New Zealand’s oldest man, Ron Harmans, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) combat veteran who was still living freely in his home in Christchurch, has died. He died on Monday, just three weeks after his 110th birthday.
Hermannus caught the attention of the media in 2010 when, at the age of 98, he was finally awarded the Military Service Medal by the then Deputy Chief of the Air Force, Air Commodore Gavin House, at a service at the New Zealand Air Force Museum in Christchurch. Presented by
At the same time, he donated the museum’s collection to his extraordinary collection ‘Trench Art’ – handicrafts and memorabilia made during his active service in the Pacific islands during World War II.
In 2019, he made headlines again when he celebrated his 108th birthday at the Air Force Museum, with a reception attended by dignitaries and fellow veterans.
Born in Canada on September 25, 1911, Hermanns moved with his family to New Zealand in 1914, settling in Wellington.
He joined the New Zealand Territorial Air Force as an aircraft in 1937, moving to full-time RNZAF service in 1939 when the war broke out.
Initially stationed in New Zealand, Hermanns posted two overseas positions in the Pacific, first to Esprito Santo in New Hybrids (now Vanuatu) in 1943, where he spent 12 months serving RNZAF’s Kitty Hawk fighter jets. This was followed by a second visit to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in 1945, when he spent another five months retaining the Lockheed Ventura bombers.
During both visits, he used his free time to make decorative items, using scrap materials such as prospectus and metal, or natural products such as coconut shell. Some of its extensive collections can be seen on permanent display at the Air Force Museum.
After the war, Hermanns served NAC / Air New Zealand for many years as an aircraft engineer.
He never married and had no children, and despite being legally blind and deaf, still lived in his home on the outskirts of Crime Church, which was visited by a dedicated team of neighbors and caregivers. Supported.
Towards the end, Herman, a businessman, spent most of his time in his workshop or garden, using his tools ‘consciously’ and even building fences and cutting down trees.
Fellow RNZAF Pacific War veteran Bill Mitchell, who also lives in Christchurch and attended Herman’s 108th birthday party, is now New Zealand’s oldest man.