Gully ‘fighter’ couldn’t bear to see farm ‘cut up’

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - JOEL MAXWELL

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.‘‘

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