A wonderful and generous person is how many are remembering long-standing Rotorua priest Father (Tim) Anton Timmerman.

He died at the weekend at the age of 100 in Auckland.

Father Timmerman, who retired in 2008 after celebrating 65 years of priesthood, served in Rotorua for about 60 years.

Originally from the Netherlands, Father Timmerman studied to be a priest in the Netherlands, graduating in 1945, before coming to New Zealand in 1949.

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He was sent to New Zealand by his Dutch superiors with four other missionaries.

The Anglican vicar of St Faith's Church Tom Poata told the Rotorua Daily Post this morning it was sad to see his style of preaching slowly fade.

"It was a lifetime of commitment, coming away from their own countries, making their home amongst us and staying here until they die and not being returned to Holland or Europe at all.

"[He was] a great gospeller and great teacher of the faith."

Father (Tim) Anton Timmerman in the 1960s. Photo / Kerry Grant
Father (Tim) Anton Timmerman in the 1960s. Photo / Kerry Grant

Even though it was not Father Timmerman's own choice to come to New Zealand he eventually called it home.

"This is my country, these are my people now,'' he told the Rotorua Daily Post in 2008 at the time of his retirement, aged 91.

He started off living in Northland at Waitaruke, then was sent to Rotorua.

Father Timmerman said the best thing about being a priest was interacting with people and being able to help them.

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"My feeling is people who have to look after others have to listen to them.''

He had served at St Michael's Church, St Mary's Church and St Joseph's Church.

He was involved in setting up the Catholic schools Mary MacKillop College and Edmund Rice College which merged to become John Paul College.

He was also on the committee for the centennial celebration of Catholic education in Rotorua in 2003 when Rotorua celebrated 100 years since the first Catholic school opened.

John Paul College principal Patrick Walsh said Father Timmerman was a priest with
deep faith and a generous heart.

"He had a great love of young people and Māori culture, going as far as to learn te reo Māori.

"He had a full life in the service of God and no doubt will be richly rewarded in heaven. He was a great friend and supporter of JPC and it's predecessors. He also had a great sense of humour and humility about him," Walsh said.

Ngāti Whakaue kaumatua Monty Morrison said he and a contingent from Rotorua were heading to Auckland to collect Father Timmerman's body.

His body will be returned to Rotorua later this afternoon, expected to be between 3pm and 4pm, for his tangi to get underway at Hurunga Marae.

His funeral service will be held on Wednesday at St Mary's Church at 11am.