Former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull remembered at town hall funeral service

Former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull was a fun-loving family man and industrious leader, mourners were told at his funeral today.

Hundreds of people packed into the Dunedin Town Hall to celebrate Cull’s life.

Celebrant Melanie Kerr said the town hall was an appropriate place to farewell Cull in the city he loved.

Cull had said his five weeks in hospital this year were as much a learning curve as his time as chairman of the health board, Kerr said.

Otakou runaka kaumatua Edward Ellison said Cull was a kind, industrious leader and family man.

He was a friend to many, Ellison said.

Cull, 71, died at his home on April 27, after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

He was Dunedin mayor for three terms from 2010 and in 2019 he decided not to seek another term, but was elected onto the Southern District Health Board and appointed chairman.

He stood down from the board in October 2020 because of the health challenge he faced.

Cull was also Local Government New Zealand president from July 2017 until August 2020.

He was also a television presenter and an author.

A life of service and love

Cull was born in Invercargill and was the eldest of four children.

He delivered groceries around the neighbourhood and was on the debating team at Southland Boys’ High School, as well as the student council, Kerr said.

“Dave was not afraid of hard work.”

He was a builder’s labourer, a barman, a bus driver and he made furniture. The lights of the workshop were often on.

Cull’s brother Bruce recalled the two were once on a rooftop when the wind blew over their ladder and they were trapped for a couple of hours, Kerr said.

He got his lucky break in television on a show called Renovators and that was followed by several more.

He met his future wife Joan Wilson in 1982.

Kerr said Cull was a voracious reader and then a writer.

He was elected onto the Dunedin City Council in 2007 and then the city’s 57th mayor in 2010.

He had a life of service and a life of love, she said.

Granddaughter Carli Hutchinson said her pop loved to read books to her such as The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Harry Potter.

He was brave as he faced his cancer, she said.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the mayoralty was a job that asked a lot from families and Cull had “the cruellest of retirements”.

His leadership was considered and outward-looking, Hawkins said.

The city’s improved relationship with runaka and manawhenua was built on Cull’s shoulders, he said.

“Dave was a good bugger of the absolute highest order, taken from us too soon.”

Southern District Health Board chairman Pete Hodgson said Cull was highly regarded within central government.

He was indignant about lack of improvement in Māori health statistics, Hodgson said.

Local Government New Zealand president Stuart Crosby said meeting the challenges of climate change became a focus for Cull.

The funeral ended with a haka as pallbearers carried the casket containing Cull’s body out of the town hall.

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