Mawley, Robert Basil (Basil) and Elaine Florence Interview

Today is 22nd January 2019. I’m interviewing Basil and Elaine Mawley of Sunglo Orchard, Havelock North. Basil, would you like to start off by telling us something about your family?

Yeah; well, Frank, going right back, the original family the Frames came to New Zealand in 1800 sometime … 1870s or 1880s … round about then. They set up camp in Napier, 567 Marine Parade, and the old house is still there which they built. Old man Frame was a [an] architect/designer, and did quite a bit of work in Napier in architecture including the Veronica Bell, and stuff like that. He’s well known in Napier, and he’s well known in the Frame family in the Art Deco set up.

Now they had a large family; I’m not quite sure how many they had but I think they had about seven or eight. Two or three of them were lost in the war … First World War. That was Dad’s wife’s side; her name was Elvie. She was Elvie Frame, then Elvie Mawley. And there was [were] other sisters there; she had Rene, and Doug, and Dave, and Gail; Bernard, and that was it.

Anyway, moving forward a bit from there, the Frames came onto the scene. My father, Robert Trevor Mawley – his father was in the First World War and unfortunately he returned home badly injured; and the farm that they had at Rissington prior to him going was sold to the Urens; in due course Roy departed [died] in a short space of time on arriving home, and the farm was duly sold. And his wife, Elvie, moved to 21 Duart Road – and the old house is still there. She departed probably … I can’t remember how long ago now but it would be thirty years ago at least; and her sister, Rene … Irene … departed prior to Elvie going. And then there was Doug, getting into the Frames … Doug Frame, going back to there.

So Elvie lived on her own with her sister Rene for the rest of her life, at 21 Duart Road. She brought Trev up. He had a sister [who] unfortunately died at the age of three, and he was the only child. She educated him at Hereworth as a boarder, and then she educated him at Wanganui Collegiate for quite a length of time. And on leaving Wanganui Collegiate he joined the Air Force and trained to be a pilot. He got his pilot’s licence flying Harvards and Kittyhawks, and unfortunately, two days prior to leaving to go to Bougainville his plane caught fire, and he got winged-in at Harewood, crash-landed and ended up in a ditch or drain at the end of the air strip. And the consequences of that was he had about six or eight months in salt water baths and so on and so on; and to his last day all the skin on his body was second skin.


He came out of the hospitals and they wanted to take his wings off him, and he refused. But they offered him a job as area instructor from Gisborne to Woodville for ATC [Air Training Corps] which he fulfilled, and ran the No 11 Squadron in Hastings for a large number of years until relinquishing that.

What rank was he though?

Flight Lieutenant. And the records of his incident are all recorded in the book, ‘Kittyhawks to Coconuts’.

While he was area instructor he moved out to Havelock – he was living in Tomoana Road with Mum … Betty … and I think I came along there while they were in Tomoana Road. Can’t remember the number of the house but it’s opposite Cornwall Park. He purchased the orchard at 270 Napier Road in 1947 … ‘46 or ‘47 … and built a new house on the property having purchased it from John Peel. He carried on there and learned a lot through his old mate Syd Dixon helping him into the orcharding industry; with neighbours … he had Bill Jones on one side, and [I] think it was Alec Honeybun at the back.

And Jack Beale across the road …

Yeah, Jack Beale over the road, and I think there was Eric Coombe, wasn’t it? Over the other side. And they all worked in with one another for a period of time and helped each other, and then they got independent. Operated his own packhouse on 270. 1954 approximately, he purchased 267 block over the road off [from] Jim Horne, who had purchased it off [from] … I don’t know whether it was Jack Beale, but …

Yes, it was.

… and it still remains in the family. And then he ran the 267 with 270, packing all his own fruit. And after giving up the packhouse he went loose fruit; oh, well I was in the industry then anyway, I had my own orchard, so we went in loose fruit. We got accepted in there with Apple & Pear Board for many, many years, and found it a lot easier than running a packhouse.

Well just coming back, you had brothers and sisters?

Yes, there was Russell who’s seventy-four; Michael … I’m not sure, must be seventy; then there was Stephen who’d be close [to] sixty-eight or something; and then along came Jill, who’d be probably sixty-six, sixty-five; and they’re all still around.

So you went to Havelock school?

