Sir James Belich, 'a good and gentle man'

17 September 2015

On the eve of the funeral for Sir James Belich, Wellington City Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, paid tribute to the former Mayor of Wellington as a good and gentle man who made an indelible mark on the city.

Source: Wellington City Archives.

From business to politics and founding President of UNICEF, Sir James played a prominent role in the Capital’s development, including the Civic Square and the Moa Port facility.

"During his two terms as Mayor from 1986 to 1992, he always displayed a willingness to engage with the community and get things done. He was knighted in 1991 for his services to local government and the community.

"He influenced the design of the city including the significant undertaking of creating the Civic Square, a notable feature of our inner city landscape. This council will complete the Civic Square precinct which is an important focal point for our central city.

"It is a living square where people gather and recently, during the World Cup Youth Soccer, was converted into a soccer pitch attracting hundreds of supporters each day during the tournament.

"Sir James Belich was involved in many projects that enhanced our city and contributed to the amenities that we enjoy today, including the Wellington Aquatic Centre in Kilbirne,” she says.

Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer knew Sir James from 1985 when they worked together to clean up Wellington’s South Coast. At that time raw sewerage was pumped directly into the sea.

"The people of Wellington, supported by the Wellington Clean Water Campaign, gave Jim a mandate to address this long-standing issue and in that regard he was successful.

"Sir James was always available to me for advice and guidance and I’ll always appreciate that,” says Councillor Ahipene-Mercer.