Frank Burgess - farmer pilot poet

Former Poariki Station owner will be remembered as a thorough and good farmer

Former Poariki Station owner will be remembered as a thorough and good farmer

Loss to farming and the district: Pehiri’s Frank Burgess, who ran Poariki Station, was a very thorough farmer who took great care of his animals as this photo shows. His family also remember him as a man who loved to fly and to write poetry and other prose. A man who will always be in their hearts. Rest in Peace. Picture supplied

Above all the “man of few words” was a thinker.

Frank passed away on June 6 at the age of almost 92.

He was born in Gisborne on July 16 1926 to parents John and Eva Burgess who returned to live on Poariki Station in 1930 when Frank’s father became manager.

Frank learned through correspondence in his early years until Pehiri School was founded in l939 and rode to school by horse or bicycle.

In 1941, he came to town to attend co-educational Gisborne High School and boarded with his great aunt Maude Atkins.

It was wartime and Frank always remembered the rationing of basics like petrol, butter and tea, the constant shortages and with the threat of Japanese invasion — the blackouts.

He did his bit by digging slit trenches and always said because of Gisborne’s sandy soil, if anything explosive landed nearby the trenches would have offered little protection.

After high school he returned to the farm briefly, then went away to Massey College for a short time, before returning back to Poariki due to the manpower shortage in the war.

He joined the Air Training Corps and there began his interest in flying and aircraft.

Frank wanted to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and become a pilot, and started training, but World War 2 ended soon after he started. Later, Frank joined the Gisborne Aero club, became a qualified pilot and over the years flew a Tiger Moth.

He was a member of the Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society (GAPS), and helped get the GAPS museum at the airport built, to which he donated much of his flying memorabilia.

In retirement Frank turned his talents to building and flying remote control aircraft.

Frank’s late brother Ray met and married a young Australian woman named Nola in 1953.

In 1956 Frank travelled to England on the liner Southern Cross via Australia and South Africa. He returned through the Panama Canal, completing a circumnavigation of the globe.

In the early 1960s Nola’s sister Iris came to visit and fell in love with both New Zealand and then Frank.

She returned across the ditch and they corresponded by post for a while until Frank posted Iris an engagement ring. They were married in Gisborne in November 1963.

Frank learned farming from working along his father on Poariki and proved to be a good stockman and something of a bush veterinarian with a knack of spotting and diagnosing ailments in his stock.

His lambing beats were exceptionally thorough, on foot or horseback, and Frank gave time to his work.

There was many a day his wife Iris felt like mounting a search party to find him, because he spent so much time caring for their animals.

Frank and his brother took over part-ownership of the station in 1969. Total ownership came a few years later.

A new homestead was built and they had the first open board woolshed in the district. They were one of the first to use a helicopter to lay fencelines, and install a spray dip.

He and his children had a lot of fun in an indian canoe Frank built on the Hangaroa River and for a hobby Frank became a radio ham.

Frank retired from Poariki in 1989 and son Ian took over the farm operation, the fourth generation Burgess to run it.

Frank and Iris moved into Gisborne city to a house in Island Road that year and then in 2007 they moved to the Beetham Lifestyle Village where Frank had the distinction of being the centre’s “first bloke”.

As his son Ian said at his funeral — “Dad, memories of your work will remind us of you constantly. You held our hands for a while, you will be in our hearts forever.”

His daughter Jenny said her dad was “a man of few words, but he put a lot of his thoughts into prose.”

Focus on the Land will feature some of those thoughts and words about Poariki Station at a later date.

But it is entirely appropriate to conclude this obituary to him with one of Frank’s poems that says so much about him as a man, and as a farmer:

Frank left behind his beloved wife of 54 years Iris, their children Jenny and Ian, Ian’s wife Helen, and his grand children Theo and Max Grzeda, Jazmine, Emma and Alexander Burgess. Jenny’s husband Janek, who Frank was very close to, predeceased him.

Above all the “man of few words” was a thinker.

Frank passed away on June 6 at the age of almost 92.

He was born in Gisborne on July 16 1926 to parents John and Eva Burgess who returned to live on Poariki Station in 1930 when Frank’s father became manager.

Frank learned through correspondence in his early years until Pehiri School was founded in l939 and rode to school by horse or bicycle.

In 1941, he came to town to attend co-educational Gisborne High School and boarded with his great aunt Maude Atkins.

It was wartime and Frank always remembered the rationing of basics like petrol, butter and tea, the constant shortages and with the threat of Japanese invasion — the blackouts.

He did his bit by digging slit trenches and always said because of Gisborne’s sandy soil, if anything explosive landed nearby the trenches would have offered little protection.

After high school he returned to the farm briefly, then went away to Massey College for a short time, before returning back to Poariki due to the manpower shortage in the war.

He joined the Air Training Corps and there began his interest in flying and aircraft.

Frank wanted to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and become a pilot, and started training, but World War 2 ended soon after he started. Later, Frank joined the Gisborne Aero club, became a qualified pilot and over the years flew a Tiger Moth.

He was a member of the Gisborne Aviation Preservation Society (GAPS), and helped get the GAPS museum at the airport built, to which he donated much of his flying memorabilia.

In retirement Frank turned his talents to building and flying remote control aircraft.

Frank’s late brother Ray met and married a young Australian woman named Nola in 1953.

In 1956 Frank travelled to England on the liner Southern Cross via Australia and South Africa. He returned through the Panama Canal, completing a circumnavigation of the globe.

In the early 1960s Nola’s sister Iris came to visit and fell in love with both New Zealand and then Frank.

She returned across the ditch and they corresponded by post for a while until Frank posted Iris an engagement ring. They were married in Gisborne in November 1963.

Frank learned farming from working along his father on Poariki and proved to be a good stockman and something of a bush veterinarian with a knack of spotting and diagnosing ailments in his stock.

His lambing beats were exceptionally thorough, on foot or horseback, and Frank gave time to his work.

There was many a day his wife Iris felt like mounting a search party to find him, because he spent so much time caring for their animals.

Frank and his brother took over part-ownership of the station in 1969. Total ownership came a few years later.

A new homestead was built and they had the first open board woolshed in the district. They were one of the first to use a helicopter to lay fencelines, and install a spray dip.

He and his children had a lot of fun in an indian canoe Frank built on the Hangaroa River and for a hobby Frank became a radio ham.

Frank retired from Poariki in 1989 and son Ian took over the farm operation, the fourth generation Burgess to run it.

Frank and Iris moved into Gisborne city to a house in Island Road that year and then in 2007 they moved to the Beetham Lifestyle Village where Frank had the distinction of being the centre’s “first bloke”.

As his son Ian said at his funeral — “Dad, memories of your work will remind us of you constantly. You held our hands for a while, you will be in our hearts forever.”

His daughter Jenny said her dad was “a man of few words, but he put a lot of his thoughts into prose.”

Focus on the Land will feature some of those thoughts and words about Poariki Station at a later date.

But it is entirely appropriate to conclude this obituary to him with one of Frank’s poems that says so much about him as a man, and as a farmer:

Frank left behind his beloved wife of 54 years Iris, their children Jenny and Ian, Ian’s wife Helen, and his grand children Theo and Max Grzeda, Jazmine, Emma and Alexander Burgess. Jenny’s husband Janek, who Frank was very close to, predeceased him.

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