Rongolians Reunite to Remember Jamie Tillett

Off the Top of my Head

By Paul Murray

A small gathering of friends assembled at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand to remember our friend Jamie Tillett, who died tragically earlier this month in Dunedin.

There was nothing in the media about Jamie’s passing, so this document will hopefully serve as a memorial to him and help to gain the closure those who new him seek and alleviate the confusion we all feel over his demise.

Jamie’s family came out to New Zealand and held a funeral service for their son. Jamie’s father Stephan said his son, “was cremated at a breathtakingly beautiful spot overlooking Tomahawk Bay, Dunedin.” It must have been a very sad, confusing and frustrating time for them. They had planned to visit Karamea and come to Rongo as well, but found the whole experience so terribly difficult that they decided to return to Scotland and spread their son’s ashes there. I hope they can visit someday and see the memorial we have erected for Jamie.

(Photo of completed headstone)

Jamie arrived as a guest and enjoyed staying at Rongo so much, he eventually joined the team and worked as a volunteer at the hostel and on the LivingInPeace Project and helped on the permaculture farm, which he liked very much…especially working with the animals.

WED_5286

Jamie Tillett: 1983 – 2015

He was a gentle soul with a original, but genuinely funny sense of humour. He had a kind word for everyone and made many friends quickly. Some of the people he met at Rongo were able to come back for the informal memorial service we held to remember him.

Pete Dickinson returned from ski fields at Mt Cheesman where he is now working. Pete met Jamie on his travels around New Zealand and they became good mates…they had plans to travel to Thailand together from New Zealand. While they were working at Rongo in June, 2015, they did a radio show together on Karamea Radio 107.5 FM, a community radio station that broadcasts from the hostel.

Pete and Jamie (aka DJs Kaos and Orda) played their favourite tunes, discussed life in Karamea, the LivingInPeace Project and many other topics…Jamie’s unusual sense of humour is recorded here and we played the show and had a good laugh while we sat in his favourite spot “Runga Lodge” at the back of the radio station, while we talked about Jamie and our memories of him. We are making a memorial headstone for Jamie that will rest in place for him in a warm sunny spot where he often enjoyed sitting.

Hear the Show Here:

WED_6714

Pete Dickinson

WED_6759

Front to Back: Adeline, Tristan, Brian, Aymeric, Pete, Paul and Ben with Jamie Tillett at Runga Lodge.

Jamie loved to play the guitar and, while at Rongo, he wrote a song about the place and recorded it with his French friends Adeline Thiery and Aymeric Bizard.

Rongo manager Tristan Lockerbie worked with Jamie a lot while he was in Karamea and they had many good conversations over morning coffee and while working together on Tristan’s many projects.

WED_6775

Tristan Lockerbie remembers Jamie Tillett at Runga Lodge at the back of Rongo Backpackers & Gallery.

WED_6761

(Left to Right) Paul, Brian, Ben, Pete, Aymeric, Tristan, Adeline at Runga Lodge with Jamie Tillett (photograph on cactus)

WED_6763

WED_6762

Benedikt (Ben) Mueller worked with Jamie at the Drifting Sands Backpackers in Hokitika and came to Rongo on his recommendation. Ben was working at Rongo when he heard news of Jamie’s death. He was pleased to be able to talk about Jamie with others who knew him.

WED_6755

Benedikt (Ben) Mueller

LivingInPeace Project General Manager Brian “Big Man” Thomson worked with Jamie everyday for about six weeks.

Big Man

Brian “Big Man” Thomson

Jamie loved pot-luck dinners, so we decided to have a special one in his memory…Pete, Adeline and Aymeric arrived and cooked up a mighty feast…the food was good, the conversation…a little emotional, but we managed to keep positive as the crew reminisced about their absent friend.

WED_6657

WED_6670 WED_6671 WED_6674

WED_6690

L-R: Ben, Brian. Mitsuyo, Diva and Adeline

WED_6658

L-R: Winston, Sanae and Siggi

WED_6685

Jamie Tillett Memorial Dinner at Rongo Backpackers & Gallery July 29, 2015.

WED_6753 Our thoughts are with Jamie’s parents, his sister Rebecca, other friends and family and all who knew and loved him. While we’ll likely never understand how or why Jamie’s life ended, we’ll always remember how he touched our lives while he lived.

Rest in Peace Jamie. 

