Community mourns local govt stalwarts

The district lost two of its local government stalwarts in the last few weeks with the deaths of former Central Otago District Council mayor Dr Malcolm Macpherson and former CODC deputy mayor Cliff Brunton.

Malcolm became a councillor in 1990 and was mayor from 2001 to 2010, which meant he was mayor when I first came onto the Vincent Community Board.

However, my first contact with him was before that and was the first time I ever wrote to a mayor.

His response was characteristic of the man and heavily influenced the type of mayor I try to be.

I had written to him querying how the planned Alexandra swimming pool could possibly cost the money that was being proposed.

Of course, like quite a few people, I hadn’t read the council documents that no doubt described the reasons why, nor had I read any of the newspaper articles on the build nor submitted on the proposal before I put pen to paper.

I will always remember being surprised and pleased when I got a letter back from Malcolm (this was pre-email) where he patiently explained to me about the pool, the cost, the funding, etc.

I can’t remember the details, but I can remember how it made me feel getting that letter.

It made me feel valued.

This was a lesson I have tried to remember every day I have worn the chains he once wore.

Chains which, by the way, sit in a beautiful wooden case which he made with his highly skilled craftsman’s hands.

Malcolm went on to do many things after the mayoralty, including chairing Central Lakes Trust through to revitalising Central Stories in more recent times.

In discussing his death with others over the past few days, the common refrain has been that he was one of life’s gentlemen.

Cliff Brunton was one of life’s characters.

He was deputy mayor of Central Otago from 1992 to 1998 and an Alexandra borough councillor before reformation. Although I did not sit on council with him, I did get to know him through my time working alongside him as a lawyer. Cliff was always up for a yarn and had a wealth of stories to call on from an eventful life.

Malcolm and Cliff — two guys who did way more than their bit for the community they lived in and who both leave behind lives very well lived.

My thoughts are with their families at this sad time.