Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate and her colleagues have paid tribute to Councillor Margaret Forsyth, 59, who died yesterday.
Mayor Southgate described Cr Forsyth as a “stoic and principled” Councillor who was forthright and considered in her views.
“Margaret was not afraid to speak her mind and to take a firm position on issues that were important to her and to our community,” she said.
“She delivered exceptional service to our city in many ways, over many, many years.
“She was an outstanding role model for young women in particular. She was well loved and respected and her passing will be a huge shock to many. I and her many friends and colleagues at work are deeply saddened and send the family our love at this time.”
Councillor Forsyth was serving her third term as a Hamilton City Councillor. She first served from 2010 – 2016 and was elected again in 2019. During this term she was Chair of Council’s Environment Committee.
As well as her community work, Cr Forsyth was well-known throughout New Zealand as part of the Silver Ferns Netball World Championship team in 1979 and 1987. She played goal attack in 64 international tests before turning her attention to family, and later coaching.
In July last year, she attended an investiture ceremony in Auckland where she officially became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to netball and the community.
Just three weeks ago, Cr Forsyth took leave from Council to manage health challenges that she had been dealing with quietly for some time, Mayor Southgate said.
She died at home yesterday surrounded by family including her sons Thomas, Jonathan and Lucien.
Councillor Angela O’Leary said Cr Forsyth was both a colleague and a “kind and caring friend”.
“We became fast friends at Council as soon as Marg was elected and I loved her for her straight-talking and no-nonsense approach. She was very kind and very loyal and I will miss her dreadfully,” she said.
Cr Forsyth first advocated for an overall cycling plan for the city and it was fitting a long-term cycling strategy was approved by Council just last week, O’Leary said.
“Having that cycling plan in place will be one of Margaret’s legacies for the city, but there are many others. She was passionate about getting more women involved in politics and she was incredibly supportive of others who put themselves forward and tried to make a positive difference.”
Mayor Southgate said she and Cr O’Leary were working directly with Forsyth’s family to make arrangements for a fitting tribute from the city.
“Those details will come. But right now we are mourning a colleague and a friend and doing what we can to support Margaret’s family.”