John Meredith Dorreen Interview
Good morning. I’m with John Dorreen and Val and it’s the 25th February . John, good morning, and I’d like you just to give me the history of the Dorreen Family. I know it’s very interesting and I look forward to your comments. Thank you.
Dad’s parents came out here in 1834 on a ship called the ‘Bengal Merchant’.
Where did it leave from?
It left from Glasgow and took [a] four months’ trip to get out to New Zealand, and landed in Petone and lived in Petone for quite a few years. They left in April – May, June, July, August – yeah.
And then they moved on?
Yep, they moved on. Most of them went to Christchurch and they lived in Hampden.
How many in the family that moved, or arrived in New Zealand?
Great-grandad and great-grandma, his brother and his wife and a son. Five of them. And they took up various positions working on farms and different things to earn a bit of cash so that they could build and when they were in Christchurch they started up businesses. One of the businesses they had in Christchurch was Manning & Dorreen, and Thompson & Dorreen. They were hardware people. And whilst there they had a family of fourteen … they produced a family of fourteen which my father was the youngest of, born in 1901. And he became a very good sportsman – he played cricket for Canterbury and rugby for Canterbury. And he was noted as one of the top wicketkeepers in New Zealand, and he was very unlucky not to get picked in the New Zealand team to go to England in the early thirties … 1930s. He held a New Zealand Cricket record for seventh wicket partnership, which I don’t know if it’s still going or not – him [he] and a guy called Jack Powell, scored 265 runs. Dad got 105 and Jack Powell got 160. He played rugby for Merivale in Christchurch, and cricket for St Albans.
And when did they come into the Hawke’s Bay area?
1930, they came into Hawke’s Bay.
Val: It was after the earthquake.
Was it after the earthquake? Oh sorry. Yeah, might have been just after the earthquake they came up here, and they worked for an uncle of mine called Les Dine, milking cows in Taradale. Then they got a job with a guy called Fred Selby who lived down Oak Avenue. He also had cows, and a bit of a farm. Then he got a job, how he got it I don’t know, but he got a job working for the Wellwood Estate … J T Wellwood Estate, down Irongate Road. He was there for … he lived most of his … well, all of his life virtually there.
And who did he marry?
He married Elsie Martin.
Can you give me a rough idea what year?
Oohh … would have been in the thirties, I would think.
Val: It was earlier than that, ‘cause Alison was born down there before the earthquake.
Okay – and they had a number of children? You and others?
Yeah, just the two of us.
And you’ve both been very prominent in the golf circles of Hawke’s Bay, and New Zealand? So you might like to tell us a bit about that – your achievements. They’re on Honours Boards all round Hawke’s Bay. All the courses I’ve played, there’s John Dorreen, dating back as long as Stuart Jones.
I started getting interested in golf in 1948 or ‘49 when they held the New Zealand Golf Championships … the New Zealand Open … at the Bridge Pa Golf Club, and I used to go over there and watch these guys playing golf. And part of our farm bordered the fifteenth hole at Bridge Pa. When I was going round the sheep in the mornings I used to sit there and watch these guys playing golf, and sort of got interested in it. So in the old wool shed at home there was a set of left-handed hickory shafted clubs. And I didn’t want to hit left-handed – they were left-handed clubs – I didn’t want to use them left-handed, so I used to hit right-handed with the back of the wooden club … hickory shafted club.
And then Les McDonald, who used to play cricket with us at Flaxmere … at the Flaxmere Cricket Club … he gave me a No 5 iron … a Robert Forgan 5 iron. And I used to be a naughty boy – I used to pinch golf balls from the Hastings Golf Club when the guy hit it through the back of the green at the fifteenth, so I was never short of golf balls. And I used to hit these round the paddocks at home and then I caddied for a guy called George McGavock, who – Bill McGavock, you would remember him?
And we used to go to Maraenui, George was a member of Maraenui, and while they were waiting to tee off I’d have a swing of my golf club, and when they were in having drinks afterwards, I’d go down the putting green and putt round the putting green.
