A 78-year-old's recent death was a direct result of the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak two years ago, his family says.

John Buckley, 78, died on August 29 at Hawke's Bay Hospital, where he spent the last five weeks of his life.

He had been in and out of hospital for the past two years, spending Christmas, New Year's, Easter and his last two birthdays there.

"We are angry now because dad did have such a good life and was so busy and so active and the last two years of his life has been hell," his daughter Kathryn Sheridan said.


The family said John did not want to go to the media, but they now believe his story needs to be told to raise awareness.

"We are not attention-seeking people and there is absolutely no way in our mind that dad died of anything else other than from that poison," Sheridan said.

She believed there was nothing they could have done once he became sick. Their gripe is that "nobody has taken responsibility".

John's wife, Liz Buckley, recalls him becoming noticeably ill on August 10, 2016, coming home from work early.

Kathryn Sheridan, daughter of John Buckley, and his wife Liz Buckley. Photo / Paul Taylor
Kathryn Sheridan, daughter of John Buckley, and his wife Liz Buckley. Photo / Paul Taylor

"It was a horrendous two years for him and for me. He couldn't eat his tea on that Wednesday night and on Thursday morning he absolutely could not move out of bed."

Liz said she kept making John drink water in an attempt to make him feel better. She was unaware of any outbreak at that stage.

On August 12, Sheridan phoned to say the water "had been poisoned" and they stopped drinking it.

"We went to the chemist and they said half of Havelock was unwell and to feed them electrolytes.


"By Monday [August 15] he was still unwell and the doctor didn't know about campylobacter.

"He said he had been advised to prescribe antibiotics. By the end of the week, he said John had atrophibulation due to the campylobacter," Liz said.

He then spent three days having his heart monitored, but still went back to work.

For the next year, he was prescribed a concoction of medication for various ailments, before having kidney troubles and heart issues as a result of the medication, as well as a bladder bleed and prostate surgery.

Prior to August 2016, Sheridan said her 78-year-old father was a hardworking, happy person.

John Buckley's ACC forms. Photo / Paul Taylor
John Buckley's ACC forms. Photo / Paul Taylor

"He used to always pick up my kids, loved working, and they were social, they went out to dinner a couple times a week."

Liz said the last time John had been admitted to hospital before his 2016 illness was when he was 19 years old.

John's cause of death was documented as a stroke, something which they believe in hindsight they should have queried.

"The last thing that took him was a stroke, but would he have had a stroke if he had not had campylobacter?" Sheridan asked.

"[Doctors] don't know but they reckon he had a little stroke, fell out of bed, and had another stroke and that's what ended his life.

"When the doctor said they were suggesting they would put stroke as the end of his life, we agreed with that but really it should have been campylobacter. He loved his life, he did not want to die."

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman said the DHB had "not been notified of any new case [death] directly linked to the HN campylobacter outbreak in 2016".