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January

 

Noelene Tait. PICTURE: EMILY ADAMSON

Hundreds turn out to pay their respects to Noelene Tait, 84, who died after a crash on Frankton Road on January 14 while on her way home from the library in Queenstown.

One of the original members of the Arrow Miners Band, Noelene loved Irish music and used to go to The Fork and Tap in Arrowtown and play on Wednesday nights.

The former theatre nurse at Kew Hospital, now Southland Hospital, in Invercargill moved to Queenstown 21 years ago after her late husband, Peter, died.

Noelene was heavily involved in the community and spent a huge amount of time entertaining residents at resthomes in Queenstown, either playing music for them or playing cards with them.

In February, Dalbert Tin, 29, of Singapore, is ordered to pay almost $30,000 in reparation – $9390 to Noelene’s family for funeral expenses and emotional harm, and $15,450 to motorcyclist Glenn Cherry, who was also injured in the crash.

Noelene, posthumously awarded the Arrowtown Autumn Festival ‘unsung hero’ award in November, is survived by her son, Richard, and daughter, Margaret and five grandchildren.

March

Merv Aoake

Queenstown loses one of its most charismatic, big-hearted, inspirational, fun-loving community stalwarts.

Merv Aoake dies on March 8, the day before his 63rd birthday, after a short battle with cancer, leaving behind his wife, Maree, and children Ana and James.

A proud Maori and a gentle giant, he leaves behind hundreds of people he’s inspired and mentored through his roles at Wakatipu High School, as a community social worker with Central Lakes Family Services, a rugby, junior sailing and basketball coach, a City Hall councillor, a Lions Club member and Queenstown’s celebrated men’s ballet troupe, with which he performed last December.

As a mark of respect, the Remarkable Men’s Ballet dedicate their 2020 performance to Merv.

April

Doug Brown

Local real estate, skiing and golf legend Doug Brown dies on April 14, aged 92.

He’s survived by sons Nigel, Derek, Maurice and Julian, and was predeceased in 2017 by his wife of 61 years, Betty.

Doug, raised in Christchurch, was an early skier at Coronet Peak after it opened in 1947, and worked in real estate in Invercargill and later Australia before eventually moving to Queenstown in 1973.

He went on to set up Queenstown Real Estate and became a Fellow of the Real Estate Institute of NZ, was prominent in the Wakatipu Ski Club, and played golf for Southland.

Barry Bain

One of Arrowtown’s great characters, and founders of the Arrow Miners Band, dies on April 13, aged 85.

Barry Bain passed away in Wanaka where he moved with his wife, Ann, five years ago.

Barry, a talented brass bandsman, who started playing the trumpet when he was just seven, went on to win national titles and also toured with the National Band of New Zealand.

He co-founded the Miners Band in 1985 in time for the inaugural Arrowtown Autumn Festival and played regularly till recently.

June

Pauline Kelly and one of her sons, Shaun

Pauline Kelly dies on June 4, aged 87.

Pauline moved to the resort in 1978 and ran, for many years, a number of motels, including Frankton Road’fs Garden Court Motels and was instrumental in helping her sons, Shaun and Neville, take over KJet in the 1980s.

She’s survived by her six children, including Shaun and Neville, 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandkids.

Chas Drader

Legendar broadcaster Chas Drader, of Glenorchy, dies on June 11, aged 75, hours after his final breakfast shift on his radio station Glenorchy Country.

Chas had one of the country’s best radio “voices” and spent close to 60 years in the industry, starting in Masterton in 1961.

He went on to work at 21 mostly government-owned stations, and at Auckland’s Radio 1, before moving to Queenstown in 1985, initially working for Radio Otago.

He later started his own station, Ski FM, and then went on to establish QFM and 92FM – the latter two merged to become Q92FM under his management.

After that station was bought by RadioWorks, now MediaWorks, Chas eventually retired before founding Glenorchy Country 89.2FM from his home.

Maninderjit Singh Sandhu

Prominent Indian Sikh Maninderjit Singh Sandhu succumbs to cancer, aged 73.

MJS, as he was widely known, arrived in Queenstown in 1993 where he became the popular ‘mein host’ at Little India which he and his wife, Shammi Sandhu, opened in ‘94 and ran till 2009.

A grain farmer and Sikh political activist in India – where he had three short stints in jail and suffered threats to his life – eventually sold his farm in 1993 and followed his wife, Shammi, and their two young sons, Aftaab and Govind, to Dunedin where they’d moved to escaped the volatility in ‘73.

In Queenstown he played a pivotal role in the resort becoming a hot venue for Bollywood movies, and after Little India sold the couple set up Mantra restaurants in Christchurch, since sold, and Arrowtown, which Shammi put on the market following MJS’ death.

Anne Copplestone

Former Queenstowner Anne Copplestone dies in Cambodia after a suspected heart attack.

The 48-year-old was working as director of Hope for Cambodian Children, which provides healthcare and support to impoverished children, in Battambang.

Her parents, Graham and Sandra, ran the Arthurs Point camping ground during the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Anne had a long career as a travel agent before changing direction and pursuing her passion for working with underprivileged children, initially in Australia’s Northern Territory, before moving to Cambodia about three years ago.

July

Russell McGrouther

Russell McGrouther, originally a local motelier, who was the resort’s funeral director for 29 years till 2015 and a former national vice-president of Jaycees, dies on July 12 at Lakes District Hospital.