IMG_0710

Three of Jamie’s original songs:

Back in the Day by Jamie Tillett:  

Conceited and Wise by Jamie Tillett:


WED_6716 WED_6718 WED_6720 WED_6731 WED_6736 WED_6745 WED_6746 WED_6748 WED_6749

Lord Have Mercy by Jamie Tillett: 

DSC00455 DSC00453

Jamie by Adeline

DSC00438

Jamie and French friend Aymeric Bizard

DSC00440 DSC00439 DSC00401 DSC00392 DSC00377 DSC00296 DSC00287 DSC00078 DSC00063 DSC00061 DSC00038

DSC09841

Jamie and French friend Adeline Thiery

DSC09971 DSC09942 DSC09932 DSC09926 DSC09925 DSC09840 DSC09834 DSC09824 DSC09823 DSC09804 DSC09803 DSC09802 DSC09801 DSC09800 DSC09791 DSC09790 DSC09786 DSC09785 DSC09782 DSC09781 DSC09780 DSC09779 DSC09778 DSC09774 DSC09751 DSC09740 DSC09714 DSC09712 DSC09707 DSC09703 DSC09702 DSC09701

image040 image054 image058 image059 image060

DSC09682 DSC09673 DSC09665 DSC09654 DSC09652 DSC09642

11224465_10153055226761243_6941393489841215001_n 11693239_10153861040344769_271951111_n 11717181_923927797671808_961792917_n 11720035_923927807671807_1217114375_n

11746725_10153023163828652_541453814_o

11721733_10153023162788652_1042102463_n 11725565_10153023163043652_926658396_o 11733998_10153023162683652_1579093778_o 11749514_923927804338474_1484959101_n 11750688_10153055221731243_351432137145422831_n

DSC09605 DSC09597 DSC09596 DSC09595 DSC09590 DSC09586 DSC09578 DSC09577 DSC09576

DSC00593 DSC00589 DSC00587 DSC00585 DSC00553 DSC00531 DSC00530

DSC09575 DSC09559 DSC09514 DSC09507 DSC09506 DSC09504 DSC09503 DSC09502 DSC09473 DSC09461 DSC09454 DSC09437 DSC00649 DSC00648 DSC00643 DSC00639 DSC00638 DSC00512 DSC00510 DSC00499 DSC00498 DSC00496 DSC00488 11219397_492418910911159_5429594107975201368_n

Photographs by Jamie’s many friends in New Zealand. 

About LivinginPeaceProject

Paul Murray is the founder of the LivinginPeace Project. www.livinginpeace.com Paul originally from Australia, but have been living in New Zealand for 14 years. Before that he was in Japan for a decade working as a journalist. He met his wife Sanae in Japan and they married in 2008.
This entry was posted in 107.5 FM, Heaphy Track, Jamie Tillett, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, Karamea Radio, Karamea Radio 107.5 FM, LivinginPeace Project, Music, New Zealand, Obituary, Oparara, Oparara Basin, Paul Murray, Peace, Permaculture, Photography, Radio Karamea, Radio Shows, Rongo, Rongo Backpackers & Gallery, Social Commentary, South Island, Travel, West Coast and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Rongolians Reunite to Remember Jamie Tillett

  1. coastingnz says:

    That is a most beautiful tribute and I’m sure Jamie’s family will appreciate it and give them some wonderful memories to keep of his time in NZ. Unfortunately we never know what drives our friends/family to this drastic measure – all we can do is remember the good times we had with them and be there for the family during this incredibly hard time.

  2. Thank you for your kind words Jan.

  3. hello, i met jamie back in the day in melbourne, i shot the vids of him singing playing and guitar as well, he was a dear friend at that time, unfortunatley we lost touch and im just devestated to read this now, what happend to him. please answer.

  4. Liza says:

    Thank you a lot for this memorial…. I wish he is in heaven..

  5. Luke says:

    I’ve just found out about this, I just don’t know what to say. I knew Jamie back in Scotland, we were good friends – he was a complicated and fascinating guy, just addicted to life with such boundless energy and was all give. I last heard from him in June and can’t help thinking if I’d replied sooner and kept better contact this might not have happened, I had no idea he wasn’t feeling on top of the world, he seemed to be living the dream in NZ, he had plans. Maybe he thought it couldn’t get any better. I’m really going to be wondering for a long time. I hope at least he found what he was looking for in Rongo, but it feels like a smaller world without him in it, and that’s the truth.

    • Hi Luke, Thanks for your message. Jamie’s passing is a mystery to us all and we share your sentiments completely. I can confirm many happy times when he was staying with us, much laughter and good memories…let’s remember him for those times.

  6. It feels surreal to read this as Jamie was a good friend back when we studied together at college in Elgin. We had some great times together. He was a talented guitar player and very funny: always up for a laugh and a good time. May your soul rest in peace good friend x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s