Bob Parker (mayor)

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Sir Bob Parker
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker.jpg
Bob Parker in 2011
45th Mayor of Christchurch
In office
October 2007 – October 2013
Preceded by Garry Moore
Succeeded by Lianne Dalziel
Personal details
Born 1953
Nationality New Zealand
Political party independent
Spouse(s) (2nd marriage) Joanna Parker-Nicholls
Residence Christchurch Central City

Sir Robert "Bob" Parker, KNZM (born 1953) is a former broadcaster and the immediate past Mayor of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Early years[edit]

Parker grew up in the Christchurch suburbs of Heathcote Valley and Somerfield. He attended Christchurch South Intermediate and Cashmere High School. He studied an intermediate year in Zoology at the University of Canterbury before undertaking casual work.[1]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Parker got his first job on radio, in Nelson. His broadcasting career then took him to Christchurch, Wellington and then Auckland.[1] He was the associate producer and original host (1984–1996) of the New Zealand version of the This is Your Life series after he purchased the New Zealand television rights for the show from Ralph Edwards Productions in California. He returned to Christchurch in 1992.[2]

Local body politics[edit]

Sir Robert Parker's local government career spanned more than two decades. He first became politically active when he filled a Councillor vacancy on the Banks Peninsula District Council in the early 1990s.[3] Having lived in Akaroa for several years, he served as mayor of Banks Peninsula District for two terms (2001–2006). He favoured amalgamation of the district with Christchurch City and led a high profile and controversial campaign leading to a poll in 2005. Amalgamation with the City was supported by 65% of the Peninsula's voters[4] Amalgamation took place on 3 March 2006, at which Parker after winning a by-election became a Christchurch City Councillor, and the sole Banks Peninsula representative on the council.[3]

In 2006 Parker was elected as the independent chair of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy. This saw the bringing together of 4 local councils, Christchurch, Selwyn, Waimakariri and the Canterbury Regional Council for a major planning undertaking based on creating a sustainable growth plan for the greater Christchurch area. The Strategy was adopted in 2007 by all of the member councils and is today the basis for all spatial planning in the greater Christchurch area.

In October 2007, Parker successfully stood in the local government elections for the Christchurch mayoralty, after the retirement of Garry Moore.[5] He received 47,033 votes, with Megan Woods (32,821) and Jo Giles (14,454) in the election contested by ten candidates.[6]

Parker announced in 2009 that he would seek re-election at the 2010 Christchurch mayoral election.[7]

Despite being the incumbent, he initially polled behind his major challenger[8][9][10] until the large 2010 Canterbury earthquake[11] on 4 September 2010. His high-profile handling of the civil emergency was widely praised,[12] and polls taken later showed him taking the lead.[13] It was announced on 9 October that Parker had been re-elected for a second term with 68,245 of the votes to Jim Anderton's 51,566 based on 98% of the votes counted.[14]

2010 earthquake[edit]

Parker performing with The Bats at the Band Together Concert For Canterbury in October 2010

Mayor Parker was the incumbent mayor at the time of the September 2010 Canterbury earthquake. During the days following the quake, the mayor worked with Civil Defence, the police and the New Zealand Army to get the city back up and running. In October 2010, Christchurch band The Bats and many others played at a free earthquake relief concert in Hagley Park in front of about 140,000 people. Parker joined The Bats for the performance and played guitar.[15][16]

Before the earthquake, some polls had Parker trailing Anderton but his high profile since September 4 and cool handling of the earthquake's aftermath won him widespread praise and the support of voters who overwhelmingly backed him to run the city for a second term.[17]

2011 earthquake[edit]

Mayor Parker speaks to ships' companies in the port town Lyttelton

Mayor Parker has been the media face of the recovery efforts in the aftermath of the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, working with the police and the army and rescue squads, as well as answering the media's questions.

On 18 March, Parker addressed in the national Christchurch memorial service at Hagley Park of Christchurch in the presence of Prince William, Prime Minister John Key, Dame Malvina Major, Hayley Westenra, ChristChurch Cathedral Choir, dignitaries, international rescue teams and tens of thousands of New Zealanders.[18]

After the February earthquake the New Zealand Government brought in a special act of Parliament "The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act" which essentially passed ultimate responsibility for the rebuilding of post-quake Christchurch to the Government. The Council was given the task of preparing a new plan to rebuild the central business district of the City. The project, chaired by Mayor Parker, was titled "share an idea". It won international acclaim for the Council, including the international "Co Creation" award - the first time this award had been granted outside of Europe.[19]

Outrage was expressed at the Parker-led council, after Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt was given a near $70,000 pay rise in 2011.[20] A protest was held at the City Council Building on 1 February 2012. Approximately 4000 citizens turned up to protest the decision of the City Council, and to call for a mid-term election.[21]

In April 2013 when the government announced the cost of the rebuild was going to be as much as $40 billion, Parker said it was "no surprise", and welcomed the extra investment as being "good for GDP".[22]

