Most newspapers have a core group of regular letter writers.

They are a dedicated band of loyal readers, usually retired, who spend hours penning letters to the editor on a range of topics.

Hawke's Bay Today is no different, with a stable of correspondents who keep up a constant stream of letters. The best known of writers to this paper was Derek Williams, a retired building contractor who lived in Taradale.

Sadly, Mr Williams died this week, aged 77.


Mr Williams was well-known in local government circles, having stood unsuccessfully for the Napier City Council on a number of occasions.

He was a frequent attendee at council meetings, especially regional council, because he had strong views on the dam and the environment in general. There is no doubt Mr Williams knew his stuff - in particular, sewerage works and environmental issues. When he wrote letters or opinion pieces on these subjects, he made some very good points.

However, it is fair to say that Mr Williams was a rather misunderstood man.

Certainly, his relationship with a long line of editors of this paper, including myself, was rather complicated. He had strong views and was never afraid to give them. I like to think that in recent times Mr Williams and this paper came to an arrangement where his combative emails to a large group of local politicians and others stopped in exchange for letters to the editor being published on a regular basis.

Derek Williams simply wanted to be heard. One of the last letters (not for publication) that he sent me was to ask me if I would allow him to choose who wrote his obituary. I agreed and yesterday Tom Johnson's tribute to Mr Williams appeared in this paper. Derek would have liked it. I am sure he also would have had a chuckle at the fact that an editor had finally written something about him.