Hamilton City Council staff and elected members are mourning the sudden death of city planning manager, Luke O’Dwyer.
Mr O’Dwyer (pictured) died at his home in Hamilton last night following an unexpected medical event. He leaves behind his wife, Kylie, and two young children, as well as extended family and many friends.
Council chief executive, Richard Briggs said he had advised all Council staff at a pre-planned team meeting today.
“Announcing Luke’s passing was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Losing someone so young and so unexpectedly is hard to fathom and this will take some time to process. Luke was a hugely respected and very well-liked member of the HCC family and his passing leaves a massive, massive gap,” Mr Briggs said.
Mr O’Dwyer had worked at Hamilton City Council for nine years, joining the Council from senior planning roles in both the public and private sector in New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
His current role saw him responsible for managing Hamilton’s urban growth through the city’s district plan and other planning tools. He advised the city’s urban design and heritage panels and also played an important role regionally and nationally.
He had a key role in the multi-agency FutureProof partnership which helps plan for the wider Waikato region and was an advisor on urban issues at a national level. He was also an honorary lecturer in urban and regional planning at Waikato University.
“Everyone across the region and nationally would agree Luke was the go-to guy for the region when it came to planning matters,” Mr Briggs said.
“He had an outstanding depth of knowledge and took a very strategic and long-term focus. He truly wanted the very best for our city. It is hard to exaggerate what a loss this is for Hamilton and the wider region.”
Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate said councillors were shattered by the news.
“We are all incredibly sad and our love goes out to his family and colleagues. Luke was the most lovely, helpful man, who had a real knack of explaining complex issues in an easy way. He had the most wonderful warm smile and easy going way of dealing with all people,” the Mayor said.
“His passing is a huge loss to the city, his work has shaped much of the important work to build a strong future for Hamilton. We will always remember that.”
Council postponed today’s formal Strategic Growth Committee meeting where O’Dwyer was due to present a number of reports and recommendations. Mr Briggs said Council’s immediate focus was on supporting Luke’s family and his colleagues.