Open letter to Roger Sutton

Dear Roger,

Earlier this week we got a lot of media calls; “would you like to comment on what is happening with Roger Sutton?” The response was a pretty clear ‘no’, not because we didn’t have things we wanted to say but because we wanted to take time to think about what was the most important things to say.

It is important that CanCERN makes comment because through our relationship with you, you have enabled many good things for residents and communities and we want to say very big thankful for all that you have enabled.

Some of the things you have done have been massive and some just small, but all have been appreciated. The things which pissed us off have already been hashed between us and that in itself is a good measure of the openness with which you engaged with CanCERN. We always felt we could speak our mind and not be careful with our words… our speech and access to CERA was never conditional.

We remember the fateful day in March 2011 in Avonside, when as CEO of Orion you showed your true colours and produced to a frustrated crowd the simple “electrical” diagram scribbled on butcher’s paper which clearly explained the issues of re-connecting everyone. You told it as it was – the good, the bad and the ugly, and you told it loudly, clearly and without even a touch of PR, spin, bureaucracy or filtering.

Like many, we were very thankful when you were employed as CEO of CERA.
You’ll be remembered for much more than that though.  In our experience, you have been a man of and for the people and even with the obvious constraints of being CEO for a government organisation, you have kept the people front and centre.
Here are just a few of the things we really appreciate you for:

  • Sitting down at the bottom of the HSBC building meeting and greeting people and taking time for a chat to get a better sense of what was going on out in the “earthquake” world.
  • At Christmas time coming to the office and making ice-cream sundaes for all the CERA staff and others in the office including CanCERN, and personally passing on thanks for the hard work
  • The meeting where our 40 strong membership presented very strong views to you and your team on the need for more support in the community to which you responded in spades with the creation of Community Resilience Managers.
  • For being available and so that we could present the thoughts of our members even when we were telling you that CERA was missing the mark.
  • For crashing meetings and then asking if it was ok if you joined
  • For promoting CanCERN and the need for people to connect to each other at every opportunity
  • For giving us access to the best of the CERA staff
  • For giving us free office space
  • For pushing so hard to keep the recycle project going in the face of bureaucratic tidal waves
  • For telling your staff to make ‘In the Know’ happen. Lots of CERA staff have been involved but when it came to making sure it continued and got the resources it needed we knew that we were able to call you and help was never far away.
    Supporting Let’s Find n Fix which has temporarily fixed over 400 homes with exceptional resourcing
  • The September anniversaries where you always, somehow, managed to make the time to turn up at the Methodist Church in Wainoni and pay your respects with the elderly.
  • The 100s of public meetings where you turned up, manned up and said it how it is
  • The outdoor but exercise-free meetings – a true compromise
  • For colour and paisley shirts

Mostly Roger, we appreciate the fact that you spoke our language and tried really bloody hard to make things better. We thank you for always greeting us with a smile, for taking the time to talk, to listen and to hear the issues and remain open to any solutions.

We know what it’s like to battle the invisible beast that is the recovery and the spider that creates the illusive web of process, policy, politics and legalese.  We also know how difficult it is to wield the sword of logic, common sense, simple action and outcome, but we are certain that you did your best to wield it nonetheless.

On behalf of the CanCERN Board, staff and membership, thank you for the honesty and integrity with which you worked with us.

All the best to you and your family and most of all, enjoy a well deserved Christmas.