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January

Andi Rapley

Beloved Queenstowner Andi Rapley lost her battle with ovarian cancer, aged 58.

Hundreds turn out to farewell Andi, who worked at Queenstown Airport for eight years, initially on the helpdesk and latter as operations duty manager.

Prior to that she was a fitness instructor working in various gyms.

She was first diagnosed in November, 2017, had surgery and chemotherapy and celebrated her recovery with a three-month European holiday last year with her husband of 31 years, Beau.

Andi died on January 31, in the arms of Beau, her son Adam Nicolle and daughter Taylor Rapley.

Dale Grant Stephens

Poet Dale Grant Stephens, 77, died only three months after winning a Queenstown poetry competition.

Stephens, who spent his last months at the resort’s Abbeyfield retirement village, published a best-selling colletion of poetry, prose and photography, Let Your Heart Talk, in 2003.

He also released two CDs of country ballads set to music by former Crowded House and Split Enz keyboardist Eddie Rayner.

MAY

Ivan Smith

Ivan Smith, who built half the stunningly-scenic road between Glenorchy and Queenstown when he was just 16 dies, aged 79.

Glenorchy-born, Smith was employed by top-of-the-lake farmer and councillor Tommy Thomson to doze the lakeside from Glenorchy to Bennetts Bluff.

He initially stayed in a shed on Thomson’s property then, as the job progressed, he’d sleep in a hammock strung between beech trees and often survived on a diet of condensed milk and dried apricots.

Smith later worked as an engineer on Ohai/Nighcaps coal mines before being ordained as a Presbyterian minister.

His wife, renowned Southland Times journalist Pat Veltcamp Smith, died in March.

JUNE

Nic Leefe

Former Queenstown Gardens curator Nic Leefe dies, aged 91.

Leefe took the head gardener’s job, aged 24, after he saw it advertised while holidaying here in 1953 – at the time, Queenstown’s population was 841.

He instigated a tree-thinning programme to make the Gardens’ specimen trees more visible, while his pride and joy was the 25-bed formal rose garden, formed in 1967.

Leefe retired in 1986, aged 58.

He’s survived by children Barbara, Gretchen, John and Gavin.

JULY

Bill Metherell

Long-time Queenstown firey and bus driver Bill Metherell dies while snorkelling off Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while on holiday with his wife, Alison.

Bill, 59, moved to Queenstown in 1992 and drove tour groups in the summer and skiers/boarders in the winter.

Dubbed ‘Gov’, he joined the Queenstown Volunteer Fire Brigade the year he arrived, earning his gold star for 25 years’ service two years ago.

Michael Lynch

Community activist, historian and former journalist Michael Lynch dies, aged 76.

The staunch advocate for public health services in the Wakatipu, he also championed Queenstown’s heritage, and the Gardens in particular.

Lynch started his journalism career as a writer/sub-editor for The Press newspaper in Christchurch, was the editor of Balclutha’s Clutha Leader, and was a TV reporter for The South Tonight in Dunedin.

He set up lobby group Queenstown Community Network with Karen Boulay in 1995, was active in the Wakatipu Senior Citizens Association, and the set-up of Frankton’s Abbeyfield elderly housing units.

He’s survived by daughter Brigid Roberts, sons Daniel and Sebastian and seven grandchildren.

Eiichi Ishii

Millbrook founder Eiichi Ishii dies, aged 80.

The Japanese businessman was among a group who started developing the former Mill Farm in 1988.

His family, spearheaded by his late mother Fusako, ultimately took full ownership of the resort.

His son, Gota, was brought into the business after his mother’s death in 2002.

In 2015 he was awarded the keys to Arrowtown and the following year was made n honorary member of the NZ Order of Merit for his contributions to golf, tourism and NZ-Japan relations.

AUGUST

Philippa Greig

News of Philippa Greig’s death stuns the Wakatipu community.

Known as Pip, the 37-year-old Queenstowner died after contracting dengue fever in Yelapa, Mexico, after she was bitten by a mosquito while house-sitting in the village.

Four or five days later, neighbours took the vivacious, artistic and highly intelligent engineer to the base hospital in Puerto Vallarta, but despite 40 minutes’ CPR she couldn’t be brought around.
She’s survived by her parents, Roz and Rob, brother Andrew and sister Mitchey.

SEPTEMBER

Anita Graf, right


More than $10,500 is raised through a Givealittle page to help Queenstowner Anita Graf’s daughters cover the costs of her funeral.

Graf, 60, died suddenly while skiing at Coronet Peak – it’s understood she lost control on Sugar’s Run and collided with a fence post.

She was skiing the final ‘first tracks’ of the season at the time and died at the scene, despite the best efforts of the skifield’s doctor and nurse.

Graf is survived by daughters Jess, Katie, Chloe and Sofie and grandson Ollie.

OCTOBER

Anna Jameson


Disability rights advocate Anna Jameson dies, aged 47, of breast cancer.

Jameson had been in a wheelchair or on crutches since early childhood due to a neurological condition.

She moved to Queenstown in 2007 with her doctor husband, Bruce McKinnon, and became the frontperson for the Wakatipu Access Group, passionately advocating for disabled people to have the same rights to participate in the community as the able-bodied.

She’s survived by McKinnon and their son, Kyle.

NOVEMBER

John Wilson

Well-known local and former district councillor John Wilson loses his battle with Parkinson’s diseas, aged 70.

Originally from North Otago, Wilson had a holiday home in Arrowtown in the 1980s before making the permanent move.

He was the Lakes District Museum board president, helped reforest Pigeon Island, between Queenstown and Glenorchy, was the first chairman of the Wakatipu Trails Trust – now the Queenstown Trails Trust – and served for six years as the Arrowtown voice on the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

He stood down, due to his health, in 2010.

Wilson is survived by his wife, Margaret, and son Chris – their daughter, Claire, died at home in Arrowtown in 2011 of bowel cancer.