Jim Mason

Jim Mason (22 Feb 1929 – 22 March 2020) passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family, at 4:26am on Sunday 22 March 2020, aged (exactly) 91 years 1 month. He was at home in Devonport. The family held a small service on Wednesday 25 March at the Holy Trinity Church in Devonport, just hours before the Covid 19 lockdown started. We are very grateful to the vicar, Charmaine, and her son for helping make this service possible.

In lieu of a public service, we welcome your memories of Jim being added to this site. Please post these below, or on one of the more relevant pages.

    Donald Sangster
    3 Jun 2020

    Jim, thank you for the opportunity to be your environmental points man in Tairua. I remember our conversations with great pleasure and it was a privilege to work with you. God bless your family. Donald Sangster, Thames Environmental Consultancy.

    Barbara Jones
    11 May 2020

    Dear Val, Katherine and family and Andrew and family
    It was a privilege to have worked with Jim as his office assistant for over 20 years and I will always value the memory of his friendship and that of yourselves. Jim achieved so much in an interesting life, full of adventures and good works, and listening to his anecdotes was always so worthwhile. He had such a lively sense of humour and sense of right and wrong. I know he will be missed by so many and that you, his family, will be consoled by so many great memories. Barbara.

    Mike Young.
    2 May 2020

    Dear Val and Family,
    My condolences to you all on the passing of Jim,a true unassuming gentleman that gave enthusiasm and advice to many undertakings in the community.
    I will remember him on his final voyage, god bless.

    Jane Haskell
    31 Mar 2020

    Dear Valerie and family
    We’re very sorry to hear about your loss. Please accept our deepest condolence.
    Jane, Sue, Mark & David….Betty and Geoff Wildman’s children.

    (What a wonderful picture of Jimmy.
    Our Mum Betty would have been 97 today 1st April!)

    Elizabeth Andrew
    1 Apr 2020

    Dear Valerie and family. The Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust sends its sincere sympathy to you. Jim as the Patron of our Trust was a beacon of hope in the early days when he stepped up to help when were just a foundling group intent on good works. Jim’s wisdom and practical sense has seen us through 21 years of intense progress saving the Bach Communities on Rangitoto Island for all New Zealanders. He will be missed.

    David Veart
    1 Apr 2020

    My favourite times with Jim were driving him to Rangitoto Trust meetings. By the time we got there we had solved most of the world’s problems or Jim had recounted another of his adventures from a long well lived life. I shall miss him dearly. All our best wishes to Val and the family.

    1 Apr 2020

    Jim on behalf of Depot Artspace we wish to thank you deeply for your creative vision over so many years and your significant contribution to Devonport as a cultural and creative hub. You have been a visionary and a gentleman. Go well dear friend of Devonport

    Robyn Gibson
    1 Apr 2020

    Thank you Val, Andrew and Katherine for sharing this wonderful man with me during the latter part of his life. Loved his stories, sense of humour and that twinkle in his eye. My lasting memory will be of Jim lustily singing christmas carols with us a mere three months ago.

    Robyn & Colin Rickard
    2 Apr 2020

    What wonderful memories you all must have of a very special person.
    Sincere condolences.
    Such great times during our childrens’ Kadimah College days; when you joined us up at Algies Bay and our stay at Tairua.
    (Will always remember Jim taking notes at the ante-natal classes we attended and I told Colin that he should be also!!)
    Wishing you love and peace
    Robyn & Colin Rickard
    Jeffrey; Jonathan & Matthew

    Ross Garrett
    2 Apr 2020

    Dear Family of Jim Mason,
    None of you will know me but Jim would have. At University we were contemporaries and I joined with him in some of his mad cap adventures. So it was no surprise that the only time I met him since University days was when I gave a talk about my own adventure. I (and others) had just circumnavigated the country in a nine metre yacht. It is now about 14 years ago and the talk was at the Devonport Yacht Club and there was Jim, easily recognisable despite the intervening years. He still had his characteristic speech and enthusiasm. In student days Jim was always keen on publicity. I treasured a copy of the Weekly News (now lost) containing an article by Jim with photos of a group in a rubber dinghy paddling down a river. There appears to be only one girl in the group. She later became my wife. She is now isolated in a rest home but when I phoned and said Jim Mason had died she bubbled over with memories. The most bizarre was seeing Jim paddle a canoe on the Ruapehu crater lake. Unimaginable in this age of super safety. But that’s the kind of guy he was in those days. We mourn with you his loss, such a shame that we cannot meet in person.
    With sympathy,
    Jennifer and Ross Garrett

