A ‘true man of the world’

'You looked after your kin and you worked hard because the world owed you nothing. That was John.'

'You looked after your kin and you worked hard because the world owed you nothing. That was John.'

The late John Bunyan senior was a talented lawn bowler including being a member of four Burton Cup (pictured) Easter fours championship-winning Gisborne Bowling Club teams. He was a long and committed contributor to a Gisborne community he was proud to call home.

Herald file photo
The late John Bunyan senior became renowned for the high quality of his saddles despite never actually getting on a horse over his long life.

Picture supplied
John in his Navy days. Picture supplied

JOHN Bunyan senior was “a man on a mission”. He lived his life by the motto: “Life isn’t fair, get on with it because no one owes you anything, never have, never will”. Mr Bunyan died in Gisborne on Saturday, September 30. He was in his 97th year.

“John was a man on a mission,” said friend Murray Ferris, who led the funeral service. “You did it once, you did it well. You looked after your kin and you worked hard because the world owed you nothing. That was John,” Mr Ferris said.

“He was a true man of the world and a character in every sense of the word. He shot from the hip and he had a solution for most of your problems.”

John Bunyan senior was born in Kaeo in the far north of New Zealand on July 9, 1921. He was the eldest of 10 children. His family moved to Manawahe in the Bay of Plenty and after milking cows for his father, 16-year-old John went to work at the Edgecumbe butter factory.

When World War 2 broke out, Mr Bunyan, aged 19, enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Navy. He served on minesweepers in the Pacific and was badly wounded when a mine went off next to his ship HMNZS Rimu. He was thrown several metres in the air and suffered multiple injuries. He recovered from his injuries, although one of his arms was never quite the same, and served again on Fairmile class motor launches, doing anti-submarine patrols around Guadalcanal.

On his return from war he went back to Edgecumbe but his wounds, while healed, prevented a return to the butter factory. He was instead encouraged to take up saddlery, harness-making and canvas work as an apprentice in Auckland. There he met his wife Lucy (now deceased) and he proposed to her a few years later on the Devonport ferry. They married and moved to Gisborne in 1949. They had four children — Chris, John junior, Heather and Jeanette.

“We had a remarkably happy life together,” Mr Bunyan said in an article in The Herald in 2010 “I am very proud of our children and our grandchildren.”

Son-in-law Graham Faulkner said “Poppa” had the business acumen to know that if you were good at making saddles it made sense to go where the market was.

“And that was in Gisborne.”

The family lived for a year in a tent at the Churchill Park camp until they got a home.

At about that time Mr Bunyan bought East Saddlery and made a name for himself producing quality saddles with the East patent.

“They fitted the horse like a glove and were superbly comfortable to ride on,” Mr Faulkner said.

He also did saddlery work for the prestigious Hong Kong Jockey Club.

He originally established his business on the Esplanade, then moved it to Lowe Street in the 1960s and finally to Palmerston Road where he built a block of shops in 1974. Over the years Mr Bunyan bought a number of rental houses in Gisborne, owning up to 10 at one time, and one at Wainui. He finished his working life as a television licence inspector for the New Zealand Post Office.

Mr Bunyan was a member of the Masonic Lodge and rose through the ranks to master and the prestigious grand lodge master. Last year he was presented his 70-year badge, a milestone reached by only a handful of masons.

He will also be remembered and respected by many for his exploits on the lawn bowling greens. He joined Gisborne Bowling Club in 1964 and was made a life member of the club in 1988 for recognition of his contribution on and off the greens. Mr Bunyan was a member of four GBC teams who won the coveted Burton Cup Easter tournament. He also achieved three Peace Shield fours victories, twice won the Webber Shield fours and was awarded a gold star for five centre wins. He was described as “a veritable bowling club Santa” for his support of the club, schools and many charitable organisations.

John donated a rugby ball trophy in 1958 after talking with good friend Des Charteris about the lack of a trophy for primary school rugby. Mr Charteris named it the Weka Ball and what is regarded as the “Ranfurly Shield” of primary school rugby is still played for to this day.

Mr Bunyan was an early member of Gisborne West Rotary and later Gisborne Probus Club. In 2015, he received a Gisborne District Council certificate to thank him for his $1000 contribution to the restoration of the Cenotaph — an act that kick-started the fundraising initiative for the war memorial. That same year he donated a defibrillator to Kahutia Bowling Club.

