Trevor Maxwell, the longest serving councillor, receives a New Year honour

By Muriwai Hei

Trevor Maxwell (Ngāti Rangiwewehi) is very proud of his newly appointed title as Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, as it not only acknowledges the mahi he has put in over the years but also the mahi his people of Ngāti Rangiwewehi have supported him through.

“My one regret is that my late wife, Atareta Maxwell, who died 16 years ago, is not here to share this beautiful honour with me, but I will share it with all our mokopuna,” he says. 

In 2002, Maxwell was named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to Māori, the arts, and local body affairs.  Maxwell is no stranger to the community of Rotorua, as he has been a councillor with the Rotorua Lakes District Council for 45 years.

He also served as the Cultural Ambassador for Rotorua since 2013.

His decision to go into council wasn’t his choice but more of a request from the late Sir Peter Tapsell.

"I was caught by surprise in 1977 the then deputy mayor, the late Sir Peter Tapsell, came and he brought a paper and put it in front of me. He said 'sign here', and I go 'what's this for?' Then he said to go the Rotorua City Council. 

"I was only in my mid-twenties and I know stuff all about council, other than was living in Awahou and hide the dogs here comes council," says Maxwell.

Maxwell served as the Deputy Mayor from 2002 until 2013, and as Chair and Deputy Chair of Te Arawa Kapa Haka Charitable Trust since 1990. He was a member of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Board, Chair of Opera in the Pā and a Board member of Waiāriki Institute of Technology for 10 years.

Maxwell is quite an active figure in the world of Māori performing arts, and was awarded Ngā Taonga Toi a Te Waka Toi – Te Tohu Whakamanawa o Te Matatini for outstanding contribution to Kapa Haka in 2021, which is one of Maxwell's passions. 

“When I was a wee little five, six-year-old, we lived by the side of the marae in Awahou our ancestral home of Ngāti Rangiwewehi. And it has been a passion all our lives.

"One thing I'm proud with is that my son Inia and my own daughter Kahurangi, it has become their passion too. I am glad because Atareta and I were deeply in love with Kapa Haka and now to see our kids have the same passion and love for kapa haka is beautiful," he says. \

He served as co-chair of the Te Arawa/Ngāti Whakaue committee and assisted in organizing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's visit to Te Papaiouru Marae in 2018. He has been a New Zealand Community Trust Board member since 2012, Chair of Toi Māori since 2018, and a previous Kaupapa Māori Director of Tourism New Zealand for eight years.