      Garth Barfoot
      4 Apr 2020

      Valarie and Family, my brother Chris Barfoot and I would like to endorse the tribute to Jim as contributed by Ross Garrett. We, and by late brother Tim, had so much to do with Jim in those “canoe and rubber dinghy days” of the nineteen fifties. Today I still think of him as the person who first made popular those sports in New Zealand. His group, known as the Auckland Canoe Club, stored their kayaks in the basement of the family owned house in Marine Parade, Herne Bay just a few metres from the water at Cox’s Bay. For the more adventurous he hired a bus for weekend rafting trips down the Waikato River in the years before it was tamed by the hydro dams. No protesters in those days and, fortunately for Jim, no Health and Safety regulations either. Anyway we all survived.
      The website of the Auckland University Canoe Club (motto : the wetter the better) claims it has been going 70 years. Though not mentioned by name Jim Mason would have been proud of his legacy.

        Gordon Andreassend
        5 Apr 2020

        My kindest regards Valerie to you and all in your family.
        My earliest memories of Jim date from 1953 or 1954, when I became a member of the Auckland Canoe Club.
        Garth Barfoot was a good tramping companion at Auckland Grammar, and we tramped together later in the Auckland University Tramping Club. We found Jim and the Canoe Club through the University, and soon became members. Jim organised some great week end trips to some of the white water rivers south of Auckland and we enjoyed this new sport – using ex- military rubber diinghies to bounce down the rapids.

        Later on, Jim organised longer trips, and the best I had was in Dec. 1954/Jan. 1955, when a group of 12 – all males – using break-down kayaks- went to Fiordland. I was lucky enough to be the rear paddler in Jim’s two-man canoe. If you look at the photos on this site, there is a cover photo of “White Water”, showing Jim’s canoe. It was taken by Jim on the Eglington River, en route to Lake Manapouri, just after Lake Te Anau.
        I’m holding the canoe. It was a fantastic cruise.

        Later on I was involved with Jim in a survey of the property in Herne Bay where the Canoe Club’s craft were stored. A legal survey was required, and my boss agreed that I as a
        trainee surveyor could do the work, in my own time.
        The work was done at weekends, with Jim acting as my assistant, or Chainman. He was quite good at that job, but wisely stayed on in the legal world.

        Some time later Jim was involved in the development of Paku, in Coromandel. He took me on as a Registered Surveyor, to design a scheme plan for a sub-
        division, and later to peg out the lots. About 1960, I was joined by another Surveyor, and old friend, Keith Gordon – and he finalised the work when I left NZ in 1962.
        I have never returned to live and work in NZ, and only met up with Jim on trips home to see family and friends. I have made Hong Hong home,and have been here 54 years. Last year, in
        May 2019, I was in Auckland, and arranged to visit Jim and Val in Devonport. I’m so pleased that I did. I had a great chat with Jim about ‘the good old days’.

        Farewell old friend.
        Blue skies, and white water.

        Gordon Andreassend.

    Sharon Byron-McKay
    2 Apr 2020

    Even though i didnt know you for long Jim, you left a great and lasting impression on me.

    Steering his strong sturdy vessel reluctantly away from his homeland and his family, to a misty far away shore — Paerau, leaving nothing behind in its wake, other than, ‘love, is simply a gratitude for being’ (Saul Bellow)

    Nga mate, haere, haere, haere!

    Anna Clarke
    3 Apr 2020

    To Katherine and family
    So saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. We always looked forward to his visits to the Devonport Museum and acknowledge his family connection to early Devonport. His great smile and sparkle in his eye in addition to his great banter will be forever in our memories.
    Anna and Gail – Devonport Museum

    Civic Trust Auckland
    3 Apr 2020

    Civic Trust Auckland acknowledges the contribution Jim made to our Board over the years and his and Valerie’s attendance at many of our events. Jim had a strong interest in Auckland’s heritage, particularly in Devonport, and he also had a special interest in the Sir John Logan Campbell Kindergarten.

    CTA members were privileged to be able to visit Jim and Valerie’s Arts-and-Crafts-style house, Rockcliff, in September 2014, for one of our winter lectures.

    We extend our sympathy to Jim’s family.

    Megan Fahaivalu
    3 Apr 2020

    Katherine, so sorry to hear you have lost your father. Rowan told me a few days ago & I’ve just now seen the death notice in today’s herald.

    Such a lovely photograph of all the family. Love to your dear mother, and of course, also, to Andrew. Such a long time since we saw Florence.

