Magazine article Public Sector

A Life of Service: Kenneth William Piddington (1933-2014)

Magazine article Public Sector

A Life of Service: Kenneth William Piddington (1933-2014)

Article excerpt

Few public servants in the post-war era have made such a significant contribu- tion in so many fields or shown more vision that Ken Piddington. Tragically, Ken was killed in a motor accident near Sanson on 28 February 2014, while en route to his eco-friendly property on Mount Ruapehu.

Born in London to Australian parents, Ken Piddington attended 12 schools in the United Kingdom and Australia before his father took up an appointment as the first professor of anthropology at Auckland University. After graduating in languages from Auckland University, Ken taught briefly before joining the Department of External Affairs in Paris in 1959. After a short period in Wellington (including a spell of second- ment to the Treasury) Ken took up his first overseas postings in Brussels and London.

In1972, following a period in Geneva during the GATT Kennedy Round of trade negotiations, Ken became the Deputy Director of the South Pacific Bureau for Economic Cooperation (SPEC), set up in Suva by the recently formed Pacific Islands Forum to facilitate member cooperation on trade, tourism, transportation, and economic development. Ken made a strong contribu- tion to fostering the beginnings of a regional consciousness in the Pacific.

Back in Wellington, in April 1976 Ken was seconded from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to a task force charged, under the leadership of Sir Frank Holmes, to "study previous experience with planning in New Zealand and to recommend an institutional framework to meet present-day require- ments for planning". In May 1977, the New Zealand Planning Council (NZPC) proposed by the task force held its first meet- ing. Chaired by Sir Frank, the NZPC had a diverse membership and was advised by a secretariat led by Ken Piddington. Over the next two years, the NZPC reviewed a wide range of issues and published a number of noteworthy reports. Of special significance to Ken - fluent in te reo Maori - was the contribution of the Council to the changing place of Maori in the New Zealand commu- nity and public policy.

In 1979, Ken Piddington was appointed to head the Commission for the Environment, a position in which he was to serve for six years. The substantial role that he was to play in issues about conservation and a sustain- able New Zealand (and global) environment had begun.

On 1 April 1987, New Zealand's envi- ronmental administration was radically changed. …

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