Council mourns the loss of train loving Councillor

Published on 30 November 2021

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It is with extreme sadness that we pass on the tragic news that Cr Ross McRobie has passed away. Ross was diagnosed with cancer just a couple of months ago, and almost three weeks ago, he started treatment. Although Ross stayed optimistic, the extensive nature of the cancers in his body meant that the treatment was too little, too late.


He passed away last night, having spent much of the past week with his partner Petrea at his side along with many members of his extended family including his two children, Emma and James.


Mayor for Waitaki Gary Kircher said, “Ross was a very outgoing person and an awesome Councillor for the Ahuriri Ward and the Waitaki district. His extensive network of friends and acquaintances means that he is well-known to many people throughout New Zealand. I know that my fellow elected members and the many staff who knew Ross will truly miss his analytical decision-making, his energetic personality and the great banter he brought with him. Our thoughts are with Petrea, James, Emma and their extended families. We will be flying the Council HQ flag at half-mast today as a sign of our respect for Ross.”
Ross McRobie often confessed he was “not the kind of person who could sit down and read a book," – he would far rather be doing. The saying, 'a rising tide lifts all boats' pretty much sums up his attitude to public service. He saw his role in Council as a conduit for others; a means to help the community achieve the things it wanted. Ross was a listener and a facilitator. If there were issues, he looked for solutions while trying to be understanding, connecting people and being an advocate for issues. A staunch champion of the Ahuriri ward, at the same time he embraced being a councillor for the whole of Waitaki. 


When he wasn’t doing, helping and connecting, he could be found in a shed out the back, working on his model train set. He was passionate about European and American trains, a hobby that first began around age 8 when he acquired a Hornby train. 


Ross loved Otematata. “There are not too many places where you'll find 2 major hydro stations within 20 kilometres of each other and 2 lakes on your back doorstep,” he said. He spent his down time with family, boating, walking the dog, or riding his bike through the wetlands on the new track built by volunteers. 


After a career in radio, which was at times rough and tumble, his council work felt like a homecoming, back to the altruistic ethos of his parents, vegetable growers who gave most of their produce away.


After ten years in Wanaka he had made a new beginning with his wife Petrea in Otematata, and was elected to the council in 2019. Mayor Gary Kircher said, “We will miss Ross greatly as a Councillor but more importantly, as a friend. I’ve known Ross for more than a decade and always enjoyed his company, as I know many others have also. Our thoughts are with his family, to whom we are grateful for sharing Ross with us over the years.”


He will be missed by all here at council.

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