After 38 years on the job, John Stone had his last day as a Northern Advocate photographer. Reporter Mikaela Collins learned a bit more about the man she's had the pleasure of working with for the past five years. Images by Michael Cunningham, John's "very talented" close friend and colleague of 28 years.
It's a rare occasion you go somewhere with John Stone and he isn't stopped or greeted by at least one person passing by.
He always smiles and converses with them, or waves politely while racing to the next job - even if he can't remember who they are.
That's understandable when you try to imagine the number of photos he's taken, and people he's met, during his 38 years as a Northern Advocate photographer.
"I think I did once try and visualise or count how many photographs I'd taken in a day, and how many days a week, and how many weeks in a year and multiply it - so it's a lot of people," he says.
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John's passion for photography stretches back much further than his start date at the Advocate.
His father was a keen hobbyist photographer, and John took an interest around the age of 13.
"My father took lots and lots of photos. He had cameras and he developed films and made prints from the negatives. I took interest in that and had a go at it myself," he says.
John was only 16 and a student at Westlake Boys' High School when one of his photos was published for the first time.
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"It was somebody tipping out of a go-kart. They had a kart race through Browns Bay so I took my trusty camera down there and thought I'd get some photos and the guy decided he would help me a hell of a lot by crashing right in front of me."
About a week later, John dropped into the Weekly News office in Takapuna with the image.
"I thought this picture seems to have a bit of clout, and people said they liked it," he says.
A week later that image made the paper, John says he was "pretty stoked".
"I thought it was awesome. It got me quite motivated."
From there it was a "long and windy road" which involved taking photographs for a surfing publication (John is a keen surfer), working as fibre glass boat builder, sailing and travelling overseas, and part-time work at the New Zealand Herald where he covered the 1981 Springbok Tour through Auckland - with a broken leg.
"It was really fascinating. Glenda of course being a university student was always marching up and down the street shouting and chanting and all that sort of stuff.
"I left her to do what she did and thought I'm going to document this the best I can."
Glenda is John's partner of about 40 years. He had known her for many years before the pair got together.
"It just sort of all came together in a way that was quite special. I can't remember the finer details but it was definitely something that made me think I really enjoy the whole thing and love Glenda very much."
Glenda has been an instrumental part of John's life. In fact, she is to thank for John ending up at the Northern Advocate.
"She found the advert. It was her eagle-eyed spotting," he says.
"This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Glenda in more ways than one. She has been so important to everything I've done."
John's first day at the Northern Advocate was July 1, 1982.
The editor at the time was Cliff Ashby and the Advocate was based in Water St, he says.
There was a printing press on site, a lot of staff - including about three sports reporters, the paper was broadsheet, and the newsroom was loud with the sound of reporters hammering away on typewriters.
John says one of the early influences in his career was Warren Spiers, who was the chief photographer of the Northern Advocate before John arrived.
"He kind of created a structure that made it a lot easier for me to understand the workload and how to do things, because before that I'd just been developing films in my home."
John has many tales to tell of his times as a photographer.
One he tells me about involves a search for a missing person, a hearse and a tragic event involving a parcel bomb.
"I was in Te Kao where they were searching for this missing woman who just completely disappeared off the earth.
"I was taking these photos and in the afternoon I drove back to Kaitaia and got in touch with the guy who ran the photographic business in the main street. I developed my films and made prints.
"I thought 'how the hell am I going to get these down to Whangārei?'. So with my brown envelope and my trusty hitchhiking thumb, which had always done me well in travelling around the world, I drove to the south end of Kaitaia and stuck my thumb out.
"A hearse pulled up and the guy behind the wheel was going to hospital to collect a deceased person to bring back to Kaitaia, so I said can you drop off these photos to the Northern Advocate newspaper, it's urgent. And they made the deadline."
But that's not the end of the story, John says.
He was then told to take a photo of a house at the end of the highway, out of Kaitaia.
"There was a nasty person - surname Sticovich - who had sent his wife a bomb through the mail. She was living in Rotorua, I think, and it killed her.
"So I drove to the street address they gave me to photograph for the Advocate, and it was exactly where I was standing earlier in the day. So that was a bit spooky."
Out of all the events John has photographed, a few stick in his mind.
One of them is Prince Charles and Princess Diana's visit to Waitangi in 1983.
"All the English media was falling over to photograph them. They were brought to the wharf at Waitangi on the big waka.
"All the Fleet Street guys were told to stand at the far end of the wharf and I was the only photographer that was allowed to go to the end of the wharf so I could photograph them getting out of the waka. So there was a lot of muttering and grumbling," he says.
Thirty-six years later, Prince Charles visited Waitangi again, this time with Camilla, and John was there to capture it.
"It was so completely different. It was like night and day difference, and I was thinking that in the Treaty Grounds when they came up. But then Diana of course was that dynamic personality that the English newspapers wanted to get every moment of her life."
One of John's most famous photos is a black and white portrait of Dame Whina Cooper, taken at her home in Panguru in 1989.
John clearly remembers visiting with reporter Wayne Pihema that day and Dame Whina's first words - "I know your dad" - directed at Wayne.
"It was in a way that basically said I'm putting you on notice. It was definitely a challenge of some sort. It's never left me in my mind, those words."
He then recalls how the photo "unfolded in the perfect fashion".
"The first thing she did was bring me a cup of tea with a gingernut, in typical hospitality fashion. And that was kind of nice.
"I was sitting on one side of the table, facing the window, she was sitting on the other side of the table with the window light behind her and she just stared into space for a minute or two with that look.
"I just basically pushed the gingernuts to one side and took the photo," he says.
When he wasn't taking photos, John, a father of two, enjoyed surfing, going for strolls with Glenda on beaches near his Tutukākā home, and adventures with his family.
The Northern Advocate John left has changed quite a bit since his first day in 1982.
The building is now on Robert St, the printing plant is in Ellerslie, and while reporters still vigorously type away in the newsroom, it's on desktop computers, not typewriters.
"I liked the spontaneous combustion of the job. You're busy working through something and then all of a sudden you're in a car going somewhere, doing something.
"I think just having all the diversity of what we do in our job is remarkable and it's something I think is a privilege really, to meet all these interesting people."
What's he going to do now?
"Spray blackberry," he laughs.
But he'll also get more time with Glenda.
"We always enjoy each other's company, or so I believe to be the case," he laughs.
"The lights haven't gone out. We really enjoy doing stuff together."