Pas­sion for city was ad­mired

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

A man con­sid­ered the god­fa­ther of Porirua pol­i­tics died re­cently and even his for­mer ad­ver­saries won’t say a bad word.

John Watson gave years of ded­i­cated, vol­un­tary ser­vice to Porirua as a po­lit­i­cal and en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist, phi­lan­thropist and com­mu­nity worker.

For many years he was a pro­lific let­ter writer to lo­cal news­pa­pers on var­i­ous is­sues, of­ten tak­ing pot shots at Porirua City Coun­cil and coun­cil­lors over as­sorted mat­ters.

Watson re­ceived a civic award from the coun­cil in 2009.

The no­ta­tion de­scribed him as up­hold­ing ‘‘prin­ci­ples of hon­esty, loy­alty, hon­our, ac­count­abil­ity and so­cial jus­tice. To many, he has been an in­spi­ra­tion, men­tor, friend, and sup­porter. In­tol­er­ant of fail­ure, he has never suf­fered fools gladly, but al­ways sup­ported some­one who tries.’’

Watson’s sense of hu­mour was well en­joyed by any­one he met; even those he found him­self up against in lo­cal body af­fairs.

Watson was a foun­da­tion mem­ber of the Porirua Li­cens­ing Trust, the first chair­man of that trust and served as chair­man and vice chair­man from 1957 to 1968.

He served as sec­re­tary, pres­i­dent and vice pres­i­dent of the Ti­tahi Bay Res­i­dents’ and Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion for more than 20 years and was a mem­ber and com­mit­tee mem­ber for nearly 60 years.

He was a long- time Labour Party mem­ber and ex­ec­u­tive un­til the party pol­icy changes of the 1980s, when he be­gan to be out­spo­ken on Labour’s se­lec­tion choices for Porirua City Coun­cil.

Watson was a long- serv­ing mem­ber of the Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Bureau, Grey Power and Plan­e­tar­ium, a lit­ter pre­ven­tion of­fi­cer and scenic re­serve of­fi­cer for the coun­cil and a mem­ber of nu­mer­ous other com­mu­nity, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions.

For­mer Porirua mayor John Burke said he and Watson clashed nu­mer­ous times over the years on dif­fer­ent is­sues.

He can re­call faxes ‘‘fly­ing in’’ to him from Watson when he was a li­cens­ing trus­tee and city coun­cil­lor in the 1970s and 1980s, be­fore Watson even­tu­ally grad­u­ated to email.

There had been a thaw­ing in re­la­tions re­cently.

‘‘I knew John for well over 40 years,’’ Burke said.

‘‘ He cer­tainly had a way of keep­ing elected mem­bers hon­est.

‘‘We didn’t see eye to eye now and then and he of­ten got grumpy with me and I with him, but about three years ago he asked me to come to a Hutt Mana Char­i­ta­ble Trust meet­ing.

‘‘He said some nice words about my ser­vice to the trust, which was very nice.’’

Burke said he spoke to Watson a few times a year and al­ways found his com­ments on Porirua topics con­struc­tive and in­tel­li­gent.

Another for­mer Porirua mayor, Jenny Brash, said she was grate­ful for Watson’s ad­vice dur­ing her ten­ure.

Watson gave money to her cam­paign when she ousted Burke in 1998.

‘‘John [Watson] was ab­so­lutely pas­sion­ate about Porirua, he wanted the best for this city,’’ Brash said.

‘‘I val­ued his thoughts, even if some­times I didn’t agree with them.

‘‘He was a watch­dog and his pass­ing is such a sad thing for Porirua.’’

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