Kevin Emmet Murphy Interview

Today is 20th May 2019. I’m interviewing Kevin Murphy of Havelock North, formerly of the garage Barclay Murphy, Hastings. Kevin, would you like to tell us all about the life and times of your family?

Yes, Frank, thank you for the opportunity. I was born in Wairoa actually, in the Wairoa Hospital. My parents owned the hotel in Mohaka when it was down by the river. My father came from County Kerry in Ireland, and my mother came from Wairoa. I don’t really have any memories of Mohaka. My first memory was … apparently the hotel was burnt down and we had to look for something else, so we shifted to Kotemaori … was my first recollection. I did all my primary school there at that school. I had four brothers and one sister, and my oldest brother was eighteen years older than I was.

This was ‘bout 1937-’38 – my oldest brother and father found work putting the tunnel through at Kotemaori; it was just happening at that time. And that work ran out, and Pat went to Tuai to work on the power station in Tuai, until he volunteered to go into the Air Force, because the war was just starting.

My father had to leave home and he came to Napier and he managed the hotel in Port Ahuriri. It broke the family up completely, because there was no work around for the family. Pat had gone, my oldest brother; my sister came to work at the hospital in Napier; my next brother, Des, went to work on a farm down at Te Apiti; my next brother, Justin, came to work on the railways in Napier; and my mother and I shifted into Napier in 1946 so that I could go to high school. I went to St John’s College, actually.

The family were very scattered because there was [were] no houses available in 1946. My father was living in Battery Road; my mother and my brother, Des, and I were boarding with some people … some friends of ours from Kotemaori … in Shakespeare Road. My sister was still living at the hospital, and Justin was living in Carlyle Street, boarding down there; and Pat was living in Craven Street – Craven Street in Napier no longer exists. Anyway, a house became available in Munroe Street in Napier opposite where the railway workshops were, and we managed to buy that house and the family came together for the first time for many years.

I realised I wasn’t a scholar, and I only did two years at St John’s. It was strange to me, coming from Kotemaori to the city, meeting a lot of new guys, but I made a lot of friends; I made some very good friends.

And my sister heard that there was an apprenticeship going in the motor trade, so I put my hand up and I said, “Oh, that’ll do.” I didn’t know what I wanted, and I started my apprenticeship in a place called Rayment’s Garage, which is [was] in Tennyson Street where Pitstop is now. And I did two years there and felt I wasn’t learning terribly much compared with the other apprentices in town that I was meeting at night school. So I spoke to my night school teacher, Bruce Forest, a real nice guy; and I didn’t know where that conversation went, but the next thing I knew the Apprenticeship Committee turned up at the garage where I was working. Mr Barclay was one of them, and Bruce Forest, the night school instructor, and some other … I can’t remember who the other one was. But they looked at the circumstances that I was under and that. And anyway, the next I heard, Mr Barclay had said to the thing, “I’ll give him a job if the transfer can be arranged.” So I shifted up to Barclay Motors, in Hastings Street at that stage, opposite where Rebel Sports [Sport is] are now; it was a very old building, and I did I think about twelve months there and I was shifted out to Hastings to complete my apprenticeship there.

I played rugby for Napier Marist for I think about nine years, coming up through the grades until I ended up in the premier team for my last two years of rugby. I did my compulsory military training; I rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the finish, which I was very proud of.

I continued working in Hastings and I loved it there; they were a great bunch of people to work with, who I still call friends to this day. In the fifties Barclay Motors had been selling Bradford vehicles and Jowatt Javelins, and they faded out when Motor Holdings started importing the Volkswagen. And in 1954 Bob Johnson the foreman and I were sent to Auckland to learn the Volkswagen servicing system. In fact, I was the first mechanic from Hawke’s Bay to be trained in that system and had to pass my knowledge on to the other people in the branches. By that time Barclay Motors had branches in Waipukurau and in Napier.

