes.

Confirming he is quitting Greater Wellington Regional Council at the end of this term, Mr McPhee said he had "shoulder tapped" Mr Holmes to let him know and open the way for the Masterton District councillor to put his name forward.

The two-term regional councillor and former mayor of Carterton said his memory is failing him and that was a major reason for not seeking re-election.

"My memory is not good.

"I can read things and not retain what I have read and I don't think that is the right position to be in representing the community," he said.

Mr McPhee said an asset Mr Holmes would take with him to the council table should he stand and be elected would be having a farming background.

Wairarapa has only one of 13 councillors on council but with its large land area is heavily populated by farming families.

Mr McPhee began his local government career when elected to Carterton District Council in 2001.

He brought with him the reputation of being a colourful character not inclined to convention, and a confirmed lover of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

In 2004 he successfully sought the mayoralty, defeating sitting mayor Martin Tankersley, and held that position for two terms, handing over the reins to Ron Mark in 2010.

Stepping down from the mayoralty Mr McPhee said he had headed a "great council".

"We all work together, never had a lot of division and I never had to use my casting vote," Mr McPhee said.

He then switched his attention to the regional council and was elected to represent Wairarapa ahead of two other candidates, Ian Buchanan and Robert Cameron.

At the time when the Wellington super-city merger option became a major issue Mr McPhee - never one to hide his light under a bushel - was a vocal critic of those who held the view Wairarapa could not stand on its own two feet. In 2013 he sought a second term and headed off John Dalziell and Andrew Stewart to retain his council position.

Mr Holmes has not categorically stated he will quit as a district councillor in favour of the regional council but has confirmed he is looking at doing so.

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