A North Shore doctor who was lost in a Pacific Islands boating disaster 53 years ago is to have a walkway near his former Torbay home named after him.
On October 3, 1955, Dr Alfred Denis Parsons embarked at Apia, Western Samoa, on a 21m fishing boat bound for the Tokelau Islands.
The Irish-born doctor, known as "Andy" was making the two-day voyage
to attend a patient who had a broken leg. Five weeks later the MV Joyita was found 965km off course, abandoned, adrift and half-sunk.
The 25 people on board were never found.
A commission of inquiry found: "The fate of the passengers and crew as inexplicable on the evidence submitted."
Tony Ransom, now living in Australia, recalls the disaster's impact on Dr Parson's widow and four children and their neighbours in the little
community of Torbay.
"I had just turned 4 and mum was crying when she told us," said Mr Ransom.
"Dr Parsons lived in an adjoining property and delivered me."
Mr Ransom said he noticed there was no name for a walkway, which passes the front of the former Parson's home between Waiake St and Rock Isle Rd.
His suggestion of naming the path Parsons Walkway was this last month adopted by East Coast Bays Community Board and now has NZ Post approval.
"The naming of the lane is a reminder that solo families don't always
happen by choice," said Mr Ransom. "My father died in a motorcycle accident leaving five young children."
Dr Parson's daughter, Gay Johnson, said the family was thrilled at the recognition - for her father as well as for the Joyita saga.
She said the seven years living at Torbay following the tragedy were difficult for her mother, Elizabeth. "She was unable to move on until death was presumed.
"We stayed in the family home and she found it hard to make ends meet
financially but she always managed, although I know she felt very alone being so far from her family in Ireland. In 1963 she was finally free to return home and took us all back to Dublin."
Gay Johnson said she met University of Auckland senior lecturer in English, David Wright, when he was researching his book Joyita:
Solving the Mystery, published by Auckland University Press in 2002.
She returned to New Zealand as Dr Wright's partner and they have a son.
Dr Wright died suddenly on January 6 last year.