Sir Bob Parker believes his late father waited to see his son's knighthood publicly announced before passing away.

Robert Parker Snr, 86, died at midday yesterday, after being ill with cancer in a Christchurch hospice for some time.

Sir Bob - who has been appointed a knight companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to local body affairs and the community - made a special trip to his local paper's printing press early yesterday morning to get a copy of its first edition so his father could see the coverage of his knighthood.

"I shared the news with dad a few weeks back, but he was determined to see it in the paper and it become public, and I would think that he hung on as long as he could," Sir Bob said.


"I zipped out to the printing press in the early hours ... and grabbed a copy of the [Christchurch] Press and took it in [to the hospice], and he looked at it and he squeezed my hand and he slipped away at midday ... surrounded by the family.

"It was quite an extraordinary day for the family," Sir Bob said.

Being recognised in the New Year Honours list had been tinged with sadness because of his father's health, he said.

"As a son, to be able to give this to my dad at the end of his life - it's way beyond words to describe the sense of humility and the feeling of pride to tell him this has happened, and to see that it meant so much to him," he said before his father died.

Sir Bob said he never expected the honour, which he views as a tribute to those he worked alongside, particularly in the aftermath of the Canterbury earthquakes.

"It's a tribute to council staff who ran Civil Defence and the infrastructure work we did, it's for Usar [Urban Search and Rescue], defence forces, emergency services, volunteers and the whole community."

His 22 years in local government included two terms as Christchurch Mayor. Sir Bob's father is survived by his wife, Audrey.