Community stalwart Wyatt loses battle with cancer

By Amy McGillivray

Western Bay community stalwart Peter Wyatt has lost his battle with cancer.

The 75-year-old, who was named 2012 Bay of Plenty Times person of the year, died on Friday after a long and determined fight.

Mr Wyatt's persistence and tenacity were well known and saw him tap the wallets of some of New Zealand's richest to help some of society's most disadvantaged.

It was those same traits that saw him defy doctors since being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 16 years ago.

In October 2012, he was told he had, at most, 10 weeks to live.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby described Mr Wyatt as a real people's person and said he would be sorely missed.

"I guess my reflection of him was that he always had a heart for those who were disadvantaged in life. He worked tirelessly through many agencies to support all people," he said.

"He was just someone who made an enormous contribution to the community he lived in and nationally as well and quite selflessly. He was a humble person supported by his wife, Anne.

"He had a wonderful sense of humour as well and, as he said, he was living past his use-by-date."

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said he was saddened to hear of Mr Wyatt's death.

"He was a great local character but also a great New Zealander who, through his various jobs and volunteer work, made the city a much better place.

"I was still receiving emails from him not long ago, about ideas and projects he had on the go. He was a man with a huge amount of energy and a real persistence," Mr Bridges said.

At a glimpse, Mr Wyatt established the Compass Foundation, Tauranga Employment Trust, Tauranga Arts Festival, Acorn Foundation and the New Zeal Foundation. He also re-established the the Bethlehem Foundation, serving as its chief executive for six years.

Some of Mr Wyatt's fundraising ideas were so inspired they have gained national acclaim, such as the Watties Cans Film Festival which started 19 years ago with one cinema on the North Shore and is now supported by cinemas throughout the country.

In 2004, he was awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the community.

Mr Wyatt is survived by his wife, Anne, their four children and 10 grandchildren.

His funeral will be held at St Peter's In The City at 1.30pm on Wednesday followed by a private cremation.

Donations may be made to help benefit the youth of Tauranga in lieu of flowers. They can be posted to the New Zeal Foundation, PO Box 220, Tauranga.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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