Robert (Bob) Boston Interview

Today is 27th Nov 2017. I’m interviewing Bob Boston of Greenmeadows. Bob, would you like to tell us something about your family and yourself?

Right. I was born in Napier in 1931 and I was the fifth child of six [background noise including bird chirping] to my parents, Winifred and Bert Boston, so two months before the major earthquake in Napier which of course, obviously I don’t remember. But it destroyed a lot of things with our family – a lot of the children were sent up to Auckland to live with relatives while things settled down, and things were not easy at all for the family. And my sisters were at school at that time and they can remember the shaking, and running home. One of them got lost and the parents had to go out looking for them. So obviously a very sincere time for the family.

My family originally came out – or my relatives came out during 1660 in England. It started with John Sheppard who was born in 1660 and their children were Sheppards. I’ve got seven different evolutions of family, which goes down, one, two, three, four, five, six, and the sixth one is my mother, Winifred Alice, and on the other side it goes down starting at 1795, and it goes down to my father who was born in 1900. So he met my mother. My father come [came] out from England, met my mother and they married and they had the six children. And I married my wife who was Gladys Joy Nugent, and we had four children, and we had six grandchildren, and they’ve now had nine great-grandchildren, so it’s a busy family life.

When I was fifteen I took a job – I answered an ad and went to Venables Willis, who were printers on Dickens Street. So I took a job and was an apprentice for six years as a book binder, paper ruler, and at the end of my six year apprenticeship I became the foreman of the bindary and I had about ten women and two men under me. And one of the other employees that had been away in J Force – that’s Jack Martin – he’d come back, and he decided he’d start a company which would make colour cards for the paint industry and other places, like cosmetics for fingernails and powders for faces. So he started this company where he got the actual products and sprayed sheets of cardboard. He had a dye press which cut them into the chip size. He had a machine which would wipe glue over the page – the spots of glue had a certain place – and by hand they’d stick on all these colours.

So he asked me to join it and become the Commercial Printing Manager, and we’d start up doing letterheads, business cards, account books and everything. So I agreed to do it and I left my job and went to his new rented place. And when I walked in there was a concrete floor and a couple of boxes – one contained a small printing machine – I forget the other one. But my first job was to take off my tie and start building benches. And then we had to look around for equipment. There was one new machine called a graphopress, and that was the actual printing machine, and we hunted around for a machine and we found a ruling machine for sale at Whanganui. So I went over to Whanganui and found this machine, and the old pen ruling machine was about twenty foot long and ten foot wide – it was made of all wood – monstrous looking thing. Looked like a [?] or torture instrument. So I had to dismantle that, bring it back to Napier and assemble it. And that was our ruling machine which I could do.

So the company built up, and we employed and we bought more machinery. And it gradually grew up and up. So I was running the commercial printing and Jack was running the colour cards, so it was like two separate businesses. He had machinery that printed colour cards and the deposit of the paint and I had machinery which did the commercial print.

Okay, go back to where you went to primary school.

Right. I went to primary school when my brother Stuart went, and he was exactly one year older. I was 27th of April and he was the 15th of April, one year apart. So when he was five to start school, I had to go with him. So he was just over five and I was just over four. And I regret … it’s you know, I mean convenience. We went to the school together and our lunch, and of course the parents – no participation with parents in those … probably the first day. And so for that reason I was probably the dunce of the family, and Stuart was the clever one, because I never really did catch up with that. Yeah, I was just a kid – just a baby really, so … and I regret that all my life because I was always behind. And my school reports were dreadful, and then I went to high school and I wasn’t very good there, not a good scholar at all.

So which primary school were you at?

We were at Hastings Street School. Hastings Street, and then I went to Intermediate and then Napier Boys’ High School. And when I got to fifteen at the high school I was in the fifth form, and I hated it and I was no good at it of course. I never did catch up, and I was still younger than everyone else all the way through. So when a job came up which I saw, I answered at Venables Willis, and there was [were] quite a few applicants, but I got it.

So then we’ll carry on now – you started working with Jack Martin?

