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The Gisborne Photo News




Sitting aboard the sloop "Janine" in the Gisborne harbour basin on an idyllic autumn day, it was easy to imagine why John McFarlane always wanted to sail. He was busy planning a holiday cruising the English canals and following the New Zealand cricket team. However it is not in this capacity that most people know John. His 28 years of teaching at Gisborne Boys' High School have brought him into contact with hundreds of children who have benefitted from his great interest and talent in physical education. Born in Naracoorte, Sth Australia, he represented his college St. Peters (Adelaide) at athletics, cricket and aussie rules. With farming in the family, he began work for Elders, moving through the various departments. In exchange for free board, he worked as a housemaster and was persuaded to take up teaching for a couple of years. Originally he planned to enter Loughborough College in England, but settled for Otago, New Zealand where he received his Diploma in Physed. Deciding to work in NZ before returning to Australia, he applied in 1961 for a position at Gisborne Boys' High and remained there till his retirement in 1988. During this time at Boys' High, John casually suggested to a group of enthusiastic runners pounding the Sponge Bay hills, that they might like to run to Wellington. This led to an annual run for charity with groups of 10-14 boys camping on roadsides as they covered areas throughout the country from Cape Reinga to Bluff. The last 17 runs were for IHC as they suggested using their hostels for accommodation and Ian Mcintosh supplied the truck for equipment. It is little wonder that the highlight of John's life has been the quality of youth in Gisborne. "Every town has its problems but they were,on the whole, a cracker bunch of kids" A basic roast and three vegetable man who prefers to drink lemonade, he is very partial to light classical music. Torvil and Deane ice dancing to "Bolero" at the Olympics holds a special place in his heart and he enjoys watching and following sport on TV, particularly programmes like Pot Black and bowls. Barrymore is a favourite for pure entertainment. John bought his first boat in 1988 but his dream to sail solo round the world evaporated and he sold it. He found "Janine" and tries to get out to sea at least once, maybe twice, a week. He has a desire to "retain his marbles" for as long as possible and to remain active particularly following two recent operations. As Caltex agent for visiting boats, John finds it embarrassing when visitors comment on the state of the harbour and would like to see an end to the packaging which creates such a mess in harbours throughout the world. One cannot help but admire John McFarlane for his amazing memory for names, patience and the the genuine interest he has in all things to do with Poverty Bay. Youth and sport have benefitted from the time and knowledge he has given so generously. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing from here on.