Sir Ron Scott: A champion of the sporting realm

Sir Ron Scott "achieved a lot in his lifetime".
Craig Simcox

Sir Ron Scott "achieved a lot in his lifetime".

You may wonder how, in 1974, the relatively small city of Christchurch, New Zealand, managed to secure the hosting rights for the Commonwealth Games.

The answer, in large part, was Sir Ron Scott, chairman of the 1974 Commonwealth Games organising committee – although you would never have heard him admit it.

In an article in The Press in 2014, Scott was adamant the success of the games belonged not to one individual, but to the 2000 determined volunteers, together shining the light of Christchurch across the globe.

Sir Ron Scott, chairman of the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games organising committee. Pictured here in 1974.
Scott Family

Sir Ron Scott, chairman of the 1974 Christchurch Commonwealth Games organising committee. Pictured here in 1974.

Atop the audacity of Christchurch hosting the event, Scott's Commonwealth Games made a profit of $1.3 million.

Scott was asked to take the position of chairman "because of his ability to inspire people to see a vision".

"He was very visionary, very passionate and very organised," his daughter, Lise Kljakovic, said.

He went on to become Chef de Mission for the 1984 NZ Olympic Team, helped to found the Hillary Commission (the forerunner of today's Sport New Zealand) and the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.

"He worked up until he was 80," Kljakovic said.

"In his last 10 months he was really quite unwell, but even then you could see him battle with that."

Scott died at the Summerset rest home near Trentham, Upper Hutt, on August 7. He was 88.

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At his request, a private family funeral was held in Christchurch.

Scott was born on January 21, 1928 in Dunedin and raised by his extended family in a "presbyterian Scottish environment, where he developed a lot of his values", his daughter said.

He attended Otago Boys' High School, going on to the University of Otago before leaving tertiary education for a radio job in Timaru.

It was there he met fellow broadcaster Beverley O'Rourke. They married in 1952, in Timaru.

The pair moved to Auckland when Scott accepted a job as manager at Ilott's advertising agency, soon welcoming the birth of their first child, Randal, in 1952.

They had two more children – Lise in 1957 and Jordan in 1968.

It was during his role at Ilott's he became involved in the bid for the Commonwealth Games.

Scott travelled with his team to Edinburgh for the vote in 1970, up against Melbourne, who had successfully hosted the 1956 Olympic Games.

It was no contest – Christchurch trumped their Australian rivals 36-2.

A massive public effort raised the money for the games – the government stumped up just $200,000 of the $3.5 million needed – and the necessary facilities were built, including QEII Park, which was lost after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

Much of the games' success was in its organisational structure and the calibre of Scott's team, his daughter said.

"He was able to select the right people and inspire them through his passion."

Such were the accolades poured on the event, they became known as "The Friendly Games".

"I still remember the closing ceremony, the athletes spontaneously joined hands and took over the arena and ran around joyfully," Kljakovic said.

Scott was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1974 and was knighted in June.

After the success of the '74 games, Scott was invited to chair the establishment trust behind NZ's first America's Cup challenge in 1983.

A year later he was called up to be chef de mission for the NZ Olympic Team at the '84 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

In 1985, Scott headed up a governmental task force to look at productive ways of funding sport and increasing participation, leading to the establishment of the Hillary Commission, which he was chairman of. This later became Sport New Zealand.

Scott and his wife moved to Wellington in the early 2000s, and he was later involved in securing a new stadium for the capital city through the Wellington Regional Stadium Trust.

His sporting prowess translated to the arts when consultation with the Arts Council in 2003 led to the establishment of the Arts Foundation.

Both Scott and his wife Beverley moved into the Summerset rest home in Trentham around 2010. 

His daughter said despite years living in Wellington, Scott remained "a one-eyed Cantabrian" and staunch supporter of the Crusaders.

"He was a very proud and patriotic New Zealander, and was someone who achieved a lot in his lifetime."

He is survived by his wife, Beverley, his three children, Randal Scott, Lise Kljakovic and Jordan Scott, and many adoring grandchildren and great-grandchildren.




 - Stuff


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