More than 400 people packed Southwards theatre to farewell Coastlands boss and Kapiti business leader Bruce Mansell.
Tears and tributes flowed for a man described as a "giant of giants" by his business partners Ngahina Trust, as one of the founding fathers of the Kapiti district, and as a devoted family man. The 74-year-old, who had been a director of Coastlands since the mid-1970s, died at his office desk in the mall building last week.
Coastlands, one of the first shopping malls to be built in New Zealand, opened in 1969. Before Saturday shopping became widespread, Wellingtonians used to flock there at weekends.
Mr Mansell was inducted into the Kapiti Business Hall of Fame in October, and Mayor Jenny Rowan acknowledged him as a "master of bringing people, land and money together".
"He contributed enormously to the community and its economic development," she said. "Coastlands is the biggest business in Kapiti and employs many people. He was a man with a vision . . . on a huge mission."
Long-time friend Barry Clevely said the timing of Mr Mansell's death was "a bit like a golfer at his first tee - if you have to go, he was in the right place at his desk in his beloved Coastlands".
Mr Mansell helped establish the Ngahina Trust, a joint enterprise with Maori landowners, which enabled major extensions to the mall.
Mr Clevely highlighted the generous community donations made by Mr Mansell, including 52 in the past year to community groups and sporting activities. Last year Mr Mansell signed off $750,000 towards the Coastlands Aquatic Centre, which is under construction. He also spearheaded a big upgrade of the mall over the past couple of years.
He was praised for his contribution to and involvement with local sporting organisations over the years, including the Horowhenua-Kapiti Rugby Union.
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