Topic: Geoffrey Michael William Hodgkins (1902-1965)

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Michael Hodgkins, nephew of the artist Frances Hodgkins, was a well known figure around Tauranga from the 1940s to the 1960s. The following information is from the Tauranga City Council and Historic Places Trust sign erected on the site entitled 'The Matua Saltmarsh: 150 years of change'. Photograph: Heather McLean.

Looking strange? see an archived version here

Michael was born on in Dunedin on 1 May 1902 to William John Parker and Jane (Jean) Moore Hodgkins (nee Dalgliesh) who married in Invercargill on 12 June 1901.

When the Hodgkins family moved to Tauranga in 1937 Michael lived with his parents, but soon after they died [c1948], he moved into a hut on the south western side of the Matua Saltmarsh between the railway and the sea. Although the hut had neither electricity nor running water, he took with him paintings by his famous aunt.

Unwashed, clad in ragged clothes, with sun-blackened skin, unkempt shoulder-length hair and piercing blue eyes, he tramped great distances accompanied by his faithful Aberdeen terrier, Angus, in search of botanical speciments. Many still form part of scientific collections in museums. He once walkted to the top of the Kaimai ranges to see a flower bud open as the sun rose.

Michael was known as "Spring Heel Jack" because of the strange way he walked. When children teased him, as they often did, he responded by shaking his fist at them, and shouting colourful terms of abuse. This was the side of Hodgkins' character which impressed itself on the young Ian Mune, who became a well known film director, actor and author. It provided the inspiration for his book and television film "The Mad Dog Gang meets Rotten Fred and Rats Guts".

Local teachers took advantage of Michael's deep love of the natural world and his extensive knowledge of plant life by encouraging him to visit their classes so that children could ask him questions. He also wrote for newspapers and made radio broadcasts. Michael died alone in his hut in October 1965. The return of the salt marsh to its natural state would have filled him with delight.

Geoffrey was buried with his mother, Jean Moore Hodgkins in the Tauranga Anglican Cemetery on 5 November 1965, aged 63. Jean was buried on 16 November 1944, aged 74.

Plaque of Geoffrey Michael William Hodgkins (1902-1965)

Memorial plaque at Pyes Pa Cemetery (2017).

This page was archived at Perma cc February 2017

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Geoffrey Michael William Hodgkins (1902-1965)

First Names:Geoffrey Michael William
Last Name:Hodgkins
Date of Birth:1 May 1902
Place of Birth:Dunedin
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:27 October 1965
Place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Place of burial:Tauranga Anglican Cemetery
Fathers name:William John Parker Hodgkins
Fathers date of birth:c1867
Fathers date of death:October 1945
Fathers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand
Mothers name:Jane (Jean) Moore Dalgliesh
Mothers date of birth:c1870
Mothers date of death:November 1944
Mothers place of death:Tauranga, New Zealand