I guess from then on Valerie [Barclay], my wife, and I started going out together. And I shifted back to Napier to work and she was in Hastings, and we went together for about two years. And then she went on her OE [overseas experience] for two years, and when she came back we continued our friendship and we married in January 1959.

It was quite unique to be confronted by the Volkswagen car, because it was unique in many ways, wasn’t it? Air cooled motor; rear engine; a reverse gear position that no one could ever find. [Chuckle] And it’s interesting hearing you talking about the old Jowatt. Yes, I had many a ride with Ray Almond as he was moving between Hastings and Havelock, we used to get a ride home in the back of this little Bradford van. But they worked, didn’t they?

Yes, oh yes, yeah.

And you didn’t become involved with the tractor side?

Well that comes after I was married. Before I was married … twelve months before I was married, I thought Valerie and I were getting seriously involved; and I thought, ‘Gee, this is going to be awkward, marrying the boss’s daughter.’ [Chuckle] The staff was you know, seventy or eighty over the branches, so I moved out and I went to work for Townshend Motors in Napier, which was up where the post office was in Napier, and I spent twelve months working there. And after we got married Cyril [Barclay] said to me, “You’d better come back and work for us, hadn’t you?” So I agreed of course; and I said, “Well, I think it’d be awkward for me going back into the workshop, so” I said, “what about I go on the tractor field service where I can be on my own?” And I did that for a little while.

And there was an interesting story, too, while I was working on the field service – you talked about Ray Almond; he was the service manager of course, on the tractors. We had occasion one Friday afternoon – Cyril come [came] over; he’d just sold a tractor to a bloke on a Rehab [Rehabilitation] farm, and he’d only taken delivery the day before and he’d put it in the lake. No insurance; he had no money; and [of] course Cyril wanted to do as much as he could for him so he came over to the tractor department and said, “I’ll provide any gear you want if I can get some of you boys to go and help the guy out and get his tractor out of the lake.” So oh, there was about four or five of us put our hands up, and we all got ready. And Ray said to me, “Bring your togs”, he said, “we might have to go in the water.” And I said, “Why me?” And he said, “Oh no, we’re all taking our togs”, and he said, “we’ll draw straws when we get there.” [Chuckle]

So we got out there, and all you could see of this tractor was the exhaust pipe sticking up out of the water. We positioned the breakdown truck at one end of the lake, and Ray said to me, “You’d better get your togs on.” And I said, “We haven’t drawn straws yet.” And he said, “Oh, I forgot to tell the other guys.” So that was me going into the water; and we got this tractor out and replaced all the electrical gear, and things were quite rosy. But that was Ray all over; he had to have his little joke.

So anyway, there was a bit of a problem with the Napier shop; I was still working on the field service. And a problem came up in the Napier shop where the service manager resigned, and Cyril said to me. “Well, I want you to go over there and run that place.” And I said, “I’ve got no experience on that!” And he said, “No, no – you’ll pick it up”, he said, “and if you have any problems just ring Bob Johnson or Les Hall; they’ll sort you out.” So anyway, I went to Napier; and I got on well with the boys over there and we had a successful year. And after my first year I got a letter from Bob Parkhill with £300, and a letter to say that was the first time that the Napier workshop had ever made a profit, which was very pleasing. But then [of] course Cyril had sold in 1960, and he went home and started building the Fantasyland, as it was then called, the Fantasyland train; both he and Gary were busy doing that. And he was approached by people from the Mobil Oil Company. There was a little service station in Stortford Lodge that Bob Porteous was running; [it] was going into receivership, and Mobil Oil approached Cyril to see if one of his boys’d be interested in going in there and try and rescue the thing. So it was down opposite what was the Stortford Lodge Hotel at that stage. So anyway after a family conference it was decided that both the boys, Graham and Gary and I would have a go. I think Graham was working down at Morrison’s Motor Mowers, down there at that stage; Gary was working at the Hastings shop and I was in Napier.

