Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw was among the many mourners of former regional councillor Gary McPhee, who died suddenly this week.

In a press statement released by GWRC, Mr Laidlaw described Mr McPhee as a "larger than life figure" who represented his Wairarapa constituents passionately around the council table.

"He did this by briefing himself on the issues, talking to locals and staff, and listening to discussion before offering his opinion," Mr Laidlaw said.

"In spite of his struggle with illness he always delivered when it mattered. His advice was practical, pragmatic and to the point, which was much respected by fellow councillors and staff.

Advertisement

"I knew him as a man of integrity and wisdom with a very shrewd ability to read people."

Mr Laidlaw said Mr McPhee took an intense interest in the regional council's work and was "always keen to get his hands dirty and see how things worked. He spent a lot of time with landowners and staff discussing how to keep Wairarapa's rivers in check, hillsides from eroding and the mechanics of dealing with possums and the like," he said.

"He got stuck in at community planting days and was known to pick up the barbecue tongs and cook for everyone at Wairarapa staff functions.

"As a keen motorcyclist, Gary got involved in regional transport issues and was a powerful advocate for sending logs from Wairarapa to Wellington by train to take the pressure off our roads.

"His intensely loyal representation of Wairarapa's people did not get in the way of working with his fellow councillors and he was often at the heart of finding a simple solution that suited everyone.

"He was brave man and we will all miss him. Our thoughts are with his family and friends in this very difficult time."

A celebration of Mr McPhee's life will be held at the Carterton Events Centre on Monday, June 20 at 1pm followed by burial at the Clareville Lawn Cemetery.

-Messages to the McPheefamily can be addressed to PO Box 185, Carterton 5743, or can be left on Gary's tribute page at www.tributes.co.nz