He's got a new kidney, he's feeling in great health and he's back for more — three years more, to be precise. If the voters will have him. Laurilee McMichael talks to Taupō mayor David Trewavas about his bid for a third term.

David Trewavas, who is currently serving his sixth year as mayor of the Taupō District, has just announced he will put himself forward for re-election for another term.

Trewavas, 56, had a kidney transplant in early January from a kidney donated by his wife Anna, and although 2018 was a rough year while he waited for his operation, he has been given a clean bill of health by his specialist and is full of energy.

"They are very happy with [my] progress and everything's worked out well. It's been a very, very successful transplant and Anna's really good. She's recovered really well so it's been basically business as usual," says Trewavas.


"I'm feeling really good, still on a bit of medication but I can walk 5km and do all the things I couldn't do."

Even during his illness Trewavas kept up with his mayoral duties — he estimates he only missed one or two council meetings.

"I'm glad I was able to function but the travel around the country was a bit less."

David and Anna Trewavas pictured in January. David underwent a kidney transplant on January 7 and his wife was the donor. Photo / Michael Craig
David and Anna Trewavas pictured in January. David underwent a kidney transplant on January 7 and his wife was the donor. Photo / Michael Craig

Trewavas says he always intended to run again for a third term as mayor if he was well enough because there is work that he would like to see completed. He made the decision two weeks ago to throw his hat in the ring for a third time, with the support of Anna and their daughter Ruby.

"It's an absolute honour to be mayor and the opportunities the whole district has is just incredible.

"We have a vision to be the most liveable provincial district in New Zealand and I think we have that now, but we want to continue that and we've got some major projects coming up which deserve some careful consideration."

Those major projects include a new council administration building, infrastructure upgrades and an upgrade to Taupō Airport, the latter possibly in partnership with the Provincial Growth Fund.

There are also issues around Turangi the council is currently working on and Trewavas says he would also like to see those resolved.

While he's pleased that GDP from tourism has risen significantly, that has brought challenges. Trewavas says once visitor hot spots start losing their appeal, that can be offputting both for locals and visitors alike. He says a balance has to be found between maintaining prosperity in the Taupō district while retaining it as a pleasant place to live with a clean environment, with big town amenities but the small town feel.

"The challenge is maintaining our infrastructure, wastewater, fresh water, keeping those top notch in the whole district. That's very hard because they are big ticket items and we have a reasonably small ratepayer base and we have to be very clever about how we deal with those."

Taupo district mayor David Trewavas. Photo / File
Taupo district mayor David Trewavas. Photo / File

Another is ensuring that prosperity reaches all people. Trewavas is aware that many people in the district struggle day to day.

"I think how we treat everybody is always a reflection of the people at the top and every decision I make, I have those people [doing it hard] in mind.

"My basic way of looking at it is someone comes and says 'we need a new crossing outside our house', I don't think of it as council paying for it. It's a lady in Tonga St paying for that crossing. The people own the council and the people pay for the council.

"To be around good positive communities is always a neat thing but I realise it's not positive for all people so I try to be the mayor for all and I'd like to continue that work going forward."

When it comes to achievements, Trewavas mentions extending the Taupō water supply scheme to Waitahanui, a reduction in gross council debt of $21 million over six years, free swimming pool entry for under-5s, successfully bidding to hold the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championships and the upgrade of the Otumukeke hot stream at Spa Park. But the one he's most proud of was the community's successful fight to retain its Greenlea rescue helicopter.

When it comes to unpopular decisions — the Norman Smith St traffic signals come to mind — Trewavas says they just have to be made.

"I try to make the best decision on the best information available.

"The lights won't fix the problem, but they'll probably help. We're slowing the traffic down and that can't be a bad thing given what's happened in the last four weeks."