So in 1950 I joined the Parkvale Golf Club which was down Henderson Road, and played there for two or three years. Won the Intermediate Championship there … never won the Senior Championship, but I won the Intermediate championship. Then I went over to join the Napier Golf Club at Waiohiki, because there was a [an] English professional by the name of Ernie Southerden had just come out there, and I heard he was a good coach, so I went and played a bit of golf with him and a guy called Kapi Tareha, who was one of the best golfers … Maori golfers … New Zealand’s ever had.
In 1955 I was lucky enough to be selected for the Hawke’s Bay team to play in the Freyberg Rose Bowl as it was then known. And we played at the Russley Golf Club in Christchurch.
That was a pretty quick rise wasn’t it, from being a non-golfer and getting up there? You must have put a lot of practise in.
Oh yeah, yeah – I used to practise a lot. Yeah, I did.
Or were there not many golfers in Hawke’s Bay?
No, I played in – they used to have a match called the Town versus Country years and years ago, and I got invited to play in that, and I played Phil Freeman in the match at Waiohiki, and I managed to beat him. Then I went down and played in the Coronation Cup and the Greenwood Cup, and while we were there at Waipukurau playing in the Greenwood Cup, the selectors who were Dick Harrison and Ken Waters, probably liked the way I was playing, and said “righto, we’re going to put you in the Hawke’s Bay team to go to Christchurch.” I can’t really remember who was in the first team but I know Stuart Jones and Robin Dailey were, and I think Gladstone Wilson.
But we didn’t do any good at Russley, but I managed to win more games than I lost, which I suppose was bit of an achievement. And for the next many years I was a regular member of the Hawke’s Bay team, you know, representing matches against different provinces as well as playing in the Freyberg.
And in 1961 we played at Waiohiki and the team was then Stuart Jones, Frank Gordon, Ian McDonald, Robin Dailey, myself and Harley Lowes. And we played in the semi-final of the Freyberg – we played Auckland. Coming to the eighteenth, Auckland were leading us then 3½ – 2½. Ian McDonald made a birdie at the eighteenth to halve with a guy called Boris Vezich, and I was playing George Lees. And George had knocked his second shot on the green about twenty feet from the hole and I was just on the green, about forty-five feet away. So I lined this thing up, gave it whack, and lo and behold it went in the hole. And George missed his, so we beat Auckland in that particular game.
In the afternoon we played Canterbury and we tee’d off at the tenth. Because you were sort of host Club, you didn’t get off the No 1 tee, you went off the No 10 tee. And we played Canterbury as I say, and I played a guy called Keith Foxton who was well known in New Zealand circles – he was later a professional.
Any rate, we had a great match – we came round to the sixth hole and after the sixth hole I managed to be two up, which was our fifteenth hole. The next hole was a short hole, the seventh. I had the honour, I hit it on about twenty-two feet away from the hole. Keith hit it on about the same distance, and as we walked up to the green he said to me, “can you get down in two putts?” And I said “yeah – why?” “Well”, he said “I’m going to three putt it because” he said, “I’d rather you guys win it than Auckland.” And that’s the truth, that’s no lie. [Chuckle] Any rate he did, he knocked it about oh, five or six feet past, and his second putt he never even hit the hole with, so we managed to win, much to the delight of everyone.
John, your Club in Hawke’s Bay – you’re a member of which Club?
You name it – Hastings, Napier, Maraenui and Hawke’s Bay. And I won the Club championship at Hastings, Waiohiki and Maraenui, but I never won it at Flaxmere.
Very good. Now just going back, what year did you marry Val?
1969 – 12th April 1969.
And her maiden name was?
Okay. Now what did you do in your working life?
