City identity Joan Butcher remembered as kind, funny

Joan Butcher helps lead the Dunedin Christmas Parade down George St in 2012. PHOTO: Jane Dawber
Joan Butcher helps lead the Dunedin Christmas Parade down George St in 2012. PHOTO: Jane Dawber
Dunedin identity Joan Butcher is being remembered as a kind and funny woman who struggled with many issues during her life.

Mrs Butcher died in Dunedin on Sunday night at the age of 67, the Otago Daily Times confirmed.

She had long-term health issues and battled alcohol addiction for many years.

She had previously lived at St Clair Park Residential Centre for several years, and was married to Hone Hawkins for more than 20 years.

Mrs Butcher was well-known to the Holy Name parish in North Dunedin, the Rev Mark Chamberlain said.

She had struggles and pain through her life, which she dealt with by drinking, he said.

But there was also a kindness and goodness in her.

"Even with her card making and things, she tried to reach out to others.

"There was a lovely sense of humour and kindness in her, really."

He paid tribute to the services in Dunedin, particularly emergency services and mental health, who worked with Mrs Butcher throughout the years.

"We’ll miss her here at Holy Name."

Lawyer Rhona Daysh represented Mrs Butcher for many years and described her as “a Dunedin icon”.

It was a tragedy she had died during the Covid-19 restrictions, which prevented large gatherings, she said.

“I think if it was normal times, if everyone knew, she’d have one of the biggest and most interesting funerals in Dunedin.

"All sorts of people knew her,” Ms Daysh said.

Mrs Butcher was a woman of varied talents.

Before one court appearance she had discovered the police prosecutor was expecting his first child, and turned up for the hearing with a blue baby blanket she had knitted for him.

On another occasion she reeled a corn-fritter recipe off the cuff, with “fabulous” results.

She was "an amazing spirit", Ms Daysh said.

Mrs Butcher was a regular fixture in the centre city area.

Albar owner Steve Collins said she would often spend time outside the bar, and staff and patrons would buy her handmade cards.

Many of the cards were still in the bar.

One former staff member even got a tattoo of one of her drawings, he said.

"It’s a real shame."

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins paid tribute to Mrs Butcher on social media.

"RIP Joan Butcher. The city certainly won’t be the same without you."