Rob Davidson, the late husband of Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel, was remembered for his unwavering dedication to the community and his lifelong fight for justice in a heartfelt service in Christchurch.
Two Harley-Davidson motorcycles led the Rolls-Royce hearse, which brought Davidson’s coffin, adorned in flowers, to St Michael and all Angels Anglican Church, on Oxford Tce, at 11am on Saturday.
Only a few close friends and family were allowed into the church because of the recent move to alert level 2 restrictions. Instead, a livestream link allowed many others to attend virtually.
* Public asked not to attend funeral of Christchurch mayor’s late husband, but to watch service online
* Christchurch mayor’s husband Rob Davidson dies from cancer
* ‘Arohanui’ for Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel amid husband’s ill-health
The service opened with a karanga (ceremonial call in Māori) followed by tributes from family and friends as bouquets and pictures of Davidson covered the altar.
Son Leon Davidson said his father, who was adopted and brought up by Scottish parents, loved motorcycles, tattoos, politics and his Scottish and Māori heritage.
Above all else, Davidson loved helping others, he said.
Davidson left school when he was 15 and worked for the New Zealand Railways Department, driving locomotives based out of Kaikōura.
He also joined the Labour Party when he was 15 and remained involved with the party most of his life. He was later honoured with a life membership.
“He was happy at [the] railways and was surrounded by good people that he could have fun with and it allowed his Labour politics to flourish.”
In the mid-1980s, Davidson left his railway job and began studying law with the goal of “making a difference”, Leon said.
“It wasn’t easy for Rob to complete his degree and get admitted to the bar, he left school at 15 and during the course of his study he did a few things he shouldn’t have.”
After being admitted, Davidson spent five years working for the Engineers Union before starting his own law firm Davidson Legal in Riccarton.
Leon said his father “flourished” as a lawyer.
“He got to continue to shock people, to do and say things he shouldn’t, but he also got to help a lot of people, something he loved to do.”
Leon said his father would be remembered for being a “generous and open man” who welcomed people into his life and engaged with them in an “honest way”.
“I’ve always been proud of my dad, I loved him as a locomotive driver, I loved him as a law student and I loved him as a lawyer.
“I’m proud of how much he grew and changed through his life and no one I know has a story like Robs. No one had a dad with tattoos and a false tooth who drove the bus on school trips,” he said.
Son and Christchurch City councillor Mike Davidson said his father was “his rock”.
“My father was the person who had the most influence in my life, I’m not going to say he was a saint, he wasn’t a perfect father, but he was a bloody good one [and] I wanted for nothing,” he said.
“He was always without hesitation in my corner, and he inspired me and helped me to become who I am today.”
Davidson had been married to Dalziel since 2000.
He also worked with several non-governmental organisations, including being chairman of the Aranui Community Trust and on the board of the Salisbury Street Foundation – a Christchurch rehabilitation centre – for more than 25 years.
Dalziel said Davidson, who was her “soulmate”, had inspired her throughout his life.
He loved the people of Aranui and was a firm believer in providing reintegration services, she said.
“[The Salisbury Street Foundation] represents everything of what Rob always believed in, reintegration and re-engagement and people being given a second chance and the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Dalziel said Davidson loved people and took great pride in seeing them succeed.
“He could talk to anyone, Rob has met royalty and been introduced to world leaders, but for Rob it’s never been about the person’s position he was genuinely interested in people’s life experiences and the significance of places he visited.
“You will live on in your children and grandchildren and in the lives you have touched and [those that] will continue to be touched in your name, you have made a real difference to this world, a world that is richer for you having been in it.”
The service ended with a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace, while Davidson’s casket was carried to the Rolls-Royce hearse.