Mod­est en­gi­neer pow­ered changes

Jack James Ch­ester­man. En­gi­neer; born Hamil­ton, Novem­ber 26, 1925; died Tau­ranga, Jan­uary 13, 2008.

Manawatu Standard - - Obituaries -

One of Jack Ch­ester­man’s first en­gi­neer­ing projects was to as­sem­ble a bi­cy­cle from bits scav­enged at a Hamil­ton tip. By the time the boy-turne­dengi­neer re­tired in 1986, he had been an in­flu­en­tial fig­ure in the con­tin­uum of pub­lic ser­vice en­gi­neers re­spon­si­ble for build­ing mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar power projects that quadru­pled New Zealand’s gen­er­at­ing ca­pac­ity.

Jack Ch­ester­man, and the col­leagues who worked with him, or for him, spent 37 years in­ves­ti­gat­ing, de­sign­ing and con­struct­ing hy­dro dams. Ul­ti­mately, he be­came the state’s com­mis­sioner of works from 1981 un­til early in 1983, when he was ap­pointed sec­re­tary of en­ergy.

Ch­ester­man made his name in the min­istry’s power di­vi­sion, not that any­one turn­ing on their toaster each morn­ing would give him a mo­ment’s thought.

In any case, that was the way he pre­ferred it. He was mod­est to a fault.

The min­istry con­structed not only the na­tion’s ma­jor hy­dro-elec­tric­ity sta­tions and the dams that fed them, but geo-ther­mal sta­tions and, to a lesser ex­tent, coal-fired plants.

As a project boss on dam sites he had had to deal with unions, frac­tious land own­ers, dila­tory sup­pli­ers and the oc­ca­sional MP who could adopt a pro­pri­eto­rial in­ter­est about a project in their baili­wick. As com­mis­sioner, he was punc­til­ious in his pre­sen­ta­tions.

Ch­ester­man be­gan his pub­lic ser­vice ca­reer as a lowly clerk at the Pub­lic Trust in Hamil­ton in 194.3

In 1967 he moved to Welling­ton, be­com­ing chief con­struc­tion en­gi­neer and in 1973 the power di­vi­sion’s chief en­gi­neer. He was re­spon­si­ble for ad­vanc­ing the New Ply­mouth, Huntly and Clyde dam projects, and en­sured the Ton­gariro and Up­per Waitaki projects were fin­ished. In 1983, when he was ap­pointed sec­re­tary of en­ergy, he was in­volved in the plan­ning for the re­form of the whole of the en­ergy in­dus­try.

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