Gully ‘fighter’ couldn’t bear to see farm ‘cut up’
The man who sold his 400 hectare sheep run for the northern end of Transmission Gully has died - spending his final years turned away from the sight of his farm’s destruction.
John Perkins died, aged 82, from heart problems in Palmerston North Hospital surrounded by family and friends on January 21.
They were laughing at family recollections when they turned and saw he had passed, daughter Natasha Perkins said.
John Perkins’ stint as owner of Middle Run on the Ka¯piti Coast north of Wellington was the last in about 150 years of family ownership, after it was acquired for the $850 million roading project.
Natasha Perkins said she grew up with her father dealing with government departments acquiring land for everything from gas lines to regional parks, to the road.
‘‘My whole life was probably Transmission Gully people,’’ she said.
‘‘There was always something hanging over him. When he was 65 he basically said to the government ‘well you might as well take the whole farm because if you put a road through it, it’s not economically viable’.’’
It took them nearly 20 years to come around to his way of thinking, she said.
Work started in 2015 on the four-lane road running between Linden and Mackay’s Crossing - a year after John Perkins moved off the farm and eventually shifted to Horowhenua.
‘‘It was one of the reasons he moved to Levin so he didn’t have to see all his work cut up.’’
He had only returned on rare occasions to Paeka¯ka¯riki, the nearby village, of which he had become ‘‘the unofficial, official mayor’’, she said.
His lawyer Leo Watson said Perkins was a ‘‘fighter’’ who hated bureaucracy with a passion.
Over the years Middle Run was ‘‘besieged’’ by the Public Works Act, the law that allowed the government to acquire land for public works.
Perkins was not afraid to tell government staff exactly how he felt, but he was ‘‘acutely aware’’ the power lay with the authorities and not the landowner, Watson said.
‘‘At this time of his passing, John would want me to make sure that those here remember how the Perkins family were shunted out of Paeka¯ka¯riki because of the Transmission Gully project. And as he would say ‘that’s not bloody good enough’.’’
Natasha Perkins said her dad wouldn’t suffer fools lightly, but was remembered for other things too.
‘‘It’s quite amazing everyone remembers him, he always had a smile on his face, he always had a grin.‘‘