Seth Silcock was – as his funeral service heard – a farmer, a family man and a friend to many.
But perhaps one of his greatest accomplishments during a lifetime in the Raglan district was as a tireless volunteer who in 1993 helped plant and set up Wainui Bush Park, the 10-hectare sanctuary hidden away near the turn-off to Ngarunui Beach.
Seth was already in his 70s at the time, says friend Joan Masters who’s recently written a eulogy to him for St Peters Anglican Church magazine, praising the skills and energy he gave so “abundantly”.
The church lectern is a product of his woodwork, says Joan in her tribute, but the bush park “where he spent a great deal of time mowing and planting” is perhaps his greatest legacy.
Seth was 90 when he died recently in Hamilton, where he’d moved only a few years ago to be close to his wife Anna, who was in care at Hilda Ross Retirement Village until her death about 18 months ago.
Old photos show him building tracks and the pond which is a feature of the idyllic bush park, maintained for more than 20 years now by a dedicated group of volunteers – of which Seth was a founding member – known as Friends of Wainui.
Fellow volunteer John Lawson told the Chronicle Seth was always “very enthusiastic” and did lots of work when it came to the bush park. “He liked to see things done properly.”
Friend Enid Sincock also remembers how much he enjoyed the park and “did more work than most”, including looking after machinery used to maintain the property.
A wooden seat dedicated to Seth and Anna, who worked alongside him, is tucked away in a glade a short stroll from the park entrance.
Seth was also a regular Wednesday walker with Raglan Ramblers from its beginning back in 1991 and took on a “quiet leadership” role, Enid recalls, particularly during longer treks like the Heaphy Track and Tongariro Crossing.
Joan tells how Seth was involved in the local community in many other ways too, from fishing and indoor bowls to the Anglican parish he served and as a volunteer on projects like the building of what is now The Raglan House. “He was treasurer of many things.”
She reckons he was so busy that “if you saw him nodding off during the sermon on Sundays, no wonder – he must have been tired”.
Joan says Raglan felt empty the day of Seth’s Seddon Park chapel funeral at which local Anglican ministers Kathleen Gavin and Rhonda Chung officiated. “He was really special, a friend to everybody and that funeral was huge.”
Seth lived almost his whole life in the district, first at Te Uku – where he farmed the family property he’d grown up on in Okete Road – and then in Raglan’s Nihinihi Avenue on retirement.
The youngest of Anna and Seth’s five adopted children, Peter, says the farm was his father’s “man cave” and credits him with passing on the ‘Number 8 wire’ mentality.
“We’ve all got that problem,” he quips, recalling a “pretty full-on” childhood.
Joan adds the devoted couple’s home and garden were always open to visitors and friends, including a number of young men who learnt how to farm from Seth and were welcomed as part of the family. There were vegetables and plants to be given away in abundance, along with tables Seth made using a neighbour’s lathe.
In short, he was a man “loved and respected” by many for his generosity and selflessness.