Big turnout for community leader

By Kiri Gillespie

A "modern day Robin Hood" was fondly farewelled as members of Tauranga's charitable community gathered at Peter Wyatt's funeral.

About 150 people came together at St Peter's in the City yesterday - in honour of a man who devoted his life to helping others.

Mr Wyatt died on Friday after a long and determined battle with cancer. He was was 75-years-old.

Mr Wyatt was named Bay of Plenty Times' Person of the Year 2012 for his extraordinary work in the community.

At least 17 charities and organisations have been created or assisted by Mr Wyatt, and in 2004 he became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (NZOM) for services to the community.

Tauranga lawyer and Acorn Foundation chairman Bill Holland referred to a lengthy list of things Mr Wyatt had achieved over the last 20 years, and questioned who would take over his role in the community.

The Acorn Foundation, New Zeal Foundation, Tauranga Arts Festival and Legacy Funerals were some of the entities Mr Wyatt helped create in order to help others, Mr Holland said.

"There have been so many things you've done," he said, addressing Mr Wyatt's coffin adorned with his NZOM medal, red roses and a Maori staff, usually reserved for chiefs.

Mr Holland also said he struggled to understand cancer's increased grip on Mr Wyatt over the past few months "because you had always beat it."

Mr Wyatt's original diagnosis was 16 years ago, when he and Mr Holland first met.

In his last words, which were read by Reverend Simon McLeay, Mr Wyatt told his mourners it was this knowledge of limited time that drove him to get things done.

Mr Wyatt paid tribute to his wife, Anne, who was acknowledged as being the "heart" behind her husband's achievements.

"My last words are to you all, Anne is not just a treasure to me but to our community ...

"Please take care of her now when I cannot."

Sir Michael Fay and Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie also spoke. Both men worked closely with Mr Wyatt through the New Zeal Foundation and Bethlehem Foundations.

"We will miss him, the work he's done," Sir Michael said.

Mr Crosbie said Mr Wyatt was a "modern day Robin Hood" giving money from people who could afford it to those who could not.

Mr Wyatt's family followed his coffin through a guard of honour, formed by members of the Bethlehem College choir. A haka was performed by students as he was put into the hearse, which then travelled to a private committal.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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