18 May, 2024 10:54 PM3 mins to read

Olympian and businessman Mahé Drysdale has announced his bid to be the next mayor of Tauranga in the city’s election this year.

Mahe Drysdale - Figure 1
Photo New Zealand Herald

Last month, the two-time Olympic gold medallist and five-time world rowing champion told the Bay of Plenty Times he was weighing up standing in Tauranga’s council election in July, as the term of Government-installed commissioners ends.

Drysdale, 45, lives in Cambridge but was raised in Tauranga. He said in a statement issued this morning he was future-focused and wanted to “lead a new generation of strong and accountable leadership” that would create a modern and attractive city.

“We need collaborative and constructive leadership around the council table. I will lead a team approach that brings voices and ideas from all parts of our community forward.”

Drysdale said “the impact of population growth, major infrastructure builds and redevelopment of the centre city” are issues the new council will need to address.

With experience in accounting and financial management, Drysdale said he was determined to “effectively manage the challenging financial situation that the TCC faces, due to rising interest rates and cost pressures”.

Mahe Drysdale - Figure 2
Photo New Zealand Herald

Continuing the legacy of service set by his family and grandfather, former mayor Sir Bob Owens, Drysdale said he was looking forward to getting into the community and engaging with as many people as possible.

Sir Bob was a former city mayor and business magnate credited with helping develop the Port of Tauranga.

Drysdale is a two-time Olympian champion and five-time world champion in the single sculls. He has also been the New Zealand national champion seven times and has been awarded New Zealand Sportsman of the Year five times.

New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale after taking gold in the Olympic Games men's single scull rowing at the 2012 Olympics. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Among his sporting accolades, Drysdale also won an Olympic bronze, three world silvers and was crowned New Zealand’s favourite athlete following the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Mahe Drysdale - Figure 3
Photo New Zealand Herald

He retired from competitive rowing in 2021 the following year was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal, considered the highest honour in rowing.

Drysdale’s uncle and Sir Bob’s son, Doug Owens, has also announced his intention to stand for the Tauranga mayoralty.

Drysdale previous said he had spoken with his uncle, a former regional councillor who has previously stood for the Tauranga mayoralty, about his potentially joining the race.

“It’s obviously hard if you are going to run against your family member but you have to say if you can offer a different perspective. If I were to run, it would be [with a] a completely different sort of perspective,” Drysdale said.

Nominations for candidates close on May 24. The election will be held on July 20.

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