Sunday, August 11, 2013

Obituary from paper

If you would like to read it I have a scanned copy I can send. Contact me via email or my blog Kat

Friday, August 9, 2013


There wil be an obituary in tomorrows (10th of August) Otago Daily Times for GAZ.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Reposting Funeral"" />""

Sunday, June 9, 2013



Good afternoon friends and family, welcome to this service where we will remember and give thanks for the life of Gary Taiaroa, a Friend, Brother, Father and Husband.
May the peace that God gives through Jesus Christ be with you all.
(Sue to say in Maori)
Gary’s Service has been prepared with plenty of music , interspersed throughout.  Gaz loved his music he has also had a lot of input into arranging today.
Gaz always was a people person and he spent plenty of time thinking about the logistics of today, with the intention of keeping people together.
 After the service here, we are taking Gary to the Portobello cemetery and everyone is welcome to come along, alternatively you can just pop into the Portobello Hotel where we will all be gathering after we have been to the cemetery, food will be provided but drinks will need to be purchased.
God of Grace and Peace we gather together today to say good bye to Gary, Even though he has always been in your hands we want to release him into your eternal presence.
Dear God we are hurt and grieving we have more questions than answers, we didn’t ask for life but we are living and we don’t ask for death but we will all die.
Help us by your grace to live through this time to appreciate the gift of life that has been given to us to continue to experience the wonders of your creation and the gifts you have given us just as Gaz has done.
We thank you God for the life of Gary Erskine Taiaroa he was an amazing Man, you gave him so many gifts and talents that he used, not just for himself but for other people as well, he was such a fun loving person, incredibly loyal, he was always seeing opportunity when sometimes others saw problems he had an amazing ability to make friends and he had a faith in you that grew as he faced the toughest times in his life. We can do nothing but admire his strength and determination as he battled through these last 3 years
Father God we pray that you will bless and strengthen Kat, Arihana, MacKenzie and Zac over the days, weeks and months as they adjust their lives to living without Gary, we pray that his memory will always be present and strong in their lives, that his example as a father, husband and friend will last throughout their lives.
 As friends and family help us to support and encourage the Taiaroa family, be with us today in this service and beyond as we remember and celebrate the life of our good mate Gaz.
We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ

Isaiah 40
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
This verse was made famous in the 1982 film ‘Chariots of Fire’ which included the story of the Scottish athlete Eric Liddell.
Liddell was an extremely talented athlete who was chosen to run for Britain in the 100m’s but because of his religious beliefs refused to run in the Olympic  heat because it was held on a Sunday instead he ran and won the gold medal in the 400m.
You may ask where is the relevance of Eric Liddell’s life is in relation to the life of Gary Taiaroa.
Those of us who new Gary well enough new that Gary was an enthusiastic competitor with a natural ability in most sports involving a ball however he was never an Olympic Athlete.
But Gaz has run a race it’s a race that a lot of us would prefer not to run, and in this race he was given strength when he was weary, he placed his hope in his Christian faith a faith that was relatively new.
I am not quite sure what brought about this sudden change in Gaz perhaps one night he looked into the sky and saw eternity whatever it was he started searching for some meaning for his/our/human existence and in this search had an encounter with his creator that changed his life.
There are a lot of things that we just can’t understand or explain, there is a mystery to life that we can’t quite put our finger on the Christian message of the reality of life in perfect communion  with our creator through the very sacrifice of God himself is unexplainable…but so many things are….. we don’t actually know everything.
Gary publicly acknowledged his Christian faith by being baptised about 4 or 5 years ago.
At the time of his baptism he was given a verse from the bible which continues the Athletic theme from the Isaiah reading
Hebrews 12 1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Gaz certainly embraced this message, he was always a competitor and it was no surprise that he wholeheartedly ran his race with perseverance, as it turned out his race wasn’t a glamour event like the 100 or 400 metres it was more like the coast to coast longest day or the mud sweat and tears.
It doesn’t matter Gaz has crossed the finish line with honour, his faith in his God grew as he became weaker.
Gaz was always one to challenge us he has set us a fine example of how to face the odds and I am sure he would like us all to consider our lives to date in the context that it is inevitable that sooner or later our own lives are all going to end. So what are we going to do about it?
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
God is not to great to care, he is however to great to fail, there is no point in which things get on top of him.
God not only exercises this power but also imparts this power to us experienced through faith expressed as hope
A hope that Gary Taiaroa claimed and lived


Thank you for coming I thought there might be more than a few people here today and I was right .Gary would be pleased.

I would to publicly thank our families and friends for their support through this. It has been extensive. I started listing it all and stopped as it grew and grew. It would have been truly difficult without you all. Gary has felt well loved through Messages Company and gifts. It really meant the world to him
I would like to acknowledge the at times perplexing generosity of the Otago Hospice and team who work there. They were unfailing in their patience and care of both of us. I say team because it extends to all staff.
To those people who have been there for my and my kids also. I am not the easiest person when threatened with a loss. I so appreciate those ears that listened and the words and arms that comforted me when distressed and at times angry. You know who you are and you have my deepest gratitude and love.
Sue and Tim Mepham and their supporters. I cannot imagine how today would have been without them.

And the time came when the words of joy he sang on stage every night no longer resonated in his bones and he felt weary. The people had noticed but they loved the Minstral and his music and wanted to keep hearing it. Every night they came to drink in the sound and gaze at the stars it created. It filled their souls in a way no other music could and would after.
The minstrel looked at his people and smiled his eyes heavy with all he had seen and felt. He had no words left to say goodbye so he packed what he needed to travel with in his kit bag, shouldered it and headed down a road that felt as familiar as it was strange. He left his piano, his harp and his flute. The set of drums that he called his messengers he gave quite specifically to someone he thought would honour them.
He felt lighter the more he left behind. New people but with an oldness that comforted came to greet him and he was filled with love. It coloured the path before him with light and he could see better than he had for years. He felt stronger the further away he went. His feet stopped making marks on the path that he knew and a new one formed under him. Music once again came into his life, from all around him the trees sang, the air hummed, golden notes wrapped themselves around the musician and he followed their heart home.
The people that were left turned up for a number of nights in the hope he would come back, and when they realised this was not what was going to happen. They picked up the instruments and started to make some sound. With practise they remembered some of his songs and in the forthcoming years wrote some new ones of their own.

Gary asked me to speak today and he didn’t care on what topic because he said I was good at it and he wanted me too. Gary was an encourager but he didn’t do it lightly. It was generally a well considered and thought out statement. I relied on it. In the last few years I needed his good and sure words as I went back nursing and it was scary. Gary always believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. He had a positive nature and an ability to see the bright side and the best in people.
So here I am being brave because someone like Gary believed in me. I know I am not alone in this.

His positiveness and tenacity stood him well in business, competition, sports and marriage.

Gary belonged to a Forum that dealt specifically with People who have synovial cancer. He became a moderator fairly quickly (of course he did). As a moderator he was a key person, someone who connected and counselled the newbies on the site. The ones that arrived terrified, seeking information and looking for reassurance. He found great satisfaction in helping others and right up until a few months continued in this role and wanted to do more to help others.
 He had a particular aversion to End of life comments on the blog where people talked about the relief of their loved ones no longer being in pain. He thought the message should be more positive and have something inspirational in it. Something you could take away with you and feel encouraged by.
I visited a blog two days ago of a young mum who has synovial sarcoma. She lives in Scotland and has a wicked sense of humour. I went to leave a comment on post and saw that the last person to leave an encouraging comment was Gary Taiaroa on April 4th .
Gary very seriously looked at me one day in the Hospice and said don’t idolise me when Im gone. I said no chance I absolutely love you in your entirety. I see you and I am so grateful he saw me.
What I admired Gary most for was how he was with his children. He was so tender and unconditional. It would be safe to say he adored them. He was always on their side.
I have had a wonderful marriage. It has not been without its challenges or scary moments but within them we both made the choice to move together rather than apart. 
When we were at the hospice. A 10 week stay, I was asked a number of times the question of ‘how do you do it?’ or I don’t know how you do it. One person when I looked at them and shook my head genuinely puzzled as what to say, said we make choices and this was obviously the choice I had made
I don’t remember making that choice I just went where Gary was. I always have. It isn’t something I intentionally thought about in the beginning. Half way through this at about the 6week mark I considered sleeping one night at home in my own bed in order to catch up on some sleep. But the thought of separating from Gary wasn’t part of the picture so I stayed.
Our marriage Vows were old-fashioned ones probably because as Gary and I discovered , the life we grew up in is now displayed in the early settlers museum

For better or worse
For richer or poorer
In sickness and in health

This has been said these words to each other frequently over the past three years and they have been good and strong words to have to say.
Gary has had multiple lives in amongst our life and has touched many people with his charisma and enthusiasm. This has been reflected in the many emails and acknowledgements that came his way when he first came into the hospice. The love that flew in from across oceans. Gary is a connecter and the one thing that will always connect us to him is the love we all share for him and him for us. It doesn’t disappear it just changes form.
Once in the hospice Gary went through to the lounge and watched a movie with Zach and I stayed in our room and drew. It was so quiet and I couldn’t hear them. I knew Gary was there and he was ok but it was quiet. I thought heaven is like this. Gary will just be in another room but I wont be able to contact him or speak to him until it is time . At that time I did only have to wait half an hour.
Jesus said ‘In my Fathers house there are any rooms and I go to prepare one for you’.
Gary was so looking forward to seeing his mum again. He talked of it frequently. One night he woke and said mums here its so good to see her and he didn’t want to wake up because he could feel her presence and he loved it.
I wrote this poem in a response to Sam Hunt and Gary Mc Cormick when they came and spoke at the PBO pub Gary was at home recovering from Chemo and couldn’t make it.

Poem for my Love that's not really a poem
I listen to Sam and Gary and they talk of failed love
I no not of what they talk
I know of spirit and commitment and re commitment
And love that grew and grew
I thought I could not love Gary any more but I did
it felt like a miracle

When Gary first came into hospital in January he was dying. We transferred to the Hospice and the miracle that is time, was granted. At that point I asked him what he wanted to say to himself as he was messaging everyone and he said
‘It was a ball’




‘Kua hinga he totara I te wao nui a Tane’
A totara has fallen in the forest of Tane
Coo-ah   hing-ah   heh   tor-tah-rah   ee   teh   wow   noo-ee   ah   tah-neh  (a short ‘e’ sound)
Hello – my name is Andrew Devlin and I’ve been privileged to call Gary my friend for 33 years and I have the almost impossible task of celebrating Gary’s life through the experiences and stories of his friends.

And that was the ‘thing’ with Gary, he had an enormous number of people that he called friend.  He took the time to know those that he met though his work, family, church, travels and interests.  He always found common ground with people, and invariably an acquaintance, over time grew into a friendship.

So I’ll tell a few of my favourite stories and recollections and I’m sure that will spark a memory or two with you.

First and foremost Gary loved his life and he treasured the time he had with his family and friends.  He was the person that made things happen. 

He always threw himself into whatever he was doing at the time and invariably those who were around him got caught up and went along for the ride. 

I’m sure that we’ve all heard Gary say those famous words “ I’ve got a cunning wee plan “.  His eyes would light up and he’d break into that smile that just meant trouble.  It’s around that point that we should have learnt to invent a prior appointment or duck off to the toilet … but we never did and for the most part it was great !

Which leads to the first of my points : Gary was focused on creating new memories.  Him and I chatted a lot about this and he was adamant that we should respect the past as that made us who and what we are today – but change is good and we should seek out the next opportunity to connect with friends and family

So out of this we have memories of late nights at World Cup, trips through Central Otago over the summer breaks or for a ski trip, the ACDC concert was a classic that I still smile about.  There were golf trips, cricket tests, but not too many operas, or plays or ballet performances.  I wasn’t involved in any of his business trips but I’d often get a call in the middle of the night to say that he was just teeing off on a golf course in South Africa, or he was in a bar in New Orleans and wanted me to talk to the lead singer.  And there are many many more that you’ll remember.  The point is that these events didn’t just happen – Gary typically was the instigator and threw the possibility out there for us all to take up and we’re all typically the richer for it.  There are some very notable exceptions however !!

As an aside, how often do you go through your photos and there in the corner, or more likely smack bang in the middle is Gary.  He was the original photo bomber, way before the term became popular – back then it was him just being annoying !

So don’t get me wrong – Gary wasn’t entirely perfect; which brings me to another favourite word: mischievous.  Look, we all loved his mischievous ways however I guess that us boys liked them more than the girlfriends, wives and mothers. 

From my perspective this characteristic often came out in the late night games that invariably turned a wee bit rough house, the summer afternoons in the sun with a beer where we lazed around and concocted schemes and events and the competitive edge that showed in anything from a simple game of ping pong to something much more elaborate like the names of famous left handed All Black front rowers with a surname beginning with S.  Actually thinking about it, he often used to inject a few extra rules in to a game of ping pong just to spice it up a tad!

It’s my recollection that Gary invariably created all the rules; that they changed regularly and that there was absolutely no right of come back – the judge’s decision was final; and yes, Gary was always the judge. 

Gary connected people.  He created the opportunities and loved wandering off and getting others involved with his latest idea, plan or game.  I’m sure that sometimes he did it just to see what would happen, however more often than not it was because he saw the prospect of something good happening.  I have met so many people through my friendship with Gary as I’m sure that you have also.  Many of them are here today which is a testament to how well respected Gary is but also how something a simple and easy as an introduction can have such a dramatic impact. 

Years ago Gary and I were talking about our careers and he came out with a classic line that I continue to refer back to.  He was talking about business at the time, but to me it goes broader than that. 

He said that it’s a game and the trick is to enjoy it,   to understand the rules and to make them work for you.      He was fiercely competitive; he loved the game no matter what it was. 

I believe that he approached his illness in the same ferocious intent, his attitude was inspiring. While there were an incredible number of challenges and hardships he did find the things to enjoy – true quality time with Kat and his family, closer connections to his faith and community and chances to share his experience and knowledge. 

Which is a nice little segway into: Gary was also a teacher and an innovator.  One of the first things he ever taught me was the importance of knowing my 5 and 7 times tables and finer aspects of the International Drinking Game Rules.  He also taught me a little known rule that states that no matter what the game, or the penalty or the circumstances Catholics always drink twice.  I bet that comes as a wee surprise to many, myself included however Gary was adamant and of course he was the judge !  

We’ve all also had the gift of Gary’s experience and guidance – I know that I certainly have, especially over the last year or so when my personal circumstances changed.  He basically said that it should have …. happened years ago – although he used much more colourful language than that, and then set about connecting me with people and programmes to get me sorted.  The real gift was that he believed in me, and that meant more than I can express.  

Gary’s blog has been an incredible way for him to let us share his journey with cancer and to provide insights and encouragement to others who are also battling with the disease.  I very much doubt if there is anyone here that hasn’t reread the blog in its entirety over the last 3 months.  It is truly inspiring and the comments say it all – he has helped and he has connected and he has made us all think a little differently about who we are and how we live our lives.  Life is precious and Gary made that real for all of us. 

In January when he was rushed to Dunedin hospital and he was only given 72 hours to live I was lucky enough to be there with him alone for a few minutes and had the chance to say my goodbyes and tell him how much he meant to me.  He was struggling for breath but he squeezed my hand, looked at me and said, “Thanks Andy, you’re a good mate ----- I’ll make sure I let you know if you Catholics have got it right” !

I’ll leave the final words to Gary as is only fitting however before I do I just want to say
 ‘Tai, on behalf of all those here and elsewhere that call you a friend; thankyou for being you.  We’ve all loved the ride, we have all be shaped in one way or another by the way you lived your life and we will all take a little something of you with us as we go forward.

