Peter Wyatt Bay of Plenty Times Person of the Year 2012

By Julia Proverbs


The Bay of Plenty Times Person of the Year 2012 is community stalwart Peter Wyatt.

Mr Wyatt, 75, who has terminal cancer, has established, led or helped more than 20 trusts and community organisations in the Bay.

He was presented with the award at a function at the Bay of Plenty Times, attended by general manager David Mackenzie, editor Scott Inglis, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, Mayor Stuart Crosby and last year's recipient, Peter Blackwell.

Mr Inglis said the award was not for someone who achieved highly in their chosen profession or sport, but intended to honour people who were selfless, with a rich track record of helping those less fortunate than themselves.

Mr Wyatt stood out "head and shoulders" from the rest of the nominees, he said.

"You will be aware that Peter is on a journey that will end shortly. But, for anyone who read the feature the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend published on him a few weeks ago, it has been a journey about a man who has given much to Tauranga and its people."

Mr Wyatt was a "shining example for the rest of us," who had done himself and his family proud, Mr Inglis said.

Mr Wyatt cast his eyes humbly downward as his many achievements were noted.

"When you phoned me last week it was indeed an honour," Mr Wyatt said, as he accepted the award.

"It was interesting because you phoned me on what was supposed to be my last day on this Earth," he quipped.

The weeks since his prognosis had be an "enormous privilege", he said.

Over that time he had been visited by many people with whom he had lost touch.

"The thing that's really come out of the woodwork and made the most impact on me is the individuals who I'd had contact with but I didn't actually know [what impact I had on them]."

Mr Wyatt said he was still spending an hour and a half, three times a week, at his office in town, despite being told 10 weeks ago that he had, at best, 10 weeks to live.

"You can do a lot from an ipad and a phone and in a chair," he said.

He closed with heartfelt thanks to his wife Anne, for her support.

"The last thing I would say is I couldn't have done what I've done for the last 20 years without the support of my mate," he said, his voice breaking and tears welling.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said Mr Wyatt was an amazing man, noting his persistence and "can't-take-no-for-an-answer attitude". His legacy would be with Tauranga for centuries to come, he said.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said Mr Wyatt was a man who "put things together" and had made Tauranga a better place.

"Every time I met Peter in my office, even before I was the mayor, out would come the notepad with the list and there would probably be 10 items on it and I'll never forget the succinctness, each item was yes/no. There was no maybe. Either it was going to happen or it wasn't going to happen."

Peter Blackwell said Mr Wyatt was "so deserving". "You have done a lot of great things for this town," he said.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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