23 Apr 2018

Tony Kokshoorn to step down as Grey's mayor next year

8:40 pm on 23 April 2018

The Grey District's long-serving mayor, Tony Kokshoorn, has announced he'll retire from politics next year to spend more time with his wife and family.

Man stands outside offices under  blue sky

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says many of the region's working age population have moved away Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Mr Kokshoorn served six years on the council before running for mayor in 2004 and defeating the sitting mayor, Kevin Brown. Since then he had been unchallenged for a further four terms.

During his tenure, the council had taken on $15m of debt but gained more than $130m in upgrades and infrastructure, Mr Kokshoorn said.

Highlights included installing a $50m sewerage scheme for Greymouth and its outlying settlements as well as fundraising for the new Aquatic Centre and Westland Stadium, Mr Kokshoorn said.

The last seven years had been "extremely challenging" because of the collapse of the coal mining industry.

But the coast's economy was changing and would be led by more sustainable industries such as tourism and agriculture, Mr Kokshoorn said.

"I have no doubt that the huge infrastructure expenditure throughout the Grey District over the last 15 years will position Greymouth and the wider district for a bright future as our economy diversifies."

The son of a Dutch immigrant, Mr Kokshoorn grew up in Ruru near Lake Brunner but moved to Greymouth at the age of five.

He left school at 15 to train as an automative engineer and had been self-employed since, running newspaper and car sales businesses.

Kokshorn had enjoyed the many challenges of the last 21 years but wanted to enjoy his family who had shown him "unwavering" support.

"I look forward to spending more time with my wife Lynne, four children and grandchildren after many years of a job that demands commitment with a 24/7 timetable."

Alongside his mayoral duties, Mr Kokshoorn had helped raise more than $30m for a number of charities and chaired many trusts including the Pike River Disaster Relief Trust which raised and distributed $8.3m in 2013.

His charity work would continue but it was time to pass the mayoral chains on, he said.

"Turning 65 a few months after my retirement in 2019 makes it a good time to move on from politics."