There would barely be a man alive who wouldn’t wish to exit this life on the same terms as 88-year-old Mervyn ‘Merv’ Addison.
Almost to the day he died, he was driving, living in his own home and enjoying ‘bird-nesting’ and ‘sleepovers’ with a special person, aided presumably by the only medication he took despite his advanced years – the occasional Viagra.
That nugget of information raised a warm chuckle at Saturday’s memorial, held for Merv at a place dear to his heart, the Te Awamutu Sports Club. Most there were well acquainted with his easy nature and ready humour, his devotion to family, friends and the wider community.
Merv’s sudden passing in December leaves a chasm in Waipā and Waikato’s farming and sporting historical record. He was known and respected across both spheres, enjoying success in farming, stock management and farm machinery sales. He was a lifelong supporter of many community clubs and organisations, and the masterful negotiator behind the founding of the Te Awamutu Rugby Sports and Recreation Club.
Perhaps less well known was his foray into land development, and his penchant for fortune telling.
“Merv loved talking to fortune tellers,” said nephew Peter Addison. “He’d visit them, then do exactly what they said was going to happen. I tried it years later… never worked for me.”
Merv was born in Te Kuiti and educated at Ōtorohanga District High. His pioneering father won a 150-acre ballot farm in the 1930s; he and his wife were a hard-working couple who before their home was built lived in a separated room in the cowshed when Merv, their middle child, arrived.
His dad went on to become one of Waikato’s biggest stock dealers, and a lifelong interest in horses regularly took father and son to the Cambridge horse sales. Merv would ride home with a string of unbroken horses, then sell them on a week later as broken-in ponies. He would also ride his father’s racehorses to and from race meetings he entered.
Some of the family later moved to a peat farm outside Te Awamutu. Merv met and married his wife Carol while there, but later settled on Carol’s father’s farm in Kihikihi where the couple raised their three boys – Colin, Noel and Graeme – and where Merv remained until his death. When he handed on the hard yards of farming, he excelled again, this time selling tractors.
Son Graeme remembers Merv as a supportive parent throughout. “He was a really good father. There was always lots of fun. He loved working in the community – right across Waipā, but particularly in Kihikihi and Te Awamutu. He was involved with the local rodeo, loved rugby with a passion. Even after our parents split up, I would come and spend time with him whenever I could. Dad also supported my country music, pestering me to sing at different clubs.”
Te Awamutu Sports Club patron Lou Brown said Merv had been central to the establishment of the club in the late 1980s and had become its first president.
“It was his skills that negotiated that successfully … from that we have seen tremendous growth.”
“He was a tremendous guy … my uncle, my mate, my mentor,” said Peter. “I will miss him terribly but am really grateful he was able to leave on his own terms.”