    James McDonald remembers Jim Mason as a canoeist, and a reasonable tramper. “He gave me my first real experience in canoeing, I quite liked him.”

    All the best to you & your family at this time & especially Andrew.
    Lots of love from,
    Megan Fahaivalu

    Christopher Barfoot
    4 Apr 2020

    Valerie and family, may I support my brother Garth’s tribute (and so would Tim but he died in 2008). We three brothers were on many canoe trips arranged by Jim in the 50’s. As the founder of the New Zealand Canoeing Association he opened up to many people the joy and the challenge of our beautiful rivers, especially the Wanganui, where Jim led many trips and enlivened them with his feeling for history. Tim also went down the Mokau with Jim and the Waikato River before it was dammed. He was nearly drowned in the Rainbow Rapids when he capsized and came up under a log jam but felt his way along and popped out just as his lungs were bursting. God bless and comfort you all in your loss and refresh you with wonderful memories. Love from Chris and Pat

    Vaughn Mason
    4 Apr 2020

    Dear Valerie and Family Sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. Please accept our deepest condolences
    All our Love and Best Wishes
    Vaughn, Marianne Mason and Family

    Aileen & Frank Ward
    6 Apr 2020

    Jim Mason was one of the most good natured lawyers we have known and my cousin Valerie was very lucky to have made him her husband. We first met Jim at their wedding in 1963 and have crossed paths with the pair many times over the ensuing fifty plus years – initially in Britain, many times in New Zealand at both their earlier homes in Herne Bay and then of course in Devonport. They visited us once at our then home in Sydney. Sadly we are feeling our age and travel even without the Coronavirus is a bit daunting so we think our visit to New Zealand in 2018 has been our last. Our thoughts go out to you Val and Andrew and Katherine and all the family. Sadly a happy era has passed.

    Angella Gilbert
    13 Apr 2020

    I worked with Jim for some years assisting him in an administrative role, and as we worked together on I always enjoyed his sense of humour and the wonderful stories he would tell me of his life. The most enjoyable time though was during the latter years when he decided to write a book on his life and dictated it to me, chapter by chapter, as I carefully handwrote the tales of his adventures. His memory was prodigious and he could easily come up with names of places he’d been and people he met decades ago. I so admired the contribution he made to his community, and indeed to many organisations, along with his passion for preserving history. His adventures were many and varied as others have mentioned in their comments above, and I delighted in his tales, and photos, of his many canoeing expeditions and exploits. It was a privilege to work with him on his book and I am grateful we finished it in plenty of time for him to enjoy reading it – as he would say to me “he sounds like an interesting man doesn’t he” with that twinkle in his eye.
    God bless you Jim, and love and blessings to Val and family.

    John Hall
    17 Apr 2020

    April 16

    Dear Val

    I have only very recently caught up with the news of Jim’s passing, so please forgive this late entry.
    First, on behalf of Devonport U3A, I would like to express my deepest condolences to you and your family. Jim had been one of the Trustees of the Association long before I joined U3A in the early 80’s. However, it was not long before I became aware of the great contribution that he had made over a lengthy time, and I know that his wisdom, sound advice and his lovely sense of humour were always greatly appreciated.
    On a personal note I have to say that my late wife, Pam, and I always enjoyed your company. It was sad that Jim had so much to bear in his later years, but we were both full of admiration for the stalwart support you gave him when I know that it was far from easy for you. I will miss Jim. Hie has left a lasting legacy and one of which he would be proud.

    Please rest assured that my thoughts are very much with you at this difficult time.

    Annabel Hargreaves
    17 Apr 2020

    Dear Val

    I have just heard about Jim and want to say what a wonderful fellow he was. I have the best memories of the trips you and he organised for U3A. Once on the Spirit of Adventure was it , Rangitoto Island to see the baches, and a mountainous climb over to a beach with an old homestead.
    Please know that I am thinking of you. With love Annabel

    Bruce and Virginia Stainton
    26 Apr 2020

    To Val, Andrew, Katherine and all extended family,

    Our deepest sincere condolences on Jim’s passing.
    Jim was a generous and wise benefactor to many people and organisations giving freely of his time and experience in property law, finance and trusts.

