Editorial: Brightest lights gone too soon

By Keri Welham

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First we lost Lloyd Morrison.

The visionary entrepreneur and investment banker used the money he made to enrich the lives of others. He would cycle around Wellington when he was home from treatment in the United States and though he grew frail as the months dragged on, his mana remained immense. He was a man who cared about his community, his city, his country.

In 1994 he founded Infratil, a successful New Zealand company active in the energy, airport and public transport sectors.

He helped rescue the Wellington Phoenix football team and supported many charitable organisations such as a choir for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Hugh Richmond Lloyd Morrison, CNZM, a man who routinely cooked breakfast for his five children, died from leukaemia on February 10, aged 54.

Less than a month later, we lost sportsman, lawyer and top administrator Jock Hobbs.

Hobbs played 21 tests as an All Blacks flanker, four of those as captain.

While being an All Blacks captain is traditionally considered the sporting pinnacle in this country, he will undoubtedly be most fondly remembered for his impact on the game as chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Union. He led the successful bid for the hosting rights of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and thankfully he lived to see the tournament. Michael James Bowie "Jock" Hobbs, CNZM, died after a long battle with leukaemia on March 13, aged 52.

Sir Paul Callaghan died over the weekend, a third significant loss for a country as small as ours. Sir Paul was a physicist who turned entrepreneur. He was founding director of the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and a founding director and shareholder of Magritek, a technology company selling nuclear magnetic resonance and MRI instruments to the world. Sir Paul inspired other scientists to commercialise their work. He had a vision of a diverse economy built on smart thinking. Sir Paul Terence Callaghan, GNZM, FRS, FRSNZ, died of colon cancer on March 24, aged 64.

The cumulative loss of these three men, each of them great New Zealanders, is profound. Who knows what they could have achieved if they'd just lived another 10 years each.

Of course, a legion of amazing anonymous New Zealanders have left this world in the past six weeks. Someone's mum, someone's son, someone's best friend. Their deaths are no less mourned, no less significant.

But at times like this, when we have lost people whose achievements elevated them to national recognition and whose goals included doing good by their country on an international stage, it appears to leave a void.

The question must be asked whether we do enough to recognise greatness while it is in our midst. New Zealanders are so offended by bragging, but if we insist on the abolition of grubby self-promotion, we must be able to offer appropriate praise to those who are worthy.

In a week like this, we must appreciate those who will take up the mantle, be it in business, sport, science or any other sector. We must ensure it is not only when we eulogise great citizens that we honour their achievements.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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