The family of a well-known Levin man who died just days after New Zealand went into Covid-19 lockdown are planning to give him a fitting farewell sometime in the coming months.

Peter John Trotter, aged 86, died in Palmerston North Hospital on March 27, two days after the Covid-19 lockdown.

As his close family live in the South Island, it made sense to put the funeral on hold until travel restrictions were lifted and proper arrangements could be made.

Sometimes it's the little gestures that matter, and they were grateful that funeral director Michael Hill gave Trotter one last tour around the yard of the family contracting business on the way back from Palmerston North Hospital.


Trotter was well-known in the Horowhenua district. His father William (Bill) started a business in 1924, at age 17, with a team of three horses, a single furrow plough, a set of discs, and a drill.

Born in Levin in 1933, Trotter attended Ihakara School. While many children rode ponies to school, he rode there on one of his father's draught horses.

After completing compulsory military training with Air Force ground crew at the end of World War II, he joined the family business, and as the horses were being superseded by modern machinery, became a self-taught mechanic and engineer.

Trotter Contracting Ltd serviced the Horowhenua region with many types of agricultural work, at a time when small bales of hay were pressed in their thousands and fertiliser arrived in 50kg bags.

Trotter took over the business in the late 1970s and helped build a bulk store and weighbridge at Koputaroa, near the railway tracks, complete with a purpose-made system for unloading the bulk fertiliser that came in off the trains.

Clearing tree stumps on farmland became an arm of the business. He became adept at using dynamite, and would always keep a couple of boxes handy under the seat in his truck.

Trotter was also involved with the Athletic Rugby Football Club in Levin. A life member, he played lock or number eight, and after playing gave back his time as club captain for seven years, and later club president for seven years.

As a player he was known for being tough, and on many occasions played two games in one day - 160 minutes of rugby - no mean feat for a tight forward.

He was at the forefront of an Athletic club committee that fundraised and built the existing clubrooms at Playford Park in 1974, replacing a tiny old building that had no windows.


Then, in the late 80s, when in his late 40s, Trotter took up stock car racing, beginning in B-grade and working his way into the A-grade soon after, often racing alongside his son Garry.

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He was heard to say he loved stockcars because they stopped him thinking about work. But the love affair ended with a bad crash at the Manawatū Speedway, resulting in a stay at hospital, and he was forced to give it away.

The family business continues to operate today, with Garry, wife Cath, son Rowan and brother Tony part of the team of eight staff at Trotter Contracting.

Trotters Contracting is due to celebrate its centenary in 2024.

Trotter is survived by his wife Jocelyn and children Suzanne, Garry, Tony, Brent and Grant, grandchildren Rowan, Krystle, Hamish and great-grand-children Levi, Victoria, Oakley, and Jackson.

The family are planning a service in the coming months now the Covid-19 restrictions are easing.