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Honouring ‘Jim’s Bus Stop’ legacy

About 10 years ago Riverdale resident Jim Hongara started beautifying a Lytton Road bus stop and while he passed away earlier this year, the community is ensuring his legacy remains well-tended.

“He didn’t say what he was doing he just did it,” said his wife Emily of her husband’s work on bus stop No 59, otherwise known as Jim’s Bus Stop.

“Before you know it you’ve got to go looking for him and there he is.

“He was just creative, very creative. Now it’s my job to keep it looking nice.”

Mrs Hongara said there had been a lot of feedback from people who said they missed him, and how they loved going past the bus stop, and how they always saw Jim there.

“There have been a lot of people over these last weeks saying what a pleasure it was to walk past his gardens.”

Now the couple’s grandchildren have taken over the garden and maintenance. They have built up the garden beds and put in new flowers.

During Jim’s tangihanga the family were given a $100 voucher for plants to keep the garden going, so they used some of that to build up the garden beds with new flowers.

Mrs Hongara could not remember when her husband started on the bus stop gardens, but the raised rock beds have been there for 10 years.

“He used to pinch the rocks out of my garden too But as for the bus stop seat, I can’t remember when he put that there.”

She thought her husband created the gardens, “So people will sit”.

“People will see his beautiful garden. I think that’s why he created it.

Hospice Tairawhiti supported the Hongara whanau for a short while. Mr and Mrs Hongara have 14 children and 107 great grandchildren and are known among themselves as Te Aowera Ngati Hongara.

Mr Hongara came home from hospital and Hospice Tairawhiti supported his daughter Heni who is a trained nurse to take care of him in the comfort of their own home.

“Hospice were very, very obliging,” she said.

That allowed her father to be cared for and supported by his whanau, in a way that suited them and honoured their last days together.

REMEMBERING: Emily Hongara is keeping up the work of her late husband Jim at “Jim’s Bus Stop” on Lytton Road. Picture by Sarah Kirkpatrick