So Gary wrote the following on his blog and its one of his gifts to us

Life is a terminal condition and you are likely to have multiple serious health issues in your lifetime. Here is a list of things you should do beforehand:
1.                   Seize the Day (Carpe Diem) – Your hospital check-in maybe tomorrow, so do it today. Make a bucket list of priorities and things that are important in your life and focus on them now.
2.                   Choose Wellness – Buy yourself some time; most health issues are avoidable or can be postponed. See earlier posts on Hauora Wellness and Cancer is a preventable disease. Whether it’s driving your car too fast, smoking, bad diet, poor exercise, etc.; make a decision: choose wellness and extend your quality of life.
3.                   Find your Faith and Identity – If you rely on things, activities, wealth, status or image to define who you are, you will be doing it hard on the home straight or if you no longer have these things. Seek and explore your faith, beliefs and values and complete this question: I am...?  Then reassess your priorities in action 1 above.
4.                   Enjoy the Small Things (Joie de Vivre) – Develop ebullience for life and stop to smell the roses.
5.                   Become Financially Secure – For most, with sickness, this means crisis or income protection insurance. The last thing you want to do if you are sick is stress about money. Blokes if your identity (3 above) is all about providing for the family, how do you think you will feel when you can't? Remember to insure all family members for additional health costs and time off work to support a non income generating member.
6.                   Get a Partner - and invest in a relationship that believes in "for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health". Remember it’s reciprocal.
7.                   Be the Best that YOU can Be – Fully extend and develop your capabilities and be replete in your achievements.
Live life now – If every second day is a bad day, you are halving your ‘life’ expectancy.   Be brave make changes that improve your quality of life, be careful when changing external factors because maybe the thing that needs to be changed most is YOU.

‘Noreira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa’ 
Therefore, greetings to you, greetings to you, greetings to us all
Nor   ray-rah,   teh-nah   coe-toe,  teh-nah   coe-toe,  teh-nah   tah-toe   kah-tour-ah  (silent ‘r’)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gary's Funeral

I have been trying to do this on my blog, but I think i am out of space for something this big. It seems fitting that it works here. Gary's brother David in Canada and Calvin from Koorb Consulting made this possible
I will get the speech's as requested and post when I am able. KAT

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Kats blog

Kat has been a lot more active with blogging updates than I, so make sure you check her site at:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Home Sweet Home

After a number of weeks in hospice we've decided to check out and move home. Medically things have been stable for a few weeks and I've come to terms with oxygen concentrator and bottles and the associated issues and risks. I felt very safe at the Otago Community Hospice, the team there are fantastic and I've received amazing care. We've been able to simplify and reduce medications and they are now practical and easier to manage at home. For me the Hospice been an amazing place of healing.

So far we've been at home over sunny Easter and it's been fantastic. It's just great being in our home environment, with privacy and space. We've had all the kids out for various meals which has been just the best!!!! I've also managed to get through my first book and just loved being able to read again which I've only been able to do since a blood transfusion a couple of weeks back.

So another milestone reached, although this one an unexpected one.

Life is good and just appreciating the day by day enjoyment it brings.

Attached pic: favourite book reading deck. We have various seating arrangements on deck and I navigate myself up and down depending on sun and heat.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cruising On

I haven't posted for ages, so I thought I would give all an update.

Generally thing are very quiet here, we have a lovely comfortable environment at the hospice which we call our new home. Kat, Zach and I are living here, with the girls and other whanau regularly visiting.

My body continues to show resistance and fights on. Intermittently my pain meds have been increased and occasionally other medical intervention has been required, but of late it's been very stable. I continue to be very comfortable and pain free.

I had a blood transfusion last week as my bloods were a mess, this has helped hugely with energy levels and my ability to concentrate. I just started reading books again which is very exciting.

Two good mates (Dev and Calvin) with assistance from NZ Cricket arranged a couple of great hours at the test cricket NZ vs England. We were lavished with VIP treatment in the long room. The company and experience was far more interesting than the game.

Last weekend one of our girls (Ari) was modelling at the Fashion ID event and the hospice arranged crew passes which enabled Kat and I to go along. It was great dressing up and a buzz seeing Ari up on the cat walk. She did so well.

Outings are always a bit of a mission with wheel chair and oxygen bottle, but they are great to do and a sense of achievement afterwards. We are doing these regularly, home visits, garden walks, coffee at The Fix - always good.

Pic below is family pic at hospice.