Our time with Brian McGillivray affirmed King Solomon's wisdom that there's nothing new under the sun.
Want a "for instance''? He has a swag of them.
Let's start with a mall dividing the city, move on to the vexed issue of CBD parking, followed by the sorry saga of empty shops, a peek at lake water quality and rue undesirable elements damaging Rotorua's reputation.
Topical as each is, they're old hat to the city's self-styled "Mad Jeweller'' who has owned the same Tutanekai St business for 45 years and has every intention of staying put, however gloomy the pundits' predictions. "They'll wheel me out of here in a barrow.''
When Brian talks of a mall dividing the city it's not about the present Rotorua Central; rather, he's referring to the stretch of Tutanekai St between Hinemoa and Pukuatua Sts which was closed to traffic from 1986-1993.
At the time Brian McGillivray was a district councillor and opposed to it. As former Retailers' Association president, he argued it wouldn't only split the city in two but impede traffic flow and make inroads into available parking spaces. Then there was the vexed issue of its cost.
"To create the jolly thing the council had to borrow at something like 27 per cent interest with the maintenance costs on top of that ... how could I be anything but opposed to it?''
Fellow councillors overrode his concerns but seven years on the mall was scrapped, not before another of his predictions had been proved correct. "Undesirables'' found it an ideal hang-out.
During his time on the council Lake Rotorua's clean-up began in earnest and there was widespread worry that businesses were closing because of steep rent rises imposed to cover escalating rates bills. He was at the council table when geothermal bores within a 1.5km radius of Whakarewarewa were closed, resulting in the city's infamous "Bore Wars''.
With these events already well documented, we turn to the person who is Brian McGillivray.
He's been a Rotorua-ite since he fell in love with the place on his 1965 honeymoon.
"What wasn't there to love about it? We knew immediately this was where we wanted to live.''
The "we'' he refers to was his bride, Christine, whom he met on a blind date in Christchurch. Cancer claimed her life in the 29th year of their marriage. Five years on he married their friend May, claiming there'd been "some matchmaking'' going on by friends.
Both wives have been at his side running Rotorua Gift and Jewellery.
Brian admits when he bought the business jewellery and watchmaking weren't within his field of expertise "but you learn very quickly when your livelihood depends on it''.
His first job had been organising country-wide bus tours for a Christchurch travel company "with bugger all qualifications''. From there it was on to Air New Zealand's forerunner, Tasman Empire Airways Ltd (TEAL) working in reservations and traffic handling. At 20 and itching to indulge his entrepreneurial flair, he opened his first solo venture, christening it McGillivray's and "selling everything from groceries and takeaways to heaters and ladies' handbags''.
Outside work he played senior grade rugby and joined Jaycees, the international service organisation for younger businessmen.
It was in Jaycees that Brian's debating and public speaking abilities were honed. "It was a very good way to learn to speak on your feet and argue; very handy on the council.''
His debating skills also came into play when he led the district's anti-fluoridation debate; Brian hasn't softened his stance in the three decades it has continued to resurface. During his council tenure he chaired the newly created Keep Rotorua Beautiful Organisation. "It was a very satisfying experience and seeing the city win so many national Most Beautiful City awards since has proved that.''
Not all his time has been spent working or waging crusades. A runner since secondary school and long-time member of Lakes City Athletic Club, he ran his first Rotorua marathon at 42. "I loved the agony and the ecstasy of it.''
He'd still be running if his joints hadn't packed up, leading to a knee replacement. "I've always joked that as the runners come out under the Government Gardens arch there's a line-up of orthopaedic surgeons rubbing their hands as they see their future customers coming towards them.''
As he laments the present CBD decline and related city woes that are all too familiar to him, Brian has a slice of Solomon-like wisdom for those who've let it happen. It's that infamous slogan of his:
"Check your pulse, you might be dead.''
Born: Napier, 1936
Education: Fendalton Primary and St Andrew's College, Christchurch
Family: Wife May, daughter in the UK, son in Australia, three grandsons, two step-granddaughters, one step-grandson
Interests and community involvement: Family, sport athletics and rugby in particular. "I don't only support the All Blacks but anyone who's playing against Australia'', travel "especially overseas, it broadens your horizons and makes you appreciate home more'', business "my brain's always tricking over how to improve and promote it''. Chairman St David's Church Board of Managers, 35-year member Rotorua West Rotary Club, including term as president. Is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow for service to the organisation and community. Was a Jaycee senator and spent five-year term on Keep Rotorua Beautiful, including chairing the organisation. 12-year tenure on Rotorua District Council
Personal philosophies: "Give everything 100 per cent effort.'' "You only get out of business and the community what you put into them.''