Photographer's life in focus

NOVEL SUCCESS: Alan Sayers, 98, has his second book out, an autobiography about his photographic journalism days.
NOVEL SUCCESS: Alan Sayers, 98, has his second book out, an autobiography about his photographic journalism days.

It's the second book he's written in his 90s, but retired photojournalist Alan Sayers, 98, isn't letting age stop him as he releases his autobiography, Deadline.

The Arkles Bay resident previously wrote the biography of the late Sir Fred Allen, of Tindalls Bay, the only undefeated All Black coach.

Written with friend and former Rodney Times writer Les Watkins, Fred The Needle became New Zealand's best-seller in the first week of September 2011, coinciding with the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Sir Fred wrote the foreword for Deadline, the book written at the request of Alan's daughter Christina, who wanted to know more about her father.

It has taken at least two years to research and complete.

With 300 pages and 129 photographs, Deadline is a gripping account of Alan's life as a reporter/photographer, and his service in Naval Intelligence during WWII.

It is full of surprises, with stories of wartime danger, infamous crimes, sporting greatness, unusual people, family values, tragedy and delight.

Some of the well knowns include Russell Coutts, who was 20 when he stayed with the Sayers, and Chris Dickson. Then there's Sir Edmund Hillary and aviator Jean Batten. Of course there are the rugby greats like Sir Fred, Sir Bob Scott, Sir Wilson Whineray and more.

One of Alan's favourite chapters is titled "Evil Sphere of Death".

Alan was sent to cover the story of one of the first German World War II mines recovered after washing ashore.

"Don't worry son," Alan recalls one of the explosives experts saying to him.

"If she blows we won't feel a thing".

While returning to Auckland with the film, Alan stopped at a hotel to report his progress and was seized and locked up by three men who had seen his camera and believed he was a war spy.

His editor helped get him out and Alan's photos were sent to Defence authorities.

Alan saw the mine again, 71 years later, when the restored shell was displayed at the Devonport Naval Base.

The new book will be launched at the Whangaparaoa library on July 6, 2pm, when Alan will present the first copy to his daughter.

About 1000 copies have been published and will be on sale at the library and Silverdale RSA for $25, or call Alan on 09 424 7763 for copies.

Rodney Times