Yeah, I went to Havelock Primary, and then on to Wellington College for a year, giving that up to take the Agriculture course at Napier Boys’ High; did a couple of years there, then came home. And I was told, “Not allowed to work for your father for three years”, so I went and worked for Cliff Bewley in Crosses Road, and did my apprenticeship there. But after a couple of years – old Cliff was a pretty hard sort of boss – so I ended up going and working for Neville Davis for a couple of years.

Well who taught you your tree training skills and pruning skills?

Oh, basically it’s just what I’ve learned from all the others and put it together myself.

Because it’s been quite unique in the orcharding industry, ‘cause your trees, I believe, are the best shaped and best pruned trees in the district. But it was to do with production?

That’s right, yeah. It was you know, production, and everything had to look right. I think you’re right there, Frank, it was production because the more you put into it the more you got back. I bought the block off Ernest McClintock; 297 Te Mata Road I think it was – I may be out there, but I think that was it.

So after you’d served your apprenticeship working for these people you came back …

I came home … couple of times; couple of years, I suppose. And then a block came up over at 297 Te Mata-Mangateretere Road, which I purchased. It was all in stone fruit, Golden Queens, and we purchased that; and I ran that in conjunction with working here at my father’s place at the same time. Prior to purchasing that block, my father’d bought a block beside Jim Frogley’s house on the other side, which we cropped for three or four years in grain and peas and stuff; then we sold that and bought the McClintock block.

And that’s a property you called Sunglo?

That’s right. And farmed Sunglo for forty-one years, right through good years, bad years. Got rid of all the stone fruit, ‘cause I realised you couldn’t graft stone fruit so I thought, ‘Well if I put something in the apple line that’s not right, I can always graft it over to something else and get a return back a bit quicker than replanting.’

You ran the property with a low labour input too, didn’t you?

Yeah, we tried to keep it down. I mean, it’s the old story, the more you put into it yourself the more you get back at the other end.

Your varieties those days when you planted it would’ve been the Galas, and ..?

Yeah, just Gala and Granny Smith, Harold Red Delicious. I think they were about the main three then.

And of course it was planted on that beautiful Tukituki silt, built up by the river over the years.

Yeah, light river silt. We put underground irrigation in the whole place, and it was all on under-tree dam sprinkler system throughout the whole place. But the varieties changed, and eventually Granny Smiths weren’t the flavour of the day; Red Delicious went out, and Gala went out, so we replaced with Royal Gala, Pacific Queen, Pacific Rose, Pink Lady, Fuji, along with quite a few other varieties in the new variety system; anything that looked challenging or had possibilities we planted on trial basis.

In 1991 I bought the property beside me which was Peter Wills, and then it became … can’t remember who the other bloke was – oh, Lusk; off [from] Lusk in 1991. So I had already leased part of that place on the condition that I pull all the stone fruit out and redevelop it and maybe purchase at some stage, although I don’t think purchase was mentioned at that stage, but we kept going there. And then came the stage where Lusk wanted out … or he had to go in the end because he’d tried to trip me up, so the lawyers had to sort that one out. And we ended up buying the place to get him out; hence the development continued right to the bottom of the property, which gave us an area of about forty-odd acres, and all P [Pacific] Rose, P Queen, Pink Lady, Fujis. And I farmed that ‘til …

Before you get too far through, where did you meet Elaine?

I met her at the Premier Hall … dance hall … in 1962. We married in 1963, and we’re still here.

You tell us something about your family …

Elaine: But I haven’t got a lot on …

We just need to include you though, as part of the history.

Yes. Because I’ve got to get Eric, my brother, and Scott Gray; they have done one with all of it in us, [all of us in it] and Scott’ll have that, won’t he?

Basil: Mmm.

Elaine: But just the Gray family – they came here in 1851, the Grays, but they went [to] Paekakariki, and then to Foxton and that’s all I can get on that one at the moment. And apparently they did live in Havelock in the end, and one of them … must’ve been my great-grandfather … name is on the Cenotaph in Havelock.

As one of the soldiers of the First World War?

Yeah. So that’s about all I can …

Basil: No, well you’ve got your father; who did he work for when you were living in the brown house at Eric Nelson’s?

Elaine: Eric Nelson.

