Hunter, rugby player, county councillor, and longtime deer farmer John Firmin has passed away at the age of 84.
One of 10 children, Firmin spent the first eight years of his life in Castlecliff, where his father was a fisherman.
His family then moved to the Parihauhau hill country in 1944.
After a short stint with his grandmother at Parakino, Firmin boarded at Wanganui Tech College.
It was there where he played his first game of rugby.
His wife of 60 years, Robin Firmin, said his love of the game remained undiminished for the rest of his life.
"He found a $5 note at school one day, and they told him that if it wasn't claimed in three months, he could have it," she said.
"Nobody claimed it, so what did he do? He went and bought a pair of rugby boots."
Predominantly a No 8, Firmin played for Kaierau and Mangaweka before becoming a founding member of what would become the Counties Rugby Club.
The club, of which he was a life member, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.
"All the boys in the original (Counties) team were shepherds. They never trained, they'd just come off the farms on a Saturday," Robin said.
"They were already so fit."
The team played their home games on a flat paddock at Lismore, before eventually moving to the community-built Counties Rugby Club Pavilion at Mcnab Domain on Kaiwhaiki Rd in 1983.
Firmin was played a big role in the pavilion's construction.
"Farming went by the by for a few months there," Robin said.
"He may as well have taken his bed down there when it first opened, he was there that much."
Firmin played his last game for Counties at the age of 51, lining up with two of his sons and a nephew.
Robin and John were married in 1960, and the couple returned to his father's Parihauhau farm in 1964.
They remained there for the next 30 years and welcomed four children, Wendy, Peter, David and Brian, into the world.
In 1972 her husband became the first licensed fallow deer farmer in the whole of the North Island, Robin said.
"All the deer were caught on the farm itself, and we just imported stags.
"It's really rough country out there, but John was brought up tough. He left for work at 4 every morning and he was in bed at 6.30 in the evening.
"On the rugby field he was really tough as well, a real competitor, but he was always a fair person.
"I once saw him walk off Spriggins Park with a broken ankle."
While the land was hard to work, it did lend itself to another of John Firmin's lifelong passions - hunting.
He took visitors from all across the world out with him, including members of the touring Springboks team in 1965 and British soldier and spy Ronald Jeffery the following year.
"There are photos of him when he just got to the farm, around about the age of 8, and he was already taking people out hunting then," Robin said.
"All our own children had shot their first deer by 11 or so."
Firmin was also a Wanganui County Councillor from 1980 to 1989 and a member of the Wanganui Axemen's Club for 50 years.
"He loved that sport (wood chopping), and he loved taking our boys along," Robin said.
"Our three sons were all axemen as well."
John was introduced to Robin at her brother, Peter Cameron's 21st birthday party.
Cameron said he and John first played rugby together at Kaierau in 1954, and had remained friends for over 65 years.
"Kaierau 3rd Grade won the Maoriland Cup in 1956, and we all got on so well that 40 years later we had a reunion with every single guy from that team, plus the coaches," Cameron said.
John was the captain of that team.
"There's that expression 'they don't make them like that nowadays', and that can be bandied around, but John was something different," Cameron said.
"One Saturday his old man wouldn't give him a ride, so he walked from his home at Parihauhau to play rugby at the racecourse."
Firmin was "good with an axe, good with a slasher, and good with a rifle", Cameron said.
"The title for that country (Parihauhau) is 'steep, North Island hill country', but I'd describe it as steep to overhanging North Island hill country.
"There was no one better than John at cutting scrub, though."
Another longtime friend, Charlie Baird, said he first met Firmin at the age of 15, and the two later played together at Counties.
"He always played 80 minutes of good, tough rugby, but he was never, ever a dirty player.
The game was there to be played, and that was it.
"He was a mighty guy, as were his brothers. The whole family were mighty people."
Firmin remained active after his retirement, whether it be hunting, fishing, bowls, or golf.
"When it came to golf, her husband could "whack a ball", Robin said.
"He'd spray them everywhere, but I was there to get them back. We paired really well.
"We were still playing jackpot pairs together last year."
John was a kind, caring, generous guy, she said.
"We had a great life together. He lived it to the fullest, and revelled in meeting people and doing things for them.
"He couldn't help people enough."
Firmin leaves behind his children and in-laws Peter and Shelley, Wendy and Ross Cudby, David and Christine, and Brian and Kiritahi.
He was Grandad to Ben, Kelly, Scott, John, Cameron, Stella, and Little John, and Special koro to Pikiteora, Mauriora, Chance and Uekaha-Pohe.