“There are people out there today who owe John big time for his big heart and his deep pockets,” Mr Ferris said at his farewell. “He was a very good man — a man who saw many issues in this community, and was prepared to step up to the plate and address them.”

John Bunyan senior is survived by his four children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

JOHN Bunyan senior was “a man on a mission”. He lived his life by the motto: “Life isn’t fair, get on with it because no one owes you anything, never have, never will”. Mr Bunyan died in Gisborne on Saturday, September 30. He was in his 97th year.

“John was a man on a mission,” said friend Murray Ferris, who led the funeral service. “You did it once, you did it well. You looked after your kin and you worked hard because the world owed you nothing. That was John,” Mr Ferris said.

“He was a true man of the world and a character in every sense of the word. He shot from the hip and he had a solution for most of your problems.”

John Bunyan senior was born in Kaeo in the far north of New Zealand on July 9, 1921. He was the eldest of 10 children. His family moved to Manawahe in the Bay of Plenty and after milking cows for his father, 16-year-old John went to work at the Edgecumbe butter factory.

When World War 2 broke out, Mr Bunyan, aged 19, enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Navy. He served on minesweepers in the Pacific and was badly wounded when a mine went off next to his ship HMNZS Rimu. He was thrown several metres in the air and suffered multiple injuries. He recovered from his injuries, although one of his arms was never quite the same, and served again on Fairmile class motor launches, doing anti-submarine patrols around Guadalcanal.

On his return from war he went back to Edgecumbe but his wounds, while healed, prevented a return to the butter factory. He was instead encouraged to take up saddlery, harness-making and canvas work as an apprentice in Auckland. There he met his wife Lucy (now deceased) and he proposed to her a few years later on the Devonport ferry. They married and moved to Gisborne in 1949. They had four children — Chris, John junior, Heather and Jeanette.

“We had a remarkably happy life together,” Mr Bunyan said in an article in The Herald in 2010 “I am very proud of our children and our grandchildren.”

Son-in-law Graham Faulkner said “Poppa” had the business acumen to know that if you were good at making saddles it made sense to go where the market was.

“And that was in Gisborne.”

The family lived for a year in a tent at the Churchill Park camp until they got a home.

At about that time Mr Bunyan bought East Saddlery and made a name for himself producing quality saddles with the East patent.

“They fitted the horse like a glove and were superbly comfortable to ride on,” Mr Faulkner said.

He also did saddlery work for the prestigious Hong Kong Jockey Club.

He originally established his business on the Esplanade, then moved it to Lowe Street in the 1960s and finally to Palmerston Road where he built a block of shops in 1974. Over the years Mr Bunyan bought a number of rental houses in Gisborne, owning up to 10 at one time, and one at Wainui. He finished his working life as a television licence inspector for the New Zealand Post Office.

Mr Bunyan was a member of the Masonic Lodge and rose through the ranks to master and the prestigious grand lodge master. Last year he was presented his 70-year badge, a milestone reached by only a handful of masons.

He will also be remembered and respected by many for his exploits on the lawn bowling greens. He joined Gisborne Bowling Club in 1964 and was made a life member of the club in 1988 for recognition of his contribution on and off the greens. Mr Bunyan was a member of four GBC teams who won the coveted Burton Cup Easter tournament. He also achieved three Peace Shield fours victories, twice won the Webber Shield fours and was awarded a gold star for five centre wins. He was described as “a veritable bowling club Santa” for his support of the club, schools and many charitable organisations.

John donated a rugby ball trophy in 1958 after talking with good friend Des Charteris about the lack of a trophy for primary school rugby. Mr Charteris named it the Weka Ball and what is regarded as the “Ranfurly Shield” of primary school rugby is still played for to this day.

Mr Bunyan was an early member of Gisborne West Rotary and later Gisborne Probus Club. In 2015, he received a Gisborne District Council certificate to thank him for his $1000 contribution to the restoration of the Cenotaph — an act that kick-started the fundraising initiative for the war memorial. That same year he donated a defibrillator to Kahutia Bowling Club.

“There are people out there today who owe John big time for his big heart and his deep pockets,” Mr Ferris said at his farewell. “He was a very good man — a man who saw many issues in this community, and was prepared to step up to the plate and address them.”

John Bunyan senior is survived by his four children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

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