A rather belated gong that pongs for Sir Bob

MIKE YARDLEY
Last updated 05:00 31/12/2013

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Mike Yardley

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OPINION: The New Year's honours list usually carries a whiff of controversy, but this year's edition potentially features quite the stinker.

A belated gong that pongs.

Arise Sir Robert John Parker. Does the former Christchurch mayor deserve a knighthood for "services to the community"?

Just as he is curiously shortlisted as a finalist for the 2014 New Zealander of the Year Award, the honours committee may have been far wiser to shower Bob Parker with their biggest baubles, when his "rock-star" status was riding high, and before the orange jacket faded out of the feel-good frame.

Most Christchurch residents have seen the many faces of Bob.

The great, the good and the ugly. From strong and constant Communicator-in-Chief to Mr Slippery, his leadership style assumed a conflicting array of postures.

But his final 18 months in office were arguably his bleakest as self-inflicted crisis after crisis wracked his mayoralty and tainted his legacy.

Parker's failure as a bridge-builder across the council table cost him dearly, as did the sycophantic pas de deux with the CEO, the ignominious consenting meltdown, and the under-valued insurance cover that continues to stalk the city's coffers like a grim reaper.

They are the reasons why Parker was unelectable for a third term.

Yet, confounding all that dysfunction and expedience as a political operator, Bob Parker soared like a reaffirming beacon of hope, clarity and comfort during our darkest days of adversity.

It was his tour de force.

As the most destructive earthquakes terrorised Christchurch, Parker's courageous, resolute and tireless presence as the Great Communicator and the Chief Consoler, will never be forgotten by the great majority of Cantabs - and indeed most Kiwis.

His rapid-response disaster leadership was selfless, exceptional and globally admired.

I believe that performance alone warranted recognition in the honours list, in a timely fashion.

But nearly three years after the fact? To wheel out a shiny knighthood today, and in the wake of his annus horribilis, exposes the honours list to an unseemly and unnecessary storm of ridicule.

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