Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 44, September 2000
A TRIBUTE TO GARY CHARLES STAPLES
By Elaine Staples
It is with much sadness that I record the recent death of my husband, best friend, constant companion and Editor of this Journal for twenty four years.
Gary was born on 14 October 1943 in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, England, the eldest child of Harry and Jessie Staples. The family emigrated to New Zealand in 1950, settling in Paeroa, then moving to Karangahake where Gary remained for the rest of his life. He attended the Karangahake School and Paeroa College.
From an early age, Gary had a lively sense of humour and enquiring mind, with an ability to figure out intelligently the things that he didn't understand. The one exception I am aware of is a story that he told against himself. Before leaving England he was told that New Zealand had metal roads. The only "metal" that he was familiar with was that from which baked bean tins were made. He imagined that New Zealand roads were formed from squashed baked bean tins.
As a youngster he entered into several enterprising ventures, one such venture being the raising and sale of guinea pigs. At the age of ten he started after-school work at Paeroa Hardware. An avid stamp collector in his youth, he attended meetings and bought and sold stamps. He purchased his first car at the age of 15 - a vintage which he sold for £10 and it was wrecked shortly afterwards. He always regretted selling that car. He became an expert at car maintenance. From the age of eleven he started a diary which he maintained daily until his illness prevented him from doing so. Never a sports person, he confessed to avoiding participation at College by wandering around, looking as if he was carrying out an important task and he was never questioned. In later years he purchased a Landrover and with a group of like-minded friends they took to the hills, back roads and old mining tracks, enjoying a lot of good fun. Tramping was a favourite pastime.
Gary left school in 1960 and he started work in the Department of Social Welfare. Rather than rise through the ranks by applying for promotions to other districts, Gary elected to stay in Paeroa, building his own home at Karangahake and establishing a wonderful garden. He resigned due to ill health in 1980. At that time he was the Administration Officer in a very busy office. The catch phrase for anyone who wanted to know anything was "ask Gary". For the next two years he worked on his own account, doing whatever work became available. We married in November 1982 and in January 1983 Gary recommenced work at the Department of Social Welfare, remaining until ill health again forced his resignation in 1992.
A keen amateur geologist and botanist, Gary read widely and shared his knowledge with others. Always a lover of nature and a long-time member of the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, he became the first Secretary of the Paeroa/Karangahake Section when it was formed in 1984. In 1991 we answered a request for members to take part in a captive breeding programme for the North Island Weka, a species threatened with extinction. We were involved in this programme until 1998, successfully breeding and raising many chicks. Our home was selected as an ideal place to release all of the chicks raised by other members of the breeding programme and we released over 100 birds, only giving up when it was obvious that the birds were being decimated by ferrets. We continued to hold wekas until suitable islands were found on which to release the young birds and these were eventually released on Pakatoa and Whanganui Islands.
Gary's other great interest was local history, especially that of his loved Karangahake. He was a wealth of information which he took pleasure in sharing and the editing of this Journal was a great privilege to him. He gave it his all, co-editing his first Journal with the late Nell Climie in 1976, and continuing to edit until his untimely death. Much of this issue is his work - he rarely put his name to it. Everything that Gary did, he did very well.
Gary was diagnosed with cancer in May 1998. Surgery was unsuccessful and the prognosis was "ten months". He resumed a fairly normal life but in October 1999 required further surgery to relieve symptoms. The final nine months of his life were "not too bad" and his passing was quite sudden. He died at Ohinemuri House, Paeroa on 28 June 2000, twenty-five months after his diagnosis.
Gary was a committed Christian, loyal, honest and trustworthy. He was a gentle man and a gentleman and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.