The Far North lost one a true gentlemen when Tom Trigg died peacefully on Sunday. He was 102.

His wife Bertha died on August 6, 2010, at 101.

Historian Kaye Dragicevich wrote in 2016 that Tom was the elder of two sons of Benjamin and Jessie (nee Chapman). He was born on October 11, 1915, at Rawene.

One of his earliest memories was of walking to Utakura School with the teacher, when he was 4 years old. The teacher boarded with his parents, a five-minute walk from the school, and taught part-time there and at Okaihau.


In 1921 the family moved to Peria, where he began school in earnest at Oruru and then Peria School. He left at the age of 14 to work for his father on the dairy farm.

He also worked at Johnny Olsen's mill at Peria, pit-sawing logs, and later for Harry Thomas at Peria, sharemilking for two years, followed by a stint with George Thomas, at Karanui.

Three years later he went sharemilking for blacksmith Robert Thompson at Fern Flat.
He and Bertha married at the Fairburn Church in 1938, raising two children, Heather and Donald.

In 1942 Tom joined the Mounted Rifles in the Home Guard, and it was in that connection that he was last in the news, having shared his memories with Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, which had begun researching some of the places and personalities associated with World War II defences in the North.

He was based at Peria, but was often off on 'horseback treks' for two to three days at a time, travelling as far afield as Kawakawa, Okaihau and Kaeo, leaving Bertha to milk the cows, with his father helping.

His duties included manning an observation post on the Taipa estuary, keeping watch for the enemy.

"Many a night was spent in the bush, relaying messages from Kaitaia to Kaeo," he said, although one night he and a mate borrowed a dinghy from Jim Taylor, who lived near the bridge, and caught 18 snapper off the cockle beds.

Meanwhile, in 1944 he and Bertha bought 72ha at Fairburn, where they milked cows, kept hens and maintained a great garden and orchard.


They were active members of the Fairburn community, joining in church and hall functions, bowls, cards, table tennis and dances.

Bertha was a member of Fairburn CWI, and for many years competed in the indoor section of the Mangonui County A&P show, winning prizes with her needlework, baking, preserves and garden produce.

In 1977, they sold the farm and retired to Kaitaia, but Tom kept a few acres at Fairburn, grazing a few cattle and maintaining his garden.

The couple celebrated their golden wedding with family and friends at the Fairburn Church Hall on June 22, 1988.