Basil: Did he work for Eric? He worked for Eric Nelson …

Elaine: Because the brown house was built for us to go there. [Speaking together]

Basil: Go through that, where you moved down there.

Elaine: Yeah, from Eric Nelson. Then we shifted houses, and …

Became dairy farmers?

Yes. Dad loved his dairy farm.

Basil: Well he leased Goodrick’s farm down Lawn Road and milked all the cows down there prior, for many years to help out on the death of Rodney and Winston’s father. And then your father bought a large block of land in Tennants Road in Tukituki …

Elaine: Mmm.

Basil: … and had a dairy farm there and was milking, oh, I don’t know … hundred and something cows, or eighty, hundred cows, I’m not sure what; until he had a heart attack and … I hope you don’t mind me saying this, ‘cause Elaine’s a bit lost at times.

Elaine: No, that’s right, he’s better at … my memory’s not that good.

Basil: He departed, [died] and the boys didn’t keep the farm going so the herd was sold, the farm was split up and the boys got [a] piece each. It all went into grapes. And your mother … Elaine’s mother … stayed in the house out there with ten acres and eventually the grapes were pulled out … yeah, Erics …

Elaine: Yeah, but Eric put his in, and Kevin put his in.

Basil: Yeah, they put them in; but then I think they sold the vineyards as they were.

Elaine: Yeah.

Basil: And then Eric moved to – oh, he lost his wife while he was out there – Delice Preston, she was. And he carried on on his own for a while, and after a short period of time the footbridge across to – Elaine’s brother, Kevin – he departed too, with bowel cancer at forty-two, and Marg was on her own. And Eric was on his own – Eric was helping her out – so the two of them got together and got married again. And they lived over there for a short period of time and then moved to Havelock, doing up houses and what not round Havelock; built a spec house. [Speculative house] Following that they ended up going to Westshore and built a place on the Esplanade in Westshore. Oh, Eric had some major operations for cancer; not like his brother, but elsewhere – in the throat and stomach, and cancer in the head and skull. And eventually he sold Westshore, on the Esplanade there, mainly I think looking ahead to keep Marg … get her settled, because I think Eric realised his time was numbered; I think they gave him a number of years from his last big op. [Operation] And he got her all settled into a house at Poraiti. He painted it all and did everything with her, and got it all nice and tidy, and then he had a stroke, as if it was all planned; did everything for her; and Eric departed. So the only remaining people [person] is Bev, who’s Elaine’s elder sister who lives with Phil King, farming at Tiko; [Tikokino] they’ve got four children, two girls, two boys; Christine lives in Havelock, the youngest one, on her own, and unfortunately the boys are not here.

Now what about your mother, you haven’t said anything …

Oh, the Bennett side.

Elaine: Yeah. Well the Bennetts …

Basil: Where did they come from?

Elaine: I’m not sure.

Basil: Well they were based in Masterton, anyway.

Elaine: Yes, we used to go and see them in Masterton.

Basil: What did Harry do? Her husband’s name was Harry …

Elaine: Yeah.

Basil: … and her name was Christmas …

Both: Christmas Grace.

Basil: She was born on Christmas Day.

Elaine: Yeah. I’m just trying to think what Harry did.

Basil: They had … how many family? Sisters and brothers?

Elaine: There was only one boy, that was Eric.

Basil: Thursa …

Elaine: Thursa, yeah.

Basil: And there was [were] two or three other girls; I can’t think of their names.

Elaine: Terrible …

Basil:  I know. Elaine’s got a bit of memory loss.

Elaine: [Chuckle] We used to go to their places all the time; I should remember. Thursa and Noel and Dorothy and Betsy.

Basil: Yeah, it’s coming …

Elaine: Yeah.

Basil: So they lived in Masterton all their lives, and one of them married an orchardist down there, the Grays … another Gray. [Spells] George Gray, too – same name as Elaine’s …

Elaine: No, well I … theirs was ‘e-y’.

Basil: Oh, yeah well … we’ll dispute that.

Elaine: [Chuckle] No, he used to have a shop in …

Basil: Greytown.

Elaine: Greytown. It was all the small fruits. So … but that’s about all. I don’t know …

Basil: There is a connection to the [?Cullivants?] isn’t there? Somewhere? Where does that come in?

Elaine: Oh, that comes in on Dad’s side, but I’ll have to get that off Scott.

