06 September 2011

Not just a statistic anymore

You read in the papers every so often what the national road toll is, here in New Zealand it seems to be around 250 or so a year, and you possibly think for a split second of their loved ones and the grief they must have. Yet it is for most of us only a very quick thought gone as fast as it came. That is until one of those 250 people is someone you know, then the full realisation that these are not just statistics but people’s lives hits you.

This is what has been going on for me this weekend, fortunately for me the person was not a relative nor even a close personal friend, but still a person that has been in my thoughts and prayers for over a year. At work on Friday I heard on the radio a traffic report that there had been an accident north of Oamaru (60 minutes drive south of Timaru) and that traffic was being diverted. This did not surprise me, accidents were quite frequent on the stretch of road, I just sighed and was thankful I did not have need to travel to Oamaru that evening.

It was in the evening that on Facebook I found that three people were involved in the accident. A driver of a ute (pickup truck) who was lucky enough to escape with some scratches at the time and an elderly couple driving a small inexpensive car which against a ute had no chance. The wife was driven by ambulance to the main hospital of the local health area (90 minutes drive south) and the husband was flown there by helicopter. Please let me be clear here that who was at fault is completely unknown and the police will not be releasing those details for at least a few weeks.

The next day I found out the truth, (withheld understandably until all family members were notified) that the husband died en-route to the hospital. This made headline news throughout the country, why? Because the husband was a man who used to be the richest man in the South Island, but that was not his claim to fame. He was well known in the local community as one of the most generous people and frugal. Even with millions at his disposal he still lived in an average home with two low cost cars, perhaps he would be still alive today had he bought a large “gas guzzler” as most people in his position are thought to do. But lately, and the reason he and his wife have been in my prayers, is that he has been accused of false accounting and have had their lives turned upside down by the government agencies for over a year now. This was the real reason his death made national news.

Perhaps the statutory management was a knee jerk reaction to avoid more financial managers skipping the country with millions leaving investors out of pocket, or it could have been something more sinister that certain people wanted control of the huge portfolio that he controlled. Whatever the reason the action was definitely over the top and a good man and his wife suffered greatly for no real reason at all.

This was a man who was so concerned for others that his final action before his untimely death was to go to the offices of his old financial company, which because his funds were frozen he was unable to rescue from receivership (though he had retired from the company over a year earlier), and make certain the staff all were okay and their futures were okay upon finally losing their jobs. During statutory management he was allowed $1,000 per week out of his frozen assets, a lot of this he gave to his loyal investors to tide them over as they too were no longer getting the regular pay outs they had been budgeting on since the government had frozen everything.

He continuously thought of others and refused any acknowledgment including national awards for his deeds. He was an example to all people, especially those involved in the financial sector. He helped, not to get a tax exemption, but just to help. Many a business in the local area would not have got off the ground had it not have been for his financial assistance. He could quite easily be called a saint and in my mind he was.

My heart goes out to his wife and daughters, they are the ones who need prayer now. His family will still have to listen to the arguments of whether he was an honest man or not over trial by media. But the charges have now been dropped and the family can at least feel that this awful and unjustified part of their lives can be legally put behind them.. Sadly people will still theorise and accuse him, and he will not be able to defend himself, but in reality for him is that he will be judged only by the one that matters. The judge that knows truth from fiction and will not be swayed by accountant mumbo jumbo or any sinister misrepresentation as a fallible human judge would be.

 

I have purposely not used his name for several reasons, he himself never liked publicity and I would not want to profit from this event and leaving his name off would avoid searches bringing people to this blog. This is really my personal tribute to a great man who will be greatly missed that I wish to share with my devoted readers, not the wider public.

 

Peace be with him and his family.

 

Peter

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