Life is art for retired farmer


A former Southland high country farmer who’s remained creative despite the onset of Alzheimer’s is about to launch a collection of his poetry.

Des O’Brien, 82, only began to put pen to paper a decade ago, after attending summer courses at Otago University where he was encouraged by a tutor to publish.

His first edition everyday experiences and life, working in his parent’s grocery store in Gore, high country farming at Garston, his family and the environment.

Now his second edition of December 3, adds in a series called since the onset of his illness.

They focus on and wrestle with the day-to-day realities of living with Alzheimer’s, often in a humorous way, and are complemented by black and white photos taken by his daughter, Philippa O’Brien.

Des is now a resident at Wakatipu Home.

Alzheimers Otago, which includes Central Otago and Queenstown, will benefit from the sales of

Des’s poetry sends a message to people living with dementia.

“It is a powerful and positive message that, while a diagnosis of dementia is tough, there remains a meaningful engaged life to be lived.

“Dementia does not erase the life lived or the contributions made before diagnosis, nor does it mean that person has nothing more to contribute.”

Queenstown residents, Pip and Greg Rooke, along with UK colleague Mike Hauck, are credited with spearheading the latest publication of Des at his Garston property.

The collection is published with a grant Queenstown law firm Mactodd’s ADEPT-MACTODD Trust.