So that’s when Barclay Murphy was formed; and we started off in there, trying to make a go of it. And Mobil kept coming up with ideas on how we could make the place better. We hadn’t been very long when we were offered the Renault franchise, and we started selling Renault cars while we were still in the old premises. So it was decided then to expand, and build the shop across the road. We bought two houses over there, shifted one off and built the workshop and service station, and rented the other house next door. Things progressed; we were selling a few cars by that stage, and we needed more room for a Used Car department, so we bought a half section off a house in Stortford Street – a back section; moved the other house off and put it back there, and divided it into two flats and rented that; and formed our Used Car yard, which now would be about to the mid-section of where Burger King is.

We were only getting fifteen new cars a year; by 1967 we needed more, so Cyril and I went to New Plymouth to look at the Isuzu Bellett which was just coming into the country through HH Moeller. So they said, “Yeah, you can have fifteen Belletts, but you’ll have to drop the Renault.” That wasn’t quite the idea that we had in mind. So anyway they came across; they said, “We’ve got a Riley franchise that we can let you have; we’ll give you thirteen Riley Elfs and three Riley Kestrels, as well as the Isuzu.” So that was thirty cars – double what we were getting, so we thought that was pretty good so we dropped the Renault, and that went to Des Ray down the road, who was a Nissan dealer.

Anyway things went really well with these two; Riley was an established market so things were pretty good; except 1970, Isuzu formed a relationship with General Motors and we lost the Isuzu; Riley disappeared – British Motor Corporation dropped Riley from its stable; we were left with nothing. And [of] course Russell Moeller was very disappointed that he’d dragged us into this. So he said, “Meet me at Wellington Airport – I need to talk to you.” So we shot off down there, Gary and I, and he said, “I can get you either the Citroen or the Volkswagen, or both.” Wright Stephenson were just going out of Volkswagen because they wanted to get into Toyota; so we said, “Well, we think we’ll take the Volkswagen.” So Cyril had sold the Volkswagen franchise to Wright Stephenson – we got it back for nothing in 1970. That was pretty good; we were happy, we knew a lot about Volkswagens, but supply was still the problem – we needed more. So we looked around, and Honda were just coming into the country, so we got the Honda franchise in about 1971 or ‘72, round about that era. The first vehicle we got was a 360cc little van which we sold to Russell Orr. And that franchise sold [??] … lost it and of all things, Moellers of New Plymouth took over the Honda franchise, which we were you know, very familiar with. And we started getting the Honda Civic from 1973, and that was a boom time for us because shortly after that, in 1974 I think it was, the people that were supplying us with the Volkswagen – Motor Holdings in Otahuhu – they started importing Subaru. So we had Volkswagen, Honda and Subaru, and things were quite rosy. Honda eventually married up with B&T in England, and we lost the Honda franchise to Thompson Motors which is where the skate park is now. But we just carried on, and that’s just about how we finished up actually, except – shall I go on now to tell you how we finished up?


I was in the service station one Friday afternoon and a real estate agent came in and said, “You guys ever think about selling this place?” And I said, “Well – better come in the office and have a yarn.” So I said, “What’s the story?” And he said, “I’ve got an Auckland client that’s looking for a big piece of land in the Stortford Lodge area.” He wouldn’t give me a reason, but he said, “All we want’s the land and buildings, and it won’t be a motor dealership after this.” And I said, you know, “We’ll really have to have a yarn.” He said, “I’ve been to Motor Marine” – that was one that they really wanted – but he said, “their family can’t agree whether they want to sell or not.” He said, “I’ve been to the Shell station opposite the Mormon Chapel there”, and he said, “and there’s three cross leases on that place, so that’s hopeless.” He said, “You’re my last hope.” And so I said, “All right, I’ll have a yarn to the thing.” We’d been on that site for twenty-six years.