    I recall as a young man new to Auckland keen to commence a career in law, being introduced to Jim. He gave me a job, I became close to Euan, and we eventually all became partners in Mason Caldwell Mason, later Mason Lawrie Stainton which lasted for 25 years.
    Jim and Val invited Virginia and myself into their home on many occasions on a Friday for after work drinks, was so helpful.
    When an opportunity came up in 1976, Jim introduced us to a section on the waterfront in Birkenhead which we bought, cleared and built the house we still live in 44 years later. Jim and Val lent us their caravan while I worked on the building to protect the site after a burglary of tools.

    We had great holidays camping on Jim and Val’s park at Opoutere Beach, and later in the 1990s caravaning on a section at the end of Hemi place above ocean beach at Tairua. Jim was developing Paku, and the seaport he envisaged. His love of historic ferries and boats on the Waitemata lead to his rescuing various ferries and boats destined for infill burial, but for Jim’s rescue efforts, some of which are now preserved in the marina area. A court was once told of Jim’s absence at a hearing that he was delayed, having to blowing up a ferry that he was towing to Tairua that had been blown on to rocks and was a shipping hazard on the Coromandel coast. However, contribution to Auckland Maritime Museum assets is outstanding.

    In 1996, Virginia and I bought the “glass house”from Jim in Tairua, and keeping our 3 sons out of trouble as teenagers, we all set to renovate that house, which we love and still own and use. Thanks again Jim.

    Jim’s exploits before I meet him are legendary. Plumbing the depth of the crater lake, to warn of a rising level that eventually caused the Tangiwhai disaster, but no one listened. Planning a Gondala on Paku and a rail trip around the base of Paku were 2 schemes that life’s short span and a doubting Council did not allow. At least he was able to form the beginnings of a coastal walk that is now being picked up by others. He did get to see his seaport idea turn into a modern Marina, but many of his ideas were before his time.

    Jim did complete the subdivision of Paku, which has given so many a home with spectacular views of the sea and coastline. How he moved stately houses from Herne Bay to Opoutere and Tairua on unsealed roads is a story in itself.
    There is much more that needs to be written about Jim’s extraordinary life, experiences and achievements, but I thank him and Val for contributing so much in his lifetime to so many, and sharing visions of what could be.
    Love and strength at this time.
    Bruce and Virginia

    29 Apr 2020

    Jim was such a gentleman, and a lovely neighbour . We will miss our chats! He would always stop while we were in our front garden and put the world to rights with us.!
    Lyndsay Rendall Helen MacKenzie

    Roger Levy
    20 Jul 2020

    I first met Jim Mason with my father some time in 1976. I recall that my father and I were walking up the long stone steps from Sloans beach, having been out to our boat at the mooring off Herne Bay, and Jim leaned over the fence and said hello to us. That chance meeting was the start of a long friendship between our two families. We lived just up the road from the Mason family on Upton Street and at that time I was in the sixth form at school. I was just starting to be useful and practical, which led to jobs working for Jim at various times, and some baby sitting of Andrew and Katherine

    Mum and Dad became friends with the Jim and Val, and we had various dinners and film evenings down at their place. Very prominent in these were the Klepper folding kayaks, a Maori dugout canoe being retrieved from the mud on the Whanganui, and Ruapehi crater lake.
    Jim was an adventurer, historian and business minded person as well as a family man and a lawyer. He employed my friend Joe and I to help build a simple concrete boat ramp for their Parkercraft sailing dinghies and various other things on rentals, and land in the Coromandels. The place at Opoutere became a very special place for me as school finished and before university began. Looking back, I don’t think Jim was particularly expert as a builder or boat builder, but he was practical and persevering, and good hearted. I don’t recall a cross word from him, for which I am grateful. I recall being an ok worker sometimes, and other times present but pretty useless. Nevertheless our friendship continued after Dad was lost at sea in 1983. Overall I am grateful for the work and the learning I gained from it.

    Despite the intervening years, Jim’s passing fills me with great sadness that has made it hard to write about him. I recall him with great affection. Rest in Peace Jim, job well done

    Bill Parks
    18 Aug 2021

    This is a year late, but I only learned of this now. The brief time I spent with Jim was wonderful. Hearing him recount his tales of his whitewater adventures was a delight. I am so glad I had the chance to interview him and get his recollections on film. It was a privilege to know him.

    Pete Grennell
    18 Jan 2023

    Me and my family knew Jim for number of years, he was the landlord when we rented to Old Mill in Tairua as our family home, we helped with the Settler, Ngoiro and many other projects. Many was the time Jim would be on the door step “Peter, I need a hand with something……” and off we would go working alongside each other carting or lugging all sorts around Tairua. We have since moved away and I didn’t know he had passed but great memories of an interesting man.

Leave A Comment