When Taupō lawyer and former mayor Clayton Stent found out he was to become a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, he admits he "went numb a little bit".

"I thought 'wow'. It was hard to process for a little while."

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Stent, who was mayor of the Taupō district from 2000 to 2007, has had a long involvement community organisations and causes such as the Addiction Resource Centre and being patron of the Interchurch Welfare Society.

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But his proudest work includes involvement with the Life Education Trust and the Lake Taupō Protection Trust.

The trust spearheaded a ground-breaking initiative for New Zealand - a system for reducing the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Lake Taupō catchment by buying nitrogen from farmers and land users and encouraging land-use change.

It has been acknowledged by the OECD as a leading national and international environmental project. Stent has been on the trust since July 2009 and became its chairman in April 2014, a role he still holds.

Taupo lawyer Clayton Stent has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to the community and governance.
Taupo lawyer Clayton Stent has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to the community and governance.

Reducing manageable nitrogen entering the Lake Taupō catchment by 170 tonnes per annum - a goal it met four years ahead of its 2019 target - was "one of the things I have been proudest of", Stent said.

Stent worked to help Life Education Trust fundraise for and set up a mobile classroom in the Taupō-Ruapehu area. He served as Life Education Trust's Central Plateau chairman until 2000 and is still involved as patron.

"I've always enjoyed being involved in things. I like seeing things happen and the best way of being involved is to actually get on committees and become involved in whatever the activity is."

As mayor, Stent's achievements included leading the East Taupō Arterial bypass highway project, which eventually opened in 2010.

After he left the mayoralty he was asked to serve on the Lake Taupō Development Trust, which he went on to chair, was the voluntary regional Civil Defence controller from 2007 to 2011, was a trustee of the 100% Lake Taupō Charitable Trust and the Geyser Trust for five years and patron of the Taupō Family Centre from 2010 to 2017. He continues as patron of the Interchurch Welfare Society.

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He is a long-serving Lion and has also provided pro bono legal services to the Taupō Citizens Advice Bureau from 2008 to 2013.

Stent is now a partner in Taupō law firm Cargill Stent and Clarke but continues his community involvement.

"I've lived here for 34 years and I've been involved in the community and the community has supported me for 34 years. It's part and parcel of giving back and investing in the future of the place."