So he rang me Sunday night; he said, “What’s your answer? Do you want to sell or not?” And I said, “I haven’t even spoken to my partners yet!” And he said, “Well”, he said, “I need to get this thing moving.” He said, “Arrange a meeting with your accountant and solicitor tomorrow morning, Monday morning”, and he said, “we’ll put a deal on the table for you.” We did that, we thought we’d better listen to the guy; so he came in and he put a deal on the table, and some of the conditions were that we vacate the premises within six weeks. So he left, and [of] course we talked it over with Ray Woodham and our solicitor … who’s now a judge whose name escapes me … may come to me later. Anyway, he got hold of David Mackersey to find out what our premises were worth, and we spent the day kicking this thing around. And we agreed the service station industry was going to be deregulated shortly, and we’d already been talking to Mobil; and Mobil had assured us that they would be in opposition to us at the Pakowhai Road station, so we would be in a very bad way as far as retailing petrol went.

So anyway, we looked at this deal and we decided that we would accept it. Ray Woodham said, “Look, I have to get through to a new tax year, to March.” And we had eleven staff, so we got the guy back in and said, you know, “We’re happy with the price that you’ve offered, but we want to trade through until March of next year.” And that was how the deal finished up. We were disappointed that the conception [perception] seemed to be, among the public, that we went broke. [Loud sound] But we looked at it as a business decision, and after twenty-six years …

Well who bought the land then?

The name escapes me but it was a crowd from Auckland, and they wanted to buy the Stortford Lodge Hotel and the Robbie Burns bottle store. Robbie Burns used to have someone on point duty directing traffic, it was such a busy place. That was what they wanted, and Byron Buchanan wouldn’t sell it to them. They had a licence down in Karamu Road – de Pelichet’s licence – but they were prepared to transfer up to our place and all they wanted was a lever to say to Byron, “If you don’t sell to us we’re going to start up in opposition.” They eventually bought it … bought the Lodge Hotel … but it took them twelve months, and then they put our place back on the market for a lot less than what they’d paid us for it, and Charlie Bridgeman picked it up; he’s only just sold recently.

It’s amazing isn’t it, things that happen?

Yes – you know, we were lucky you know, in a way, that it worked out that way because – see we actually sold, or they paid a substantial deposit, in October 1986 and we didn’t actually close until March 1st 1987, so we had a good wind down period. All our staff were relocated; we told them, “Make your own arrangements – you’ve got time to move”, and it worked out fine.

And so you finished in March ..?

1987 we closed. The disappointing part was the conception [perception] would’ve been that we went broke, because it looked run down. The people that bought it did nothing with it, it just looked dilapidated.

I just can’t place the building …

It’s got ‘Storty’s Bar’ written on it now.

Ah yes, I know. Well, you know, the fascinating thing is that you, and the Barclay family, and the people who worked for you, you moved. You weren’t frightened to make decisions.

As it turned out our decision to sell was better than we ever anticipated, because we closed in March ‘87 and I think it was September ‘87 [October ‘87] that the share market crashed; was it Tomoana that closed, or Whakatu? One of the freezing works closed, and Birds Eye closed, which had a devastating effect on Hastings, which would have reflected on us.

It was a major problem really, ‘cause it all happened at once.

Yes. Yes, it did. Just going to show you – Kerry Phillips handed me that twenty years after we closed. Someone presented that to him for payment; got our stamp on the back of it. Kerry could’ve sent that in and recovered his $5, but he gave it to me.

So you have children?

Yes. I’ve got four children – Carolyn who lives round here in Rush Place; she married Ray Cooney, who works for Deer Corp [Corporation] out in Omahu Road; Wayne, who is a builder for GemCorp [Gemco] – he married Susan; Craig, who’s a carpet layer; and Elizabeth who’s married to Richard Wood, and they’re farming out at Aorangi Road. They’re quite big in the racehorse industry.

[Clears throat] And grandchildren?

