With the death of Blue (John) Wilson, Kerikeri lost a colourful personality and an important local identity.
Descended on his father's side from Albertlanders who had emigrated from the UK in the 1860s, Blue was born across Waikere Inlet from Ōpua where his parents had established a citrus nursery and a small farm with a grand total of 18 cows.
He grew up in a home without electricity, road access or telephone, going to school in a boat provided by the education department and learning to be self-sufficient.
His first job was supplying local restaurants with fresh flounder caught in nets he and his brother Keith made themselves.
The family nursery flourished despite a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the bank manager and, in due course, shifted to Kerikeri with Blue taking over the orchard when his father retired.
From those early days, his focus was identifying varieties that might prosper under Northland's climate and soil conditions and deliver more-consistent cropping and better-looking fruit.
It was in the 1980s that Blue made what was probably his single biggest contribution to the industry.
At the time, Kerikeri-based grower Hendl & Thompson was flirting with exporting lemons to Japan but the quality of fruit available was poor.
Blue was aware of their interest in developing a Lisbonesque lemon with a smoother skin and thin rind.
With most other countries facing restricted entry to the Japanese market, the export potential was enormous — if only the right fruit could be found.
In a visit to Te Puke Research Station, Blue identified such a candidate. Called Yen Ben, it had been grown from budwood from a tree growing near the saleyards in Gisborne.
The original plant had been imported in the 1920s from Queensland, but had failed to attract any attention because of its lethal thorns.
He rang Alan Thompson: "If you are interested then you better get down here quick smart because they are going to bulldoze the entire citrus collection tomorrow. Everything is being replanted in kiwifruit."
Alan took the bait and drove down from Kerikeri. He and Blue cut open 20 or 30 lemons, made the decision to run with it and Blue started collecting budwood.
And so began the Yen Ben chapter in New Zealand. It's now the country's biggest citrus export.
Lisbon lemons were traditionally grown on sweet-orange rootstock. Blue found the Yen Ben would take to trifoliata rootstock resulting in a smaller tree with few compatibility issues as well as more-desirable fruit qualities: thin skinned, few pips and importantly, fewer thorns.
In the Yen Ben they had found the perfect complement to a G&T or a plate of sashimi.
Blue provided year-old nursery trees, growing them in the ground rather than in pots in greenhouses as is customary today.
He would bud them in the ground, stake them and dig them up by hand, wrapping the roots in hessian for delivery.
Hendl & Thompson eventually planted about 120ha; in addition to Japan, South Korea and Australia also became big markets for the fruit.
At the peak, Blue was producing 40,000 trees a year for New Zealand, Rarotonga, Australia and, bizarrely, Germany, where the plants were grown indoors.
As Blue himself said: "If you're going to grow citrus, then why wouldn't you choose lemons? You get two crops a year — a summer and winter crop. They are the potato of the citrus family; every kitchen has one."
Blue also had a long interest in late-season navels, a variety you can start picking in August and still be harvesting well into summer. He found the ideal candidate in the old MAF/HortResearch collection at Manutuke.
By this time, however, Gisborne had overtaken Kerikeri as the citrus capital of New Zealand, Kerikeri growers were looking to kiwifruit for the next bonanza and Blue was ready for retirement, so this variety has never been fully exploited commercially in Kerikeri.
Nonetheless, it still graces the gardens of a few of Blue's friends and, in summer, the fruit became a familiar sight at Tapuaetahi, when Blue would "levitate" out of the shrubbery around mealtimes bearing alms in the form of a plate of freshly peeled and sliced late-season navels.
As well as a thoughtful and caring disposition, Blue was blessed with a great sense of humour and a love of the sea.
He once took friends out fishing and, for a joke, tied the nylon line to his big toe, went inside the cabin and promptly fell asleep. Some time later he was awoken brutally when a kingfish grabbed the line. It nearly took his toe off!
With blood streaming from his hands and feet, he coolly played the fish while trying to untangle the line from his foot.
He eventually brought it into the boat to claim the world record for the largest kingy caught on a big toe. This record stands to this day.
Blue is survived by his sons Phillip and Robert and daughters Clare and Kathryn, five grandchildren and many friends. His wife, Marion, died in 2003.