February 15, 2021

Peter Vere-Jones, ONZM: 21 October 1939 – 26 January 2021

Editor    posted 28 Jan 2021, 09:59 AM / edited 4 Feb 2021, 10:14 AM

Highly respected Wellington actor – radio, stage, film, television – has died, aged 81. Please feel free to add your memories and tributes to this Forum.

These quotes from reviews over the past 20 years are just a drop in the proverbial bucket of an impressive career spanning 60-odd years.


Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Circa

directed by Ross Jolly, September-October 1999

Ken Blackburn’s pragmatic Vladimir (aka Didi and Albert) is a comic delight. Peter Vere-Jones explores the greater emotional range of Estragon (aka Gogo) with a superb sureness that’s equal and opposite to his character’s mood-swings between desperation, delight and ennui. Together, Blackburn and Vere-Jones deliver a tour-de-force of pain-sourced humour and pathos.

[John Smythe, National Business Review]

The End of the Golden Weather by Bruce Mason, Soundings Theatre, Te Papa

directed by Susan Wilson, June 2000

Bruce Mason’s richly textured account of a 1930s Kiwi boyhood at the beach has recovered its original form, as a one-man show. The classic ‘rite of passage’ story is rendered – appropriately at Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre – in mellifluous tones by a supremely relaxed yet fully focused Peter Vere-Jones.

… Vere-Jones’ revival of the original prose poem for solo voice distils it back to its essence and allows us to taste its true nectar once more.

… This play – and Peter Vere-Jones’s performance, directed by Susan Wilson – is profound, poignant and rooted in a deep-set passion that belies the lightness of its being. It’s a huge ask that Vere-Jones answered superbly on opening night …


Paradise by Toa Fraser, Taki Rua Productions at Circa

directed by Tina Cook, March-April 2001

Peter Vere-Jones’ delightful Papa is not so troppo as he looks.


The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter, Circa

directed by Ross Jolly, July-August 2002

Peter Vere-Jones finds an important vestige of warmth and humanity in his wed-to-routine and ultimately powerless Petey.


The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, Circa

directed by Susan Wilson, November-December 2002 

As the butlers, Peter Vere-Jones is quietly amusing with an upright Lane and doddery Merriman.


Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones, Circa

directed by Ross Jolly, September-October 2003

Peter Vere-Jones, as Jim the gardener, simultaneously earths the play and adds sparkle – literally, in the end, by way of a deftly exhumed circus trick.


The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, translated by Stuart Young, Circa

directed by Susan Wilson, May-June 2005

Peter Vere-Jones delights as the decrepit valet Firs, who sees the emancipation of the serfs as a retrograde step.


Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, Circa

directed by Susan Wilson, April-June 2007

Peter Vere-Jones meets all the requirements for the stylish hypochondriac Serebryakov, including allowing us to believe that the utterly impractical Yelena was truly attracted by his academic charisma.

[John Smythe, Theatreview]

Peter Vere-Jones as the pampered professor brings a surprising energy to the role

[Laurie Atkinson, Dominion Post]

Rabbit by Nina Raine, Circa

directed by Bruce Phillips, January-February 2008

As her Father, Peter Vere-Jones haunts Bella to sobering effect, personifying her subjective view of the man who has so angered and frustrated her while making him real enough to win our empathy.

[John Smythe, Theatreview]

Peter Vere Jones has too little time on stage as Bella’s ill father, but what time he does have really packs a punch.

[Lynn Freeman, Capital Times]


The Circus of Errors by Sam Trubridge, RNZ, February 2010

Everybody loves the circus, usually a by-word for daring and fantastical acts where we are ranged at a safe distance from actual danger or able to chuckle freely at comedy turns. The Circus of Errors gives us a different and darker experience, operating through images and ideas conjured from the playwright’s words and a suggestive sound scape. It does offer though an absorbing and at times tantalising succession of events, controlled at least initially by the particularly vivid character of Ringmaster (Peter Vere-Jones).

