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Tributes for a Greytown legend

Long-time Greytown community member Richard Harding died on Friday. He was 101 years old.

The news of Harding’s passing will bring great sadness to many who knew the beloved and celebrated figure in Greytown.

Harding served as mayor of the township in the 1980s, when it was still a borough, and lived in the community for over 50 years.

He had a career in the New Zealand Navy, and narrowly avoided being sent to the HMS Neptune along with many classmates who died in the ship’s historic 1941 sinking in a Mediterranean minefield.

Instead, Harding spent his career serving on British ships, completing four years of WWII service and rising through the ranks before retiring as a naval commander.

Harding told Wairarapa Local Focus in an interview to mark his 100th birthday that his experience of war was “relatively peaceful”.

“Veterans from Cambodia and Vietnam, they really did have a real war and more so than I did.”

After serving as mayor in Greytown, he bought and managed an orchard before calling it a day.

“I packed in the orchard and just retired, and I’ve managed to struggle along ever since,” he said with a chuckle.

Harding met his wife Gabrielle in England, and they were married for 72 years before Gabrielle passed away some years ago, also in Greytown.

Harding leaves behind one surviving child, seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

A service to celebrate Harding’s life will be held in the Richmond Chapel, 10 Richmond Road, Carterton at 1.30pm on Friday.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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