Well I worked on the farm at Wellwoods’ for a … oh, a few years. And I worked for a guy called Wilson Hazelwood who used to have pea viners. And then in 1960 I was at the Heretaunga Club one night and Laurie Clothier, who was foreman at Tomoana Works was there. And I said to him “how do I get a job at Tomoana, Laurie?” And he said “be there Monday morning in the line up.” So I lined up on Monday morning at the Works, and he went along and was looking at the guys, and he said, “come here”. So I went, and that was 1960 as I say, and I worked there as a labourer for many years. Then I got a job there as a leading hand.
In what department?
In the mutton slaughter floor. And in 1975 I became a foreman in the same department, and I worked as a foreman there from 1975 ‘til 1993. And I was fifty-nine then, and the boss of the Works, Dave Guscott, called me one day and said “we’re going to get rid of some staff”. And I said “oh yeah”. “Well”, he said “you’re just about due for retirement any rate, so” he said “you’ll have to go”. I said “that’s all right, I don’t mind”. I said “oh – what do I get out of it?” So he told me what I got out of it, and I said “oh yeah”, and I said “well, I’d better go home and talk to Val”, so he said “yeah, righto”. So I went and had a talk to Val, and I said “well, this is the position – what do you think we should do?” She said “oh well – we’ll take option two”, which was … they gave me so much and that was it. So we took the money and away we went.
Then after that I had a few little jobs I did, I worked at the Stortford Lodge Sale Yards for about six years, and I worked for Turners & Growers for about six years.
Those are old names, aren’t they?
Oh yeah. Turners & Growers … both good jobs they were. I enjoyed the sale yards and I enjoyed Turners & Growers.
How did you get to Tomoana in those days?
We lived in Southampton Street then and I used to either ride a bike or take the car.
What sort of car did you have in those days?
An Austin. Yeah, I had an Austin for a while and then I had a Vauxhall which I bought off a guy worked at the Works – guy called David Ayre, you might remember his brother, Alan Ayre.
Yes. And what other sporting attractions did you have apart from your golf?
Oh I played a bit of cricket. Played for Whakatu-Mahora in Hastings, and used to play the social games at Flaxmere Cricket Club, which was down Irongate Road.
That’s where I met your father.
Yeah. Great Club, that. We used to go away and play matches against other teams. I think we used to go to Nowell-Usticke’s and play against them, and as I say I played on Saturdays in the Club Cricket for Whakatu-Mahora.
Who were some of those people you played with?
Oh … Ronnie Pearce, yeah …
I don’t know whether Dick was in our team, I don’t think he was. Ray Baker, Lee Totty, guy that used to be a hairdresser …
John was his father … great days. You played against the Fulfords no doubt?
Yeah. Played …
Played for Havelock?
Totty and Noel, yeah. Big tall guy, Noel. Used to be a bit of a pace bowler.
And a good batsman.
And a good batsman, yeah.
But getting back to a bit of the golf, if you don’t mind. When I first went to Waiohiki and started to play golf there I had a lot of trouble with chipping and putting. Used to be terrible, it’d be nothing for me to go eight or nine three-putt greens in a round of golf. And there was a guy there called Archie McLean. He said to me one day, “I think I’ll teach you how to chip and putt”. So I said “well, I think that’ll be a good idea, if you can do it”. He said “meet me after work down at the Golf Club” he said “and we’ll …” And I was working at Waiohiki then doing a bit of a greenkeeping job for a while. So we used to go down to the eighth green and Archie used to start off with putts about two foot long. He’d put four balls down – putt them – then move back six inches – putt them ‘til you got them all – and move back until you got to the stage where you missed one. If you missed one, you started all over again. And – not skiting – I think I actually became a very good putter, and a good chipper, because we used to go [and] practise all this chipping around the green. And I always tell people that chipping’s like throwing a ball – depending on what club you want to use you throw it in the air, or you throw it along the ground. Just use your right hand, like that. And I’ve got to thank him for getting me to the stage where I did.
Thank you for that tip because I’m having a lot of trouble with my chipping too, and I’m hoping now that you have solved it.
You always did though.
