Drive up Kaitaia's main street before dawn almost any day and you'll see, somewhere between the Z service station and a backpackers' hostel turned dosshouse, a solitary light burning in a side window.
It's a light that has been turned on at 5am every weekday for more than four decades as Peter Jackson, editor of the Northland Age, sits down to bash out another day's worth of stories at a desk half buried in paper.
Originally Jackson planned to be a history teacher. He started a BA at Auckland University but was ''stuffed from the start'' after signing up for a teaching studentship.
After a stint cutting scrub under telephone lines, he worked as a barman, a labourer and in forestry, before doing a correspondence course in journalism.
Jackson doesn't need to check any records for his starting date. It is stored, along with four decades' worth of Far North history, in that prodigious memory.
''It was the 6th of May, 1977, at 8.30am approximately''.
The then 24-year-old had yet to develop his spectacular eyebrows or shock of white hair, or what later became his uniform of walk shorts and tautly stretched short-sleeved shirt.
In those days the Age was owned by the Wagener family, who wanted Jackson to learn the ropes from Vincent before he retired.
The only trouble, from the Wageners' point of view, was that Vincent wouldn't go.
''Then one Friday afternoon in 1983 people started turning up with beers. Derric asked, 'What's going on?' and Wilf Wagener said, 'It's your farewell'.''
Years later, after Wilf Wagener had died, his son Owen Wagener was on his way out of the office one night when he casually said: ''By the way, you can consider yourself the editor.''
During the past 44 years Jackson has seen huge changes in technology and media ownership.
The Age has gone from being family-owned to part of NZME, one of New Zealand's biggest media companies, and in recent years has faced drastic staff cuts.
During last year's Covid lockdown the Age was deemed a non-essential publication and was forced to halt publication for the first time in its 117-year history.
When its post-lockdown return appeared uncertain a senior government minister — whose mum is an avid reader — reportedly called the NZME board demanding its reinstatement.
Of the estimated 130,000 stories Jackson has filed for the Age, some of the most memorable relate to fires, such as the blazes which destroyed Kaitaia's picture theatre and St Saviour's Church.
The most rewarding stories were those which changed the lives of people he was writing about, such as Juliet Garcia, a Filipina care worker at Switzer Home who fought for 12 years to stay in New Zealand.
A combination of Jackson's reporting and lobbying by Northland MP Matt King led to her being granted residency in 2019.
''But the best thing is just little local stuff where someone's done well, especially kids. Kids still get a buzz out of seeing their picture in the paper. It seems odd in this day and age, but they do, even with the internet and You Tube. That's a good feeling.''
Jackson's longest campaign, and biggest win, came in the 1990s when the Age fought to stop Kaitaia Hospital being downgraded to a ''super clinic''.
He insists credit for saving the hospital lies with many people, including John Carter, Northland MP at the time, and former Far North Mayor Millie Srhoj.
However, when Rotary awarded Jackson a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2009 — the organisation's highest honour — it was for the crucial part he played in saving the hospital.
''We ran stories for seven years, it just went on and on. It was longer than World War II. We didn't get everything we wanted — we lost our 24/7 surgical capacity, for example — but we do still have a hospital, it still has surgical services, and it's probably the best small-town hospital in the country.''
Now 68, Jackson said his standard 70-hour working week was starting to lose its appeal, and certainly wasn't as easy as it was 20 years ago.
For many years he didn't take a holiday, mostly because there was no one to fill his seat but possibly also because he wouldn't have known what to do with himself.
He does, however, have plans for filling his time once he retires.
''My roses need a bit of attention, I've got fish to catch, books to read. Raewyn [Jackson's wife] has a list which runs to about 14 pages of things that need doing.''
He also hopes to keep his hand in by continuing the editorials he has written weekly since 1983.
Jackson's opinion pieces have won national awards — he took out the editorial writing prize in the 2015 Canon Media Awards— and pull no punches.
They are occasionally controversial but even his critics concede they're well-argued and based on genuine views, unlike much of the dross that passes for opinion writing these days.
When people say something is their life's work it's generally hyperbole. In Jackson's case you couldn't describe it any other way.
''It sounds a bit pompous really, but I have put my life into it. I have no regrets. I believe in what I've been doing, whether it's just the mundane run-of-the-mill stuff or something that's really made a difference for someone or the community in general. Or simply something that people have enjoyed reading.''
On Friday, when Jackson arrives before dawn, turns on the light and settles himself behind a desk piled high with paper for the last time, it will mark the end of an era.
Kaitaia, and New Zealand's 181-year-old newspaper publishing tradition, will never be the same again.