So when did your father marry your mother – can you remember? No. And you went to school at Mangateretere …


and then to Hastings?

Yes, Hastings Girls’ High. Yeah. Bev went to Napier, but Hastings Girls’ … I went the year before it opened, and then it opened the next year. So I went there and then I went to work at Baillie Motors, I was there for a few years.

Basil: Most of the time.

Elaine: Yeah.

And then you were married and you had children. Tell us about your children …

[Chuckle] Yeah.

Basil: Well there’s Robert, Katherine, Susan and Andrew.

Elaine: Robert’s the oldest, Kath’s next, and then …

Basil: Robert’s in Hastings, he’s a precision engineer/tool maker. Contracts himself out. Katherine’s in Taupo … surname’s Nairn, [spells] and they had started off with [a] couple of fish and chip shops up there they set up; and then they leased Ploughman’s Restaurant for five years. They moved from there into town, and they had a night club place called Rockafellas after that. And Shane originally did his apprenticeship here in Havelock with Roger Payne as a sheet metal engineer; and he always was good with his hands, and after Rockafellas I think it was, I don’t think he had any other … I’m not sure … he leased a big store in the industrial area in Taupo, up in Miro Street. And it’s now called Lake Steel, and Kath runs all the office and does all the book work; and Shane and three others run all the workshop, specialising in stainless steel and copper. They do a lot of household stuff; a lot of stuff down here in the Bay; they do work for builders, and you know, real expensive homes too. But they’ve got a very good business there.

They had a boy called Mitchell who was a very good swimmer all his life, and he’s now swim coach for Pukekohe Swim Club; and he’s been to the Nationals overseas, and did a stint for twelve months in Melbourne, running a big swim club over there.

Paige is the girl, the daughter – she’s into photography and whatnot; but now the last two or three years she’s been working for … they all got educated at Taupo High and got all their qualifications … but she’s working for Simon Dickie for years, to raise money while she was at varsity; both of them went to varsity too incidentally, for three years. She used to come home and work on the boats with Chris Jolly and all the others there, and still does, but now she’s more on the promotional side of things; and working for Chris Jolly and Simon Dickie, and she’s taken on a couple of other promotional things.

Susan’s another daughter; lives in Tauranga, married to a bloke, Rex Still, whose parents live in New Plymouth. His father used to be the mayor of New Plymouth. They’ve got a block of land at – what’s the name of the road? You go over the Wairoa bridge at Bethlehem, and … oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Anyway, just up over there on the left, they’ve been there for …

Elaine: Crawford Road, isn’t it?

Basil: Crawford Road. And on leaving school she went into hairdressing, or actually started the year before she left school; did her apprenticeship with Smiths in Hastings with Roland McClintock; and she went out on her own and set up her own salon. I can’t think of the name, what was the name of it? We tried a while ago to ask her what it was …

Elaine: In King Street, upstairs?

Basil: Hair something … Hair Design or something, I don’t know … up above where Andy Ross’s bike shop … up the top up there. She had that for three or four years, five years probably. And then she moved to Tauranga – oh no, she met Rex, and married Rex and moved to New Plymouth; had a salon on the house over there and was doing hairdressing. They decided to get out of New Plymouth, and went to Tauranga where she developed a salon in Bethlehem where she had three or four other girls working for her; operated that for quite a few years, and then on building a new home up Cameron Road they had a salon put on the house so she decided … and the family came along; the young ones, Sebastian and Harrison and Demelza … and she operated from home on her own. And to this day she’s still operating in the same place.

It’s obviously successful, and not far to work.

Elaine: [Chuckles] Exactly.

Basil: They all did their education at Te Mata Intermediate and then on to Havelock High. Andrew, the last one, on leaving school … as you know, always happens in your family, one decides to do his own thing … went to the mountain, [to] Turoa; worked up there for a couple of years on the ski slopes; he was an outdoor one, always into sport. Ended up going over to the States and skiing over there in Colorado and whatnot for a period of time.

Elaine: Mind you, the girls went to England …

Basil: Yeah, I’ll go back to that. He came home; now before I go any further with that, the girls both went to England after the hairdressing, and Katherine worked in Westpac Bank before she met Shane. These things come into fruition.

