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A sporting sort, and more

Terry Sheldrake has always been interested in council. His wife Kathy was a councillor from 2001 to 2010. He stood in the 2014 by-election and came second, stood again in 2016 and missed out by 251 votes.

But in October last year, he got on.

“I am not one to stop, retire and do nothing,” says the 70 year old, who points out he is not the oldest at the council table.

“I genuinely like this community. I've lived my whole life here.”

As a young boy Terry loved playing rugby.

“After school we would all play rugby with our neighbours, until we were yelled at to come home for tea.”

He is the youngest of three brothers. Ray still lives in Gisborne, while brother Bob is in Hawke's Bay. Terry says they are all very different but sport has played a major role in all their lives, and continues to do so.

Terry gets frustrated when he sees children today totally immersed in their cell phones. He has a strong opinion that life should be balanced by participating in some form of sport.

He is most proud of being a major driver in creating Gisborne's own sports trust, established to foster lifelong participation in sport, physical activity and recreation in the community.

As the founding CEO of Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti — then called the Eastland Sports Foundation (Sport Eastland) — Terry says he remembers thinking “Why not Gisborne?” There was a Sport Waikato, a Sport Hawke's Bay . . . at the time there were 12 other sports trusts across New Zealand.

His idea eventually got off the ground, and today Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti employs a significant number of people and works throughout Tairawhiti.

He credits those who supported him at the time for where it is today — including then Mayor John Clarke, the late Wayne Callaghan, John Heikell and Richard Crawshaw, and Peter Dale who was then CEO of the Hillary Commission, today Sport NZ.

Timing played a major part as a new sport was emerging across New Zealand — triathlon.

Terry describes triathlon as a sport that has more going for it than most people realise — “As a triathlete you have to be good at all three disciplines: cycling, running and swimming” — while appreciating that for many the amount of expensive equipment required can be a major inhibitor.

He helped introduce the sport to Gisborne in the early '80s.

“To increase participation we needed to make the events more affordable, so we introduced team events with a swimmer, a cyclist and a runner. Gisborne grew a strong reputation via hosting many triathlon events over the years — back then most were held at Anzac Park.”

In 1999, through their company TMS Sport Promotions, Terry and Kathy took on a contract with the Sanitarium Health Food Company to grow an event that has become significant in New Zealand and now also in Australia, and has been introduced to several Pacific Islands — the Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon series.

In the early days there were around 3500 children taking part. This year the number participating in New Zealand, aged between seven and 15, will be close to 38,000.

Terry is now the patron of the Weet-Bix Tryathlon Foundation.

He was also race director for the World Triathlon championships in Queenstown in 2003, and again in Auckland in 2012. They both had big budgets and brought thousands of competitors and supporters to New Zealand.

“Here we are 38 years later and the sport of triathlon is about to go into its sixth Olympic Games.”

Terry is an elected member of the International Triathlon Union, which gathers every four years after an Olympic Games has been held.

Being a triathlete is a sport you can do your whole life, he says, having seen seven-year-olds and 86-year-olds take part.

“To be competitive, you've got to be good at all three of the sports involved.

“You can race against yourself and beat your own goals too.”

Terry remembers the late Judith Hibbert helped get the sport up and running in Gisborne as well, almost 40 years ago.

Getting kids to participate in sport was the driving force for Terry.

He was awarded an MNZM (a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to sport in 2015, and has been a member of the World Triathlon Board for more than 30 years, a position he will retire from after the Tokoyo Olympics Summer Games this year. He is also a life member of Triathlon NZ, and a past president of the Gisborne cycling club.

Terry was appointed chief executive of the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce in January 2017, a position he resigned from when he was elected to the council.

Working closely with Gisborne businesses, he has seen from the inside what needs to be challenged at the District Council level.

Terry was born in Gisborne, started school at Elgin School, then his family moved to Fox Street and he moved to Central School — which was then a large brick building opposite the Holy Trinity Church on Palmerston Road.

He would walk to school from Fox Street and cross the bridge by the “smelly gasworks”, on the site where the new Mitre 10 has just gone up.

Sunvale Crescent only had several residential homes back then and the area around the top of Fox Street was all farmland. He remembers helping out with milking Archie Campbell's cows.

Terry left school at 16 and worked on farms until he was about 25, then moved into the city and took up a business opportunity with AMP in insurance and investment. Later he started TMS Sport Promotions Ltd, where his farming background with its No.8 wire approach helped him in his next career as an events manager.

Terry has three adult sons, Steven, Brent and Aaron — who all participate in either triathlon, cycling or multisport.

He says he was keen to be on a council with Rehette Stoltz as Mayor. He and Kathy first met Rehette and her family when they were neighbours many years ago, and he likes the dynamics around the new council table.

“We are a group of individuals and it is obvious we are not always going to agree, but that's a democracy.”

Terry has a musical background too. He played trombone in the Gisborne Civic brass band, and the piano/keyboard in several dance bands for many years. He still has an electronic keyboard but hasn't pulled it out for ages, he says.

His favourite music are bands from the '60s and '70s, Elton John, The Bee Gees and the Beatles.

The disciplines of music, sport and farming have all created the grounding for his first term as a district councillor.

THIRD TIME'S A CHARM: Newly-elected district councillor Terry Sheldrake stands where the three rivers meet. The founding CEO of Sport Gisborne (when it was called Eastland Sports Foundation) says his passion for sport is to get as many people involved as possible . . . but he has his favourite. Picture by Liam Clayton