[Lindsay Clark, Theatreview, April 2020]

Richard Interred by Dean Parker, RNZ, May 2013

Meanwhile poor Richard Pile-o’-bones … is haunted in this particular Purgatory by the gross misrepresentation penned by Shakespeare and spoken in rich tones by Peter Vere-Jones, channelling Sir Laurence Olivier.

[John Smythe, Theatreview, April 2020]

Book Ends by Roger Hall, RNZ, September-October 2014

Martin Harvey is a struggling freelance writer, mostly of children’s stories. He is the resident literary expert, often throwing out esoteric questions to test the others’ knowledge. Peter Vere-Jones does a great job playing the often grumpily pedantic writer with vast general knowledge.

[Alexandra Bellad-Ellis, Theatreview, April 2020]



– which contains his filmography


– which includes links to his screen work.


(Note: he was 81 – would have turned 82 in October this year.)




Editor    posted 28 Jan 2021, 10:01 PM / edited 28 Jan 2021, 10:02 PM

From Dulcie Smart:

In memory of Peter-Vere Jones, here’s Bruce Mason’s wonderful review of my production of Duet for One starring Peter and Heather Lyndsay. I don’t have the date – must have been very early 80’s when The Depot was run by Downstage.

Editor    posted 28 Jan 2021, 10:07 PM

From Brian Sergent:

Reflecting on my friend and teacher Peter Vere-Jones, who has passed away at the age of 82. Peter was one of the last of the generation of the original professional New Zealand actors. In the 1960s and 70s one could earn a living working in radio drama, a medium in which Peter was a virtuoso. In those days, if you were on the cast books, fairly constant employment was to be had recording broadcasts to schools in the mornings then plays and short stories in the afternoons. Peter was a stalwart of that era, held in deservedly high regard by producers and audiences alike, for his flawless technique and beautiful voice, with which he could paint vivid word pictures. I believe radio to be the most technically demanding medium for the actor; if you can master radio, you know your craft. Theatre of the mind. Peter and others of that generation taught by example. What was and is required of the learner is the ability and discipline to listen. I’ve heard it said that listening is the key to acting, and I believe it. Peter could convince you he was anything from an 18th century marquis, to a Russian peasant, to a kiwi farmer to a little old lady; Whatever was required on any particular day, he could meet the challenge. He was so highly skilled and versatile with his voice, and remember that was the only tool required, that he could take you anywhere, get you to imagine anything. He had a distinguished career in all media, but it’s for the beauty of his radio work and his generosity, kindness and integrity as a man that I will most remember him. Thank you so much Peter, shine on.

Editor    posted 3 Feb 2021, 06:17 PM

A memorial service to celebrate Peter’s life will be held at St Peter’s Hall, Beach Road, Paekakariki on Monday 15 February, 1-3pm 

Editor    posted 6 Feb 2021, 09:33 AM

Dominion Post Obituary:  

Peter Vere-Jones, actor: b October 21, 1939; d January 26, 2021 

It was a well-worn dinner party yarn actor Peter Vere-Jones liked to roll out, and not without some self-deprecating humour: he could have been James Bond. 

During a trip to Britain in 1969 he met a fellow actor who was auditioning for a Bond film.

Vere-Jones managed to get an interview with the producers, hoping to get any old part, but they thought he was going for the secret agent himself.

As the story goes  … [More]

From Emma Vere-Jones                posted 15 Feb 2021, 09:48 AM

Hi all, I’m sure those of you in NZ will have seen that tonight Auckland is moving to Alert Level 3 and that the rest of the country to Alert Level 2. This means we are forced to put a restriction on numbers at Peter’s memorial service in Kapiti tomorrow. The limit at Alert Level 2 is 100 people, so we are asking that only close friends and family attend. While we know this will be disappointing for a lot of people, it is, unfortunately, out of our control. We are doing our best to organise a recording of the service, so let me know if you’d like me to share it with you. If you know people who were planning to attend, please share this post with them or contact them by phone. Thank you and much love.

John Smythe      posted 15 Feb 2021, 09:53 AM

here is the link to the Zoom event at 1pm today:


John Smythe      posted 15 Feb 2021, 09:56 AM

And here is the link to the order of service:


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