It is with great sadness that we must report the forced retirement, due to ill health, of our Chief Executive Grant Hutchinson. Those who attended The Big Sing Finale Gala or viewed it on screen were told that Grant had been seriously unwell for some weeks and was unable to travel to Wellington for the event. He did however watch the livestream with friends at his home in Auckland and made sure he was able to play a role in proceedings via a pre-recorded video message.
NZCF Chair Juliet Dreaver then announced that Grant had been awarded Life Membership of the Federation and presented the certificate to his daughter Liz, who, unbeknownst to Grant, was there to receive it on his behalf. John Rosser, who served as Chair or Vice-Chair through most of Grant’s tenure, then delivered a tribute to him for his ten years of admirable service to NZCF.
John’s tribute is reproduced here…
“In late 2007, the New Zealand Choral Federation’s newly-established Governance Board had completed a year of talking and planning, and was looking for a manager to turn its ideas into reality. Grant Hutchinson arrived and set about doing exactly that.
Grant had immigrated from Port Elizabeth, South Africa – a pharmaceutical sales manager who was also an accomplished organist and choral conductor. After a stint in the Waikato, he moved to Christchurch and became music director of the well-known Jubilate Singers. Keen for a new day-job challenge, Grant accepted a half-time position with the Federation in 2008 and was offered a full-time contract in 2009. He has been our Chief Executive ever since.
Within the first few years of Grant’s tenure, NZCF had regained the confidence of Creative New Zealand, achieving Kahikitea client status and seeing its three-yearly bulk funding reinstated. A series of National Choral Clinics involving four overseas practitioners was organised, the Sing Aotearoa festival was revived and an Association of Choral Directors was formed. The Big Sing continued its rapid growth and NZCF’s Rugby World Cup 2011 Anthems Project was a runaway success.
From his first day, Grant strove to increase the membership of the Federation, searching always for ways to enhance and communicate its importance to conductors and singers. He presided over several upgrades of our website and continually advocated for a more professional look in everything we do. On a more global front, Grant was one of the early movers in setting up an Asia-Pacific Council to promote choral music in our region. Moreover, his reports from IFCM events he attended in Seoul and Macau were instrumental in encouraging us to apply for the 2020 World Symposium on Choral Music.
In short, Grant has been utterly enmeshed in every NZCF activity for the past ten years. Even when others have fronted an event or initiative, he has worked willingly and tirelessly to make it happen, often without taking credit. Humility has always been one of Grant’s greatest attributes, but there are many others. He is immensely hard-working, unfailingly honest, eager to serve, a true colleague and a genuinely nice man. His admirable self-motivation has been evident in his ability to run the organisation from his home office in Christchurch and latterly Auckland, managing a few very part-time staff members and collaborating with volunteers spread right across the country.
Perhaps the quality we have benefited from most is Grant’s immense and infectious enthusiasm for the cause we all share. He has constantly claimed that he has the best job in the world – and he means it, such is his love for music, choirs and the Choral Federation. Yet choral musicians in turn are so very fortunate that Grant Hutchinson has chosen for over a decade to make the NZCF his life’s work and passion.
Extreme ill health has forced Grant’s retirement from an organisation that has grown immensely under his watch, not only in the number of its people and activities but also in the scale of its achievements – from a body that was looking to re-energise itself at the most basic level just a decade ago to one that is preparing to welcome the choral world to its doorstep in less than two years’ time. Of course, Grant would love to have still been at the wheel when the Symposium arrived, but now is the time to offer him our heartfelt gratitude for the huge part he has played in building for his precious Federation such a strong foundation and even brighter future.”