What contrasts David Lange and Rod Donald presented. Lange, a man of brilliant wit, unbounded energy and talent, reached the highest political office in the land in 1984, and triumphed again three years later.

Then, after five years in power, he gave it all away, resigning suddenly, tired of battling others in his party.

Donald, co-leader of the Greens, a minor party without much influence, was doomed to serve three terms in Parliament with just the sniff of a Cabinet seat after this year's election. Even that sniff evaporated.

He had ideas galore and itched to put some of them into practice - and no opportunity.

But there were similarities between Lange and Donald. Both were politicians with oodles of charisma.

Both were appealing in their own ways and their deaths this year robbed the country of two colourful characters.

The nation mourned the death of Lange, a remarkable man, but one who had been ill for years, and his passing was not unexpected.

Donald's was, and his death less than three months after Lange's, genuinely shocked New Zealanders.

He was a man in his prime, bubbling with joie de vivre, struck down by a viral heart infection without the slightest warning at the far-too-young age of 48.

Lange had long left the political fray but Donald still had a future.

And then he was gone.

He left a huge gap and his party will be hard pressed hard to fill it.

Other New Zealanders who died this year left their mark too. Among them:


January

2: John Ziman, 79. Distinguished theoretical physicist who had a second career analysing the relationship between science and society (in England where he lived).
13: Emeritus Professor Archibald Bogle, 90. Founding head of Auckland University's electrical engineering department.
15: Philip Holden, 67. Outdoorsman and author of 57 books.
17: Jean Jones, 89. Sculptor who lived in London; sister of painter Rita Angus.
19: Bill Andersen, 80, right. Veteran trade union leader and communist; constant target of Robert Muldoon when he was PM.
21: Neville Scott, 69. Courageous athlete who set several NZ middle-distance records and won a bronze medal in the three miles at the 1958 Commonwealth Games.
25: Frank Evison, OBE, 82. Seismologist and Victoria University's first professor of geophysics who spent a lifetime studying how to predict earthquakes.
31: Doug Clarke, 72. Second eldest of the famous five Waikato sporting brothers.


February

2: Murray Ellis, 80. Polar medal. Antarctic and Himalayan adventurer and head of the Dunedin company Arthur Ellis that produced the famous Fairydown sleeping bags.
4: Barbara Angus, CMG, 81. Diplomat. New Zealand's first woman ambassador - to the Philippines 1978.
14: Jack Sharp, 85. World War II pilot shot down in the disastrous 1943 raid on Amsterdam by 487 Sqn (RNZAF) when Len Trent won his Victoria Cross.
25: Lindsay Wright, 61. Veteran anti-apartheid campaigner; Student Job Search national director.
26: Ian Colquhoun, QSM, 80. Wicketkeeper unfortunate enough to be in the New Zealand team dismissed in 1955 by England for 26 runs; long-time Central Districts administrator.


March

7: Gerard Monaghan, 75. Lawyer, later judge who covered courts from Whakatane to Taupo 1978-89.
9: Erica Beuzenberg, 41, right. Acclaimed climber and guide, killed with two tourists in a fall in Mt Cook National Park.
9: Commodore Brian Turner, OBE, DSO, Legion of Merit (US), 89. Commanded frigate HMNZS Rotoiti during Korean War and, later, cruiser HMNZS Royalist.
15: Marilyn Pryor, 68. Veteran anti-abortion campaigner.
26: Sam McRae, 16. Jockey, died after falling from his mount and being dragged 900m in a race at Riverton.
27: Richard Kearney, 74. District Court judge who had eight years on the Waitangi Tribunal.


April

1: Paul (Squeeze) Jeffreys, 44. Former overweight Auckland advertising executive, noted for shedding 64kg in a year, and writing about the experience.
11: Pat Dugdale, 72. Noted for her contributions to the NZ deaf community.
11: Nancy Radford, 88. Awarded OBE for her services to Barnados and community.
13: Molly Douglas, 101. Oamaru woman who celebrated her 100th birthday by riding on a Harley-Davidson.
18: Rex Stewart, OBE, 76. Wool researcher who made enormous contributions to the wool-processing industry.
23: Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, 94, left. NZ-born (in Dannevirke) right-wing premier of Queensland for 19 years.


May

3: George Bryant, 84. Public relations man who headed Tourist and Publicity Department's information services.
3: Jack Taylor, 70. Noted Taranaki thoroughbred trainer.
6: Bruce Dix, 55. Noted marine biologist.
11: Bob Stuart, OBE, 84, left. All Black captain, coach, administrator; led 1953 NZ team to British Isles/France.
12: Owen Wilkes, 65. Long-time peace activist who led campaigns against Black Birch, Mt John and Tangimoana.
29: Admiral Sir Gordon Tait, KCB, DSC, 83. Highest-ever ranked NZ naval officer; distinguished wartime submariner; later headed Royal Naval College and became Second Sea Lord.
31: Harry Clark, CMG, 77. Distinguished public servant; headed Trade and Industry Dept 1977-87.


