City leader always saw big picture

By John Cuosins


SCOTTISH TO THE CORE: A musical tribute by the Bay of Plenty Pipes and Drums opened the memorial service in Baycourt to the late Ken Paterson.PHOTO/JOEL FORD 130712JF23BOP

By John Cousinsnews@bayofplentytimes.co.nz

Ken Paterson generated long memories in the short time he lived and worked in Tauranga as the city council's chief executive.

Recollections triggered by his sudden death at 61 on June 17 amused and saddened the 200 people who turned out for his memorial service held at Baycourt yesterday.

He left behind a young family and had only been at the helm of the council for 11 months.

The canny and astute Scotsman's drive to succeed was perfectly captured by his brother-in-law, Malcolm Jones, who recalled the day about five years ago when Mr Paterson was driving to Whangarei to be interviewed for the CEO's job on the Northland Regional Council.

Fresh from a career largely spent in the private sector, he rang a colleague and said: "I am off for an interview - what the hell does a regional council do?"

He got the job which four years later became the stepping stone to the far more challenging position at the helm of the Tauranga City Council.

Mr Jones said Mr Paterson's crowning glory was getting Northland's new rugby stadium built on budget and on time for the Rugby World Cup.

"He was a hugely positive person. He detested spending energy on what could not be done."

Council manager Peter Frawley remembered how the first words he heard Mr Paterson utter when he took over as CEO were "Boobs on Bikes ... who is responsible for bylaws around here".

His arrival coincided with the community and political furore generated by the Boobs on Bikes parade along The Strand and Devonport Rd.

Mr Frawley said Mr Paterson was absolutely into the issue of the day and his first press release dealt with the topless parade.

"He faced one issue after another for his first six months in the job."

Mr Frawley praised Mr Paterson's leadership during the the Rena emergency and said he strived to cultivate a culture in the council that celebrated success. He said he was a big picture man who liked to chew the fat on important details.

A poignant moment between the two men was when Mr Paterson invited Mr Frawley into his office for an after-work glass of wine. They both had twin children in common and when Mr Frawley asked how his family was, Mr Paterson said "fantastic".

He then dropped his head and said "I don't regret a minute of it". Then he suddenly realised he had to be at home with his family and left without finishing his wine.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said Mr Paterson approached issues head-on and the old ways were not good enough. "He focused on finding innovative solutions to complex problems."

Ngati Ranginui iwi chairman Huikakahu Kawe reflected how, on the day he died, Mr Paterson had visited the Te Ranga battleground to see the preparations being made for the deed of settlement signed four days later between the iwi and the Crown.

"What made Ken come to the site on that day? That night Ken was called to the broad highway where the dust never settles because so many people travel upon it," said Mr Kawe.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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