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Bruce Blades & the Parthenon Marbles

Bruce Blades, head of the International Organising Committee – New Zealand – for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles [1], sadly died on 26th of June.

Bruce was a tireless campaigner for the reunification of the Elgin Marbles to Athens, with his efforts eventually leading to a motion being passed in New Zealand’s parliament [2] urging the British Museum to return the sculptures.

He will be missed greatly both by the campaign within New Zealand, but also by other reunification campaigns around the world [3].

Dominion Post [4]

Zisis Bruce Evangelos Blades
Tireless community worker
PETER KITCHIN – The Dominion Post | Thursday, 10 July 2008

Zisis Bruce Evangelos Blades, engineer: Born Wellington, September 8, 1937; married 1967 Kathy Papadimitriou 1 son 1 daughter; died Wellington, June 26, 2008, aged 70.
Bruce Blades, of Brooklyn, was a civil engineer whose multiplicity of skills extended to sports field strategies and diplomacy.

He was a cultured dynamo whose enthusiasms were tempered by a great deal of commonsense and a closely held understanding of team and family dynamics. His negotiation skills were first-rate, and he had a disarming capacity for leaping hurdles in order to reach solutions.

His orbit of interests were wider than many people would shoulder, though to his family and his professional colleagues they were par for the course.

For example, in May last year, Parliament decided that the Elgin Marbles, housed in the British Museum, belonged to Greece. The impetus for such recognition was the result of a petition from Mr Blades (wearing the hat of chairman of the New Zealand Parthenon Marbles Committee), and 1020 others.

In 1998, when he retired as managing-director of Tse Group, he had spent more than 30 years with the partnership and its predecessor, C J Tse and Associates.

With the Tse organisation, he left his mark on national and international projects, among them ventures in Australia, China and Vietnam.

In Wellington, the multi-disciplinary group was involved in the design of the National Airways Corporation building in Vivian St (these days it’s Victoria University’s school of architecture), Maidstone Mall at Upper Hutt and Queensgate in Lower Hutt; the Salvation Army’s training college at Upper Hutt and a number of subdivisions, among them Kingston and Kowhai Park. For the second son of hard-working Greek restaurant owners Evangelos and Fotini Blades, of Kilbirnie, success was not accidental.

He was a bright youngster whose nous had been noticed at Lyall Bay Primary School. At Wellington Technical College he was dux in 1955 as well as being head prefect, captain of the first XV and the cricket XI, and college tennis champion to boot.

His sporting abilities were unquestioned. He captained the Poneke Rugby Club’s senior team in 1961 and 1962 as a 60kg first five- eighth, and he was a senior player for the Kilbirnie Cricket Club, beginning when he was just 18..

Mr Blades spent a year at Victoria University doing an engineering intermediate qualification before setting out for Canterbury University, where he graduated in 1960.

He then joined Ian Macallan & Co, consulting engineers, before heading abroad for a year in 1961. On his return, he joined the Ministry of Works, and in 1964 joined Wright Stephenson & Co as a structural engineer, initially to help supervise the construction of Challenge House on The Terrace.

He added a valuation qualification to his portfolio before the company’s engineering and design office, under the leadership of the late Jack Tse, was spun off. C J Tse & Associates, forerunner of the Tse Group, was the result, and Bruce Blades was one of its foundation partners.

It was one thing to be involved in heady engineering projects, and another to carry his skills into community work.

Bruce Blades lead the restoration of the Wellington College cricket pavilion in the late 1980s, and was also responsible for the construction of the cricket nets.

He was made a life member of the Wellington College Cricket Club for his services. He was a member of the Brooklyn School committee in the late 1970s and led the construction of playground facilities which are still there.

He was a key person in the planning and design of the major extensions and up-grades of the Poneke Rugby Club’s premises in 1969 and 1970 and more, a decade later.

As president of the Greek Community of Wellington in the early 1980s he drove through the construction of community rooms in Hania St, which to this day serve as classrooms for the community’s Greek language school.

He was author of Wellington’s Hellenic Mile, detailing the history of Wellington’s Greek-owned eateries. He wrote it as a tribute to his father and elder brother Basil, whose toils, notably at the original Astoria restaurant at the Bowen St corner, had helped pay for the university education of himself and his siblings.

He was awarded a Queens Service Medal in 2004 in recognition of his services to the community.

Bruce Blades died as result of a heart attack while playing golf.

He is survived by his wife, their son and their daughter, and by five grandchildren.

Sources: Blades family, Tse Group and others.