Gordon Proctor defied his age by walking the New Brighton shoreline in the mornings to stay fit enough to keep up with the demands of his gardening.

The 92-year-old became an icon in the Christchurch seaside suburb and garnered national attention when his neighbours tried to stop him from selling seedlings by setting sprinklers on him.

But no one can avoid age for ever, and in the end his heart gave out last week.

A nasty fall in a public toilet set Proctor back in the final months of his life.


As he lay on the floor screaming for help a man believed to be in his early 20s walked in and instead of assisting Proctor, stole his phone, which had fallen out of his pocket.

"It shook his body up and I think lying there waiting for help on that cold floor was a bit traumatic", his daughter Diane Mills said.

Proctor has always been a keen gardener and even hosted an Invercargill radio show in the 1970s called Gardening with Gordon.

Mills remembers as a child hiding on the other side of wire netting he installed for pea plants and eating the fruits of his labour where he couldn't see.

In 2016 Proctor made headlines over selling vegetable seedlings on the pavement by his home.

His seedling enterprise raised the ire of neighbours, who set sprinklers on him, fenced off the frontage outside his home and wiped out hand-written advertising messages.

They didn't like the noise early in the morning and said his business was against Christchurch City Council and property rules.

Gordon Proctor's seedling enterprise. Photo / Supplied.
Gordon Proctor's seedling enterprise. Photo / Supplied.

Proctor was eventually taken in by New Brighton Union Parish, where he tended to the local vegetable garden and restarted the seedling stall.


True to form, he conducted the interview for the news story in a car parked by the seedling stall out of the cool sea breeze, but so he could still tend to customers who popped in during the afternoon.

Proctor became dedicated to the church garden spending six days a week there and walking New Brighton beach in the mornings to stay fit enough to keep up with the demands of gardening.

He then went on to turn the former Central New Brighton School grounds into a community garden.

Mills said her father worked on a farm while they were growing up and frequently entered gardening competitions.

"I think that saying 'choose a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life' is probably Dad to a tee, because he just loved what he did, especially around his gardens and the people. The New Brighton people took him to heart."

Mills has been given the sign at the community garden that reads "Gordon's Gardens".

"I'm going to put that on my fence by my vege garden, so Dad will be always there."