Lorraine Mills

CEO Lorraine Mills – 

gone too soon

By Rooflink Editor, Jenny Bain


Words seem inadequate during times of loss and the sudden passing of CEO Lorraine Mills was a shock, not only to her family but to all who knew her at a professional level in the roofing industry.

We all assume that we have plenty of time in life but for Lorraine it came to an abrupt end on 19th April, leaving an industry and the Roofing Association of New Zealand members and staff stunned and saddened by her premature passing at the age of 66.  She was robbed of a retirement so richly deserved – should she even have been persuaded to take one.

Testament to the high regard in which Lorraine was held across the roofing sector was reflected in the large numbers gathered at North Shore Crematorium for her funeral on 26th April and the flood of messages received from members around the country. 

It was well known that Lorraine had struggled with poor health for many years, but in the weeks leading up to her death, following a brief spell in hospital, she was doggedly persevering at the computer with the early planning and management of this year’s conference. She was completely committed to RANZ.

Lorraine’s passion and enthusiasm for the association have been a major reason that RANZ enjoys the respect and recognition it now enjoys. Her professional approach was admired by all in the roofing sector – in particular the contracting fraternity.  She genuinely cared for members and shared a valuable working relationship with the Executive board. Her service to RANZ was never off her radar. 

At the time RANZ was formed the founding members had clear objectives and goals in mind.  It was a major coup in 1994 when Lorraine was seconded on contract from the Auckland Master Plumbers to manage the affairs of the newly formed trade association. Her focus was on professional achievement in the industry, working with thoroughness and precision.

In 1998 Lorraine became the full time CEO with RANZ having its own headquarters in Albany and the CEO continuing to provide an array of functions single-handled until additional staff were employed from 2001.

The annual conference was always a major focus for Lorraine and her commitment to this year’s event is reflected, once again, in the quality of the material generated and the excellent programme set down – much of this achieved in the last weeks of her life.

Members will have received the conference pack with details of what’s in store for this year and it goes without saying Lorraine would encourage members to avail themselves of this valuable opportunity to expand their knowledge and network with others in the industry. Lorraine had an excellent memory and never forgot a face.  Conference was always an opportunity for her to catch up with members from around the country.  

Life Membership conferred at the 2014 RANZ conference at SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre Lorraine became a Life Member for her service to the association and its members. 

Over the years the CEO has been supported by a very competent executive who in working closely with her always admired her meticulous attention to detail across all facets of the role. RANZ staff members Colleen Waters and Jenny Bain will attest to her surprise and thrill to becoming a Life Member.  It was the best kept secret in the history of the association – goodness knows how we kept that from her.

Some of the many Tribute messages received at the RANZ office. 

Lorraine was a tireless CEO as we have all more than once commented on.  But as we know she was much, much more than that.  Lorraine was also the backbone to the roofing installers in New Zealand, trusting and also very trustworthy, honest and to the point, and she knew when the truth stopped and bullshit started.

“She had a great sense of humour, loved a good joke and always had a smile on her face and spare sneaky cigarette when we were away at conferences.  I have said before that I mark the year by the roofing conference and one of the main reasons for this was to catch up with my friend Lorraine and have a good old yak and a bit of a laugh” –

Kerry Andrew, Ampelite (NZ) Ltd

“We were both surprised and saddened to hear Lorraine has passed away and our thoughts are with you.  I had a good conversation with her earlier in the month and whilst she was clearly trying to manage her pain I had no idea her condition was life threatening.

“RANZ has been her passion for the last 20 odd years and she is going to be missed.  She was a worker until the end” – 

Chris Kay, Marketing Manager, New Zealand Steel Ltd

“I am happy Lorraine’s efforts were formally recognised with the life membership as she undoubtedly has been a huge factor in the growth of our industry organisation” –

Terry Hunt, TH Commercial Roofing Ltd, Tauranga

“So very sorry to hear of Lorraine’s passing.  She was a great lady with a lot of mana. Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui” –

Rena Schuster, Project Unite Ltd, Hamilton

“For all these years, no matter how many times we (the old guard), discussed our concerns about Lorraine’s commitment to RANZ in terms of the hours she spent well beyond what should be expected of anyone, how she was consumed for the well being of RANZ and how she seemingly ignored all the other health warnings that surrounded her – NOTHING would have prepared us for this” –

Paul Wayman, RANZ Life Member, Wayman Roofing Services Ltd

“Lorraine has been dedicated to the industry and to RANZ for such a long time.  She has been instrumental in driving our industry ahead with so much passion.  She will be such a hard act to follow.  Just the lovely way she welcomed all members of the association – young/old, new/long time.  The RANZ conference has always stood out for being such a friendly and welcoming event and she played such a large part in this” – 

Jennie Gillespie, Topline Trade Services Ltd

“I would like to pay my respects to a beautiful woman, friend and industry leader” –

Melanie McIver, Brick & Blocklayers Federation of New Zealand

“Please accept our condolences as I know Lorraine was very well respected in the sector and was also supportive of much of our work” –

Paul Hobbs, Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing

 “We at Steel roofing had the greatest respect for Lorraine and as an industry were extremely fortunate to have her on our team” – Brent Botha, Steel Roofing Ltd

“She will be a great loss to us all” –

Keith Ivey, CS Roofing Southland Ltd

“Words cannot express the sadness at Dimond for the loss of Lorraine” – 

Philippa Morris, Dimond

“RIP to a great lady who was loved and will be missed” – 

Andy Stevens, Steel & Tube, Tauranga