Mark Ford, who has quietly and efficiently been responsible for ensuring Aucklanders have high-quality water and wastewater disposal, has lost a long battle with illness. He died yesterday, aged 64.
For the best part of 20 years, Mr Ford led Watercare Services where he oversaw the $500 million expansion of the Mangere wastewater treatment plant, the $130 million Waikato River project and the replacing of the ageing sewer pipe across Hobson Bay.
He stepped down from Watercare last month for health reasons.
He was known in political and business circles as "The Fixer". His leadership skills were recognised by the Government; it appointed him to chair troubled state-owned coal company Solid Energy in 2012 and gave him a role in the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team.
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In an interview with the Herald in 2010, Mr Ford revealed a disciplined side to his life - rising at 4.30am, spending an hour working out in his gymnasium, followed by a swim and a sauna - "my thinking time".
He was not a night person. "When you're having your first chardonnay, I'm probably asleep," he said. At work he was systematic, a stickler for process, open to "contestable advice", but unafraid to make a decision once everyone had had their say.
Mr Ford was born in Britain and came to New Zealand at age 12. After attending Auckland University he worked in Australia, Britain and the United States before returning to New Zealand in 1987.
He was chief executive of Forestry Corporation and Timberlands managing director before joining Watercare and became the first chairman of Auckland Transport.
"We feel for his family, and extend our deepest sympathy to them," said Watercare chairman David Clarke.
Mayor Len Brown tweeted: "Sad to hear of the passing of Mark Ford. Mark gave many years of service to Auckland. Thoughts with his family."
*Watercare chief executive since 1994
*Headed agency that set up Super City structure
*Chaired troubled Solid Energy