Farewell for city leader Donald Bethune

The man credited with helping to rescue Wel Energy Trust from the grip of a multinational and the father of anti-whaling protester Pete Bethune, died last week, aged 84.

Donald "Don" Raymond Peter Bethune, a man with many strings to his bow, will be farewelled tomorrow.

Over the years Mr Bethune was able to lay claim to the titles of earthmoving contractor, schoolteacher, Jaycee icon, inventor, prolific letter-writer, president of the Social Credit Party and Hamilton city councillor.

But it was his time as Weltrust chairman for which Mr Bethune was probably best known in the Waikato.

Mr Bethune played a big role in the seven-year struggle to regain a controlling shareholding of the Waikato Power Company after - against popular opinion - it was sold to United States multinational, Utilicorp United.

Mr Bethune had his share of stress and heartache, particularly in recent years.

His son, Pete, one of five children, was detained in a Tokyo prison for several months.

He was arrested after boarding a Japanese whaling ship, Shonan Maru II, in 2010 during an anti-whaling protest.

Mr Bethune's grandson, Shaun Bethune, 23, died in January of hypothermia after the boat he was on sank in the freezing waters of Foveaux Strait.

Mr Bethune is survived by wife of 20 years, Mary Russell-Bethune.

Mr Bethune's funeral will be held tomorrow at The Avalon Chapel, Simply Cremations Funeral Home, 388 Avalon Drive, Te Rapa, Hamilton at 1.30pm.

Waikato Times