Yes, I have nine I think. [Chuckles] Nine grandchildren; Carolyn, they’ve got three – Joanna, Hamish and Vanessa; Wayne’s got one – Brodie; Craig’s got four – Callum, Brian, Liam and Jacob; Elizabeth’s got one – Dominic. Dominic … you may’ve have heard his name in Hawke’s Bay cricket circles – he’s done very well at cricket. Great-grandchildren – I’ve got Sebastian … Seb; oh, crikey! My mind’s gone now [chuckles] … what’s the other two? No, I’ve lost the other two somewhere along the line.

You’ve just misplaced them, you haven’t lost them.

Yeah. [Chuckle] Should we have a break?


And now you’re going to tell me about what you’ve done for leisure?

After we sold out I didn’t know what to do with myself; I was fifty-five. Jobs weren’t easy to come by. It was 1987; I did nothing for three months apart from all the things that I hadn’t had time to do previously. But I got a ring from Baillie Farmers in Havelock North asking me what I was doing, and I said, “Not a lot.” And he said, “Would you like to be a commission-only salesman for us?” And I said, “Oh – worth a try, I suppose.” He said “We’ll give you a phone and a car, and away you go.” And Jack Black was the only other [?used car?] salesman there. So I worked for them for – well, it was just over twelve months I suppose, until the axe fell on them; and I thought, ‘Now I know what redundancy feels like.’ [Chuckle]

Anyway, I was out in the yard in the final week and Bruce McLaren pulled up. And he said, “What are you going to do when you this thing finishes?” I said, “Oh – I haven’t had time to think about it yet.” Bruce was the chairman of the Hastings Schools’ Grounds Committee, or some such name they had for it; he said, “I need someone who knows something about tractors to look after seven schools for me for a little while”, he said, “I’ve just put the joker off that w as doing it. How does that sound?” I said, “Oh, I’ll go and look after that for you.” So what he did was show me where the shed was and then [chuckle] said, “There’s a tractor in that shed up there; here’s the key.” Mind you, I’d worked on tractors but I hadn’t driven for a while.

Anyway, we started off – I had seven schools to look after. I’d finished the seven schools by about lunch time on Tuesday, and I thought, ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now.’ So I tidied up the shed and fiddled around with the tractor and that. I rang the other driver and I said, “Who do I see to get some more work? I’ve finished what they’ve given me.” He said, “I thought you said you had a lifestyle block?” And I said, “Yeah, I have.” And he said, “Well you should be able to find something to do on that for the rest of the week.” [Chuckle] I said, “Oh!” So I thought, ‘Well, that looks like … could even be the system’. So I did that for … March 1988 ‘til Tomorrow’s Schools came along in 1990. And the Education Board had – I was doing Havelock North; there was another guy doing Flaxmere, and there was another guy doing Hastings. They had three drivers getting paid forty hours a week to do those twenty-one schools.

So Tomorrow’s Schools came along and the first thing they said was, “We need you to fill in a time sheet to see what you guys do.” Well, the guy that was doing the Hastings run, he said, “I’m out of here”, and he walked out. So that left the two of us, so I think he got eleven schools and I got ten to do, which made it a bit more realistic filling in time sheets and things. Anyway the other guy only lasted about six months and he took off, and I was left on my own. So the chairman got hold of me and said, “I hope you’re not going to leave us?” And I said, “Well I’m always looking for something that pays a little bit better, but I will never ever leave you in the lurch. What’s the deal?” And he said, “I’d like you to work on your own for three months; you just do what you can.” He said, “And at the end of three months give me a plan to run this thing that we can run it more profitably than what it’s doing now.” And he said, “If we accept your plan you’ll get a good bonus.” So I did that, and I could see all the faults in the system; there was no maintenance being done on the tractors or anything. So anyway, at the end of three months I presented a deal to him. I said, “This is what you need to do to carry on like that.” And he came back to me and he said, “Do you want a bonus or a permanent job?” And I said, “Well, I need something to do”, I said, “what’s it worth?” So we worked out a deal that I would manage, hire and fire, and report to the board. We started buying new equipment and all sorts of things and everyone was happy; it worked out well, and we started making a profit, because the board was still getting the same money from the government to run the scheme but they weren’t spending as much, so they were all happy. And I lasted twelve years driving the tractor, and I had part-timers helping me in the busy season. And at the end of, I think it was 2000, I gave up driving and retired, and they treated me very well for retirement. And then a month later they rang me up and said, “We don’t seem to have a connection between the drivers and the board – what about you coming back as a Supervisor and a member of the Trust board?” So I did that for another twelve years, and it took me until I was eighty-three; and it was a very good interest for me and a good interest until retirement; it kept me going.

