Peter Hemsley is leaving his role as Marina and Sports Projects Manager at the Council to do some fishing and do some home improvements – after spending so many years making improvements to the city’s facilities to make life easier and more enjoyable for people in the outdoors.
Paul Andrews, the Council’s Parks, Sport and Recreation Manager, says Peter leaves an important legacy for the city.
A born-and-bred Karori boy, Peter joined the Council in 1979 as a groundsman at Wakefield Park in Island Bay after learning his trade at the Karori Golf Club and then the Springfield Golf Course in Rotorua. In those years, as he says, Wellington’s sportsfields were mud baths in the winter and winter codes had to cancel matches for weeks on end. He began his rise through the ranks with a nine-year stint as groundsman at Kelburn Park where he honed his skills by producing top-quality cricket and croquet surfaces.
Peter then took the role of Sportsfields Supervisor for the city’s northern suburbs, from Karori to Grenada North – and helped start the gradual process of improving the drainage and irrigation of key sportsfields via techniques including sand-slitting turfs and then laying sand bases under fields used for top-level club sport. After three years he came in from the cold and joined Parks, Sport and Recreation Management who, at the time, were based in Anvil House in Wakefield Street.
Having negotiated the first of many Council restructures, Peter was put in charge of playgrounds. “We did some serious modernising – and pulled out lots of dodgy old equipment that was heavy and capable of hurting children. We even started installing matting and bark chips!”