So the company got bigger and bigger, and then Jack got hold of this man in England who had designed a machine which would do all of his paint chips on with an automatic process using the colours in a liquid form deposited in one hit, so they could do a hundred and twenty colours on one impression, done by machine. Now the colours that were put on the card was [were] not the actual paint. It was a lacquer, and lacquers had to be tinted to the colour of the actual paint. So if we’re doing a chart with a hundred colours, we’d have a hundred tins of paint arrive, and they’d be stirred up and brushed out onto a sheet. And we would start with the tins of white lacquer with the tinters – there’s about twelve tinters – and by eye, the colour tinter, which [who] was Noel Kemsley, who was the other start up with the company – they would look at a colour and say “well, that’s green and black and a bit of red”. And they’d do that and mix it up, and take a brush out onto a bit of card and leave it, and go to the next colour. And they’d do say, ten colours. And colour when it’s wet is different to colour when it’s dry, so by the time they’d done ten colours the first one would be dry. So they’d look at that and say “right, well that’s a bit red, so I’ll put a touch more blue in that”, and so they’d mix up and do another brush. And they’d go through and through. The average was one hour per colour. So if you’ve got a hundred and twenty colours, it was a long job.

Then they had to go for approval up to head office to BALM Paints or Taubmans … British Paints. And their guy would look at it and come back with a comment – it would just be a bit of card with a brush of the colour, saying “this one’s a bit red, this one’s okay, this one’s a bit yellow.” So they’d have to correct to that guy’s eyes and send them up again ‘til they said okay. And of course all they were mixing was about a three gallon tin of this colour.

So when it was all approved they would all go up to a mezzanine floor with holes right through it where they could take tubes down to the machines which would go into little plunger holes. And there’d be a matrix made with the shape of the chip die cut out of it. So when … it had a machine which had a push-pull system of feeding … you’d push one in and the matrix would come down and would make contact with it, and the lacquer would drop through a certain amount and form the perimeter of this recessed area, and go up. And the operator on that side would pull it out and put the card onto drying racks, and while she was doing that the woman on the other side was putting a new card in. So it was a push-pull thing, like that.

And over the years we ended up with three machines, and we were working shift work … we were working seven days a week at times. And we could only work as far as what these racks … they were just thin racks of wood with a upstand about an inch, so you put one on top of the other. We had a trolley that moved them round a big drying space. And of course because it was lacquer, and the fumes … you couldn’t have any flammable material. You couldn’t have a spark from anything. We had a system overhead which was a powder spray thing, and if it went off it would just be like a powder, block out the whole place. Probably ruin every card as well, but that was the security of it. And then the next day they’d take them all out, and then they’d go through a folding machine and the girls might have to pack them in twenty-fives – very hands-on job.

So we ended up doing all the cards for New Zealand and for the Pacific Islands. And our nearest competitor was in Australia, and they were part of the same group because the man who supplied the machines – he was Lord McCorquodale, and he was in the British War Office during the War. Lord McCorquodale … so we had to pay rights to use the machine.

The lacquer smell meant the girls could only have two hours at a time, twice a day – two in the morning, two at night, two in the afternoon. So we had probably about thirty women working for us, all being able to go onto the machines for the paint deposit, then they’d go into the factory and they’d be folding cards, so that was a big, big part of the business.

And it took quite a bit of travelling. Jack really … he used to go to Auckland a lot and Wellington, and I did too, at times. ‘Cause I used to do a lot travelling for the commercial printing because we were doing a lot of cosmetic and other things for Unilever, Colgate … oh, I forget all the names now, but big jobs. And a lot of it was personal contact where they were going. And I went to Fiji a couple of times with the colour cards simply being proofed, and Australia a couple of times with different things. So it was a very bright business. Had a hundred and twenty staff at our top.

About when you were retired, had the process changed greatly?

No. But over the time circumstances changed, so what happened was … I’ll just go back further. At one time I was approached, and I left Martin Print and I went out to Cliff Print Hastings … Noel Wilson. And he asked me to go as General Manager of the company, which I did. And it didn’t work out – it was a family business, and I wasn’t going to be … I finished. So I was actually just mucking around at home, and doing a bit of wall papering, and the chief of Martin Print from Auckland – the big noise – he come [came] down and he arranged a meeting with me – ‘cause Jack Martin had gone to Australia to run that at that time, and we had people that knew nothing about making colour cards or printing them. In the big world of business, if you’ve got a good brain and the experience you can run anything – you can run a glass plant or whatever. Well in some cases, it doesn’t work. And we had managers come down from Auckland who were professional managers, but knew nothing about paint and printing – nothing. And of course before that, I was the factory manager and I ran everything except the colour cards.