Anyway, Andrew came home and went and worked for a couple of orchards – I can’t recall who they were – and then said “Oh, this is not my scene.” And he met Juliet Ebbett who was a friend of Susan; they knocked around together for years. They duly got married and Ruby came along, and Ruby’s now educated, been right through Frimley School and Karamu High and she’s now just into her second year nursing at EIT [Eastern Institute of Technology] to become a nurse.

Archie came along after Ruby. He was educated at Frimley, and he’s had the last five or six years at Lindisfarne and has now got his NCEA1, and is moving into his NCEA11 [2], or 12 or whatever it is – Sixth Form equivalent; he’s got another two years, he’s staying at Lindisfarne anyway. And he plays the bagpipes, he does a lot of individual piping; he’s in …

Elaine: After his father.

Basil: … plays for the Hastings Pipe Band; his father does the same, Andrew.

You were never a piper were you?


I didn’t ever see George playing the pipes either.

We’re all drinkers. [Chuckle] And after Archie came along, Andrew set up a crop-spraying business with self-propelled machines that he imported from Italy. That business cruised on, and then they slowly got out of self-propelled and went to trucks, and the big spraying rigs on the back of John Deere tractors at the time. Their marriage blew apart about six years ago which’d be what? ‘13? And Juliet got custody of Ruby, and Andrew got custody of Archie, so it’s been a fair bind up ‘til now for Andrew to bring up Archie and provide him with hot meals every night and so on and so on; but one of the big things about sending him to Lindisfarne is he gets a good meal … hot meal every day there. And it’s like a second home to him – it’s security as far as I’m concerned, anyway. And Andrew’s still crop-spraying but because of health issues it looks like we’ll be winding it down after 31st March. He has a lot of other things in line; he’s done exams for them and he’s qualified and getting his certificates, so once that’s all come through he’ll move on to what he wants to do after that.

Well that’s the family. Now we move back to how the industry has changed during your period in it.

Well they moved from wooden boxes to bins.

Well I remember just before you were born, it was about 1946, your father had owned the orchard for a while, hadn’t he?

While the house was being built he still lived in town.

Because we had all these boxes of fruit and they had linoleum across the top, ‘cause he used to leave them in the orchard for the bruises to come out; specially the Sturmers …

That’s right. All the fruit was picked into bushel cases, the old wooden box … benzine tins originally but … they were all individually manhandled onto trailers and brought to the pack house, and then manhandled again and individually tipped into a hopper and put over the grader.

The Mawleys’ tractor was the latest model Case … hand clutch, rubber tyres … didn’t sound like a tractor. I’ll never forget, this was the first big tractor I’d seen.

It had the old magneto on it ..

That’s right.

… you had to crank it to start it, and if you didn’t get it right she kicked you.

But moving on from the boxes, the packhouse was redesigned and redeveloped for bulk bin harvesting; forty bushels per bin, approximately. Some people went to ninety-bushel trailers, but we went to bulk bins – I think we had about forty-odd at one stage, to keep ahead with supply bins for pickers. And that cruised on and went right through until we went into loose fruit with the Apple & Pear Board.

And of course the spraying systems changed too.

Yeah. Yep. Yeah, we went from crawler sprayers like my father used, and then we went to one that had booms on the back that just oscillated. And then he bought a Besblow sprayer … new one, and that stayed here ‘til – I actually sent it to the dump about six years ago; put it on a truck and sent it away. But there was other sprayers, and at the time, you know, as we got bigger, there was another one.

Because the old Besblow had the Wisconsin motor in it …

Yeah, had a Wisconsin, but we converted it over and put Holden motors in it.

Cause the Wisconsin was a bit temperamental …

They’re temperamental. So the sprayers all departed; I gave the last one away to Nigel Cooper a couple of years ago, which was a damn good sprayer. It was built like a bee, had the twin ducts all at the back. And Metters – I had a Metters sprayer, then I ended up with a Crop Liner for the last five years.

Tractors changed, ‘cause you had to go to the horsepower to drive them, you weren’t just pulling them like the big Besblows and stuff, [?PDO?] sprayers. We used to cart our own fruit for a long period of time; early stages, Bambry Brothers. Kerrys from Haumoana used to cart all the fruit and then I bought a truck. Had a couple of trucks when we were on loose fruit, and went from a four-wheeler to a twin axle articulated truck; thirty-two bins at a time on it, ‘cause the volume was going up and up and up from the Te Mata-Mangateretere Road block and here. ‘Cause the production was climbing all the time, but towards the end before Dad departed we were really developing this place, at 270. A lot of varieties had to be pulled out and we were planting new varieties, and we were getting root stocks and growing our own trees for a period of time there. So I actually leased it after the hail storm in 1990; my father didn’t want to go through another hail storm having been through two or three nasty ones in his lifetime, and he just said, “I don’t want it; I don’t want to carry on”, so I leased the place off him. But the condition at the time was that there’d be no lease paid because of the amount of redevelopment that was going on. I’d run it in conjunction with another property; we were just getting to the stage where it was, you know, going to become viable and start paying the lease on it when he departed. So I ended up satisfying the family and buying it, which I had options on anyway. And that was all settled and cleaned up in 2002 … October/November 2002. He departed in May … March.

Elaine: I don’t know, I’m not quite sure. We were just talking the other day – when I got the pacemaker was ’02, so I remember it all those days …

Basil: I farmed it on right ‘til – just the 267 and 270 Napier Road, because Te Mata/Mangateretere Road was sold in 2002 – that’s right, when my father departed. I’d had a woman chasing me for two years wanting to buy the place; I refused to accept her offer and I thought, ‘Well one day she’ll come back.’ And she eventually did, and she said, “I’ll pay your price; I know it was a big price.” And I said, “Well, you won’t, because” I said, “it’s gone up ten percent since then.” And she said …

Elaine: He’s a hard man.

Basil: … “I’ll think about it.” Well, I rang a friend of mine who she’d bought another property off at the time, and she told me to sit tight – “You’ll get a phone call from her stating that you’re to meet her at the lawyer’s office with your lawyer at a certain time.” And that did happen about two weeks after I was told that. So I got this phone call so I notified my lawyers, went in there, and I sold it. And she said, “I’ll pay your price and your ten percent, ‘cause”, she said, “I know you’re a stubborn bugger.” So I got the lot; and then I hung it on and said I wanted a free home for twelve months at least, until I built a property over there at 267, which she accepted. And I stayed there and operated over here at 270, 267 for twelve months.

So while you were at Sunglo you developed or found a special apple that’s been like the goose that laid the golden egg, you said.

Oh yeah. Well it’s now eighteen years, nineteen years, since I found a sport. [Mutation] I mean those were the things in the day, if you found a sport – there were so many sports of Galas and things … [speaking together] things went on …

Was this on a Gala?

No, it was on a Pink Lady. I found one on a Harold Red which is called Sunglo Red; and I found a Fuji which is called Morfu. But then I found this Pink Lady one and I thought, ‘Well, we’ll get into this one”, and notified a few people and away it went. But it was a pretty closed shop for a few years … pretty protected. We only had one bud, and we actually grew one tree from that bud; we were only able to get one bud off it. So the following year when that bud develop into a tree, we were able to probably recoup twenty to thirty buds off that tree to plant up more. And it slowly progressed from there.

And then we applied to APAL [Apple & Pear Australia Limited] in Australia, ’cause I didn’t want to do it on my own or promote it all round the world, so I thought, ‘I’ll use the Pink Lady trademark.’ So they accepted me in there on the condition that I do all these trials, and plots, and research and development stuff through Mt Albert in Auckland. And we had to do taste panels for two years in a row compared with other varieties – all up there, before they’d accept into the Pink Lady, because it had to be similar to Pink Lady; you know, right on the dot.

Anyway, that in due course was all accepted, and then away we went. Once that went in I employed Andrew McKenzie to start with, who gave me a lot of guidance and set up all the patents and PVRs, [Plant Variety Rights] and so on and so on. And we did a patent in America which came through within twelve months – ‘cause you had to submit it within twelve months of notifying the patent office … something there anyway, ‘cause another one missed out ‘cause they didn’t file it in time, so I was a bit lucky there.

PVRs in the world were based with Star Fruits in France, where I’ve been and going back again this year … their head office. And they are in control of the whole of the European Union, and supply all the trees to all the countries in the European Union. And on going through this I had a lot of help from Lawrie Cooke, who planted up a lot of trees and grew a lot of trees for promotional work and sales throughout New Zealand, and that’s been a big boost for eight or nine, ten years. But now all the PVRs have been granted; I’m just waiting on Australia who’ve dicked us around for four, five years; but we’ve been granted PVRs by Star Fruits right throughout Europe, got a patent in America, we’ve got a PVR in South Africa …

And I have agents in every country who monitor all the plantings, all the nurseries, and they’re all controlled by the master agents. In America it’s Willow Drive; in the European Union it’s Star Fruit; in South Africa it’s Top Fruit; in Australia it’s ANFIC [Australian Nurserymen’s Fruit Improvement Company] and the payments have just started trickling in, and we’re getting quite big now. South Africa came through last year, so they’re talking about large plantings of two, three hundred thousand trees this year. America’s talking three, four hundred thousand trees. You know, it’s just ongoing. Serbia, Russia …

Do you still [retain] ownership of the original tree?

Yes. Yep – I’ve got it. It’s right out the back here.

You lifted it …

Yeah, and brought it over here …

[Speaking together] … and brought it with you?

… and I still retain the tree here; only tree I’ve got.

And has that tree developed other … you only found it on part of that tree, didn’t you?

That’s right, that’s right.

None of the rest of the tree’s reverted to that sport?

No. All stable. I have seen others on there; I have seen fruit colour on this particular tree, and I’ve tagged it, thinking, ‘Well, this is colouring earlier than the original’, you know.

So what do you do when people say, “Can I come and look at the Pink Lady?” You say, “I’m sorry but she’s wearing a red dress today”?


Well that was one of the things that the marketing thing said, ‘cause we called it ‘Lady in Red’, and it’s come from Pink Lady. And we should’ve called it …

Elaine: It was hard to find a name.

Basil: In Europe, Star Fruits wouldn’t accept Lady in Red because of the nectarine called Red Lady; too close to it, so we had to change it. So we sat here one day with Katherine here, and Elaine and I, and we were trying to work it out; and Katherine just came up with S-E-K – Susan, Elaine and Katherine – and she said, “There it is, Sekzie.” So it’s s-e-k-z-i-e. and I regret not putting ‘Pink’ after it because of the pink. But I did try to get it through Star Fruits after, but it was too late, Sekzie had been registered.

Elaine: But America won’t have any other name now.

Basil: No – that was Europe. Everything’s Sekzie.

So when you decided to retire from orcharding, I know that was driven a lot by your health and your bones and joints and backs and so forth. It was a big decision to make ..?

Oh, we’ve adjusted.

You were tired?

Yeah. Yeah, I’ve had a fair innings and that …

Elaine: Yeah, there’s been lots of … yeah. You could say a lot more.

Well it’s seventy years, isn’t it?

Basil: Well there’s another reason, but I won’t say that.

No, that’s all right, you don’t have to. So anyway it’s really quite exciting to talk to someone who’s come through the grassroots … family; went out, found their own way …

Elaine: And our children still remember, we had apricots and nectarines and …

Basil: Oh, it was all the stone fruit on my …

Elaine: … on the other orchard; and they were just growing up, you know, the little ones, and they remember sitting on the tractor. And they had to help pick and pack.

I always remember, you were practical; you didn’t dream it, you actually did it.

Basil: I very seldom had a theory person on the place. I didn’t hire a consultant – I couldn’t see why I needed one. If I wanted to find out something I’d go and talk to the oldest grower in the road. That’s what we were always told when we were brought up.

So … how lovely it is sitting on the banks of the Karamu Stream where you grew up … you’re children of the river.

Elaine: Yeah.

Basil: I just graze it now in the winter with lambs, and taking the hay off it. Looking at it again and the way it’s growing, I may get a second cut, I don’t know.

Well you will, the way that red clover’s coming through …

It’s bolting, so … put in a good mix, and that was what I wanted. I don’t know what I’ll do over the road eventually, but I’ve had a developer come and see me and discussed it with a developer and my accountant, but the Council won’t let us do what we want to do at this stage, so …

What do you do as a hobby? You used to go to Taupo, fishing, in the early days …

Elaine: Yes.

Basil: Yeah, we did a lot of that with the kids. We had a boat up there and we were always out weekends and school holidays. Once the kids were gone you stayed out of Taupo on long weekends and school holidays – you just didn’t go there. But no, I find plenty to do. I’ve been rebuilding all the sheds over there, painting them.

Yes. My old builder [who] worked for us, you know cow sheds, feeding pads, houses, add-ons …

Well, a lot of your corrugated iron … Kaye’s roof is on that shed over the road.

He is the most amazing man …

Elaine: Who’s that?

Ted Flanders.

Basil: Unbelievable.

Elaine: They’re lovely.

Basil: Do anything for you. He drove past here one day when I was putting all the posts in with Bob Duncan, and you know, every one of those posts has got a bag of cement round it – you know, one of those pre-mix bags – every one of those had to be done properly and everything and … sighted it all up. And we were using nylon; Ted drove past and said, “Throw that away”, and pulled out a long string; strung it the full length of the distance, and ping, ping, you know? And away he went; and he kept an eye on us and came down and gave us a hand [to] put all the rails up.

Only does it once, but he does it properly.


So do you do anything for a hobby, Elaine?

Basil:  Knitting.

Elaine: I’ve always been a knitter [chuckle], yeah. And I was always doing the [?] office work … always did all the office work because I loved that, so I had GST and all that sort of thing.

So anyway, is there anything you’ve forgotten to tell me?

Only that we’re getting older … [chuckle]

Well join the club!


But this is why we’re recording this history, so not only your children and grandchildren but the rest of Hawke’s Bay can look, and say “Well who were the Mawleys?”

Exactly, yeah. ‘Cause we probably say the same thing now. But it’s hard to remember at times just on the spur of the moment.

Basil: 2015, I removed the orchard here.

Three years ago? But look at the way that those cherry trees have grown round the top here.

The neighbours right back was [were] Bill Jones, Les Jones, Edgar Coombes, Duncan Fleming, and Kemp … used to own Graham Clare’s place ‘til the house burnt down; and after Kemps went out, Clarks went in there – he’s a signwriter. And then Graham bought it off [from] him. And then, oh, there’s Tuckers over there across the creek, and there was Alec Honeybun at the back, and that went to Russell Robertson Trust.

And then of course there was the water wheel, and Bill Jones.

Yeah, that was there.

Getting back to my mother’s side … it was Bates; and there was Cecil Bates and I think it was Amelia he married, she was a Burtenshaw, I think, from memory. The original Bates … they used to be tea merchants in the UK [United Kingdom] – they came from the UK. And they had two children, my mother, Betty, and Russell. Russell married Molly … it’ll come; and they were farmers down in Wyndham, the South Island, as long as I can remember. And they retired and moved up to Taupo … built a couple of houses in Taupo. Both of them have since departed and their ashes are scattered in Lake Taupo; and that was the end of them. And they had two children … three … Peter Bates, Liz … she’s now Liz Gardner … lives in Masterton with Rob, and Graham Bates, lives in Palmerston [North].

Was the Burtenshaw name ..?

I think Mum’s second name was Burchmore, Betty Burchmore.

Elaine: Burchmore-Bates … Betty Burchmore-Bates.

Oh, it wasn’t Burtenshaw?

Both: No.

Basil: And he was Russell Edmond Bates, and he was a farmer, and Cecil [was] a seed merchant, and I’m sure Amelia was a Robertshawe, [?Burtenshaw?] I can’t quite … haven’t got any details on them.
[Amelia Elizabeth Benzie]

Okay, well that gives us a nice …

Elaine: You’ve probably got enough. We never thought that when we lived down the road further, but we just went to a dance that night. I went with Colleen Field …

Basil: Guthrie.

Elaine: Guthrie, sorry, Colleen Guthrie that was; and Basil went with … you had a couple of friends, or one friend … and we went to the Premier as we always used to, and we met there. And my poor father, he nearly had a heart attack then, I think. [Chuckle]

Did he?

Yeah, well he … Basil had been in the afternoon and bought my brother’s car, a little Morris Minor.

Basil: Hillman Minx.

George appeared to be always a very patient man.

Elaine:  Oh, Dad was, yeah – he was lovely. [Cough] I always went with Dad everywhere. [Chuckle]

So anyway, if that’s it I will say thank you very much for allowing the Knowledge Bank to share in the history of your families.

Basil: I think it’s pretty well covered.

History’s never finished.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper


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