Terry Proctor, the iconic "southern man" of New Zealand advertising, has passed away at the age of 84, leaving behind a legacy that reached far beyond the television screen.
While his Mainland Cheese commercials with Kevin Corcoran made him famous nationwide, it was Proctor's classic Kiwi bloke attitude and charisma that was so evident and likeable that made farmers look like genuine, hard-working people, and more relatable to the average city dweller.
In his hometown of Picton, Proctor was affectionately known as "the cheese man" and was loved for his down-to-earth nature and hardworking spirit. According to his son Charlie, he was a dedicated family man, a fan of a good beer, and someone who always sought to help others.
Proctor's journey into the world of advertising was unexpected. With no prior acting experience, he stumbled into the role by chance. A talent scout noticed his humour and sought a 'quintessential Southern bloke' for the Mainland Cheese ads. Reluctant at first, it was Proctor's wife who encouraged him to give it a try. Showing up in his gumboots, singlet, and glasses tied with a string, Proctor instantly won over the team and the audience.
Although Proctor and Corcoran hadn't met before, their on-screen partnership evolved into a lifelong friendship. Together, they became synonymous with the catchphrase, "Good things take time," a phrase that became deeply ingrained in the hearts of New Zealanders. It was more than just a job for the pair, as they cherished the camaraderie and bonds formed with the creative team behind the ads.
When his co-star Kevin Corcoran passed away in 2012, just 78 years old, Proctor was heartbroken.
Despite being replaced by a grandfather and son in 2010, Proctor and Corocan's influence persisted, especially in the South, where shop owners delighted in capturing photos with Proctor during his visits. Proctor's son, Charlie, even encountered a pub where his father's picture adorned the wall, a testament to the indelible mark Terry Proctor had left on the community.
As his journey has come to an end, Proctor's impact on rural communities and his role in bridging the gap between urban and rural New Zealanders will always be remembered.
Terry Proctor may be gone, but his legacy will continue to resonate throughout the country he loved.