So I got asked to go to a meeting – I was unemployed – to meet this high … guy from Auckland and the company manager at that time in Napier, for a meeting. And they got me to the home and said, “we have to tell you that since you left, in that five years the company has gone downhill, and it’s in a financial state now that we are considering, if it doesn’t improve in six months, we will be closing down. We’ll be moving the commercial print to Auckland and the colour cards to Australia. That’s how bad it is, and the staff will be put off.” So he said “as a last ditch solution we’re asking would you come back as General Manager and see if you can put it right.” So I agreed.

And so when I got there, I was amazed to find what had happened in my five years away. For example, they were running a canteen with two women cooking a hot meal midday for the staff. So I’d go up and say, “how many you got for lunch today?” “Two.” I said “d’you mean there’s two people cooking two meals?” Right, so – gone. So then I go to the other [?] and I said “what do you do?” He said “well I collect the time sheets and I put in all the information here, onto this sheet.” I said “now what happens?” He said “well I’m finished. I give it to that guy and he interprets it.” So I go to him … “and what do you do with it?” “Well, file it.” Right – well he’s gone, and he’s gone, and it was a real clean out. And I went on for some years, and we got back in.

And then later on – when I got to fifty-eight, and things were running really good and I was the general manager, they promoted me up. One guy died, and so … “you’ve been the Manager, now you’re General Manager.” And so it was really going well, so I decided to retire to pursue another career, and I’ll tell you about that later if you’re interested.

So I retired when I was fifty-eight, and they had … all the bigwigs from Auckland came down, and we had a big function and we all went out to dinner … gentlemen’s club … all this high powered … and Managers from round New Zealand came – it was a big to-do. And then I had to get up and give my farewell speech, and I said “well, I want to say that I’m leaving this company in the best shape it’s ever been in”. I said “I’ll run through – we are ahead of budgeted sales”. We all had budgets. “We’re ahead of budgeted profit. I have renewed for a year all of the contracts for Unilever, Colgate, Taubmans – they’re all for another year”, and I said “it’s as sweet as a nut”.

So I left my other job, and I was given one month to stay on to overlap the other Manager. And they advertised throughout New Zealand, and they brought this guy up from Wellington who was manager of a company that made paper bags – had nothing to do with printing. And he was a career man. So he came up and took over my office, and I went to a little cubbyhole out there, and said “I’m available ‘til it works.” He never asked me one question and I’m supposed to be there for a month. So I’d wander through and say gidday to staff – he didn’t want to know anyone’s name … not one question. So I only mucked around for about two weeks, and I thought ‘oh, I’m bloody off’. So off I went.

So I pursued my other career, and eighteen months later the big chief in Auckland rang me. He said, “I find I’ve got to tell you personally,” he says, “Martin Print has gone defunct”. Eighteen months, it’s defunct. “And we’re moving the machinery to Auckland and the colour cards to Australia”. They’re just gone.

And Bob, you felt that starting school at four years old was a detriment to you …

That’s right.

… and yet you were head and shoulders above.

I was. I had a thing with staff, and they were loyal to me. I knew the staff to select. For example, at one time we needed a top printer that could do colour print. Printing machine, you’ve got four colour heads, so you’re printing yellow, green, red, blue. So I went down to Wellington, and we advertised in Wellington and we had a Wellington office at that time. Yeah, we had an Auckland office and Wellington office. So we advertised and I had about six replies, and … ‘cause I hired staff … so I went down to Wellington, made the appointments. One guy came up from South Island – we paid his fare and a couple … so I went down and there were six guys to interview at our Wellington office. So I drove down for the day and came back and Jack Martin says “well – how’d you go?” I said “I interviewed six.” He said “well, when does the guy start?” I said, “he’s not”. He said “well didn’t you get one out of the six?” I said “no”. He said “why not?” I said “we want a top colour printer, and not one of them were. So I’m not employing someone that’s not going to deliver the job.” [Speaking together] He said “why didn’t you buy the best of them?” I said “the best wasn’t good enough.” I didn’t do it. And later on we did get a guy.

Well just coming back – during your growing up period, you and your brothers and your father were involved in music.


With a band, and yourself with the piano and drums.


