61 | Sir Bob Parker Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

61 | Sir Bob Parker Greatest Kiwi of All Time 2023

Greatest Kiwi Of All Time: No. 61 - Sir Bob Parker (Up 10 from 71 last year)

September 4th 2010.  The incumbent mayor of Christchurch, Bob Parker, is languishing in the polls ahead of the local body election the following month.  Parker, an ex-broadcaster and former mayor of Banks Peninsula, is staring down the barrel of being the first one-term mayor of Christchurch since 1974.

Then, at 4:35 am as Cantabrians sleep, a roar envelops the city.  An as-yet undiscovered fault line opens up close to the town of Darfield generating a magnitude 7.1 earthquake and causing widespread damage throughout Christchurch.  Parker, a talented and natural communicator, steps up to lead his city.

Sir Bob Parker was born in 1953 in Christchurch.  After studying zoology at the University of Canterbury, Parker was drawn to broadcasting and moved to Nelson to start his career.  Stints in Christchurch and Auckland followed.  He would voice promos and act as a continuity announcer and presenter throughout the 1980s.

In 1984, Parker would bring a television mainstay to New Zealand - This Is Your Life.  It would become a kiwi institution.

Parker would both present and produce the show after he purchased the rights to the programme from an American production company.

In 2001, Parker would become a councillor in the Banks Peninsula District Council, where he led an ultimately successful campaign for the district to merge with Christchurch City.  He would become Christchurch mayor in 2007 after the retirement of Gary Moore.

It is in this capacity Bob Parker would shine, right when his city needed him most.  Fronting day after day in his distinctive fluro-orange jacket, Parker would provide the critical information Cantabrians needed after the quake in September, as well as the even more heartbreaking events of February 22nd 2011 when another shallower, and far more devastating quake, would kill 185 people.  

The loss of life was overwhelming, but as our “comforter in chief”, Sir Bob kept us calm and focused us on what matters most… and what we had to do to get the job done.

Sadly, a decade later, Sir Bob would be struck down by a serious stroke.  

Sir Bob Parker.  On February 22nd his information saved lives.  In the days, months and weeks following his compassion helped a city start to rebuild.  One of Today FM’s Greatest Kiwis of All Time.