Former pupil about to take charge

01:43, Jan 31 2009
ACT UP: Rodney Hide will become the next local government minister.

The student has become the master, or, rather, the minister of local government.

In an ironic twist, Environment Canterbury (ECan) chairman Sir Kerry Burke once taught the man who will now oversee ECan and the country's 84 other territorial and regional authorities.

ACT leader Rodney Hide, who was announced as the next local government minister yesterday, had Burke as his form teacher and fourth-form social studies teacher at Rangiora High School in 1971.

Despite years since spent at opposite ends of the political spectrum Burke was a Labour Cabinet minister and Speaker of the House the two have kept in touch.

Burke last night congratulated his former pupil and said he had not changed.

"He is absolutely as he was then as a student fiercely intelligent and committed to the causes he's involved with. That now includes local government.

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"Irrepressible is the word. He was an irrepressible student. He'd always stick to his arguments and advance his point of view."

Hide said Burke was a great teacher.

"It was 4P1, in 1971. All the kids had huge respect for him. He was very engaging and challenged us as kids.

"He was against the Vietnam War and for the unions, and we were all sons of truck drivers and farmers' sons. We thought we were fighting the communists for whatever reason."

Burke said the local government sector would be watching Hide closely.

"Obviously, all people will be looking at what the ACT Party has to say about the sector. I'm not aware of any political issues at this stage."

The Press