Cromwell community leader Mike Paardekooper dies

Mike Paardekooper at the Tri-Series hockey tournament held on the Cromwell water turf last year....
Mike Paardekooper at the Tri-Series hockey tournament held on the Cromwell water turf last year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Cromwell businessman, former local government leader and champion of Central Otago hockey Michael Paardekooper has died.

Mr Paardekooper, who had battled Parkinson's disease and cancer, died on Thursday, aged 61.

He was the driving force behind Cromwell's Olympic-level hockey turf and made many other contributions to the Cromwell district, Cromwell Community Board chairman and Central Otago deputy mayor Neil Gillespie said.

Mr Gillespie said Mr Paardekooper was "one of our Cromwell stalwarts and leaders" and it was "almost hard to sum up" how much he had done.

"He's done so much for Cromwell for so long."

Mr Paardekooper was the president of the Central Otago Sports Turf Trust and, together with his "great mate" Terry Emmitt, led the construction of first Cromwell's sand hockey turf, and then its subsequent redevelopment into a water turf.

The water turf last year hosted an international Tri-Series tournament and Mr Paardekooper said at the time the success of the event had surpassed expectations and had significant sporting, community and economic benefits.

"It justifies the effort we put into upgrading the turf and the decision to make it as good as possible," Mr Paardekooper said.

Mr Gillespie said Mr Paardekooper's contributions to local government and business in Central Otago had been significant.

Mr Paardekooper was a Central Otago District Council Cromwell ward councillor from 1992 to 1998 and served on the Cromwell Community Board from 1989 to 1998. He was the board's chairman for his last two terms.

In business, Mr Paardekooper worked hard developing successful Paper Plus franchises, including in Cromwell, and was also a former chairman of the national Paper Plus Group board.

Mr Paardekooper was featured on TVNZ's "Good Sorts" section last year, which announced the amenities building at the Cromwell hockey turf had been named the "Paardekooper Pavilion" in Mr Paardekooper's honour.

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