03 May 2021

Bruce Gavin RIP

It is with much sadness that I announce the passing of Bruce Gavin. Born and bred in Matamata he  spent his working career as a teacher, mostly in Matamata but also for a time in Feilding. He was also involved in the community particularly in community assistance work and at Matamata's Firth Tower Museum. A quiet, unassuming man, he always had a passion for those in need.

Bruce developed his passion for aviation as a boy and particularly developed an interest in New Zealand airline activity. He was a long-time member of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand and over the years wrote many pieces for the various AHSNZ publications. He also wrote Heartland High Flier, the definitive history of Air Central as well as being one of the authors of Taking Off on the small pioneering airlines of New Zealand from 1945 to 1970. He had a vast and unsurpassed knowledge of the New Zealand third level airlines and it was he who was a big influence on me developing my interest in the third level airlines. Over the years we have exchanged many letters, photographs, newspaper cuttings and timetables. Bruce was a big supporter of this blog and my go to person for so much information. I was humbled last year when he gifted me with his photograph and research collection.

Bruce is survived by his wife Patricia, four children and three grandchildren.

Rest in peace good and gentle friend. 


  1. Warwick HamiltonMay 03, 2021 7:13 PM

    Thats sad,he was my Standard 1 teacher at Matamata in 1968.

  2. Very sad news indeed, only met Bruce once and had corresponded with him on several occasions, a very quiet and gentle man. Will be missed by many, including members of the Aviation Historical Society of NZ. Fly Higher now Bruce.

  3. Very sad, my first airplane spotter friend when I started taking aviation photos, maybe 40 years ago. We exchanged many prints in the days before the internet. I am quite sure he started taking photos of North Island Ag aircraft just for me.

  4. The world of aviation history has lost one of its gentle giants. I first met Bruce in the late 1960s and, like many, exchanged prints with him. Courteous, friendly and the essence of humility which belied his vast airline knowledge and enthusiasm to share. He is sadly missed.

  5. Sad news indeed.
    I was in touch with Bruce from time to time, the last email I have from him was in 2014.
    All us old birds are starting to fall off our perches.

    At least it is good to hear that all his records have gone to a secure home.

  6. Bruce will be sadly missed. I thank him immensely for his efforts in creating Heartland High Flyer, the Story of Air Central, an airline I was proud to be part of. His research efforts were superb and valued.