By PHILIP CHANDLER
You could say he died fighting for Arrowtown.
Thirty-two years after trying to stop its borough council from being forcibly amalgamated
with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Jim Ryan was battling again for Arrowtown’s independence at a meeting on Monday last week.
He was amongst townspeople fighting against an advisory group’s recommendation Arrowtown lose its council seat.
‘‘Well, here we go again,’’ he told former councillor/museum director David Clarke as he arrived at Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum.
In the boardroom, his last words before he suddenly died were, ‘‘well, this must be important to get me out of bed this early on a winter’s morning’’.
Two days later, Clarke urged councillors at a City Hall meeting to honour Jim’s wishes for ‘‘fair and effective representation’’ when they voted on the advisory group’s recommendations.
After mayor Jim Boult’s casting vote, Arrowtown councillor Heath Copland’s motion to
keep an Arrowtown ward — ahead of public consultation — was supported.
In ’89, Jim had lost his battle to keep the borough council, despite a survey showing 97%
support for its retention, and despite leading a delegation to Wellington.
He was happy, though, with concessions to allow Arrowtown two councillors — later
reduced to one — and some planning autonomy.
‘‘It’s been worthwhile jumping up and down,’’ he told Mountain Scene.
Former councillor Scott Stevens, whom Jim persuaded to stand, recalls about nine years
ago there was another attempt to remove the ward — ‘‘it was a close-run thing’’.
‘‘There was a lot of campaigning done by Jim to keep the seat.’’
Aside from his lobbying, Jim sat on the town’s planning advisory group, vetting developments in the town’s heritage zones, for 17 years.
He was on the heritage lighting committee, raising money to light the town’s CBD heritage
buildings, for seven years.
He was also behind the town having a CCTV camera system installed as a crime prevention tool.
As someone who loved technology — developing, in a possible world-first, a car button
that flicked on his spa pool — he also set up a programme to teach Arrowtown seniors how
to use the then-new internet.
The 79-year-old, who’d formerly enjoyed success with his Tau Tau poultry business in Invercargill, ‘‘was of that generation where you did stuff for the community’’, Clarke says.
After a major stroke 22 years ago, he’d ‘‘fought back amazingly with the help of his wife
Irene to be a great contributor, when many would have just taken to the sidelines’’.