I remember playing you in a match once, and we were all square playing the ninth and you were behind the bunker on the right-hand side and you had to chip over it, and you hit it twice.
I’m still doing that.
So I had a bit of success in my career … first success I had was at the Takapau Open in 1957, which I won. And I have – on every Club from Takapau to Maraenui – I think my name’s on every Honours Board there.
I’ve seen it at Onga Onga and Waipukurau.
Yeah, well I won the Onga tournament – I don’t know what year it was, though. I won the Waipawa tournament four times. The first one was 1955, then 1976, 1977 and 1985. So thirty years after my first victory I won it again.
That’s a great record.
Then I won … oh, Kayleen Burns, she was then, now Kayleen Shaw – her [she] and I joined forces in mixed foursomes and we had great success. We won three Hawke’s Bay championships, eight Waiohiki championships – six of them in a row – and we won a New Zealand title, we won New Zealand Mixed Foursomes.
What year was that John?
1980 I think, wasn’t it?
Val: Can’t remember.
John: She’s coming here in a couple of weeks time, so I’ll make sure I ask her. And probably most of my successes were at Maraenui. I used to always go over there and play in the New Year tournament which was played New Year’s Day and [a] couple of days afterwards. And I won that six times.
What did you like about Maraenui?
Oh, they’re a great crowd over there.
Yeah, but I’m talking about the golf course.
Oh – it wasn’t over long, and I didn’t hit it too far … well, I wasn’t noted for a big hitter, but I used to hit it pretty accurate. And as I say, I won that six times, four times in a row, and the Queen’s Birthday tournament – I won that three or four times. I won a couple of times at Taupo. I used to go up there and play. We had a guy, Russell Longney, he was a member of Waiohiki. He used to have a bach up there, and he’d get us to go up and play in the Taupo Open, and I won it … oh, can’t remember … ’68 and ’72 were two of the times, but I won it before that, about 1964. And I won one tournament at Wairoa, and one at Mahia. I think in total I won over fifty tournaments.
Amazing how you can get time off work to play golf, John.
Well I used to – when I played in the Hastings Open which I won – what, three or four times? Three times I think – I used to take a week’s holiday, ’cause that was played Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I used to take a week’s holiday to do that. I had some good matches there – I beat Frank Gordon one year, Peter Maude one year and I beat Jonesey one year.
Well that’s an achievement.
Yeah. That was the year – I don’t know whether you played – it was the year it blew all the trees down – do you remember that? I played Jonesey in the final, and Christ, did it blow! Oh! Unbelievable.
But the other tournament I had success in was the Kapi Tareha at Waiohiki. I was the first person ever to win it three times in a row … 1959, 1960 and 1961 when it was a match play tournament then – match play on handicap. I remember I beat Jonesey in the final one year. He had to give me two shots, but I beat him off the stick.
The best match I ever had at Waiohiki was against Frank Gordon. We played the final of the Club Championships there. It was a thirty-six-hole tournament – in the morning round I shot sixty-nine and Frank shot seventy-four, and I was four up at lunchtime. In the afternoon Frank shot sixty-nine and I shot seventy-four, so we were square. I went down and played … halved the first, or the thirty-seventh, halved the thirty-eighth in pars. At the thirty-ninth I made five and Frank had about a three-foot-six putt to win the match, and I always reckoned he was one of the best putters I’d ever seen. Anyway, lo and behold, he missed it. The next hole was a par three, fourth, which we played on a temporary green at that stage, up to the right of the stop bank that goes there, and – my honour, I still had the honour there – so I knocked it on about … oh, fifteen feet away … Frank knocked it on about fourteen feet away. I knocked my putt in for a two and he missed his so I won at the fortieth.
Now what year was your last game of golf, that you can remember? When did you have your last game … thereabouts, because then you had this …
Hip replacement. Well it’s ten years since I gave golf away.
And you miss it?
No. Well I miss going out there and keeping in touch with the people. I’ve always had an argument with the Hawke’s Bay Golf Association not putting results in the paper.
