"He knows what makes people tick. He identifies with their wives and kids. Peter employed most of them he played squash with them, drank beer with them. They were his family.
"If he hadn't been born in Wollongong he probably should have been born in Greymouth because the people in Greymouth see him as a Coaster and if you could see the outpouring of love, support and affection that he has received during the past few days it's boosted his sense of belonging to this community.
"In a meeting which he came into with his legs trembling to tell families he didn't think there was any chance any of the staff had survived the second blast ... he described it as the worst moment of his life ... and yet, if you'd seen the number of people who burst into tears and threw their arms around his neck ... "
St Patrick's School in Greymouth is where Whittall's teacher wife Leanne worked and where their daughter, Heather, and young son, Morgan attended. The school motto "Treat others as you would like them to treat you" might as well have been Whittall's. "Peter is ... well, we all love Peter," says St Patrick's principal, Mary-Clare Murphy. "He's just a friend to everyone.
"This week, he has been God-inspired."
We find it very hard to disagree with the closing sentiment.