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Christopher Paul Mitson

Male 1943 - 2013  (70 years)

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  • Name Christopher Paul Mitson 
    Born 10 Jul 1943  England, United Kingdom Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 10 Aug 2013 
    • Obituary: 
      Christopher Paul Mitson, 10 July 1943 – 10 August 2013 Journalist, TV producer/director, language teacher, Joan Whiting Rest Home advocate, community leader and commentator, beachcomber .
      Chris Mitson wanted no service or religion at his sendoff in the Memorial Hall in Collingwood last Saturday.
      At the collaborative gathering of family and friends to celebrate his life, tributes were wide ranging.
      Former TVNZ staff who attended described him as one of the most creative talents the public broadcasting organisation ever had.
      Born in England to a young unmarried mother, Chris was adopted by a working class family in Enfield, Essex. Leaving school, he entered journalism as a "cub reporter" for the local paper, going on to cover court proceedings as well as filing to several London papers. He met his first wife, Martha, an American journalist working for Reuters, on a trip to the United States.
      Married in Chicago, they came back to work in London. But it would be "Norm Kirk's socialist utopia in the South Pacific" that would inspire and finally encourage them to come to New Zealand in 1972. Sadly, they arrived just days after Kirk's sudden death was announced.
      With two other couples, (Mary and Norman Smith, Chris and Marian Braxton) Martha and Chris eventually settled the first urban commune in Wellington at 14 Oban St, in the suburb of Wadestown.
      Soon after arriving in the country, Chris started working as a journalist in the pre-split NZBC, becoming subeditor for TVNZ News when it got established in 1974. He went on to produce Video Despatch, our first ever current affairs programme for children.
      Later he was field director of Country Calender, then became director of Close Up (the original one-hour-current affairs programme on Sunday nights) before being made executive producer of Fair Go.
      It was from this position that he along with 23 other Avalon production staff were shabbily dismissed with no notice by TVNZ in 1997. Chris won his case for unfair dismissal against TVNZ in the Employment Tribunal, his awarded compensation enabling him to pay off the little wooden cottage at the end of Beach Rd in Collingwood that he had initially bought with his second wife, Robyn, some seven years earlier.
      At Beach Rd, Chris proudly redefined himself as a beachcombing, brew-sipping beach bum without a TV, but his sense of advocacy for social justice and community issues stayed finely honed and he remained active behind the scenes.
      A two-year stint teaching English in Java saw him become relatively conversant in the local Bihasa language, his time there still fondly remembered by locals thanks to his many return visits. But he would truly find a new cause back in Collingwood as chairman of the board of trustees of the 18-bed Joan Whiting Rest Home.
      He was instrumental in preventing the closure of the rest home in 2010, backed by a big community campaign including a sizeable protest march down Commercial St in Takaka, which convinced the Government to keep funding it so it could stay effectively open for another three years.
      Another life highlight had come 23 years ago when Chris researched to find out the identity of his birth mother, and that he had a younger brother. Although his mother died just before they could meet, he went on to form a close bond with his half-brother, Phillip, an English stockbroker, whom he always just referred to as just his brother.
      To the very end, Chris made it his business to keep in contact with a broad range of people. Always witty and hard hitting with words, one of his last political e-mails had gone off to all National Party MPs, commenting on the GCSB Bill.
      It read: "I don't expect you to vote against the legislation - any more than I would expect turkeys to vote for an early Christmas. I have this fantasy that one day a backbench MP (of any party) would decide that he or she was worth more than lobby fodder and vote accordingly. As you can see, living by the beach and drinking homebrew has created a rich fantasy life. Chris M."
      Chris Mitson died in his sleep while staying at the Nelson house of his partner of 15 years, Janie [Constance] McIntyre. He is survived by his daughter Amy, stepdaughter Selena, and stepson Joshua.
    Person ID I5816  Himelfarb Family Tree
    Last Modified 25 Feb 2020 

    Family Martha Lynn Wagner 
    Last Modified 28 Oct 2020 
    Family ID F2189  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart