Under the radar

Categories: People and Features.

A few years ago Ian McKinnon helped set up a gardening project at Central Apartments, a council-owned social housing venture. Once a month they and the reSidents weeded, trimmed, planted and tidied up.

“I am a hopeless gardener so my Job was to gather up the rubbish. I walked around with a black rubbish bag, wearing gloves, gathenng up rubbish by hand. Someone watching could easily have thought I was on penodic detention, not the Deputy Mayor.”

That’s his approach to public life. Take on the Jobs that need doing; lead by doing, and perform useful service. His father, mother, three brothers and a sister have all served their country and their communities.

“We learned that we were expected to contnbute; that’s the way it was.”

Ian has stepped down from the Wellington City Council after nine years, six of them as deputy mayor. He did the ‘below the radar’ jobs – chainng the Audit and Risk Committee, and the review of the Chief Executive’s performance – important but not glamorous roles.

After the 2010 election, Celia Wade Brown, then newly-elected mayor, wanted Andy Foster as her deputy. The other councillors resisted firmly and obliged her to have Ian Instead.

Ian was head of Wanganui Collegiate School, deputy head at Eton and then principal of Scots College.

He is chancellor of Victoria University and has served In other roles. Now aged 70, With a serious royal honour on his chest, and a nomination in the Wellingtonian of the Year award coming up, rest and retirement still aren’t on his agenda.

“I was acting mayor when Ed Hillary died. I got offers to set up a memorial book. Seeing people come in droves to record theIr respects was very satisfying. These jobs, life In general, are about making things happen.”