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The legacy of hurricane Tim

The legacy of hurricane Tim

Opinion Duncan Humm, NZ Farming

On a beautiful day at the end of October, a great many people gathered at Wanaka Airport and via livestream to celebrate the extraordinary life of Sir Tim Wallis.

Despite some serious accidents over his lifetime that should and could have taken him much sooner and many more close calls along the way, his attitude and tenacity to fit as much into his life as possible despite the odds got him to the age of 85.

I was watching an old documentary on Tim, one of his Nurses asked him how much longer he was going to be heading into his office at their Wanaka Hangar, to which he exclaimed ‘twenty years!’ She replied, ‘Tim you’ll be 85’ to which he simply said, ‘Why not?’.

That can do attitude was bang on as it turns out with Tim being flown away for the last time from the office in his almost as iconic Hughes 500D ZK-HOT, in his 85th year.

Like many deer farmers at this time of year it’s a busy time so there were many like me who had to come home from the farm to pay our respects to Tim by watching the funeral livestream before heading back out afterwards to carry on with our deer. (If you weren’t aware the service is available online and well worth watching)

I’m one of many who have benefited from the exploits, adventures, ideas and achievements of people like Tim creating a completely new industry off the back of what was a plague of deer in New Zealand decimating our ecosystem.

Utilising hunting ability, the advent of helicopters and all the moving parts to get venison to market, the war was won so well we had to start farming deer to keep up with the demand for what is the best red meat on earth.

I caught my passion for deer farming back when I was at school and I found a book in the library written by Rex Forrester called The Chopper Boys, which really set me alight to know how it came to be that the relatively young deer industry existed.

It was a time in our nations history where it seemed anyone prepared to take some big risks were able to be successful in building their own fortunes while also building a huge legacy and prosperity for the country that we get to enjoy today.

Tim along with the many people and enterprises he was involved with pop up often through the book owing to the scale, how they operated and the technology & innovation they pushed the limits with to hunt deer from helicopters.

Luckily many of the stories to do with the provenance of the deer industry have been well recorded in numerous books and documentaries over the years so those days that will almost certainly never be able to be repeated.

One of the great profound quotes from Tim was when he was featured on Country Calendar and speaking about having limited mobility due to his most serious helicopter crash,

‘Don’t let what you can’t do stop you doing what you can’.

He was certainly living proof of that.

Sir Timothy William Wallis 9/9/1938 – 17/10/2023

by Duncan Humm