I first met John Belgrave at the start of my second career, the one as a public servant. John was at the time the Secretary of Commerce, CE of the then Ministry of Commerce. John was helpful and tolerant of this wild-eyed former private-sector IT developer as I came into government and blundered about, scoring wins and own goals it seemed in equal measure. He was measured, funny, and above all wise.
More recently I have run into John repeatedly in his role as Chief Ombudsman. “Good on you”, he kept telling me, as I was advocating the regulation of Telecom. “Stand up for the right thing.”
And that’s what John always did. He stood up for the right thing. He fearlessly forced the government to release embarrassing figures in the last week of an election campaign. He has been a check on government departments and a voice for the little person, the disenfranchised. He was there for the family of Liam Ashley who were so badly let down by the justice system.
John was a public servant in the true sense of the term. He well deserved the honour he received in New Year’s honours this year. New Zealand will miss him.
I will miss him.