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Political stalwart dies

Roddy McKenzie. PHOTO/FILE

Extraordinary man leaves lasting legacy

Roddy McKenzie

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One of the great stalwarts of Wairarapa politics and rugby Roddy McKenzie died on Friday after battling health issues.

McKenzie said his last goodbyes at home with his family by his side.

He had spent 30 years in service in local government before he retired in 2010.

He was a previous chairman of the Masterton County Council before it merged with the Masterton Borough Council in 1989 to become Masterton District Council.

In that inaugural year, he was deputy mayor.

Former MDC mayor Bob Francis, who was mayor in that maiden year, said McKenzie was a stalwart of the region and contributed much to it.

“He had a very long involvement in local government and community organisations, and also rugby,” Francis said.

“He made a significant contribution to the region. He was just a real good guy, really.

“His loss will be felt around the region,”

Francis said he worked with McKenzie for “40-odd” years in a combination of sports and politics.

“He was a good friend, and he was a character. He was a strong personality at times, but he always worked very hard for the betterment of our region and district.

“He was an incredibly hard worker.”

McKenzie had a long playing and coaching stint with the Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union.

The union’s website said: “Roddy was a larger than life person who not only coached the Wairarapa-Bush A team for two seasons, his passion for rugby in the community was inspiring to us all.”

McKenzie became the president of the Wairarapa-Bush Supporters Club, and under his leadership, it became well known as the most proactive and largest within the Heartland Unions.

He had a long career playing for the Wairarapa side before he coached the team in the 1980s.

He was also a supporter of Masterton’s Red Star rugby club.

Like Francis, former MDC councillor Brent Goodwin said McKenzie was a character, who had a knack for bringing unity when things were going opposite ways.

“He was a damn good councillor who would talk to a huge number of people,” he said.

“He had an amazing ability to bring disparate sides together.”

“He was that sort of politician that would push his own view and try to find a consensus which is quite unusual.”

Goodwin said McKenzie was very much his own man who was very hard to get hold of due to his overuse of his phone.

“He was very much his own man. He couldn’t stand bull****.

“He had the most extraordinary ability to communicate, especially on the telephone. He would spend hours on it talking to all sorts of people.”

Goodwin said he respected McKenzie greatly as a friend and politician.

“When I ended up going on council we became real good friends.”

“He definitely will be missed by me, and I’ll miss his phone calls.”

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