Daily walkers glowed in wind, rain or snow

A familiar sight in  Sunnyvale  was  Ngatikahu McGee walking his two brightly-clad dogs Bemo  ...
A familiar sight in Sunnyvale was Ngatikahu McGee walking his two brightly-clad dogs Bemo (left) and Rosie. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
It was a familiar sight every morning- Nick McGee walking the dogs in their hi-vis coats at Green Island.

When photographer Stephen Jaquiery snapped this photograph, the Taieri Times held on to it for a rainy day.

Several weeks passed.

When the Taieri Times rang to speak to Mr McGee, his wife Gaye answered the phone.

Nick (Ngatikahu) McGee, she explained, had died on May 19. He was 74.

Mr McGee walked his dogs come wind, rain or snow for 12 years.

The long walks took them two and a-half hours through Abbotsford to Blackhead Quarry, along Old Brighton Rd, Fairfield then home - 13km.

All the way, Mr McGee's huntaway Rosie never left his side.

When Rosie developed a bad knee, another dog Bemo - belonging to neighbour Sandra Beckingsale - began tagging along.

They became a trio.

Each morning, Bemo would trot a few doors down the street to join Mr McGee and Rosie on their stroll.

''I had got to know Mr McGee very well over the past couple of years and have been on his walk with him a few times before he fell ill,'' Ms Beckingsale said.

''He was stopped by hundreds of people over the years. He was well known for his daily walks. People even waited for him in the mornings.''

Mr McGee lived with his wife in Green Island for 27 years.

''Every day when he got back from that walk he would tell Gaye who he met,'' Ms Beckingsale said.

One dark morning, a road worker pulled over and gave him a few hi-vis jackets to wear.

''Nick thought if it was good enough for him to wear, it was good enough for his dog. They have always worn them since.

''Over the years, the children from Fairfield school, Fulton Hogan staff and the community got to know Nick, Rosie and Bemo.''

The retired engine driver fell sick with cancer five years ago, and eventually shortened his walk to about 6km.

Now the daily walks fall to Mrs McGee - sometimes with a little help from Ms Beckingsale.

People still stop to ask them where has Mr McGee gone.

Even the bus driver pulled over. And Rosie sticks close by.

''Rosie misses Nick a lot.''


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