Obituary: Bill Miller

By Michele Hunter

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Bill (William) Miller, passed away at Waipuna Hospice on September 21, following an 18-month battle with melanoma, he was 62.
Bill (William) Miller, passed away at Waipuna Hospice on September 21, following an 18-month battle with melanoma, he was 62.

While many people knew him as a businessman, Jessica Miller will miss her dad's regular phone calls, daily visits and sit-down advice sessions most.

Respected property developer Bill (William) Miller passed away at Waipuna Hospice on September 21, following an 18-month battle with melanoma. He was 62.

Mr Miller is survived by his wife of 39 years, Carol, his three children - Daniel, Jessica and Adam - and nine grandchildren.

Jessica described her father as an "absolutely generous" man who always thought of others before himself.

"His grandchildren were his number one priority. Four of them are mine, he's more of a dad than a granddad to them. He would be at every single rugby league and soccer game."

He loved visiting his son Daniel in Australia and fishing with youngest boy Adam, who lives in Auckland.

Mrs Miller said words could not describe the "outstanding" and "pretty irreplaceable" man she married.

"Just such a kind, loyal, loving person as a father to our kids and a family man - that was always first."

Mr Miller had been chief executive of Bluehaven Management, which owns the Golden Sands and Excelsa developments at Papamoa, since 2008.

The company also controls land holdings in the Papamoa East Wairakei growth area.

Mrs Miller said her husband was one of a group of five or six who had remained in property since working on the Maui gas pipeline running from New Plymouth to Auckland.

The group had acquired a wealth of knowledge unlikely to be repeated, she said.

Mr Miller had selected the site for Papamoa College and Golden Sands School, on behalf of the Ministry of Education, as well as sites for other major developments.

He had seen Golden Sands through the recession and was prepared to wait years for plans to come to fruition, Mrs Miller said.

"He just had foresight that nobody else that I know offered."

He was heavily involved in the development of the suburb of Flagstaff in Hamilton.

Golden Sands sales and marketing manager Mark Day worked with Mr Miller on a daily basis and said he would be very sadly missed.

"He was held in very, very high esteem by the people that worked for him and with him."
Mr Miller was a true leader, he said.

"He wasn't the boss, he just led by working very hard and you had to keep up with him.

"He was a top man, he was very well liked and positive, you wouldn't call him hard or anything. He was the happiest man around."

He enjoyed his work to the point where it became his hobby.

"His work and his family were the most important things," Mr Day said.

Mr Miller's health forced him to stop work in March of this year and it had been odd since he left, Mr Day said.

"Life was a lot easier with Bill around. Bill had everything very organised so he left the company in very, very good shape."

Mr Miller did the "big picture" work and evolved the company during his time at the helm.
He had 40 years experience in the industry.

"He'd basically grown up with property development," Mr Day said.

In January, Mr Miller told the Bay of Plenty Times the approval of the special housing accord allowing for about 283 new homes to be built in the Golden Sands area in Wairakei and about 68 in Palm Springs in Papamoa East would help Tauranga keep up with growing demand.

"If the special housing accord didn't help us to keep going then people couldn't get access to houses, people building houses and in construction end up sitting around waiting for these approvals. When you look at this area ... you can see the growth. It's good for the economy. In Tauranga, we've led the growth [nationally]," he said.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said Mr Miller had a very close working relationship with Tauranga City Council (TCC) and discussed and advised council on development issues across the city.

"He was very collaborative with TCC which is not always the case with developers," Mr Crosby said.

"He assisted us in understanding the requirements to make development feasible and also listened to us about our roles and responsibilities to the greater community."

Mr Crosby had even travelled with Mr Miller to speak at a select committee hearing on development contributions in Auckland.

"It was a great relationship we had. He had a long, long history in housing and land development. He certainly brought a lot of skill and experience and know-how to Papamoa as well."

His death was a loss to the development community and the city as a whole, Mr Crosby said. "There is no substitute for knowledge and experience."

Mr Miller was engaging, pleasant and "a hell of a nice guy," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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