Jim Anderton remembered as a 'man of integrity'

by RNZ / 08 January, 2018

Jim Anderton. Photo / Getty Images

Politicians of all stripes pay tribute to the former deputy Prime Minister.

Politicians past and present have praised the former Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton, who has died at the age of 79.

Mr Anderton died at Cashmere View Hospital in Christchurch early Sunday morning.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern said Mr Anderton was for decades a "towering figure" in the Labour movement and would be remembered as someone who stood up for his principles.

"New Zealand has lost a man of integrity, compassion and dedication to public service," she said.

Mr Anderton devoted much of his adult life to public service and Labour ideals, she said.

"Jim's influence as President of the New Zealand Labour Party has lasted for decades. He built a powerful campaigning organisation, selected candidates who became Ministers and Prime Minister and he was an innovative fundraiser.

"His work to establish the Alliance and Progressive Parties was both difficult and trailblazing. He never gave up on the values of the Labour movement, and worked tirelessly to bring it back together through the years of the fifth Labour-led Government."

Labour-Alliance coalition cabinet, after the 1999 election. Helen Clark and Jim Anderton at front. Photo / NZ Herald

Ms Ardern described the late MP as a "loyal servant" of the people of Sydenham and Wigram, his electorates for his 27 years in Parliament.

He continued to be involved in Christchurch following his retirement in 2011.

"There are few figures in New Zealand politics like Jim Anderton. A man of deeply-held values and ideals, he was practical and compassionate," Ms Ardern said.

"His integrity during difficult times marked him out as a true leader."

National Party Leader Bill English said Mr Anderton was admired by both friend and foe for his determination.

He said Mr Anderton was a strong advocate for people he believed needed representation and was critical in the evolution of the MMP electoral system.

'Eventually he came home to Labour'

Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen described Mr Anderton as determined but said he also understood the need for compromise in government.

The two worked together for 25 years and Sir Michael said Mr Anderton's strong principles were one of the best things about him.

"Sometimes that could make for difficult relationships, obviously leaving the Labour Party while some of us decided to stay behind and fight from within.

"One always felt that Jim's heart lay within the Labour movement - eventually he came home to Labour."

And former Prime Minister Helen Clark, in a tweet, said she was deeply saddened. Mr Anderton was a powerful advocate for the voiceless and marginalised, she said.

"He had a huge leadership capacity and inspired me as a young Labour activist.

Great Christchurch Building Trust co-chair Philip Burdon said Mr Anderton was a man dedicated to his principles.

Mr Anderton and Mr Burdon, a former National Party MP, worked together to advocate for the restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral.

He said Mr Anderton had been sick for some time.

"He's a man for whom I have the most enormous admiration."

Mr Anderton was a dedicated believer in the importance of heritage, Mr Burdon said.

"It's been very much a part of his life, he's never been afraid to commit to what he believes in."

Mr Anderton died in Cashmere View Hospital in Christchurch.

His widow, Carole, has requested privacy at this time.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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