and community figures were in shock last night after hearing
former Dunedin mayor Richard Walls (74) had died suddenly at
his home yesterday.
Friends and colleagues said he was the man who knew more
about Dunedin politics and the city's history than any other.
Mr Walls had been a feature of Dunedin's political life since
being elected to the St Kilda borough council in 1962 and
only retired in 2010 when he lost his seat in the local body
He was mayor from 1989 until 1995 and was a National Party
member of Parliament for Dunedin North from 1975 to 1978.
Mr Walls was chairman of directors at Dunedin International
Airport Limited and a justice of the peace. He was made a
Companion of the Queen's Service Order (QSO) for public
service in 1996.
He was a member of many community, sports and arts
organisations over the years including the Otago Magic
Circle, which he helped initiate.
Dunedin International Airport chief executive John McCall
last night said from Wellington he had last seen Mr Walls at
a board meeting on Thursday so the news came as a shock.
"It is extremely sad; something quite difficult for us to
come to terms with."
Mr McCall said Mr Walls had been a part of his working life
for 23 years and he had been absolutely committed to the
airport as he had been to the city.
Former mayor Peter Chin said during his 12 years on the
council no-one had a greater knowledge than Mr Walls of the
history of the city, in particular its political history.
"He served the city tremendously well, not only on council
but as chairman of Dunedin International Airport."
With Mr Walls' death, Dunedin had lost a "very important
citizen" who had served the city in many ways including
leading the charge to buy the Regent Theatre, he said.
"He was passionate about the city, he knew about the city,
knew everyone and everyone knew him, it seemed."
Cr Neil Collins said Mr Walls' death had come as a "great
shock" and his colleagues on the council and in broadcasting
would "miss him terribly".
Mr Walls is survived by his wife June and three children.
An obituary will follow.