The mayoral cat is finally out of the election bag.

Former MP for Napier Chris Tremain wants to be Napier's mayor.

Tremain, 53, says there had been several approaches to him to consider seeking election since two-term mayor Bill Dalton indicated he would not be seeking re-election.

Dalton made the decision well before suffering a stroke in April, which has since kept him out of the mayoral chair.


Tremain's announcement comes three days ahead of the opening of nominations for the local elections, which end on October 12.

Tremain says he's not representing any group, and backs his own leadership experience, his lifelong commitment to Napier, and the fact that he won't be tied to any party or group policy, as he was in his nine years in Parliament.

Mayor Bill Dalton won't be standing in the upcoming elections.
Mayor Bill Dalton won't be standing in the upcoming elections.

After beating sitting MP Labour MP Russell Fairbrother at the 2005 election he progressed up the National Party caucus ranks, spending three years in the leadership-team role of Senior Whip — the managing and marshalling of the National Party MPs — and had ministerial portfolios in Local Government, Internal Affairs and Tourism.

With two-term councillor Kirsten Wise also expected to seek the mayoralty, the Napier race is now likely to be a prominent feature of the triennial local elections.

Tremain grew up in Taradale, but points out he's also lived "on the hill", at Esk Valley, and Westshore.

His leadership, apart from involvement in the family travel and real estate businesses, came from the launching pad of Napier Boys' High School in 1984, when he was head prefect.

He has since had many "wonderful community roles".

"Each taught me different lessons about leadership, about bringing people together, to face the challenges that are always present".


Since retiring from Parliament five years ago, he's been chairman of the Bank of China in New Zealand, a role which generally involves one meeting a month and which ends next year.

But he's retained a strong national and local leadership connection, in 2015 chairing a Government inquiry into racing industry, in 2017 being appointed to the Hawke's Bay Regional Investment Company and chairing a review of the Hawkes Bay Regional Council capital structure, and then chairing a working group responsible for implementing recommendations resulting from the Havelock North Water Inquiry.

"I'm well-versed in the issues facing new businesses here in the Bay and want to bring a particular focus to this if I was fortunate to be elected mayor," he says.

"Strong businesses are the source of jobs and income for our citizens. I want a city which is attractive to our children and grandchildren to return to and raise their families".

He says he "loves" Napier and now is the time to meet the promise of his departure from Parliament.

"In my valedictory speech in Parliament I said that I wished to continue to serve my community into the future," he says.

Interestingly, he's seeking to follow in the footsteps of another former Napier MP who became mayor.

The late Sir Peter Tait was a single term MP in 1951-1954, the last National Party MP for Napier until Tremain's election half-a-century later. Tait was mayor from 1956 to 1974.