Former Hastings mayor Jeremy Dwyer never' />

"I want to write. I've always wanted to write, but I've had to put that aside during my local government time."
Former Hastings mayor Jeremy Dwyer never got the chance to fulfill that dream or another of his post-politics goals, to live and work overseas for a while. He died at Cransford Hospice on Saturday night aged 58, after battling melanoma for more than a year.
Mr Dwyer, who once modestly described himself as "a fixer" - someone who could pick up something in a bit of a mess and sort it out - was a man who, above all, enjoyed people.
"He brought that trait to his wide-ranging roles and interests in politics, education, community and international relationships, marking himself out as an independent, progressive leader who was always accessible, approachable and empathetic to people from all walks of life.
Jeremy Dwyer was born at Waipawa in 1947, the eighth of 10 children to Sam and Lillian Dwyer.
He contracted polio as a child, which left him with medical problems that plagued him for the rest of his life and kept him in hospital for long periods.
It was during his long days in hospital that he learned to write, and it was there, as he watched people come and go - and some die - that he formed his basic philosophy on life: "Walk the talk, however you want to put it. And that is my philosophy for Hastings too. Lie down or get up and walk."
Mr Dwyer followed two other generations of Dwyers when he became a teacher at Te Aute College in 1972. His grandfather, E. G. Loten, was principal from 1920 -1951, and his father, Sam, taught there for 37 years, serving as deputy principal for most of that time.
During his five years at the college he became involved in many organisations supporting the college, including a group that campaigned successfully in 1973 to stop the school being closed down.
In 1976, his last year teaching at the college, he was elected to its newly-established board of governors, going on to serve as board chairman from 1979 to 1981.
Mr Dwyer first came to public notice as a tousle-haired, moustachioed young man passionately promoting the policies of the blossoming Social Credit Party as its star rose in the mid-1970s. He was the party's deputy-leader and Hastings candidate for the 1975 and 1978 general elections.
In 1977, aged 29, he became the youngest councillor ever elected to the Hastings City Council. He was re-elected in 1980, but in 1981 stepped aside from both national and local politics "for personal reasons" and went back to teaching.
His political retirement was short-lived, however. In 1986, at the tender age of 38, he stood for and won the Hastings mayoralty and almost immediately had to face the social fall-out from the closure of the Whakatu freezing works.
In 1989 he was elected mayor of the newly-formed Hastings District - a job he held until 2001, when he hung up his mayoral chain for the last time and began a three-year stint on the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
He had a harsh initiation as district mayor. The marriage of the former Hastings City, Hawke's Bay County and Havelock North Borough councils got off to a shaky start.
Holding it together was a true test of Mr Dwyer's diplomatic skills as he fought to reassure a reluctant rural constituency they had not been led down the aisle to face financial and political ruin.
It was also a low point in the relationship between Mr Dwyer and then-Napier mayor Alan Dick, who offered political support to the rural rebels seeking to break away from Hastings district.
"That was the worst period of my life," Mr Dwyer reflected recently, as he approached his final weeks of regional council meetings last year.
He admitted at the time he had a "wee health problem" to get over first, but fully expected to be pursuing his love of poetry, short stories, journalism, diaries and essays.
And, having spent most of his life living and working in Hawke's Bay, he was looking forward to a stint of teaching overseas somewhere - "maybe China".
People and humour always took precedence over formality with Mr Dwyer, and over the years he built up a stock of anecdotes. His right leg was shorter than his left, the result of osteomyelitis as a teenager, so he wore a built-up shoe on his right foot. It attracted children's gazes like a magnet, and was the subject of open and direct curiosity.
"I always waited for 'the question' to be raised," he said.
A little boy was overheard surmising one day that Mr Dwyer must have got his shoes from Dress For Less.
He liked to tell the story of the child who listened intently to his explanation, then pronounced "Mr Dwyer, that must be your only impurity".
On a more serious level, his enthusiasm for nurturing harmony between people of all nationalities and ethnic groups drew Mr Dwyer and his wife Marilyn into many international links, from hosting AFS students in their Clive home, to being made an honorary citizen of Guilin, in China, in 2000, and Rapid City in South Dakota, US, which he visited in 1996 on a month-long study trip at the invitation of the then-American Ambassador to New Zealand, Josiah Beeman.
On the home front, he established the district council's first position for a Maori liaison officer, and tried to ensure all the marae in the district had an effective voice through the council's Maori Advisory committee.
In 1998 he was awarded a Queens' Service Order for services to the community.
In 2001 he was presented with a carved walking stick (toko toko) from the Flaxmere Maori community, and invited to become a "patron kaumatua" for the new urban marae.
He subsequently established the popular, annual international festival in Cornwall Park, Hastings.
After leaving the mayoralty, Mr Dwyer became national president of Sister Cities New Zealand. He saw many opportunities ahead of the organisation, and looked forward to promoting tourism, business, and assisting people-to-people networking.
He also took on the job as statutory manager of Te Aute College, helping that school and Hukarere draw up plans to survive and thrive.
In October this year, some of Mr Dwyer's closest former colleagues on the district council turned out to see him awarded Rotary's highest honour, a Paul Harris Fellowship, in recognition of his contributions to many sectors of society.
Presenting the award, Havelock North Rotary president David Ward said Mr Dwyer was honoured for his work and achievements in education, local government, Maori affairs, and Rotary.
He is survived by his wife Marilyn, his son Sam and two stepsons Andrew and Matthew.