James M. Finnerty

James Magnus Finnerty, longtime Island resident, died on August 27, 2017, in his adopted country of New Zealand. He was born in Springfield, son of Dr. James Joseph Finnerty of New York and Anna Lowell Putnam of Springfield.

He was educated at St. David’s School, Portsmouth Priory, Harvard College, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. After college he returned to the Vineyard, where he honed his skills as a carpenter and boatbuilder. He enjoyed the simple pleasures of gardening, fishing, creating art, playing guitar, and chess with friends.

Above all, Jamie enjoyed surfing. This passion eventually led him across the Pacific to Hawaii, on to the Cook Islands and then finally to New Zealand, where he settled in a beautiful spot on the North Island near the Bay of Islands, which is remarkably like a small New England village.

It was there he met his love, Chikako, whom he married; together they made a farm in the hills of Hikurangi. They grew their own vegetables and harvested fruits and nuts from their orchard. Neighbors grazed sheep and cattle on their land, and supplied Jamie and Chikako with meat. A beekeeper friend kept his hives under their manuka trees, and provided them with all the honey they could consume. Nearby beaches were sources of fresh seafood and surf. Their life was simple, honest, creative, and off the grid.

Jamie is survived by his wife Chikako, his mother Anna Lowell, his brother Charlie and wife Cherie and sister Lowely and her partner John, nephew Noel, and nieces Tanita and Annie, as well as many other family members and friends both here and in New Zealand.

We’ll miss you, Jamie. Hope you are finally riding that perfect wave!

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