June

6: Emeritus Professor William Stehbens, 78. Founding professor, chairman pathology department, Wellington School of Medicine 1974-92; founding director Malaghan Institute 1974-93.
12: Sonja Davies, ONZ, 81, right. Trade unionist, Labour MP; author of best-selling autobiography Bread and Roses 1984.
14: Sir Tom Clark, 88. Ceramics industry entrepreneur (Crown Lynn) and sportsman who raced cars and yachts.
17: Jonathan Elworthy, 68. Farmer, South Island MP 1975-84, Minister of Lands 1981-84.
20: Arthur Hughes, OBE, 80. All Black hooker (1947-50), racing industry administrator (president Auckland Racing Club, NZ Racing Conference) businessman.
30: Henk Knottenbelt, 82. Migrant from Holland who, while Dutch embassy immigration attache 1957-85, helped settle 15,000 Dutch people here.


July

11: Jim Henderson, MBE, 86. Popular broadcaster and prolific writer; master story-teller.
11: Sir John Kennedy-Good, KBE, QSO, 89. Mayor of Lower Hutt 1970-86.
13: Joseph Burnley (JB) Trapp, 79. New Zealand-born and educated historian, librarian and former director London's Warburg Institute.
15: Marjorie Jenden, QSM, 77. Noted netball coach, umpire, administrator.
21: Nick Unkovich, 82, right. Larger-than-life lawn bowler who played for New Zealand and won record 10 national titles.
24: John Drawbridge, MBE, 74. Fine artist - printmaker, painter and muralist.


August

1: Greig Royle, 91. Leading portrait photographer whose black and white studies of Prime Ministers hang in Parliament.
4: Dr John Bailey, 61. Pioneer and dedicated road safety researcher.
7: Russell Smith, MNZM, 60. Brilliant electronics innovator and entrepreneur who died with his wife Marian D'Eve when their light plane crashed off the Canterbury coast.
11: Dame Evelyn Stokes, DNZM, 69. Professor of geography and foundation staff member Waikato University; served on Waitangi Tribunal.
13: David Lange, 63. New Zealand's 32nd Prime Minister, above.
16: Kevin Smith, 51. Conservationist, former Forest and Bird conservation director.
21: Canon Monty Pierard, 84. Popular Anglican teacher, chaplain at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls for 25 years.
24: Margaret Gadsdon, QSM, 81. Dedicated fund-raiser who collected millions for hospitals.
25: John Findlay, 80. Staunch trade unionist who led the boilermakers for 40 years.
27: Jack Turner, MBE, 89. Managing director, later chairman Turners and Growers; the man credited with renaming Chinese gooseberry "kiwifruit".
29: Jack Luxton, QSO, 82. Dairy farmer, straight-talking National MP 1966-87, deputy speaker 1978-84.


September

1: Bill Payne, 53. Writer, film-maker who turned his life around after jail terms for drug offences; author of Staunch - Inside the Gangs 1991.
2: Judge Karina Williams, 43, right. Highly regarded District Court judge, second Maori woman to hold such a post.
15: Hugh Atkinson, CBE, 81. Physicist who headed the National Radiation Lab in Christchurch 1976-84; later led the international scientific mission to investigate nuclear leakage from the French South Pacific test sites.
25: Jenny Frame, 71. Pilot who logged 12,000 flying hours and was the first New Zealand woman appointed (by Southland Aero Club) as a chief flying instructor.


October

4: John Falloon 63. Farmer, politician who was National Party MP for Pahiatua 1977-96, Minister of Agriculture 1990-96.
7: Michael Hoy, 71. Hotel Tourist Corporation head 1980-90, rising from a hotel boiler-room job to the top post.
8: Rev Leuatea Sio, CMNZ, QSO, 80. One of the first Pacific Islanders ordained into Presbyterian Church of NZ.
13: Colleen Mills, 71, above with husband Les. Athlete and athletics administrator; president Athletics NZ 1997-98; former Auckland mayoress.


November

4: Michael Erceg, 49. Liquor industry executive who ran Independent Distillers (in a helicopter crash).
4: Group Captain EP (Hawkeye) Wells, DSO, DFC and bar, 89. Sharp-eyed Battle of Britain pilot who claimed 13 enemy aircraft in World War II (in England, where he lived).
5: Rev Puti Murray, 83. First Maori woman priest (1978) in Anglican Church.
6: Rod Donald, 48, right. Popular co-leader of the Greens.
9: Tama (Tom) Poata, 69. Maori film-maker; deeply involved in the 1975 land march; credited with creating word "Hart" from words Halt All Racist Tours.
20: Victor (Bob) Rudd, 104. London-born New Zealander thought to be the last man in New Zealand to have served in World War I.
22: Harry Bean, MBE, 83. Long-serving (40 years) Auckland local body politician; first and last mayor of Tamaki City 1986-89.
23: Alex Maich, 90. Foundation principal of Manurewa High School.
25: Ross Sayers, 64. Businessman who headed Railways Corp in 1980s (in London, where he worked for Network Rail).
27: Ross Newdick, 68. Golfer; among first to follow Bob Charles on professional touring circuit.
30: John McArthur, 75. Twice NZ ambassador to France, the second time during the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.


December


1: Ray Hanna, 77. New Zealander who flew with the RAF and led the famous Red Arrows 1966-69 (in Switzerland, where he lived).
4: Errol Brathwaite, MNZM, 81. Author of 30 books including An Affair of Men which won Otago Daily Times 1961 centennial competition.
6: Bernard Roundhill, 94. Acclaimed graphic designer who perfected the airbrush technique in NZ; designed Air NZ's koru which was introduced on its aircraft in 1973.
11: Robert Fardell, 52. Prominent Auckland QC.
12: Bishop Max Takuira Mariu, 53, left. One of Maoridom's most prominent religious leaders.