Residential protest against Parker and CEO Tony Marryatt

In mid-June 2013, Minister for Earthquake Recovery Gerry Brownlee revealed in a press conference that International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) had written to Christchurch City Council threatening to revoke its accreditation for issuing building consents. This caught Parker by surprise, as he knew nothing of this threat, and he criticised Brownlee for not communicating with him before the press conference; Parker famously labelled Brownlee's practice a "media missile".[23][24] Brownlee and Parker had at times a strained relationship, with the government taking an increasing amount of control in local decision making.[25]

In July 2013, Parker announced on Campbell Live he would not be running for re-election in the upcoming Christchurch mayoral elections, citing exhaustion and not having the required energy for a third term as mayor. He stated that although staff had assured him they would satisfy the requirements of the consenting process the accreditation had been withdrawn,[26][27] as this had happened on "his watch" as Mayor he felt he should take responsibility for the loss.[28][29]

In July 2013 an editorial in the Christchurch Press noted that a tribute paid to Mayor Parker by the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key was "well deserved".[30] The Prime Minister in a speech to the New Zealand Local Government organisation stated that Parker's "commitment to the city during its darkest hours will be his legacy".

Former Mayor Parker was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Local Government and the community in the New Years honours list 2014. The Press editorial stated that "He fronted the media coverage of the two disasters and the ensuing civil emergencies to local and international media. His calm leadership throughout the emergency periods were noted for providing reassurance and hope to the people of Christchurch."[31]

Personal life[edit]

Sir Robert Parker has three sons from his first marriage, plus three grandchildren. His second marriage is to Joanna Nicholls-Parker.[1]

Political offices
Preceded by
Noeline Allan
Mayor of Banks Peninsula
2001–2006
Office abolished
Preceded by
Garry Moore
Mayor of Christchurch
2007–2013
Succeeded by
Lianne Dalziel

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Mayor Bob Parker – biography". Christchurch City Council. Retrieved 27 January 2010. 
  2. ^ "Speakers Biographies – Bob Parker". Tourism Industry Conference New Zealand. 1 August 2008. Retrieved 27 January 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Twenty years serving the community". The Press. 19 June 2013. p. A5. 
  4. ^ Archive of bobparker.co.nz, Archive.org, 2004.
  5. ^ Gay, Edward (13 October 2007). "New faces aplenty in local government shake-ups". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  6. ^ "Christchurch City Mayor". Local Elections 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2011. 
  7. ^ Conway, Glenn (20 April 2010). "Gordon to enter race". Christchurch: The Press. p. A2. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "Mayoralty SurveyChristchurch City Council" (PDF). Wellington: UMR Research. June 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  9. ^ "Anderton Leading Parker In Race". UMR Research Ltd. 14 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Conway, Glenn (28 August 2010). "Anderton leads in mayoral race". The Press. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  11. ^ Christchurch 7.1magnitude – 4.35am Sat 4th Sept 2010, Geonet, Christchurch Earthquake Reference
  12. ^ Conway, Glenn (8 September 2010). "Parker's 20-hour days for 'a personal thing'". The Press. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Christchurch mayor's stock rises post-quake". The New Zealand Herald. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Conway, Glenn (9 October 2010). "Bob Parker re-elected Christchurch Mayor". The Press. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  15. ^ "Rocking for right reasons". The Press. 25 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Bob and The Bats on show". The Press. 11 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  17. ^ Conway, Glenn (9 October 2010). "Bob Parker re-elected Christchurch Mayor". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  18. ^ "Christchurch quake memorial service: As it happened". Television New Zealand. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  19. ^ http://www.stoppress.co.nz/blog/2011/11/strategys-share-an-idea-gets-international-co-creation-plaudits
  20. ^ "Christchurch protest over city chief's pay rise". TVNZ. 22 December 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2011. 
  21. ^ Sachdeva, Sam (2 February 2012). "Protesters threaten rates revolt in Christchurch". The Press. Retrieved 4 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Satherley, Dan (29 April 2013). "Rebuild cost jump 'no surprise' - Parker". 3 News NZ. Retrieved 29 April 2013. 
  23. ^ "Ultimatum in consent crisis looms". The Press. 14 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  24. ^ Cairns, Lois (14 June 2013). "Council's 'arranged marriage' on the rocks". The Press. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "Race to decide who's the boss". The Press. 22 June 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  26. ^ O'Callaghan, Jody; Young, Rachel; Cairns, Lois (2 July 2013). "Govt to move on consent debacle". The Press (Christchurch). pp. A1–A2. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Christchurch City Council CEO takes leave". Fairfax New Zealand. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  28. ^ O'Callaghan, Jody (6 July 2013). "Mayor Parker quits". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  29. ^ Conway, Glenn (6 July 2013). "'This happened on my watch' - Parker". The Press. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  30. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/editorials/8966098/Editorial-Parker-tribute-well-deserved
  31. ^ http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/editorials/9564989/Editorial-Controversial-but-deserved