Retired school teacher Roland Matley is showing it's never too late to have a go by making a bid to become Mayor of Wairoa in the Local Elections.

At 85, and also seeking election to the Wairoa District Council, he's thought to be the oldest person standing in the elections which are about to start throughout New Zealand, with postal voting closing on October 8.

In a three-way race, he is standing against incumbent first-term Mayor Craig Little, and councillor Benita Cairns, who is not seeking re-election after serving three terms.

Age doesn't come into it for Mr Matley, who has a single beef in the hardy elections triennial. Rates, or more specifically too much of them.


From England but having been in New Zealand since 1961 and resident of Wairoa for 43 years, and a "mathematician by trade", he says the rates in Wairoa are far too high, an example being the $2950 he says now applies to his own "quarter-acre" piece of Kiwi paradise in Lucknow St, across the road from the Wairoa Fire Station and where he believes the rates were over $2000 when he moved to the new property in 2010.

"I believe that is too much for a little place like this," he says. "I personally have no problem with paying, I'm on a good pension and I can afford it."

"But there are a lot of people who can't afford it," he says.

"The general idea is Wairoa is living beyond its means. Cut-out non-essential spending, there is plenty of fat to be trimmed off. Money is being wasted left, right and centre."

"If elected, my first task would be to go to the chief financial officer and ask, if there were a war, what items would you list, which, in your view, are inessential?"

"I taught at least one member of every family in Wairoa," says Mr Matley, who had taught at Nelson College and Northland College in Kaikohe before starting at Wairoa College in 1973. "Everybody knows me, and I know everybody else."

There are currently 5330 on the Wairoa District roll and Mr Matley rates his prospects. "I'm appealing on a point that applies to everyone," he says. "So I reckon I have a chance of appealing to the majority."

At the last Local Elections in 2013, Mr Little, who was already on the council, won a four-way mayoral contest, ousting incumbent Les Probert and former mayor Derek Fox.