Did you have any other interests?

The thing that I meant to say before when we shifted … when Valerie and I first got married we built a garage in Elizabeth Place in Clive. Clive was on the edge of a boom in 1961 – I think it’s still on the edge of a boom. But we lasted there … think we moved out in 1970. One of the reasons why we picked our section was there was a piece of Crown land directly opposite which was to be a children’s playground; but in the finish the state saw differently and built a five bedroom State house on the site. And that took a little bit of the gloss off where we wanted to be, so we shifted to McHardy Street in Havelock North, and we bought Graeme Lowe’s old house. Graeme was shifting down to Iona Road and we bought his place there; there was three-quarters of an acre of ground with the house, and it was a great place for our kids to grow up. The boys grew up and that, and didn’t want to mow lawns any more and that, so we shifted to Emerald Hill and lived up there for a little while. But my wife, my daughter and granddaughter were itching to have horses; they had them stored around the place and that, so we bought the old place down in Brookvale Road. There was six acres of ground there with an old house which cost me a fortune to put in a liveable condition. And we stayed there for thirteen years and then …

So whereabouts in Brookvale Road?

The old Mitchell poultry farm?

Oh, of course, right at the end of the road.

Further down. We did it up; there was a room next door that had an incubator in it, which we took to with an axe and gutted the whole thing. And Wayne was building by that time so he put a new ceiling in it for me, and we painted it all up and we made a big games room out of it, ‘cause we had the pool table and the bar and everything, it was great.

So you had the horses as well?

And we had the horses. But then the girls grew up and they didn’t want horses any longer and we got left at home with horses, and so we said, you know, “Where do we go from here?” So actually Lorraine Rawcliffe put a thing in our letterbox; did we want a valuation? And I thought, ‘Well let’s see what it’s worth and see where we go from here.’ And then Tim … the guy that died, the real estate guy …


Tim Vennell offered us a better deal, so we eventually put it on the market. We looked around Havelock; we didn’t know where we wanted to live. And we spotted this section which was Target Homes – it was empty. Both houses on either side were built, but this one was empty. So we sold down there and we shifted into – we had a caravan at that stage – we shifted into the caravan in Arataki Motor Camp, and we were there for five months in the camp with a little dog while this place was being built. And we’ve been here ever since; that’s thirteen years, the longest we’ve ever lived in the one house.

Yes. So anything else that you’ve forgotten to tell me about?

I’m struggling to think of something at the moment.

While your whole life has been around motors and cars, you’ve never raced any, or done anything with any cars?

No, no. My first car was a ‘29 Austin 7.

Power plus!

[Chuckle] I really went up-market; I sold that one and bought a ‘36 Austin 7.

The first one – was that the one that had the starter motor inside the fire wall?

Yeah, I think you started with your foot; there was a button on the floor. And then I sold that Austin and Brian Sorenson sold me a Velox. I was going to buy an Austin A40, and Brian said to me, “Oh no – you don’t want one of those, you want a Velox.” And since then I’ve had … I would think about five Holdens, three Valiants, I don’t know how many Nissans. But … we’ve got Toyotas at the moment, which – I’ve never had Toyotas before but my wife wanted a Toyota Braun and she loved it very much; got a sliding door on the side. So we sold that one and upgraded, and I thought, ‘Oh, these Toyotas are not bad cars’, [chuckle] so I bought one, so there we are at the moment. She’s gone off to Wellington with my daughter-in-law, and they rang last night at six o’clock and said they’d arrived safely and struck a lot of rain at Dannevirke of course.

Of course, yes – wouldn’t be Dannevirke without some rain.


So you’ve really had a lot of experience with the motor industry …

[Chuckle] Yes. Yes, I love cars, I’m not sorry that I entered the motor trade. I don’t think I was ever the best mechanic that was ever invented, but I enjoyed my time.

Well you wouldn’t want to be a mechanic today – you wouldn’t know where to start. You can’t see the motor, can you?


Today we just don’t even worry about cars, they just go; as long as you’ve fuelled them and keep the air cleaner clean and the oil changed.

Yes, I get mine serviced once a year when I get a Warrant, [Warrant of Fitness] I get them to do a service at the same time. Apart from that I never even lift the bonnet now.

Now, you are related to the racing Murphy?

No. I get a few phone calls; people wanting to know if they can have one of Greg’s shirts for a promotion or something. His father’s name is Kevin too, and I get a phone call one night … he used to work for a top dressing company. I got a phone call one Sunday night: “What’s your rate for spraying gorse?” I said, “My what?!” [Chuckle]

Well Kevin Murphy, Greg’s father, used to work at Baillie Farmers in the office that I took over. I think there was one salesman between us. People would come into the office and look at me and say, “I dealt with Kevin Murphy last time but you don’t look like him.” [Chuckles]

Yes – probably somewhere back in the dark ages the Murphys would all’ve been related.


Where did your family come from – in Ireland, obviously?

My father came from County Kerry. He came out – he was a teenager when he came out here – he went to Australia first; he went to Queensland but he didn’t like snakes. And someone said to him, “Well there’s no snakes in New Zealand”, so he took off and he ended up here.

You’ve been to Australia I would imagine, several times – have you ever seen a snake over there?

[Chuckle] Well, it’s funny … we went on a bus tour once, and they took us out on a lake in this thing; and they said, “Oh, there’s usually a snake over here”, and they nosed the boat right over there. And I strongly suspect that that wasn’t a snake at all; that they had that thing made up there. [Chuckles] But of course all the people rushed up the front and they were taking photos and [everything], and I thought I’m not sure that that’s a real snake, ‘cause he seemed quite sure where it was going to be. But you know, I’ve mainly been to the cities and that, so I [was] never in a position to see a snake. Didn’t want to, either.

So where did Valerie grow up?

When I first met them – well, [the] first was in contact with me, the Manager from Napier and I had come to a meeting out in Hastings, and he took me with him to Barclays. They were living in Burnett Street at that time, but then they bought the place in Clive – the big place in Clive.

Beautiful property.

Yeah. And then Valerie went to Iona; and then Cyril and [?Vi?] built a house up Tauroa Road.

The big white one, colonial style …

And then they shifted down to Middle Road, in that establishment there.

I’m struggling to think of something at the moment, Frank.

We have got a fairly good coverage. When you think from when you were an apprentice, the cars you worked on until today – amazing.

You know, one of the biggest changes I saw in my time was when people were coming into the car yard to upgrade their car. They were people that – say they wanted a better car, they wanted to better themselves. By the time we quit, if someone came in to trade their car in, you would look at it and say, “Why is he trying to hang this thing on me?” And people’s attitude seemed to change. Dealers were fair game. I remember many you know, so many of Cyril’s deals, especially his tractors and things, were done with a handshake. No sitting round for a half an hour writing out things.

There was a trust between everybody.

Yeah. Yes. Yes, attitude changed.

Ok, well I think we’ve probably … Kevin, thanks for the contribution you’ve made to the motor industry, and mowing the grass and …


it’s all part of growing, isn’t it?

Yes – yes, it is.

All right, well I think we’ll stop it at that.

Original digital file


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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper


  • Kevin Emmet Murphy
  • Valerie Joy Murphy

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