Satirist and actor John Clarke has died - and with him Taihape's favourite farmer, Fred Dagg.

Taihape's iconic association with gumboots can be traced back to the birth of the Fred Dagg character, who always wore the footwear, khaki shorts and a bush singlet.

Clarke died while tramping in Victoria, Australia. After creating the Fred Dagg character, he headed to Australia and was nationally known for his work with Bryan Dawe as well as acting and creating the satirical series The Games.

The Taihape Community Development Trust is the main organiser of the rural town's annual gumboot throwing competition and manager, Elizabeth Mortland said it was an end to a long time partnership between the town and John Clarke's Fred Dagg.


"I can remember being on my OE and singing If It Weren't For Your Gumboots on a bus tour around Europe.

"It certainly helped put Taihape on the map, he did well with it and so did Taihape...Fred Dagg fits our rural country lifestyle," Ms Mortland said.

Rangitikei Mayor Andy Watson called Clarke an "absolute legend".

"I come from a farming background myself and when you see him and the clips you know he understands farming. That was part of his success. When he talked about slips and lambing a ewe in the wet, it was what we went through. But he put an amusing twist on it."

Taihape Federated Farmers vice president Fraser Gordon said yesterday afternoon he had just learned of Clarke's death.

"It's very sad and so soon after Murray Ball's death,"

Footrot Flats creator Ball died on March 12 and Clarke was the voice of farmer Wal in the animated film version of the cartoon series.

"Those two created wonderful Kiwi characters and they appealed to farmers.


"We really got where they were coming from," Mr Gordon said.

Omatane, Taihape farmer of 50 years standing Ken Donovan said John Clarke was a good man who "farmers laughed at as much as anyone.

"He was like Billy T. [James]. He had the knack of tuning into the mood of the country."

Mr Donovan said farmers found Fred Dagg as funny as anyone.

"He didn't do farming any harm at all."