A driving force behind Queenstown’s first kindergarten being established in the ‘80s, Russell also oversaw an ambitious Rotary project to build a house in a day, which was then auctioned.

He was also a scout leader and drove fundraising for the scout den at the Frankton marina and had almost 50 years’ involvement with freemasonry.

He’s survived by his wife, Ruth, sons, Blair and Jason, and grandson, Charleston.

Wendy Perkins

Wendy Perkins passes away after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer on July 13, aged 75, surrounded by family and friends in Invercargill.

Wendy, alongside her husband Lex, was also in the accommodation business in Queenstown from the time they arrived in 1992, before they moved to Arrowtown in 2002.

She was heavily involved with Alcoholics Anonymous after she quit smoking and drinking about 20 years ago.

She’s survived by Lex, Christine, Stephen and Nigel and four grandchildren.

Elbert de Koning

Elbert de Koning dies peacefully at home, also on July 13, aged 84.

Well-known as Queenstown’fs ‘firewood man’, Elbert owned and operated Superior Firewood for about 30 years till he closed it down in 2017.

Originally from the Netherlands, Elbert was last year presented an ‘unsung hero’ award by Rotary Queenstown for his work with Kelvin Peninsula Community Association and the Whakatipu Wildlife Trust predator control organisation, which he joined after he retired three years ago.

He’s survived by wife, Margaret, children Diana and Karl, and five grandchildren.

Tim Wilson

Celebrated artist Tim Wilson dies, aged 65, on July 22 after an almost 10-year battle with cancer.

The oil painter was famous for his mastery of light, and a tribute exhibition, held in his Beach Street gallery in August, includes some paintings sold before his death showing how his technique evolved from studying the Old Masters to creating his own unique style of landscape painting.

It is the last exhibition in the gallery, which he opened about 10 years earlier – in September the Tim Wilson Gallery relocates to Tim’s Queenstown Hill home.

He’s survived by his husband, Vaj Ekanayake.

Jack Allan

A “true son and gentleman of the Whakatipu’’, Jack Allan dies, aged 93, on July 27.

Part of a family who’ve been in the district for six generations, Jack took over his family’s Lower Shotover farm, Cloverdale, and was the Basin’s last dairy farmer.

He’s survived by his wife of 64 years, Joan, children Karen, Suzy and Craig, 14 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Born at Cloverdale he went to school at the former Lower Shotover School and then the former Queenstown District High School.

He married Joan, a dental nurse student, in 1956, in the former Presbyterian Church at the top of The Mall.

A rugby player in his youth, Jack took up indoor and outdoor bowls in his retirement, and drove an Arrowtown School bus for many years, and drove for Suzy’s Arrow Express bus service.

August

Warwick Stalker

Well-loved Queenstown character Warwick Stalker dies, aged 74, on August 11.

Warwick, described as sociable and generous-hearted, was the driving force behind heating, ventilation and air-conditioning business RHE Mechanical and, more latterly, Flint’s Plumbing.

He’s survived by his wife of 29 years, Suzie, children Tania, Reece and John, stepchildren Carolyn and Michael and 10 grandchildren.

Warwick took over the reins of RHE not long after it was established in 1966 and moved to Queenstown in ‘97 to run it with his son, John.

In 2013 he stood unsuccessfully for Queenstown’s council in a bid to help it with looming infrastructure problems.

September

Peter Atkinson

Hundreds of local and part-time residents are indebted to Queenstowner Peter Atkinson for their love of cycling.

The 78-year-old, who died on September 2 from a rare heart disorder, founded the Queenstown Pedallers not long after he and his wife moved to the resort 18 years ago.

Through that group he organised weekend and week-day rides for groups of all abilities.

He also freely gave advice on the development of the Queenstown Trails Trust network and three years ago the local Rotary Club awarded him a Paul Harris Fellowship, in recognition of his contribution to the cycling community.

Along with wife, Heather, he’s survived by his children Juliana, George, Josephine and Melanie.

November

Terry Stevens

Gibbston winery stalwart Terry Stevens dies at home on November 24, aged 74, after a short battle with brain cancer.

Terry and his wife-to-be, Susan, settled in Gibbston in 1999, buying a vineyard block on the former Wentworth Station, having retired the year before, aged 51, after a long and successful career in the United States pharmaceutical industry.

Terry was shoulder-tapped in ‘08 to chair the Queenstown Trails Trust and, along with dynamo CEO Kaye Parker, they raised $6 million for the trails network.

He and Susan established the Wild Hair label from pinot noir grapes grown alongside their home.

A keen golfer, Terry was also a key member of Millbrook Country Club, contributing hugely to expanding its golf programme, and a member of The Hills Golf Club, starting its Wild Hare Wednesday competition.

Terry is survived by Susan and daughters Suzy and Melissa Stevens.

Lex Perkins

Former Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins dies, aged 81, surrounded by family in Invercargill on November 29 after a battle with cancer.

The former Bluff borough councillor and deputy mayor moved to Queenstown in 1992,where he and his wife, Wendy – who died in July – ran motels for a decade before moving to Arrowtown in 2002.

He was voted on to Queenstown’fs council in 2007, serving eight years, the first term representing the Whakatipu and the second two for Arrowtown.

He stepped down from the council in 2015 so he and Wendy could retire and travel the country by campervan.

A memorial service for Lex is planned at Bluff Rugby Club in January.