Gordon Ogilvie 1934 – 2017

Cover of Place names of Banks Peninsula and the port hillsCanterbury and New Zealand lost a well-known and much-loved son with the recent death of notable historian Gordon Ogilvie. Author, biographer, teacher and one of nature’s gentlemen, he was a man who wore his learning lightly. The deep knowledge of our part of New Zealand displayed in his books helped many of us with our school projects, settled arguments over the origins of place names and provided hours of browsing pleasure.

Ogilvie’s last book, Place Names of Banks Peninsula and the Port Hills, was launched in August when he was very ill but able to be present as family and friends gathered to pay tribute to his life-long dedication to telling the stories of the land we look at and walk on every day.

The room was full of love and respect for a man who said “My life’s ambition has been to write on the hills and peninsula because I love them so much and wanted to share the love and knowledge with others. I’ve done that now and hope readers take what I took from it – the excitement of discovery.”

This ambition was well and truly realised. Ogilvie’s works The Riddle of Richard Pearse, and Denis Glover: His Life, were Book of the Year finalists and The Port Hills of Christchurch, and Banks Peninsula: Cradle of Canterbury won the JM Sherrard Award for New Zealand Regional History. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Canterbury and received the New Zealand Order of Merit for his service to historical research and writing.

The books and the awards are achievements enough but there was so much more to Gordon Ogilvie’s career. His research skills and historical knowledge, his energy and boundless enthusiasm and above all his great writing connect us with the people who were here before us.

By reading the books by the boy from the Horotane Valley who loved to walk the land of Banks Peninsula, Lyttelton Harbour and the Port Hills we can remember and honour his work and his legacy and feel the ‘excitement of discovery’ for ourselves.

Further reading

Recent necrology, May 2014

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Cover of I Know Why The Caged Bird SingsMaya Angelou, 1928-2014
    American poet, novelist and civil rights activist
  • Jack Brabham, 1926-2014
    Driver with an engineering flair who was the first man to win the Formula 1 title in a car of his own making
  • Lorraine Cohen, 1943-2014
    Woman at the centre of an infamous international drug case
  • Don Donovan, 1933-2014
    New Zealand writer and illustrator
  • Radu Florescu, 1925-2014
    Romanian historian who claimed Bram Stoker based Count Dracula on real-life Vlad the Impaler
  • Cover of A Daughter's TaleH. R. Giger, 1940-2014
    Swiss artist who brought his hellish, eroticised creatures to Hollywood, winning an Oscar for Alien
  • Antony Hopkins, 1921-2014
    Composer and conductor whose infectious enthusiasm animated his BBC broadcasts for four decades
  • Robert Masters, 1917-2014
    Violinist who played at the Coronation, taught Nigel Kennedy and created Yehudi Menuhin’s orchestra
  • Barbara Murray, 1929-2014
    Actress from the Rank Charm School who starred in Passport to Pimlico
  • Mary Soames, 1922-2014
    Last of Churchill’s children, who acted as ADC to her father and wrote an acclaimed life of her mother
  • Cover of Mary Stewart's Merlin TrilogyMary Stewart, 1916-2014
    Author of romantic thrillers who wrote for love not money, and had an intuitive feel for the past
  • Philip Sugden, 1947-2014.
    Historian who brought a new, much-needed scholastic rigour to Jack the Ripper’s crimes
  • Joe Wilder, 1922-2014
    Trumpeter noted for the beauty of his tone who played with Count Basie and the New York Philharmonic

Recent necrology, October 2013

A list of well-known people who have died recently:

  • cover of Anthony Caro a life in sculptureAnthony Caro, 1924-2013
    Britain’s greatest sculptor who assumed the mantle of Henry Moore
  • Patrice Chereau, 1944-2013
    Film director and enfant terrible of the French theatre who staged a controversial production of Wagner’s Ring
  • Tom Clancy, 1947-2013
    American author and inventor of the techno-thriller who predicted 9/11
  • Nigel Davenport, 1928-2013
    Versatile actor whose magnetic gaze marked many memorable roles for stage, film and television
  • John Hopkins, 1927-2013
    British-born conductor who devoted 50 years of his career to music in Australia and New Zealand
  • Christopher Koch, 1932-2013
    Australian author best known for his 1978 novel, The year of living dangerously
  • Trevor Lummis, 1930-2013
    Social historian who drew on word of mouth to illuminate accounts of the past
  • Frederik Pohl, 1919-2013
    Publisher who launched Isaac Asimov’s career and then became a highly respected sci-fi writer himself
  • Mark Brandon Read, 1954-2013
    Notorious Melbourne criminal and author
  • Lou Reed, 1942-2013
    Rock and roll star with the Velvet Underground who influenced a generation of musicians