Bay character’s Mandela meeting
A true Titahi Bay joker will be remembered this Christmas, on the first anniversary of his early death.
Dan Peoples died in Mozambique last December 23, after slipping on rocks while fishing.
He had lived in South Africa for several decades, spreading his particular brand of humour.
Family and friends recall his brush with Nelson Mandela, the globally loved former president who died last week.
Having endured a months-long media whirlwind after being released from Robben Island prison in 1990, Mr Mandela decided to escape for a week.
Mr Peoples had just moved to South Africa and was working as a chef at the Bongani Game Lodge, where Mr Mandela decided to stay.
He was assigned as Mr Mandela’s personal chef for the week.
One morning Mr Peoples gathered all the keys he could find, before knocking on Mr Mandela’s door and rattling the keys.
‘‘ Security jumped out, guns drawn, asking Dan what he was up to,’’ friend Harold Wedlock recalled.
‘‘Just trying to make you feel at home, Nelson,’’ Mr Peoples replied.
Nelson Mandela laughed and invited Dan in to cook his breakfast, Mr Wedlock said.
‘‘Only a Kiwi boy from Titahi Bay could have got away with this.
‘‘They developed a great rapport during Nelson’s stay.’’
One night Mr Mandela was cold and Mr Peoples gave him a new pair of Norsewood tramping socks he fished out of his pack.
‘‘Let’s hope that Dan is once again cooking for Nelson,’’ Mr Wedlock said.
Mr Peoples’ brother Bill, who now lives in Taranaki, said such anecdotes were typical of a man who lived his life to the full.
‘‘He lived a wonderful, wonderful life. He was a special guy and that’s helping us ease the pain of losing him.’’
Born in 1959, Mr Peoples attended Ngatitoa School, Titahi Bay Intermediate and Mana College before training with his brother Bill at the Cobham Court butchery, where the information centre now stands.
He then travelled widely, becoming a chef and meeting his future South African wife, Claudia, in London.
After settling in South Africa, Mr Peoples started a catering business, became a gum tree farmer and had two children with Claudia – Liam and Jenna.
He had the gift of the gab, loved the outdoors, and climbed Russia’s highest mountain three years before he died.
Another brush with celebrity came when Mr Peoples met the Dalai Lama in Tibet, his brother said.
Mr Peoples found it a hugely spiritual experience and, despite being a butcher, nearly became a vegetarian.
‘‘ We soon talked him out of that,’’ Bill said.
Special bond: Titahi Bay man Dan Peoples and Nelson Mandela in the early 1990s.