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21 Jan 2018 5:52
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  •   Home > News > Living & Travel

    Notable New Zealanders we lost in 2017

    Sporting legends, television personalities and one of the country's richest men are among the notable New Zealanders who passed away in 2017.

    Sporting legends, television personalities and one of the country's richest men are among the notable New Zealanders who passed away in 2017.


    The All Blacks legend died in August after a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. Meads, nicknamed "Pinetree" for his 1.88m frame and physical presence, was a Cambridge-born country boy. He played 133 games, including 55 Tests, for the All Blacks between 1957 and 1971, four as captain. He played lock and was known for his uncompromising style. His down-to-earth Kiwi attitude earned him the admiration and respect of the nation: he is well-known for playing with a broken arm against Eastern Transvaal during the 1970 South Africa tour. He was named New Zealand Player of the Century in 1999 and awarded the New Zealand Companion of Merit in 2001.


    Better known by his comedic alter-ego Fred Dagg, John Clarke died in April. The Kiwi-born actor and comedian became a household name in the late 1970s with his character Fred Dagg that embodied the quintessential rural Kiwi bloke. A disagreement with the Broadcasting Corporation saw Clarke relocate to Australia in 1977 in search of more creative freedom. It was there he refined his signature satirical style of comedy with appearances on "A Current Affair" parodying Australian political figures. He returned home in 1987 to voice Wal the farmer in the Footrot Flats cartoon movie. While better known for his acting and comedic talents, Clarke was also a talented writer, publishing more than 20 books in his time.


    The former Silver Fern was not only a talented shooter but a well-loved television netball commentator. Dalton died from a brain aneurysm in March. During her 11 years with the Silver Ferns, Dalton played 113 games, including 12 Tests and a gold medal for winning the 2003 World Championships. She was also a domestic netball champion, winning three championships with the Southern Sting from 2002 to 2006. The goal shoot/goal attack was known for her bubbly, infectious personality that shone through when she worked as a netball commentator.


    The beer baron died in April following a long battle with cancer. Born into a high-profile family, Sir Doug's' grandfather was mayor of Auckland and he is the third in his family to receive a knighthood. The former long-serving chief executive of Lion Nathan amassed an estimated fortune of $900 million and in 1998 he was the richest man in New Zealand after selling most of his stake in Lion Nathan for $473m. Sir Doug used his fortune to support local sport with Lion Nathan sponsoring the All Blacks and America's Cup team. A champion for the free market reforms of the 1980s, Sir Doug co-founded the Business Roundtable lobby group which he chaired from 1990 to 1997.


    She was the first Maori to be crowned Miss New Zealand and a national swimming champion. She was crowned Miss New Zealand in 1954 when she entered the pageant to help raise money for her swimming club and competed in the 1954 Miss Universe contest in California. Self-described as being a very shy girl, Whaanga said that swimming helped ease her shyness. She was selected for the Empire Games in Vancouver in 1954. Whaanga died in November and her name has been put forward to be inducted into the Maori Sports Awards Hall of Fame.


    The former All Blacks hooker and Mac's Beer founder died suddenly in November. McCashin is credited with pioneering the craft beer movement, founding Mac's brewery in 1981. Competing with the brewing duopoly of Lion Nathan and Dominion Breweries, McCashin etched out a place in the market for his brand. After nearly two decades, Mac's brand was sold to Lion Nathan in 1999 but McCashin's son has since re-opened the brewery to make the Stoke brand of beer. McCashin has been described as a family man, with a big spirit who was determined to make a success of himself.


    The cartoonist and famed creator of Footrot Flats died in March after years of battling with dementia. Ball is best known for his Footrot Flats cartoons that ran in newspapers around the world from 1975 to 1994. His other well-known cartoons included Bruce the Barbarian, All the King's Comrades and Stanley the Palaeolithic Hero. Alongside drawing, Ball's second passion was righting injustice, which was reflected in his work. He became an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2002.


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