Road smash claims civic campaigner

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014

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A passionate footballer and civic-minded man whose forthright opinions spared none was killed in Waikato's latest fatal car crash.

John Easto spent Thursday solving the problems of the world with life-long friend Ken Hennebry at the Tamahere Eventide Home and Village.

He exited in his car on to Cherry Lane shortly after 4pm and died moments later in a collision as he turned on to State Highway 1 to head home.

Easto was 84. Hennebry's son, Roger, a former Hamilton city councillor, broke the news to his father yesterday.

"He was the most faithful true pal I've ever had," Ken Hennebry said.

"He was genuine in every shape or form."

Roger Hennebry, who also counted Easto as a close friend, said the accident was tragic.

Easto never held back and while many people disagreed with his opinions, they respected their delivery, he said.

"People talk about people as good men, he was a genuine good man was John," Roger Hennebry said.

"He had a real social conscience and there's not many of them around, well there's one less now."

Easto's voice was prominent in the city's affairs.

He served six years as a trustee on the Wel Energy Trust, and as president of Hamilton Citizens and Ratepayers Association until he retired a year ago.

His forthright opinions on civic leaders, their blunders and policies were passionate but perhaps his first love was reserved for his football club.

Melville United chairman Bruce Holloway said in a public tribute that Easto had been a pillar of the club, and the last remaining living link with the administrative personnel who formed the embryonic "Melville Schoolboys" club back in 1972.

Holloway said Easto's passion for Melville United probably dwarfed his fire for civic matters.

Easto was unique at Gower Park in that he served as Melville president across three decades, from 1979-1981, then in 1988 and once more in 1990.

On the club's honours board he was the fourth-named life member, behind 1975 president Tom Stratford and the club's co-founders, Tony Tatler and Bob Owens.

"John came from an era when sports clubs were considered something to give to rather than take from," Holloway said.

"For several decades he diligently served in an administrative capacity on the club committee, right up until 2012," Holloway said.

"He was a man of strong, forthright opinions and was always delighted to engage in debate on issues of the day, from city hall politics to the performances of football players, referees and coaches," Holloway said.

John is survived by wife Lesley and children Anthony, Elizabeth and Jo.

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DANGEROUS INTERSECTION MAY FORCE GATE CLOSURE

The intersection between Cherry Lane and State Highway One is a major concern, Eventide retirement Village chief executive Louis Fick said.

"We are considering closing our gate so people can't exit our premises onto Cherry Lane to prevent any further occurrences of that nature but it doesn't safeguard the people on Cherry Lane themselves," he said.

The intersection is due for a major realignment but Fick said the accidents keep occurring and more deaths could occur there.

NZTA says the safety situation will improve after the Hamilton section of the Waikato expressway was completed in 2019-20.

A new interchange will be built that would separate traffic from Cherry Lane and Bollard Rd from through traffic, travelling at open highway speeds, along State Highway 1.

Fick said the village's exit onto SH1 is a mandatory left turn and he thinks that is an option for the Cherry Lane intersection as well.

He also said they've been fighting to get an 80kmh zone installed but that was rejected as it doesn't fit NZTA's criteria.

"If you look at the number of accidents and the costs that would have been saved they could have built a permanent solution a long time ago."

- Waikato Times

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