Environmentalist, publisher, author and journalist Jim Eagles, aged 76, has passed away in Auckland after a short illness.
Lance Cablk of the North Shore's Restoring Takarunga Hauraki said today he was "too sad" to share more than the news that Eagles had died.
Eagles was business editor of the New Zealand Herald earlier last decade and its travel editor for some years, writing extensively on the environment and birds.
He was a deputy editor of the Auckland Star, editor of the Bay of Plenty Times and editor of the merged publication which came out of the Hawke's Bay Herald-Tribune and the Daily Telegraph in Napier. When he was appointed to that position at the age of 53, he said he had steadfastly resisted moves into management.
He and Colin James wrote The Making of a New Zealand Prime Minister about Norman Kirk.
Eagles had a long and distinguished career in journalism and was a former owner of Waiheke Island's Gulf News. He also worked at The National Business Review where he held a senior position.
Former Herald editor Gavin Ellis said today: "Jim Eagles was a journalist of many parts. He was an outstanding political journalist, business editor of two publications, intrepid travel editor, and a deeply committed regional and local newspaper editor and publisher.
"The range of his assignments was testament to a journalistic skill-set that fitted him for any editorial role he was asked to fill. One of his most challenging was as founding editor of Hawkes Bay Today where he had the task of uniting the readerships of the Napier Daily Telegraph and Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune when the titles merged. Like the best of the profession, he was always up for a challenge," Ellis said.
The Business Herald's Liam Dann said today: "Jim had a huge influence on my career, hiring me in my first junior reporting role and later in my first financial reporting job.
"He had a formidable intellect and a powerful sense of journalistic integrity. But he also had a mischievous sense of humour and loved to poke fun at society's most elite and powerful. He helped shape the Business Herald and business journalism in this country," Dann said.
Cablk said his friend was heavily involved in environmental initiatives in the last few years during his retirement and had an all-abiding commitment to improving the North Shore particularly around the area where he lived, on the side of Maungauika/North Head.
"Jim understood the importance of many initiatives we had and helped young people learn about birds. He would come into Belmont Intermediate School and talk about the Miranda Shorebird Centre. He had a real passion for the environment and for birds.
"He was instrumental in helping the community effort that is Restoring Takarunga and a regular part of monitoring. We established the five-minute bird count survey for the Takapuna Hauraki Peninsula which I will name after him," Cablk said.
"He had grandparents who lived on Ngataringa Bay and one of the local reserves is named after his grandfather: Oliver Reserve or Kawerau Reserve. He would take every chance to remind me about this, with a twinkle in his eye," Cablk said.
Eagles had been trapping rats on Maungauika/North Head and they had the lower trap line which wasn't easy.
"There's a long trail and they have to scramble up on banks to find where the traps are, a little hidden, about 25 traps, it took them over an hour going around and checking those traps," he said.
"Up until August, Jim was working with a group trapping there every week. He was key to establishing our rat elimination programme on the southern end of the peninsula," Cablk said.
Ruth Jackson of the Devonport Takapuna Local Board said Eagles was "a titan in the journalism trade. He was an inspiration and hero to me and many others as we trained and honed our craft. There are too few people like Jim in this world and his death will leave a gap that can't be filled.
"He was an old-school journalist with strong ethics, a thorough researcher with absolute objectivity, passionate about community and telling community stories. He was an absolute consummate professional," Jackson said.
Eagles worked in journalism in Ireland and lived in Kaitaia for a time.
Shorebirds on Windsor Reserve was also Eagles' idea. Wooden cutouts of birds were made in the hope of raising awareness of habitats.
Eagles and his wife Chris were also heavily involved in work on Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf.
He also worked extensively with Pūkorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre where he was the coordinator of the Pacific Golden Plover project.
He won an award for investigative reporting in Ireland and his wife Chris was also a journalist. The couple met in England.
He is survived by his wife, two daughters and their families.