You’re an eagle?
I’m an eagle, been an eagle since 1983, which I love. We run a tournament for the Sir Murray Halberg Trust at Waiohiki every year and Val and I go and help them run it. And they raise anything from $13-$15,000 each year, and have done for … oh, as long as I can remember.
I was talking to a guy called Ted Evans the other day, you might remember his wife, Dawn Evans – she was on the Hawke’s Bay … and we were talking about golf courses. And I said to him “well, I don’t think there’s a golf course in Hawke’s Bay that I haven’t played on”. And he said “I’ll tell you one”, and he told me, and I can’t remember the name of it – whether it was outside of – when you go over the Mohaka Bridge, what’s the little township you come to? Raupunga … it was out from Raupunga … I couldn’t remember the name of it, but I said “no I hadn’t played there”. And I didn’t play Raupunga.
How many holes there?
I think it was only a nine hole course.
Oh – Waikare … did you play there? One down the road?
Yeah. Tuai – played there. Played God knows how many games at Wairoa. First time I ever beat Frank Gordon was there in the Greenwood Cup. I shot sixty-five and he shot sixty-six, and I beat him one up.
Now John, you did wonderfully well with golf. Now I can remember your father as a cricketer at the Flaxmere Cricket Club, and he gave me some very, very good advice for later in the year, about how to play the game and play it fair and square. But I wondered once or twice – how come at Flaxmere they seemed to bend the rules a little bit …
… what he’d already told me. And we used to have big discussions about that and all I got was that lovely smile that he had – and I can still see it. And he used to tell me how to spin the ball – which way.
Like that smile there? [Shows photo]
Like that smile there, mm. And how to spin the ball, and I wasn’t a spin bowler but it was all knowledge that I got later on in life when I got lazy, and I couldn’t be bothered.
I remember him telling Lee Totty who was a good spin bowler – “don’t try and bowl too fast, concentrate on your spin”. But whether Lee did it or not I don’t know, he was trying to get a bit quicker all the time, I think.
I think that’s lacking today in New Zealand cricket, I think there’s too many spin bowlers bowling too fast and not throwing the ball in the air and using the flight and the spin to their advantage.
However, now you’re retired and enjoying life?
Oh, yeah. Val’s playing a lot of bowls and she’s bloody good at it.
Val: Mmm … won a tournament yesterday.
Did you, Val? My word …
John: Remember Rex Goodwin? Well Rex and her [she and Rex] and Greg Hodges played.
Do you play at the Clubs?
Val: Yeah. I’m a member of Havelock.
John: Oh, I used to play bowls after I gave up golf until I broke this and I couldn’t bend down to …
So Val, are you a prodigious medal winner as well, on the bowling green?
Val: Oh … I have my moments. [Chuckle]
John: Well she has a fair bit of success.
Val: Took it up too late in life, though, that’s the thing.
John: I was out at my brother-in-law’s [brother’s-in-law] the other day … Donald. And he said “oh, I was looking through some of the drawers there”, and he said “I happened to find those, and those hats”, [shows articles] which is I presume is a cricketing … Now that’s Canterbury Rugby I think, 1922-1924, and that one’s – God knows what – Canterbury Football Club, is it?
And this ball has got written on it ‘Australia versus Canterbury 1927, W J Ponsford stumped N Dorreen.’ And old Bill Ponsford – he was a good cricketer.
He was – 1931 Australian team with Bradman, in the Bodyline year that they played.
Yeah. That ball looks smaller than what they use now … whether it’s shrunk … There used to be a plaque on that, but God knows what happened to it. I said to Don the other day “what happened to it?” He said “oh, probably fell off and got swept up in the rubbish”.
I always remember he used to wear his Canterbury cap a lot too, the black and red.
Yeah – not that one.
No, no, no, no – just like that, with black and red.
But he was great mates with C J Oliver.
Charlie, yeah. He was Dad’s best man and Dad was his best man at their respective weddings.
