Patriarch remembered for strong outlook
Mike Wellington would always get a twinkle in his eyes when he was about to tell you something.
Whether he was relaying his adventures driving across Canada, guiding his grandsons with their woodwork projects or offering tips to perfect a recipe, Mike loved imparting his knowledge.
If, on the rare occasion, you knew more on a topic than he, his mouth would curve at the corner and he’d chuckle, acknowledging you had bested him — this time.
That twinkle in his eye and fire in his belly carried Mike through the 77 years of his life.
The father of three and grandfather to many died on December 30 at Waikato Hospital, surrounded by family, after succumbing to injuries sustained in a car crash in Acacia Bay, Taupo¯ , on December 27.
His death, which has been referred to the coroner, was one of nine counted in the 2018/19 holiday road toll.
Mike’s family remember the patriarch as having a strong personality and a no-nonsense, get-on-with-life practicality.
Born in Manley, Australia, on September 1, 1941, Michael (Mike) John Wellington came to New Zealand as a 6-week-old, making him the youngest person to travel on a sea plane at the time.
The elder of two children, Mike grew up in Auckland, going to Grafton Rd Primary School and becoming a foundation day boy at St Kentigern College.
In 1963 he met his future wife, Sue Pacey, at a nursing flat party.
“We had just started chatting and I guess he didn’t put me off,” Sue laughed. “He had a bit of a James Dean look. He was a cool, motorbike-type.”
Sue finished her nursing training and she and Mike married on March 13, 1965.
In between having their three children — Paul, Kim and Kristen — the Wellingtons went farming, with Mike starting out as a shepherd and working his way up to manager at a farm in Horahora.
“He was a hard worker, he never shied away from physical work. After the Horahora farm sold we spent 18 months at a ghastly peat farm in Gordonton, then we bought a greenhouse property in Bombay.”
But it was in 1991 that Mike discovered his true calling was truck driving and he spent the next 23 years behind the wheel, retiring at 73. “He loved machinery and driving. Those truck-driving days were his happiest. He was very good at spreading metal and backing the trucks.
“His boss was always really impressed with Mike and would have him show the others how it was done but Mike wasn’t the showboaty type.”
Sue and Mike moved to Taupo¯ three years ago to be closer to family. “He loved having his family around him. He wasn’t very sociable and wasn’t the best at showing affection but he was always proud of his family and showed them in his own way.”
Grandson Carl Bennett remembers Mike as a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen.
“He would always add a little something extra to a recipe to make it his own. He was passionate about food and took great pride in feeding his family.
“The hard part is realising when I visit Nan now, I won’t see Pop in the kitchen cooking dinner and listening to Dr John or Eva Cassidy.”
Mike Wellington and Sue, his wife of 53 years.