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Roger was a true king of the mountain

Flagstaff Team

At his second home… Roger Giles in typical pose at The Bunker on Takarunga Painting by David Kayrouz

Roger Giles, the founding father of The Bunker folk-music venue and unofficial caretaker of Takarunga has died, aged 80. 

Born in England, Giles grew up in a Berk- shire pub run by his father, the scene of his first encounters with live music. 

Brought up in a small, country village, he was always keen on the outdoors. And in the early 60s, when working as a shepherd, he met famous Kiwi sheerer Godfrey Bowen, who was touring Europe. They talked about New Zealand and shearing, prompting Giles to travel around the world to experience it. 

Once here, he quickly warmed to the Kiwi shearers’ lifestyle “drinking and doing all the things the shearers did in those days,” he told the Flagstaff in a 2001 interview. 

Moving to Devonport in 1966, he worked on Auckland’s waterfront, in later years for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries as an inspector. 

The Bunker, which had been disused since World War 11, was cleaned out by Giles and his friends in 1970, and has been home of the Devonport Folk Music Club since. 

Members meet on Monday nights. Inter- national folk musicians have performed at The Bunker, either at arranged gigs or just jamming with members. 

For years, Giles and partner Hilary Wors- fold ran the show, with Giles starting every club night with solo song, usually traditional English folk. 

For 50 years, Giles was also the unofficial caretaker of Takarunga, walking around the mountain with a rubbish bag in hand and with his dog at his side. He also spent hours hand-weeding the maunga. 

In the early 1970s, he was closely in- volved in the Devonport Borough Council decision to remove cattle from the mountain. 

When the management of Auckland’s volcanic cones transferred to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority, it was a rocky few years for traditional users, with leases needed and volunteers’ traditional rights questioned. 

Giles successfully negotiated a $1 a year rental for the Devonport Folk Club, and car access for members on the now pedestrian- only mountain. The Bunker (after a brief closure to comply with fire regulations) has remained open. 

Giles was recognised with a North Shore City Council award for services to the com- munity in 2010. 

In recent years, he was also instrumental in establishing the Auckland Folk Festival held at Kumeu, and Folk in the Park, an annual event at Windsor Reserve. 

Giles died peacefully at North Shore Hos- pice on 14 March, after a battle with cancer. He did not want a funeral. However, fam- ily and friends are planning a celebration of his life at a later date. The Flagstaff will 

provide details when available.
• Do you have any memories and/or 

photos of Roger Giles? Please email them to news@devonportflagststaff.co.nz for our next issue. 

This article originally appeared in the 27 March 2020 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff.