Columnist celebrates 100th birthday

By James Baker

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PHOTO TAKEN BY STUART MUNRO PENETRATING PEN KEEPS THE POLITICIANS HONEST: Scribe Frank Respinger hard at work researching his next letter.
PHOTO TAKEN BY STUART MUNRO PENETRATING PEN KEEPS THE POLITICIANS HONEST: Scribe Frank Respinger hard at work researching his next letter.

A Whanganui Chronicle columnist who made it his mission to keep politicians honest turns 100 on Saturday.

Writer Frank Respinger will celebrate his birthday surrounded by family at Nazareth Rest Home this weekend.

Both Tories and Labourites came under the scrutiny of Mr Respinger, says his son, Leo.

"He didn't have any strong political views, or go out of his way to promote a particular point of view.

"He saw things along the lines that he wanted to see the right things done, more than anything."

He was disappointed with the environmental deregulations made during the 80s, but it was in 1992 when the former industrial chemist became an instrumental part of the campaign to elect Cam Campion as Whanganui MP that he really picked up a taste for political writing.

"I remember him just being surrounded by stacks of paper.

"He would check each detail in a very manual way. This was before Google you've got to understand."

Leo remembers in 2006 his father was responsible for uncovering a political scandal involving MP Taito Philip Fields. A police investigation would reveal the politician was using his position to get work done to his property by immigrants in exchange for work permits.

The MP was eventually convicted and sentenced to six years jail for bribery, corruption and perverting the course of justice.

In a previous article about his life Mr Respinger has told the Chronicle he lamented what he saw as a "buddy-buddy system" amongst politicians.

"I don't believe I'm wasting my time. I've only ever kept an eye out for what I think isn't just. I can't turn a blind eye to deliberate cover-ups," he said.

After the Fields saga the Prime Minister Helen Clark issued a statement saying she would consider a code of conduct for MPs.

Later in life Mr Respinger spent much of his time golfing, achieving 10 holes-in-one during a game despite carrying only a five iron and rescue club.

He was one of the first people in New Zealand to receive laser eye treatment. According to Leo, when asked by his golfing partners whether he was seeing better his dad quipped, "It's very good and you have all aged 15 years".

- Wanganui Chronicle

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