Sir Bob Parker's father has died

Lived just long enough to see son knighted

GLENN CONWAY
Last updated 15:44 31/12/2013
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.

Sir Bob Parker

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Sir Bob Parker's father has died, just hours after his famous son was knighted in the New Year's Honours.

Former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker is the highest honoured Cantabrian in the 2014 New Year's Honours, receiving a Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to local body affairs and the community.

His father, Robert Parker Sr, had been ill for some time and died, surrounded by family, at noon today at the Nurse Maude Hospice. 

Parker Sr was in his 80s and is survived by his wife Audrey​.

Earlier today, Sir Bob Parker said the knighthood was a bittersweet moment for him and his family.

''My dad is very unwell and I know this will mean a great deal to him. ​​For a son who loves his father, that's a nice thing to be able to do.''

Parker said the honour was ''amazingly humbling'' and unexpected.

''I'm very conscious of the people I had the privilege of working alongside in those dark days. This (honour) is very much a team thing and I'm very privileged to carry this honour.'

'Standout moments in his career included working with Ngai Tahu, especially Onuku Rununga and returning the sacred land at Takapuneke back to its control.

The successful ''Share An Idea'' campaign, which won the council an international award, was also a highlight.

Parker paid tribute to his wife, Jo, who will be known as Lady Parker.

She joked: ''Bob is the only man who could make me a lady.''

The honour focuses on Parker's 22-year-local body career and his leadership skills after the earthquakes which attracted world-wide attention, with some commentators likening him to former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani after the 9/11 attacks.

The gong caps off a largely forgettable year for Parker who stood down as mayor after two terms, citing exhaustion for his decision to end a two-decade-plus career in local government.

But Parker, complete with his orange jacket, will always be remembered as the mayor whose calming and reassuring voice comforted thousands of panicked and bewildered Cantabrians as they dealt with the series of devastating earthquakes that struck the region.

Parker has had two careers - both in the public eye.

The former broadcaster was a familiar face in New Zealand homes in the 1980s and 1990s and was perhaps best known as the original host of This Is Your Life before entering local politics

in the 1990s when he first sat on the Banks Peninsula community board before leading that district as mayor from 2001 to 2006.

When the district amalgamated with Christchurch City, he became the Banks Peninsula representative on the new council before seeking and winning the mayoralty in 2007.

Controversy was never far away from Parker's first term with the $3million purchase of the Ellerslie Flower Show naming rights, the failed plans for a Conservatorium of Music at the Christchurch Arts Centre and the council's perceived $17m bailout of developer David Henderson when the council bought several of his inner-city properties.

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His strong ties to controversial chief executive Tony Marryatt also polarised many and Parker was facing a serious fight for political survival at the 2010 local body elections when veteran MP Jim Anderton dominated all polls and appeared to be cruising to a comfortable win.

Then came September 4 and its 7.1 magnitude earthquake which overhauled the region and the mayoralty contest.

Parker's calm demeanour in the aftermath was made for television - his old stomping ground - and voters responded, handing him a solid win.

Sadly, his comforting presence was needed again when the February 2011 earthquake struck.

Parker's leadership was again well received, but the shine soon faded and Parker's performance as mayor and his divided council again saw his popularity wane.

Like 2010, another MP - this time Lianne Dalziel - presented a stern challenge for the mayoralty in 2013 but Parker chose to leave on his own terms after previously committing to the race. 

BOB PARKER THIS IS YOUR LIFE

1973: Becomes an announcer for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation.

1978: Moves into television.

1984: Bought the New Zealand rights to America's This Is Your Life series and is host, researcher and writer for next 12 years.

Early 1990s: Parker joins Banks Peninsula community board.

1997: Paul Holmes replaces Parker on This Is Your Life as Parker concentrates efforts on advertising and marketing business.

2001: Elected as mayor of Banks Peninsula where he served two terms.

2006: Banks Peninsula was amalgamated with Christchurch city and Parker became a city councillor.

2007: Became Christchurch mayor with 47,033 votes compared to Megan Woods' 32,821.

2010: Re-elected as mayor with 68,245 votes, compared to Jim Anderton's 51,566.

2010-2011: Parker becomes the media face of the Christchurch recovery efforts after the quakes.

July 5, 2013: Parker announces he will not be seeking re-election.

December 31, 2013: Knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours.

- The Press

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