19 Oct 2011

Memorial service held for Christopher Doig

11:17 pm on 19 October 2011

More than 1000 people gathered in Christchurch on Wednesday to pay their respects to international opera singer and sports administrator Christopher Doig.

Mr Doig, 63, was diagnosed with bowel cancer about two years ago and in the past 12 months his condition was described as incurable. He passed away surrounded by family in Christchurch last Thursday.

A memorial service attended by Prime Minister John Key, along with other dignitaries, family, friends and the public was held at the CBS Arena following a private family gathering on Wednesday morning.

The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra performed and former New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary-general Barry Maister, who played hockey with Mr Doig in the early 1970s, delivered a eulogy.

Several members of Mr Doig's family also spoke and sang tributes.

Prime Minister John Key described him as an extraordinary New Zealander who was positive, passionate and loved life.

Mr Doig's most recent achievement was bringing internationally renowned Spanish tenor Placido Domingo to earthquake-hit Christchurch for a charity concert in October this year.

The sellout concert raised $300,000 for the damaged Court Theatre and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

Distinguished career

In 1972, Christopher Doig won the Mobil Song Quest and two years later began studying at the Vienna Music Academy where he graduated with top honours.

After a brief period teaching at Auckland Grammar, he embarked on an international singing career.

In 1984, he left the Vienna State Opera, returning home to be director of the Christchurch Arts Centre; four years later he was approached to be the director of Wellington's International Festival of the Arts.

He continued to perform in New Zealand and overseas, often with his wife Suzanne Prain.

In 1995, he was a surprise choice as chief executive of New Zealand Cricket, giving up his singing career to do so.

He was made an OBE in 1992 for services to the arts and was recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday honours.