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As the last Mayor of Kaiapoi, Hec McAllister fought against the amalgamation with Rangiora in the 1989 local body restructuring.
The proud fourth-generation son of Kaiapoi thought amalgamating the towns would be like 'mixing oil and water'.
McAllister loved Kaiapoi, where he was born 88 years ago and where he lived until his death 26 March 2005. He gave his services freely to the town in a range of activities.
He was a Kaiapoi borough councillor for 20 years, nine of them as deputy mayor and three as mayor. He was a member of the Kaiapoi Volunteer Fire Brigade for 33 years and Chief Fire Officer for 15 of them.
Friend and colleague Gary Saunders says McAllister was a positive leader and was always optimistic. 'He was certainly a doer. Not great with the spoken word, he just got round and did things.'
McAllister had strong roots in the North Canterbury town, where his great-grandfather operated a bullock team and wagons from the 1850s. His grandmother was the second baby christened at St Bartholemew’s Anglican Church.
After attending Kaiapoi Borough School, he went by train each day to Christchurch for secondary schooling. He kept a bike at Addington Station and rode from there to Christchurch West School, now Hagley Community College.
Leaving school in 1931, he worked as a pig grader at the Kaiapoi Freezing Works, until World War Two broke out. He joined the army and served in the Pacific. He was later active in the RSA as a welfare officer and president of the Kaiapoi branch.
McAllister married in 1945. He and Mabel had a son and a daughter.
Having contracted malaria in the tropics, he was advised to leave the freezing works, so went to work for the Christchurch City Council as a gardener. He switched to gardening for the Kaiapoi Borough Council in the early 1950s and then to a driving job with a local coal merchant.
A long involvement in the wool industry began in the mid 1960s, when McAllister went to work at the Kaiapoi Woollen Mills. He rose through the ranks to personnel manager and, as such, had to work through the mass redundancies associated with the closing of the plant in 1979. He made a positive out of this, as a founder of the successful exporting company Rahnex Wools, a year later. Rahnex employed about 100 of the sacked mill workers in a part of the former mill building. McAllister was a director of the company and chairman of the board.
Though he resisted Kaiapoi’s amalgamation with Rangiora, McAllister stood for the newly created Waimakariri District, as mayor and councillor. He came a close second in the mayoralty race and romped onto the Council as second-highest-polling candidate. He served a term, motivated by his desire to ensure Kaiapoi’s voice was heard and his town got a fair go. He was also elected chairman of the Kaiapoi Community Board.
Always a keen gardener, McAllister and his wife kept a prize garden. He was active in gardening and beautification societies and was chairman of Keep New Zealand Beautiful.
McAllister was a keen bowler and patron of many sports clubs. He supervised periodic detention work groups as a volunteer. He was awarded the British Empire Medal for civic services in 1971.
Obituary written by Mike Crean, The Press, Saturday 2-3 April 2005, D17.
Turvey, Jean D - The Mayors of Kaiapoi : Their Life History. 2005.
Woods, Pauline - Kaiapoi : a search for identity. Rangiora : Waimakariri District Council, c. 1993.