Well, I might come back again when you’ve given it some thought, and we might have a second session at some stage?
Yeah – just as an added interest on it. My father played for Canterbury as I say in cricket and rugby. Canterbury won the Ranfurly Shield, played against ManaWhenua, which was a province probably before Manawatu started up, and he was in the winning team. And also he used to go with a team across to the West Coast to play a West Coast team, and he was on the first train that went through Otira Tunnel, and he scored five tries in one match over there.
What position did he play?
Wing. He had plenty of pace. Some of those names you’d remember in any case.
S G Lester, Mick Lester’s father. He was a City Councillor.
Is that his father?
Yep. Brother John Lester, who was my cricket captain, I spoke to him last week. Brought a smile to his face – I could see the smile coming up.
Gordon [Bill] Merritt.
I B Cromb.
I remember Dad saying … I wonder whether it was the match that he played against Ponsford in ’27 … in the Australian team there was a guy called Clarrie Grimmett. He was a spin bowler, and Dad said he couldn’t wait to get out and have a go at him – I don’t how many runs he scored off him but …
You’ll note in those teams though there’s no Charlie Oliver. I don’t know why.
Must have been a year later or a year earlier.
Well Charlie died, what … when he was only about sixty-seven, didn’t he?
John: His son used to live up here in Havelock … Ken. He died about what? Two years ago.
When I won the Club Championship at Hastings I beat Billy Hill one year, and Bede Houlahan in one year. Saw him the other day. I said “how’s things?” He said “not good.” I said “why’s that?” He said “I’m waiting to get my hip done.”
Okay. What else can you tell me? What did you have for breakfast on the way back – when you were working at the Wellwoods’? What was your breakfast routine?
Breakfast … porridge with brown sugar and cream on it, ‘cause I used to milk the cows.
I was the cow milker, and churn the old milk separator, get the cream coming out the side, and I think that’s why I put on so much weight. I’ve lost fifteen or sixteen ks [kilos] since we’ve been out here. I just knocked off sugar, and … I eat a lot fruit.
You look very well. You’ve been on someone’s diet?
No, just common sense. Oh, I go down to the swimming pool at Havelock three or four days a week, and just exercise up and down the pool. They run an aerobics class down there every Thursday which I go to – three quarters of an hour doing all the bits and pieces. Very nice. And I go to Summerset on a Friday for the day.
Summerset in the ..?
This one just here.
Vines – for what?
Oh – just to get out of the place for a while. There’s quite a few people in there that I know … Jeff Douglas, you remember him?
Yes. Oh is that where he is?
He’s in there. Yeah, his wife died just last week.
Yes. Actually I wondered where Jeff had gone – hell of a nice guy.
Mmm. Oh, he’s a bit of a hard case.
Always has been. Good engineer.
Yeah, he was. They reckon he was the best. He’s ninety. What are you – ninety?
Are you only a couple of years older than me? I thought you were miles older than me.
Into my eighty-sixth.
I’m in my eighty-fourth. I still keep up with Elaine Wiggins – you remember her? Elaine Martin. Remember Gordon Martin?
Well his sister. I was talking to her this morning. She’s a good bowler. We keep in touch and keep up with the old times ‘cause the Martins used to come out to our place at Wellwoods’ almost every Sunday afternoon. Johnny Martin and Dad would have a few whiskeys, and Elaine and I’d go for a ride round the farm on the horses. And we were sort of brought up together, and a lot of the people that I worked with at Tomoana I still keep in touch with, which is nice.
Always nice to keep up with friends.
Yeah. Well some of them only just live round the corner. One of your golf members lives just over here, Don Jackson.
Oh yes. Sweetest swing that I’ve seen of any golfer.
Yeah, he’s a beautiful swinger.
He’s a good painter too.
Val: Yeah, he’s just in the units.
Yeah … exceptionally good, well known.
