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Joe Butterfield

Butterfield searched for the 'royal' treatment

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It's little known that attempts were made to establish a royal yacht club in Timaru which, in many ways, summed up Joe Butterfield.

Butterfield is being remembered as an extremely adroit but tough yachting administrator who also had a mischievous sense of humour. He passed away at the weekend aged 82.

The former Yachting New Zealand president and board chair attempted to establish the Royal Arcadian Yacht Club in his home town of Timaru.

"He tried to set up a royal yacht club with his buddies but it was always a joke because everyone knew they would never get the royal in front of it," said former Yachting New Zealand chief executive Adrienne Greenwood. "He had a sense of humour like that.

"He knew the game of directorships and he directed the ship pretty well at that time. He was a leader at a time when we were strong [at Yachting New Zealand]. That was an era when sailing was regarded as one of the better-administrated sports and he was very much a part of that because we had the right people.

"He was a very good and tough board chairman. He could be like a bull in a China shop and didn't mince his words but he always wanted to get the best out of everybody. I liked working under him."

Butterfield was involved on the Yachting New Zealand board from 1986-1995 (he was president and chair from 1992-95) but was also heavily involved as an international judge and referee.

On top of that, he was the South Pacific representative on the International Yacht Racing Union (which then became the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and is now World Sailing), chairman of the finance committee and long-standing member of the World Sailing council.


"Joe was a very strong council advocate and, through his work as an accountant, helped World Sailing become very strong financially," Greenwood said. "He could speak well and was listened to. He was a voice of reason, really, and was always happy for me to explore ideas and how we might improve."

One of those was a change in identity, with the national body changing the name and logo from the New Zealand Yachting Federation to Yachting New Zealand.

Butterfield, a former chair of the South Canterbury and Southern district health boards, became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 for his services to South Canterbury's health and transport industries.

He was also a life member of both the Timaru Yacht and Power Boat Club and Timaru High School Old Boys' Association and an inductee into the Timaru District Council's Hall of Fame for services to sport.