Hamish Hay

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Sir Hamish Hay
42nd Mayor of Christchurch
In office
Preceded by Neville Pickering
Succeeded by Vicki Buck
Personal details
Born 8 December 1927
Died 7 September 2008(2008-09-07) (aged 80)
Nationality New Zealand
Judith Leicester Gill (m. 1955)
Relations James Hay (father)
David Hay (brother)
Laurie Salas (sister)
Children Five

Sir Hamish Grenfell Hay (8 December 1927 – 7 September 2008) was a New Zealand politician, who served as Mayor of Christchurch for fifteen years, from 1974 to 1989. He was Christchurch's longest-serving mayor.

Early life and family

Hay was one of four children of philanthropist Sir James Hay; David was his identical twin brother.[1][2] He was educated at St Andrew's College from 1940 to 1944, and became an accounting clerk in 1945.[2] In 1947, he joined the staff of Hay's, a department store, which was founded by his father and later became a publicly listed company.[2] He became deputy managing director of the company in 1962, a position he held until 1974, when Hay's Ltd was merged with Wright Stephenson & Co.[1] Hay retired from his business interests when he became the Mayor of Christchurch in 1974.[2]

In 1955, Hay married Judith Leicester Gill.[2][3] They were to have five children.[2]

Political career

Hay entered local politics in 1959, when he stood as a candidate for the Christchurch City Council.[4] Topping the poll, he went on to serve as a councillor for five consecutive terms. Like his father, he was a strong proponent of a town hall (as a performing arts centre) for Christchurch. He had been involved in the 'Town Hall Promotion' lobbying organisation, serving as the chairman of its finance committee from 1958.[2] After his election as a Councillor, he continued to press for a town hall, and was instrumental in achieving that goal, eventually chairing the Town Hall Committee, which oversaw the construction of the Christchurch Town Hall, which opened in 1972.[2] The second largest auditorium in the town hall, the James Hay Theatre, is named after his father.[1]

He stood for mayor in the election of 1974, defeating Labour incumbent Neville Pickering.[1] He went on to become Christchurch's longest-serving mayor, holding the position for five consecutive terms.[1] During his first term, Christchurch hosted the 1974 British Commonwealth Games.[2]

Hay retired as Mayor in 1989 for health reasons. Victoria Street through Victoria Square was closed towards the end of his mayoralty for the square's redevelopment, and the Victoria Bridge was renamed Hamish Hay Bridge in his honour.[5] He was succeeded by Vicki Buck. He published his autobiography, Hay Days, in the year of his retirement from the mayoralty.[6]

In 1995, Hay returned to the political scene, representing Christchurch North on the Canterbury Regional Council until 2001.[4]

Hay served for some years as chairman of the New Zealand Museums Trust, which oversaw the construction of New Zealand's national museum Te Papa, and as deputy chairman of the Charles Upham Trust.[7]


Hay was made a Knight Bachelor in the 1982 Queen's Birthday Honours.[8]

Judith, Lady Hay, was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order (QSO) for community service in the 1987 New Year Honours.[9] In 1993, she was awarded the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[10] In the 1998 Birthday Honours, she was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to the community.[11]

Later life

Having retired from public office in 2001, Hay began suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He died in September 2008, aged 80. His funeral service was held at Knox Church.[2] Lady Hay moved to her family home in Akaroa after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and lived there until she started to need care.[12] She died on 26 December 2014. She was survived by their five children, Juliet, Gillian, Celia, Diana and James.[3]


  • Hay, Hamish (1989). Hay Days. Christchurch: Caxton Press. ISBN 0908563310.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Former Christchurch mayor dies". The New Zealand Herald. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Sir Hamish farewelled". The Press. 11 September 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-mayoress Hay farewelled". The Press. 30 December 2014. p. A3.
  4. ^ a b "Sir Hamish Hay 1927–2008". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  5. ^ Thornton, Geoffrey (2001). Bridging the Gap: Early Bridges in New Zealand 1830–1939. Birkenhead, Auckland, New Zealand: Reed Books. p. 243. ISBN 0-7900-0810-6.
  6. ^ "Sir Hamish Hay dies". One News. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Former Chch mayor Sir Hamish Hay dies". stuff.co.nz. 8 September 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  8. ^ "No. 49010". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 1982. p. 39.
  9. ^ "No. 50766". The London Gazette. 30 December 1986. p. 34.
  10. ^ "The New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal 1993 – register of recipients". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ Shroff, Marie (1 June 1998). "The Queen's Birthday Honours List 1998". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 3 January 2015.
  12. ^ Crean, Mike (14 February 2015). "Mayoress was a public figure in her own right". The Press. p. C12.
Political offices
Preceded by
Neville Pickering
Mayor of Christchurch
Succeeded by
Vicki Buck
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