2 Minutes with ...


The description of "distinguished gentleman" applies to only a small number of people in society. In Tawa Peter Lockery is one of those people. If you've met him, you'll know what we mean. Peter was the Chief Fire Officer in Tawa, a voluntary role, for 30 years. He still plays an important part locally in co-ordinating the Community Patrol team and sourcing finance to ensure its ongoing operation.

In the New Years Honours in 2000 he was presented with the Queen's Service Medal (QSM) for his role with the Fire Service over the years, his role in his church and with Rotary. The award came as both a surprise and an honour. He is also a Justice of the Peace.

Where were you born, Peter?

Where did you grow up?
Auckland. Initially in Mt Albert close to facilities such as Western Springs, the zoo and sports grounds ... and a great place to grow up. In my later teens we moved to Rothesay Bay, interestingly across the road from the East Coast Bays Volunteer Fire Brigade. I got involved there and it became a lifetime interest.

Where were you educated?
St Paul's College, a Marist Brothers school in Ponsonby.

What is your line of work?
From school I went into the BNZ - without tertiary training. In those days the banks ran cadet schemes and I joined at age 16. I went to the University of Hawaii at a later stage to do a work-sponsored "pressure cooker" Advanced Management Programme.

Early in my banking career I was given the opportunity to get involved in electronic data processing. When the BNZ asked, "Anybody interested in computers, put your hand up," I did. I got selected and was whistled off to a training course in Wellington. I ended up travelling the country converting bank branches from ledger machines to a centralised computer system. I was seconded to Databank Systems in 1967 as a computer operator at the Auckland Computer Centre and in 1969 was transferred to Wellington as a staff training officer. I stayed with Databank, in various management positions, for 20 years.

I joined the Rural Bank in 1990 just prior to it being acquired by The National Bank of New Zealand. I enjoyed a 15 year career with National Bank, retiring as Chief Information Officer in 2006.

What about family?
Married to Diane. We have with 1 son and 2 daughters, all living in or close to Tawa. "They've provided us with five delightful grandchildren."

What are your interests/hobbies?
The Fire Brigade. It started in Auckland. The attraction of a brand new fire station is what brought me to Tawa (in 1970). I lived in it for two years. It was great for a young person in a flatting environment, and a good opportunity to save a few dollars. Then I met Diane and we got married in 1972 and bought our first little house in Taylor Tce.

I was the Chief Fire Officer for 30 years in Tawa but have now retired from the Fire Brigade. "How much time did that entail?" - Ed. "About 15 hours a week - an average of one fire call per day and lots of paperwork ... there is a lot of administration that goes on behind the scenes."

I've been a Justice of the Peace for the past 10 years.

Rotary. Just coming up to 30 years with the Rotary Club of Wellington.

How long have you lived in Tawa?
Since 1970.

What do you think is great about Tawa?
I think it's a great little community to bring a family up in - it has all the amenities - church, schools, sports, community activities, hobbies and interest groups - something for everyone. We've been involved in church committees and school boards of trustees. Tawa provides the complete package of community facilities - covering the whole spectrum for families.

What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
The WCC's proposals to reduce the speed limit really bug me. It's the wrong way to address the issue (of road safety). In the past 40 years there has only been one fatal road accident in Tawa - and that was the result of a heart attack. We need to understand better what the real issue is and then address that.

What is your favourite dessert?
Lemon meringue pie. "I didn't have any trouble with that one!"

Favourite sports team and/or sportsperson?
The All Blacks and Roger Federer are my two idols.

Favourite musical group/soloist or style of music?
Roy Orbison - he was my favourite singer. "Kind of dates me a bit!"

Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?
Queenstown. "I think it's a magical piece of New Zealand - scenery, lake, mountains."

Favourite quote(s) or saying(s)?
There are two. The Biblical one: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." I think that encapsulates everything about respect and values.

And "Carpe Diem" - Seize the Day. Be thankful for everything you've got.

If you could meet any two or three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
Paul Harris, the founder of Rotary. I think he'd be a fascinating character - a man who set up an international organisation in such a short space of time.

Sir Richard Branson - entrepreneur and successful businessman.

What are one or two talents you would like that you do not have?
One regret is that I did not learn to play the piano. I admire anyone with that talent.

What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
An ability to get on with people and enjoy their company.

What accomplishments/achievements in your life give you much satisfaction/pride?
Derived from the above - being able to lead a team of people whether it be in business or non-profit organisations. For example, I'm chairman of the Catholic Archdiocesan Board of Administration and find that quite a challenging and enjoyable role.

Compiled October 2011.

Other Tawa people