John: When we had that water trouble round here, we never got hit with it ‘cause Vanessa rung [rang] up – she saw it on Facebook – “don’t drink the water, boil it first”. So we did that.
Val: Everybody round us got it.
John: Yeah, this woman across the road here, she got it bad – she lost about six ks. [Kilograms] And Don Jackson, he got it and he lost about five ks, and he’s a skinny bugger at any rate.
Val: That was very poor.
John: We never got any notice around here about it at all. I don’t know whether you did.
Val: That was very poor. The only person that rang us – the doctor got his nurse to ring all his patients.
John: All his patients over eighty years of age.
When we played the Freyberg in 1969 at the Hutt, Val and I got married on the Saturday the 12th of April, then Sunday we had to drive to Wellington to start the tournament on the Tuesday. Any rate, I was lucky at that tournament and I went through undefeated … not many people do it. I know there are a few who’ve done it – Frank Gordon did it, Robin Dailey did it, Stuart Jones did it a couple of times. There has been, but that was one of my best moments I think, was winning six out of six. [Seven out of seven]
Right, well that’s … well done. Well. John thank you very much for that talk. Interesting, and nice to bring up the old names.
I can still remember them, that’s why.
Val … nice to see you after a year or two, and nice to see you looking so fit, John. This is the retirement that you need.
Well the doctor said when I went to him the other day, “you know”, he said “you’ve never looked better since you’ve been out at Havelock”.
So anyway, thank you very much for this talk.
How long does that take to go through?
At your age we try and get it done as soon as possible, so I would think – give us a couple of months.
I know you said when I was talking to you before about it, you had a photo of Lovell-Smiths … you had about a thousand photos, and you were going to get me to go through and have a look at them and see if I knew anyone.
Well one day I’ll give you a call and I’ll pick you up and take you to the Knowledge Bank.
Okay. Where’s that?
Dr Ballantyne’s old house up Omahu Road, up near the Expressway. The big two-storeyed house on the right-hand side – Stoneycroft.
Yeah, I know where you are.
And we’re in there. You’re the sort of person that we really want to go through and have a look at some of these photos.
I won’t guarantee that I’ll know any but …
Okay … well thank you, John. And Val thank you, sitting there for your few words of wisdom that you put into this morning’s show.
Yeah, just one or two little things – I omitted to mention my wife, who has been my rock over the years. When I first married her she didn’t know anything about golf, and over the years that we’ve spent on the golf course she became very proficient in rules, and also as a caddy. When we got married in 1969 and we went to the Hutt Golf Club to play, I said to her “well you’ll probably have to caddy for me.” “Oh”, she said “I don’t think I can do that”. I said “why?” She said “well I’ve never done it before”. So she caddied for a couple of rounds, and there was a mate of mine who used to work at Tomoana Works called John Kami, who happened to be there. And he said to Val “you don’t look as if you’re enjoying that”. She said “no, I’m not.” He said “well give us [me] it here – I’ll finish it off”. So he caddied for me for the rest of the tournament. But Val, when she did get around to caddying, she was a very good caddy I will admit, and I’d like to say thank you to her for all the years that we spent on the golf course and running golf tournaments.
Alison, my sister, and I played in the tournament at Puketitiri, and we managed to win the mixed foursomes up there.
That’s Alison ..?
I also used to travel to Taupo – some friends of mine called Russ and Shirley Longley had a bach at Taupo – and they said to me “why don’t you come up and play in the Taupo Open, and stay with us?” I said “oh, okay.” So I went up there and played in it a few times, which I managed to win in 1964 when I played a guy called Bill Page from Wellington in the final. In 1968 I played the mayor of New Plymouth, called Denny Sutherland, and in 1972 when I won it again I played a guy called Jack Scott from Hamilton.
Some of the guys I played I managed to beat quite comfortably. I remember playing Wellington against Hawke’s Bay at Waipukurau when I beat the late Guy Horne nine and seven.
He played out of Paraparaumu didn’t he?
Yeah, he did.
