From growing up in the city's oldest Māori settlement, learning to swim at Sulphur Pt and becoming the city's first police dog handler at the station that is now the Pig and Whistle pub - no one was more authentically Rotorua than Barry Bonnington.
The 91-year-old died on Sunday, November 1 - and his children say it's fate that he died on a date with the same numerals as the emergency service number.
As Pākehā as Bonnington's name appeared, his life and heritage was seeped in one of Maoridom's oldest settlements of Ōhinemutu.
His mother was Tirita Butt and his whakapapa stretched 20 generations to Te Arawa's founding father Tamatekapua.
He was born in Ōhinemutu Pā on December 15, 1928.
He and his siblings were pupils at Rotorua Primary School - a stone's throw from his home - and he learned how to dive and swim at Sulphur Pt.
He had previously told the Rotorua Daily Post that the "rich kids" would go to the Blue Baths to learn, while the rest trudged to the lake.
Tops and marbles made out of flax strings were the village kids' favourite games and they spent many hours crouched in the lake flushing out morihana, he said.
"We'd put them in the kete and take them up to the hot spring. When they were cooked we'd splash [thermal] bathwater on them, the seniors used to say, `Hey you kids better not have done a mimi [wee] in there'.''
St Faith's Church in Ōhinemutu was a staple throughout Bonnington's life, from attending Sunday School as a child, weekly services and even holding his 60th wedding anniversary celebration there in 2013.
Fittingly, his final farewell will be held at the parish on Thursday morning with a national police dog guard of honour in attendance.
Bonnington met his wife Mary when he was just a teenager. He would go to her father's shop to buy cigarettes and see the "pretty little girl", he previously told the Rotorua Daily Post.
The pair were married for 65 years before she died in 2018. The couple had seven children, 10 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Bonnington's daughter Petrina said her dad was "a real character", "a keen storyteller" and a man with endless amounts of passion.
Whether it be collecting antiques for his home museum or taking his children to Mamaku to collect native seedlings to plant in their garden, he had a special kind of zest for life.
"I remember if we ever drove to Auckland, every corner we'd drive around he would tell us stories about different cases he had worked on in the area," Petrina said.
The family lived in a home they built in 1965 on Tirita St, named after his late mother. Bonnington only recently moved out.
He had developed the street off a large rural plot of land on the western side of Kawaha Pt that he inherited from his uncle, who was his whāngai father.
The plot remained one of the city's last privately owned large rural blocks.
"It was totally different times back then," Petrina said.
The rural block played a big part in Bonnington's journey to becoming a police officer. In the late 50s, he was managing stock on the land when he ran into trouble.
Wild dogs were continuously entering the lot and killing his stock. On one night alone, close to 300 sheep were chased into a swamp and eaten.
He saw an advertisement pop up for a job with police and decided he would give up on farming and take up police work temporarily.
He was handed the uniform and sent off on a project straight after his interview.
He served as a police officer from 1959 to 1985 and was first based in what is now the Pig and Whistle Historic Pub before the previous station was opened in 1969.
In the 60s, police asked for interest from officers who had experience with dogs as they wanted to bring police dogs to the force.
Bonnington's son William said his father had "jumped at the opportunity" and "loved every minute of it".
He was Rotorua's first dog handler and even won the prestigious Erridge Trophy, awarded to the top-performing New Zealand police dog handler, in 1969.
His dad's dog was called Ngata, who William said they all saw as one of the family.
Petrina said her father had always refused to get promoted from anything other than constable as he never wanted to move from the district.
"He lived and breathed this place. Why would he want to go anywhere else?"
He established the Retired Police Officers club on his retirement from the force, then worked as a court crier in his later years.
His ex-colleague and friend, who asked not to be named, said Bonnington had given his job "his all" and was "revered" in the force for that reason.
The pair worked together in the Rotorua police for more than 10 years and he had been visiting Bonnington in his final years to put a profile together on him for a retired police article.
"He was sharp as a tack right up until his final days. He was so respected too, no one even spoke ill of Barry."
He remembered the relationship Bonnington had with his police dog Ngata, saying they made a "damn good team".
"He was just a good, jovial character. Always dedicated to the cause."
His funeral will be held at St Faith's Church in Ōhinemutu from 11.30am on Thursday.