Passionate Wellingtonian dies

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2014

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The man who helped bring the Absolutely Positively Wellington and the Wellington Phoenix to life, has died.

Ian Wells, head of New Zealand Tennis, chairman of Cricket Wellington and a former general manager of Wellington Newspapers, which owned The Dominion Post, was 76 when he died peacefully on Saturday.

His son Jason said his father was one of the smartest people you could ever meet.

"Dad was very generous, very passionate about sport and about Wellington," he said. "He loved the newspapers and he loved life."

Mr Wells and fellow bid head John Dow conceived the idea for a Wellington team to take over the failed Auckland Knights A-League licence in 2007.

The pair did most of the work on the bid, but almost failed to secure the money needed to start the team. Entrepreneur Terry Serepisos stepped in at the eleventh hour to bankroll the team and the rest is history.

His great football love was Wellington club side Miramar Rangers, of which he was chairman and a life member.

Mr Wells began his career as a sports reporter with The Dominion in 1965.

He later became advertising manager and business manager for Wellington Newspapers before spending 17 years as general manager from 1985.

Under his watch, the company developed the Absolutely Positively Wellington slogan and gifted it to Wellington City Council.

His involvement with New Zealand Tennis started in the 1970s and he served as chairman of the national body for 20 years.

In 2004, he became chairman of Cricket Wellington. Former New Zealand cricketer Gavin Larsen, who was chief executive during Mr Wells' tenure, said yesterday: "It's a really sad loss. Ian's contribution to sports admin has been immense . . . we have lost an absolute champion. He was very insightful and I really valued his wise counsel when it came to some of the tougher decisions that have to be made . . . I feel I have lost a friend."

Mr Wells is survived by his second wife, Joan, son Jason and three grandchildren. His funeral will be held on Thursday.

- Read an interview with Ian Wells here.

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- The Dominion Post

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