Des Britten

Sir Desmond John Britten KNZM (27 December 1939 – 13 February 2020) was a New Zealand restaurateur, radio broadcaster, television chef, cookbook writer and Anglican priest. He served as Wellington City Missioner for 17 years, and was knighted in 2012.

Sir Des Britten

Des Britten KNZM investiture.jpg
Britten's investiture as a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the governor-general, Sir Jerry Mateparae, in 2012
Desmond John Britten

(1939-12-27)27 December 1939
Otane, New Zealand
Died13 February 2020(2020-02-13) (aged 80)
Wellington, New Zealand
Known forCelebrity chef
Wellington City Missioner

Early life and familyEdit

Britten was born in Otane in Hawke's Bay on 27 December 1939.[1][2] The son of a sheep farmer, he was educated at Napier Boys' High School, but left without any qualifications and then worked for a few years on the family farm.[2]

Career as broadcaster and restaurateurEdit

Briten began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey in Napier and then Hamilton.[2] After two years in Australia, he joined the NZBC as an announcer on Wellington radio station 2ZB.[2] His dances for children at the Wellington Town Hall, known as the "Coca Cola Hi-Fi Club", proved popular.[2]

In 1964, Britten and his wife Lorraine opened their fine-dining restaurant, "The Coachman", in Courtenay Place, Wellington, which they ran for 28 years.[2][3] In the 1970s, Britten presented two cooking shows on New Zealand television: Thyme for Cookery and Bon Appetit.[3][2]

In 1995, Britten received the Restaurant Association of New Zealand's Hall of Fame award.[4]


Britten was ordained an Anglican priest in 1983[3] and became the vicar of St Barnabas Roseneath, in Wellington.[5] He was then head of the Wellington City Mission from 1994 to 2011.[3] Following his retirement, he was made a Canon Emeritus in the Wellington diocese[1] and was named the 2011 "Wellingtonian of the Year".[3]

In the 2012 New Year Honours, Britten was appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the community.[6]

Later life and deathEdit

In 2018, Britten was predeceased by his wife, Lorraine, Lady Britten, after more than 50 years of marriage.[2] He died in Wellington on 13 February 2020 at the age of 80.[2][7][8]


Britten wrote a number of cookbooks, including:

  • Cooking with Des Britten. Wilson and Horton, Auckland (1971).
  • Thyme for cookery. Hicks Smith, Wellington (1973).
  • The Des Britten cookbook. Woolworths, Auckland (1977).
  • Gourmet cooking for babies. Reed Methuen, Auckland (1987).
  • Des Britten's foodie fables & other just desserts. Grantham House, Wellington (1996).


  1. ^ a b "Father Des Britten wrestles with his titles". Dominion Post. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Manson, Bess (15 February 2020). "Sir Des Britten — the 'people's priest' — dies". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Wellingtonian of the Year: Des Britten". Dominion Post. 17 November 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  4. ^ Hall of Fame Award Archived 10 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Restaurant Association of New Zealand, Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  5. ^ Knighthoods awarded for community work. National News, TVNZ, 31 December 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2013.
  6. ^ "New Year honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  7. ^ Hunt, Tom (13 February 2020). "Former Wellingtonian of the Year Sir Des Britten has died". Dominion Post. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Desmond Britten death notice". Dominion Post. 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.