Saturday, 20 July 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

A haka for Paul

More than 150 people attended a celebration of the life of Paul Kelly at the Matarangi Fire Station on Thursday afternoon last week.

Paul passed away on Tuesday 12 March at home in Whitianga. He was at the time of his death the chairman of the Mercury Bay Community Board. He was privately farewelled by his family.

Paul was for most of his life a pilot with Air New Zealand. Upon retirement, he and his wife, Chris, moved to Matarangi where he was responsible for the development of the Matarangi Shopping centre and owned and operated Kelly’s Hardware, a very popular hardware and fishing store.

Paul also served on a variety of committees while living in Matarangi, including the Matarangi Volunteer Rural Fire Force Trust Board, the Matarangi Residents and Ratepayers Association, the Matarangi Reserves Group and the Matarangi Boat and Fishing Club. “I think Paul was addicted to committees,” Peter Murphy, chairman of the Matarangi Boat and Fishing Club, said on Thursday.

Paul and Chris moved to Whitianga approximately a year ago.

Many stories about Paul were shared on Thursday. Harry Karl, a Matarangi resident and fellow retired Air New Zealand pilot, told everyone how Paul got the nickname “Moo” when he was a young man. “Paul and a few friends shared a flat,” Harry said. “A few young ladies shared another flat in the same building One of the ladies knitted a sweater for her boyfriend, but the sweater was way too big, so Paul inherited the sweater. As the sweater was white and brown, he became ‘Moo.’

“The story didn’t end there, however. Sometime later, Paul and a few friends helped someone out in their garden. The garden shed collapsed or blew over and trapped one of the friends. Paul ran over and lifted the shed single-handedly off the friend. From that day he became known as ‘Super Moo.’”

A family friend told of one of Paul’s cousins who won a famous sheep dog competition many years ago. Captaining a passenger flight from Wellington to Auckland or Hamilton, Paul deviated somewhat from the flight plan and “dive bombed” the cousin’s farm in the Hawkes Bay. A flock of sheep scattered everywhere. “Let’s see how good your dogs are now,” Paul muttered as the aircraft started to climb away again.

Ngati Hei kaumatua, Joe Davis, former Thames-Coromandel District Council mayor Glenn Leach, TCDC councillor Murray McLean and TCDC Area Manager North, Alan Tiplady, all spoke about Paul’s enormous contribution to the Mercury Bay community while serving on the Mercury Bay Community Board. Mention was made of his ability to say “no,” but only after careful consideration, his passion for this year’s Tuia - Encounters 250 commemorations, his desire for the community board to develop closer ties with Ngati Hei, his soft spot for Matarangi, but how that never influenced his ability to make the right decision, and how the Whitianga town centre upgrade will always be his crowning achievement. “If I can summarise Paul Kelly in one sentence, it will be, ‘He was a just man,” Glenn Leach said.

The formalities concluded on Thursday with Joe Davis inviting all the men present to perform well-known haka “ka mate” for Paul. Most of the men have never participated in a haka before, but under Joe’s patient guidance they gave it all their all. A very fitting send-off for a man who gave it his all for his community.

Paul is survived by Chris, three children and six grandchildren.

Pictured: More than 150 people attended a celebration of Mercury Bay Community Board chairman, Paul Kelly’s life at the Matarangi Fire Station on Thursday last week.

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.