Leading Northlanders have praised former Northland Regional Council chief executive Ken Paterson for his vision and energy, saying "the new Northland stadium will be his monument", following the announcement that Mr Paterson had died in his sleep
He left Northland last July after four years at the helm of the NRC, to become chief executive of the Tauranga City Council.
A highly trained engineer, he project-managed the multi-purpose $18 million Toll stadium, delivering it on time and on budget. Two Rugby World Cup matches were held at the new stadium, which replaced an ageing, run-down facility.
Northland Regional Council chair Craig Brown said yesterday the council had been sorry to see Mr Paterson leave last year and the whole staff was "utterly and absolutely shocked" to learn of his sudden death yesterday.
"Ken had made a significant difference in efficiencies on the council. He was a real goer and worked from daylight to dusk. He was a tough man and he didn't suffer fools gladly.
"From time to time you need a person like that and I think he was what we needed. He was the man for the day."
Northland Rugby Union chair Andrew Golightly, who worked closely with Mr Paterson on the development on the project, said yesterday he had been the driving force in the vision and construction of the stadium "and brought all his skill and passion in delivering a first-class facility for the whole Northland community, which was brilliantly showcased at the Rugby World Cup. His death is very sad news."
Former Northland Regional Council chair Mark Farnsworth said Mr Paterson's contribution to Northland had been unique.
"He made a difference," he said. "He brought commitment and high energy levels to the job. He refocused the NRC away from a somewhat of a silo mentality between its structures to a more inclusive approach throughout, aiming to get dialogue across the whole organisation.
"One of the ways in which he showed that local government can do things effectively and efficiently was in his work on the new stadium. That has got to be a shining example of what can be done and how it can be done if we apply ourselves.
"Here in the north we had a CEO who did indeed put his mind to it, project-managing it himself. We have a spectacular result in terms of a multi-purpose stadium, not created at exorbitant cost. He put huge energy into it. It was a co-operative effort between the Whangarei District Council and the NRC, but really it was Ken's baby and he was rightly immensely proud.
"That will be his monument."
Dennis Maconaghie, CEO of McRaes Engineering, a Northland corporate management specialist, remembers Ken Paterson as "tough and fair-minded and he did his damnedest to get things moving in the region."
A Scotsman, Mr Paterson emigrated to New Zealand over 20 years ago. Before becoming NRC chief executive he had led both public and private organisations, including TechScape, an infrastructure works and maintenance company employing 290 people (formed by the former Waitakere and North Shore City Councils). He has also been Taupo-based generations manager for Contact Energy.
Mr Paterson had had heart surgery before coming to Northland but was said to be in good health.
The 60-year-old is survived by his wife Melanie, and their young son Findley and 7-month-old twins.
He also has older children.
Article courtesy of Northern Advocate - Reporter: Rosemary Roberts