Obituary – George Cunningham

Recording the passing of key industry people is never easy. George William Cunningham passed away 25 Nov 2020, aged 84.

George will be remembered as the new Quarry Manager appointed in 1968 at Wilkins & Davies Puketutu Island Quarry having negotiated a lease with Sir Henry Kelliher to restore the quarry to good quality pasture at the end of its life. His Quarry Management Plan included provision that a few cents per m3 of product sold was earmarked for restoration.

At the IOQNZ Annual New Plymouth Conference, George presented a paper on his views of Quarry Management, – a structured assessment of costs of all aspects of quarrying, which was very well received at the time.

Also in 1983, George took on an overseas assignment working at the northern tip of Sarawak (Malyasia) at Sabah, formerly the Bristish colony of North Borneo, producing various aggregates for road maintenance from gravels, sandstone, basalt and diorite. Once again he put in place a plan for more effective use and pricing of aggregates. A paper on the Sabah operations was presented at the 1985 Queenstown conference.

In New Zealand his role with the Aggregate and Quarry Association (AQA) saw him deliver annual advocacy reports at several conferences, culminating in his paper – “50 year perspective in quarrying” at the 2002 Palmerston North Conference.

George also created a company called Porchester Agencies in 1988 dealing mainly in aggregate and wetlands management issues, and his expertise was called upon by many companies throughout NZ.

At the Wairakei Annual Conference held 2004, the IOQ recognised George with an Honorary Fellowship.

When the IOQNZ produced “PROFILES IN STONE, Stories from New Zealand Quarrymen” (2012), there is a great chapter featuring George Cunningham entitled “The Band Aid man”. Well worth another read.

George was a mentor to many, and his smile and friendly disposition will be missed by all who knew him. We express our sincere condolences to his wife Karen and family at this sad time.