Could you just go back and develop that before we go on to your new …

Yeah – new venture. Yeah, well … so my father was the leading light – he was in the Frivs [Frivolity Minstrels] from about 1928 I think. I’ve probably got a photo of it there. 1928, so he was the first one. And when my brother Stuart and I – I was probably about four and Stuart was five, and he had his cornet there. And a cornet was very hard to blow – you don’t blow it like you’re blowing up a balloon. You’ve got to purse your lips and … you may know this. But he had his trumpet, and he said “well when you can both play ‘God save the Queen’, I’ll give you a shilling”, or something. Stuart … he’s trying … well he got it, and I finally got it. “Oh, I did not say that …” So I said “that’s the last time I’m playing it – it’s ridiculous – I hate it.” Well Stuart didn’t hate it, and he was bloody good. Really good, you know – had his own dance band for years. He was really good. And the thing that he perfected … there’s a term in playing a cornet – it’s called triple tone. And triple tone is where you play a note and you break it into three … ta-ta-ta, which is a system called triple tone where you make one with your tongue and one with your lip and that, so every note you go ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta. You’ll hear the famous trumpeters doing it – ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta. And he could do it. There was no one else in the band that I knew, who could do it. He was a wonderful trumpet player.

And so I was learning piano from Mrs Hill, Mrs Bromley Hill. She was the pianist in the Frivs in those years, and my father was in that as well. Later on my brother played in the Frivs – the trumpet – and later on I played drums in there. So not on the piano … I didn’t really like it. I learned it for a few years, and I started playing modern music and that sort of thing. And at that time my cousin, Ernie Rouse, who ended up being a great pianist … we used to muck around together, and in the end we started a little dance band where he played piano, I played drums. And we had a lot of people play with us. So that was our start to music. Where else do you want to go?

You played over a long period of time.

Yeah, we did. And the thing that broke it up was, when I was twenty I was married. I’d got married, and I got called up into CMT training for three months. And it was done by ballot so my month of April was selected for three months, and at this time I was married too – just got married … I got married at twenty. And my wife was expecting, not because we got married, just when we were married. So she was only at early stage and I went away for three months. And of course at that stage I couldn’t play in the band and Ernie got someone else playing and I never actually slotted back into it. So that was the end of that. And then later on I played with different people – Bill Mayer, and different ones – not the same. Of course Ernie went on to play great things, make records and go overseas, but I wasn’t included in that at that time.

Janet Totty, she used to be Janet Shaw – she was a good piano player.

And there was another woman called … I forget her first name – Hair, her surname was Hair – H-a-i-r. Somebody Hair. Anyway I played with her a bit, but anyhow that was the end of that part of it. But when we first started playing with Ernie, I had a bass drum, a snare drum and a cymbal, and bits of gear. And we used to go on our two push bikes to play, and we’d go and play at Sunday School, things for the church, and those things. And imagine carrying a base drum and things on your bike. And then we played at … there was an old-time dance in Hastings, and we played there for ‘bout four years, every Saturday night. And then we’d play rugby, and away we’d go.

So who did you play rugby for then?

Tech Old Boys. And ‘course I was the smallest one – I played in fourth grade, and Ernie was there and my brother was there, Stuart. Anyway I was a reasonable player even though I was small, and I played halfback – your size didn’t matter. Anyway I got into the Napier rep team and then I went up to third grade – next one up, and I got into the Napier rep team, and we went to junior and I got into the junior Napier rep team, and then we played senior. Well I didn’t get into the rep team, but I played in the winning year team of Tech Old Boys’ Juniors. And we had one of the famous players called Bowman, and in 1938 I think, he was an All Black. And I’d say he was the mainstay of our team, yeah.

Anyway we won this competition beating MAC [Maori Agricultural Club] in Hastings, and I got so badly hurt I actually didn’t play again. We won 6-3. I got taken off twice, and came back on the field. But we had great players in Alan Coutts and Jack Hunt – they were all Hawke’s Bay players, and we had a very good team.

So after that I did nothing for a while in rugby, and then my sons were playing schoolboy rugby, ninth grade. And I used to go over and watch them like a parent. And one day I was over there and the coach of one of the teams said “look, it’s the school holidays and we use to get the boarders at the Boys’ High School to come and referee.” And he said “and at the moment they’re all on holiday.” He said “now, you’ve played senior rugby. Here’s a whistle – will you referee the kids?” “Oh yeah”, I said. Well of course I ref’d these kids, and you realise that refereeing’s got nothing to do with playing. Totally different. So I did this for a few weeks you see, and I thought ‘well, the best thing …’ I quite enjoyed it. ‘The best thing I can do is get a rule book’. So I found out where the Referees’ Association meeting was, which was under the Harris stand there, so I arranged that I would go and pick up a rule book. So I walk in and there’s all these referees there, and so I come [came] in, and the Chairman says, “we’d like to introduce you to the new referee, Bob Boston. