Sir Bob Parker's knighthood polarises opinion

Last updated 05:00 01/01/2014
Bob Parker and parents
Joseph Johnson

BITTERSWEET TIME: Sir Bob Parker with his parents Robert and Audrey on July 13. Sir Bob Parker's father died today, just hours after his son was knighted in the New Year's Honours.

Lianne Dalziel
Daniel Tobin
CHRISTCHURCH MAYOR: Lianne Dalziel

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Sir Bob Parker's successor as Christchurch mayor has praised his leadership but elsewhere reaction to the knighthood was mixed.

Talkback callers and online readers were divided yesterday over whether Parker should have been honoured, with hundreds expressing their views.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel congratulated Parker and said his honour would be "well received by the city as a whole".

"Sir Bob's performance after the first earthquake in particular, something we were not really prepared for, will always stand out in my mind as going beyond the call of duty.

"His authoritative voice offering reliable information, delivered in such a reassuring manner at our time of need, is what people will always remember," she said.

"That's precisely what people needed at the time and he delivered all of that and more."

Like his mayoralty, Parker's knighthood has polarised many.

Some commenters said Parker thoroughly deserved the honour for his calm leadership after the Canterbury earthquakes but others said his mixed record as mayor meant he did not deserve it.

Christchurch broadcaster Mike Yardley, who questioned Parker's gong yesterday, said callers to his national radio show also had contrasting views.

Listeners outside Christchurch rated Parker more favourably than locals, Yardley said.

PARKER SNR DIES PROUD OF SON'S HONOUR

Sir Bob Parker said he would have given up his knighthood to have kept his late father.

Robert Parker Sr died yesterday, just hours after news broke publicly that his son had received the New Year honour.

It also emerged yesterday that on Monday he became a great-grandfather for the second time.

Parker Sr was in his 80s and had been ill for some time. He died about noon, surrounded by his wife, Audrey, and other family at the Nurse Maude Hospice.

In an interview yesterday morning, Parker said his "beautiful" father was extremely proud of his achievement. "I would swap my knighthood any time if I could keep my father."

Positive reaction to his knighthood had given his family "a real lift" as they gathered to farewell his father, who was told about the honour several days ago in confidence. Parker said the messages of support had helped the family deal with a difficult time.

"We have gathered here as a family to honour Dad and especially my mum who has obviously got to face the biggest change of us all in the months ahead."

He was in a "family bubble" and had seen little reaction but what he had seen was "absolutely, overly supportive".

Parker had received texts, facebook messages, emails and congratulatory phone calls but was more focused on "spending time with Dad in his final hours".

"It's a very special process, not one that is incredibly sad but one that has been very positive for us as a family."

News of a second great-grandchild, born just a day before his death, was also a comforting moment, Parker said.

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"One of those miracles.

"It's one of those circles of life things.

"As a family, it's a very special time but obviously very poignant."

"Dad had heard about [the birth] and I think as a family, it is just a very special time."

- The Press

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