Friday, 20 September 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Rest in peace, Stacey

More than 450 people farewelled Stacey Bale, one of Mercury Bay’s most-loved residents, at the Whitianga Airport on Wednesday last week. Stacey passed away on Thursday 14 February after a 17-month-long battle with cancer. She was 47 years old.

Friends and family travelled from as far as Australia, the South Island, Northland and Wanganui, to celebrate Stacey’s life with her husband, Stephen, sons, Fletcher and Kodi, parents, Kevin and Carolyn Jackson and brothers, Paul and Shaun.

Kevin and Carolyn and their three children moved from Wanganui to Hahei when Stacey was 11 years old. She attended Whenuakite School during Years 7 and 8 and Mercury Bay Area School from Year 9.

The Bale family were also residents of the Hahei/Cooks Beach area. Stacey and Stephen met not long after the Jackson family arrived in Hahei. They went to school together and got married in 1994. They lived in Hamilton for the first few years of their marriage. Stacey was a talented sportswoman and represented the Waikato on the hockey field. She also became the Chartwell Tavern’s arm-wrestling champion.

Fletcher was born in 2000. A year later Stephen and Stacey moved back to Mercury Bay. Kodi was born in 2003.

When Fletcher was old enough to start playing ripper rugby, Stacey threw her heart and soul into rugby in Mercury Bay, initially as an integral part of the junior rugby club and later as chair of the MBAS Secondary School Rugby Club. Over the years, she raised more than $50,000 for school rugby, from arranging grants and sponsorships to sausages sizzles and putting raffles together. 

At the MBAS Secondary School Rugby Club prize-giving last year, the Mercury Bay Rugby & Sports Club presented Stacey with a Service Award, recognising her dedication and leadership over the years.

Fletcher, who was MBAS head boy last year, and Kodi were Stacey’s pride and joy. Nothing gave her more pleasure than to support both of them when they represented Thames-Valley on the basketball court (and Kodi when he represented New Zealand in Australia last year) and Fletcher when he was on the rugby field as part of the MBAS First XV.

Likewise, Stacey was Fletcher and Kodi’s hero. Fletcher’s head boy speech at the MBAS senior school academic prize-giving last year, one of the best speeches by a head boy ever, was evidence of his love and respect for his mother.

Stacey didn’t allow her illness to get her down. During her many trips to Thames and Waikato Hospitals for treatment, she made it her job to cheer everyone up - fellow patients and the friends and family who accompanied her. One friend recalled on Wednesday how Stacey urged her to show her what her (the friend’s) new, powerful car could do during one of the trips to Thames. A family member recalled how Stacey always insisted on having a paua fritter after a bout of chemotherapy. “It was a duel of sorts,” the family member said. “Stacey loved paua, but the paua didn’t always love her.”

Stacey loved travelling. In the past 12 months, she has been to Australia twice, on a cruise to Fiji and to Queenstown and Christchurch. All these trips were precious opportunities to spend time with her family. She also went on several road trips with her closest friends. It was times of laughter and happiness, times Stacey’s friends will never forget.

John Wright, MBAS principal, said on Wednesday that Stacey was a dedicated mother, passionate about sport and competition and always encouraged everyone to do their best.

“Stacey never gave up,” John said. “She had incredible resilience and an amazing commitment to everything at the 100 per cent level. She had a perpetual smile and an amazingly positive attitude to everything - even to unforgiving adversity. She championed championing.”

MBAS will be planting a kauri tree in Stacey’s honour. “Stacey lived our schoolwide KAURI values - kindness, achievement, unity, respect and identity,” John said. “She was a truly remarkable lady.”

On Tuesday evening last week, Stephen played for his team, the Cut Hut, in the business house competition of the Mercury Bay Tennis club. “Stacey would have wanted me to play,” he said. “I played the absolute best I could. I played for Stacey.”

Pictured: Stacey Bale (10 November 1971 – 14 February 2019)

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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.