And another guy – we played at Maraenui, and the other guy was Gavin Lindsay who had just become the Wellington Match Play Champion when they played against us here, Hawke’s Bay playing Wellington, and I beat him eight and seven.
When I say I never won the Southern Hawke’s Bay … and I got to the semi-final one year and I had to play a guy called Robin Barry-Dailey, one of the real characters of golf in Hawke’s Bay, and a very good golfer. Any rate, we walked onto the first tee for the semi-final, and he said “well Dorreeno – what’s the most you ever get beaten by?” And I said “oh, three and two, or four and three, or something like that.” “Oh”, he said “I’ll bloody soon fix that”. And he did. He birdied the first two holes and I never got a look-in – he beat me seven and six. Then one of the years that I won the New Year tournament at Maraenui, I had to play his brother in the final, and I beat him seven and six. And I said “here – take that, Robin. That’s for beating me.”
His brother was ..?
Michael Dailey. Now Peter Dailey – you’d probably remember him. He managed the RSA in Dannevirke for years. You’d still be in the booze business then, when he was … And Michael used to have the pub at the end of town as you’re leaving town … I can’t think of what it was.
Some of those guys that I was involved with in my golfing days were great mates, and they were Robin Dailey, Harley Lowes who’s deceased, Frank Gordon who’s deceased, Owen LiSt, Alan and David Ayre, both deceased, Malcolm McDonald who’s deceased, Ian McDonald, Fred Spinley, Don Davidson, Ross Murray and Ted McDougall. They were great mates, and we used to have a lot of fun when we were away at these tournaments with them.
John, did you know Brian Wilson?
He was a good golfer, was he not?
Yeah. From Waipukurau. Yeah he was. I don’t know whether he’s still in Waipukurau though.
Yes, he is. I went down to interview him last year.
He played for Hawke’s Bay I believe, but only in ten-man teams. I don’t think he ever played in the Freyberg.
He brought up the Gunsons as well, at the time.
Yeah, well one of them’s gone. You never thought of doing one on Robin Dailey?
Yeah, I have.
I think on that – when I was talking about the veteran’s tournament that I won at Hastings and I mentioned about George French, did I – or not?
Oh, I played George French in the final, and I was four up at the turn, and then George won ten, eleven, twelve and fifteen to get back to square. At the sixteenth hole he was on about thirty feet past the hole – I was on about eight feet away. He three-putted and I got down in two putts to go back to one up. We halved seventeen, and I won eighteen to win two up. We played pretty good golf in the final.
He was a good player too.
George? Yeah, he was.
Jonesey played in that tournament as well, but he got beaten in the earlier rounds by Les Jones, I think. But when I was making my speech at the finish of the tournament, I said “well there’s one thing pleasing about this – I’ve got my name on a board that S G Jones hasn’t got one on”. [Chuckle] But Jonesey was … he was you know, a great mate, and as I’ve said in one of these earlier ones, we learnt many things from Jonesey, both on the course and off the course. There’ll never be another one like him in Hawke’s Bay.
Well, unless you’ve got anything more … oh, I was going to say – in this [?] [deleted due to noise] book, who was Moira Newbigin?
That was my mother.
Your father was Dudley …
She came from Heretaunga – she was Club Captain of the Heretaunga Club before she got married, and then came up to Hawke’s Bay.
There’s quite a good bit of reading in that.
Yes, there is. Have you seen the new book that they’ve put out?
It’s very good.
Well thank you for that, Jim.
Thank you, John.
I hope it can be of some help.
It will be.
Just as a matter of interest, Jim was just talking about Mrs Padman. She’s just turned a hundred not so long ago, and she’s in Waiapu House. And I go and see her at least once a week if not two times a week. I don’t know whether she … I’ve got a name tag which I put on each time I go there just to tell her who I am. But she’s still got all of her faculties together, and we have quite a yarn about different things, and she’s still a lovely woman.
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Interviewer: Jim Newbigin