Community farewells top historian

Friends and family of Tauranga’s Jinty Rorke packed Holy Trinity Church on Devonport Road today to farewell the well-known historian who died unexpectedly last week.

Jean Euphemia Finlayson Rorke, known widely as Jinty, passed away suddenly overnight on Waitangi Day following a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

A funeral for well-known Tauranga historian Jinty Rorke was at Holy Trinity Church today. Photos: Bruce Barnard.

About 200 of the 71-year-old’s friends and family attended today’s funeral where she was remembered as a remarkable ‘history-loving’ and ‘helpful’ wife, mother, grandmother and friend.

At the funeral, her husband Dr David Rorke shared stories of their lives together and bid farewell to his beloved wife.

“I feel split in half. I don’t know how I can live without your humour, laughter and tender care. You will be surely missed.”

Jinty and husband David first arrived in Pilot Bay on a sailing boat in 1976. For 27 years Jinty preserved the region’s heritage as the city library’s New Zealand archivist.

She soon built up a reputation as a top Tauranga historian, helping to research a book on the area’s history for the Tauranga Borough centenary.

Her accolades include a Queen’s Service Medal in 2007 – an honour she described as a “great recognition for history”.

For the last 20 years she had been involved with The Elms Mission House. Jinty was also a long-time member of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, Elms Trust and a Tauranga Moana Museum Trust member.

At the funeral, Jinty’s daughter Kirsty’s tribute remembered Jinty as “a courageous and intelligent woman full of knowledge and determination, but also warmth and generosity.

“Mum greatly valued the pursuit of knowledge…history, particularly social and cultural history, always fascinated mum.”

Jinty’s late daughter Cathy’s husband and comedian Ewen Gilmour expressed his gratitude towards her and David for supporting him when Cathy passed.

“Cathy and Jinty were not just mother and daughter – they had a really genuine makeshift. I’d like to think that you girls are together now. We will always miss you.”

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby attended the funeral and spoke to SunLive before the service.

He says he will be speaking with council and Jinty’s family about an appropriate way for the city to honour and remember the historian.

“Obviously Jinty played a really important role in researching and preserving Tauranga’s history for a very long time and very efficiently set up what we now call our NZ Room.

“Her tributes are actually in her writings. That’s going to be one of her legacies.”

Jinty was farewelled from the church by piper Andrew Graham and a guard of honour was performed by her Thai-chi group – a group she attended twice weekly.

Her family invited friends moved onto light refreshments at The Elms after the service where they continued to share memories of Jinty.

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