Tributes for stalwart
The pioneer of modern social work in New Zealand and former Palmerston North city councillor Merv Hancock died on Saturday.
His contribution to the city and its community workers was honoured in 2012 with the naming of Hancock Community House, home to some 15 voluntary agencies.
Hancock was born in Palmerston North, and spent most of his adult life in the city from 1960.
An historian and former child welfare officer, he was the first president of the New Zealand Association of Social Workers and was appointed to run the first New Zealand undergraduate degree in Social Work at Massey University in 1975.
He ran his own relationship counselling service, and was instrumental in the creation and development of many community groups, including Methodist Social Services, Birthright, Marriage Guidance, Parents’ Centre, Home Budgeting, and the National Society on Alcohol and Drug Addiction.
Hancock was elected to the city council in 1983.
Former mayor Paul Rieger promoted him to the chairmanship of finance and economic committee. ‘‘He thought I was joking, and that he had no credibility in that area,’’ Rieger said.
But Rieger said his vast knowledge, analytical skills and decision-making abilities were superb. ‘‘He was an amazing guy.’’ He helped establish job creation agency, the Enterprise Board, and nurtured the relationship with Japanese investors that led to setting up the International Pacific College, later IPU.
He stood down from the council in 1992, and later chaired the community liaison group assessing future options for the city’s sewage treatment system.
In 2012, aged 86, Hancock received an honorary doctorate from Massey University.
Earlier honours included a QSO in 1989, the Massey Medal in 1999, and a civic award in 2008.
Palmerston North Mayor Grant Smith has paid tribute to the former councillor. ‘‘Merv Hancock really made a difference to the lives of many. He was a loyal servant to the community of Palmerston North and to his country. My own family knew him well. He was a great man.’’
Hancock was a devoted husband to Alison, who died in the care of Arohanui Hospice in 2008. The couple had three children, Mary, Michael and Brent.
Former Palmerston North city councillor and Massey University social work pioneer Merv Hancock.