Former Christchurch mayor and TV host Sir Bob Parker is determined to attend the February 22, 2011 earthquake memorial service despite his own ill-health.
Parker, who was mayor during the 2010-11 quakes, is in a hospital care facility in Christchurch after suffering a heart attack, which was followed by a stroke late last year.
He was an inspirational leader who during the dark days in the immediate aftermath of the quakes was the voice of reassurance to Christchurch residents.
"At the time I was just doing my job trying to get information out to people. It always felt it was just such a privilege to be able to help," Parker said.
He said attending the memorial service to support those who lost loved ones or were injured in the earthquake is important to him. He has attended all previous memorial events and wants to be there again as a mark of respect to the many victims.
Parker, 68, felt at his fittest when he had a heart attack in the early hours of May 3 last year.
He was treated and received medication including blood-thinning drugs for his initial medical event.
Then, seemingly well-recovered, he had a stroke on the morning of October 5 - just days after he attended an event in Akaroa to mark the restoration of the historic lighthouse.
He collapsed at his Christchurch home with the life-threatening stroke causing an intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH), which is bleeding within the brain tissue.
Parker spent 11 days in Christchurch Hospital's Intensive Care Unit in a critical condition before being transferred to a general ward for a further two to three weeks' monitoring.
That then followed 11 weeks of care and rehabilitation at Burwood Hospital, where he had two smaller strokes, before he moved to his current care facility at the end of last week.
His wife, Lady Jo Nicholls-Parker is full of praise for the medical treatment her husband has received.
"At every stage of Sir Bob's illness, he has had the most amazing care and support from hospital staff at all levels," she said.
"We cannot speak highly enough of our health system. Staff have been exceptional. We both just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to his care."
The stroke has affected movement on Parker's left side and he is currently in a wheelchair.
"Although Sir Bob is now in a private facility we intend to continue with the occupational therapy and physiotherapy treatment established at Burwood to improve his movement," Nicholls-Parker said.
The family has appreciated messages of support from family and friends. They are now asking for privacy so they can focus on his rehabilitation.
Christchurch-born Parker served two terms as the city's mayor from 2007 to 2013.
His tenure spanned the 2010 and 2011 earthquake sequence which devastated the city, and on February 22, 2011 claimed the lives of 185 people.
With his fluoro-jacket, Parker was an ever-present face in the quake's aftermath, leading recovery efforts, working alongside the police, army, and international rescue squads, and dealing with the media's questions.
Developer/businessman Bert Goven, who's been friends with Parker for 25 years, said: "It's been a huge shock to Bob and his family. Bob's always been somebody that's exercised regularly, he's done a lot of bike riding, he's got a gym set up at home, he's very conscious with his diet and for his age and stage, everybody believed he had a really healthy lifestyle and was really fit.
"To be the subject of a heart attack, and then a few short months later a series of strokes - has been a real shock.
"But he's always been a very positive persona and a great communicator, and I think he's digging deep into those personal characteristics now, as he deals with the current challenges."
Goven says he's not surprised at all that Parker's determined to attend the February 22 memorial, and "it sounds exactly like the Bob that we know".
"Whatever your political persuasion, I think everybody in Canterbury would acknowledge that Bob and Jo provided huge leadership after the earthquakes and displayed their empathy and love and respect for their fellow man.
"And I think that just shows the depth of character of Bob - he's digging deep into his own depth of character now to cope with his current circumstances."
Parker's father died in 2013 just hours after his son was awarded a knighthood.
Parker completed his secondary studies at Cashmere High School before going on to study zoology at the University of Canterbury.
He became a household name in New Zealand via his broadcasting career, starring on radio before becoming a much-loved face on TV.
His broadcasting career included hosting the New Zealand version of This Is Your Life between 1984 and 1996.
Parker then turned his attention to local body politics.
He was the mayor of the Banks Peninsula District Council for two terms from 2001-2006. That council later merged with Christchurch City and Parker was that body's mayor in 2007. He was re-elected in 2010.
His second term coincided with the deadly February 2011 earthquake.
Parker fronted regular press conferences in the immediate aftermath.
He also talked at the Christchurch memorial service at Hagley Park; an event which included then Prime Minister Sir John Key and Prince William.
While his leadership was heralded at the time of the disaster, his popularity dropped as residents became frustrated at delays in making key decisions around the city's recovery plan and repairs to housing and infrastructure.
In July 2013, several months before that year's local body elections, he announced he would not seek re-election.
In the 2014, New Year Honours he was awarded a knighthood for his service to local body politics and the community.
Previously, he had been named the "Local Hero" in the 2012 New Zealander of the Year Awards. That year he was also named "Communicator of the Year" by the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand.
In an interview with the New Zealand Herald in 2019, Parker spoke of the ongoing rebuild of Christchurch, and the recovery of its people.
During a walkabout of the CBD he said the city would again rise. "One of the most frequent questions from overseas media who came [after the quake] was, 'Are you going to have a city?'," he said.
"We told them this place has a great future and it's proven true. The city is rising again."
But Parker said at the time that he had been dismayed at the lack of progress of the cathedral, as well as key projects in the rebuild's blueprint: the convention centre, new sports stadium, and Metro Sports Facility.
"It's happened back to front, in a kind of way. Many of those big projects were designed to help bring stability, confidence and new investment into the city and some of them still haven't happened, which is frustrating," he said.
"But you look around the city and it's extraordinary what's happened. It's evolving into a great city – a beautiful and incredibly safe city."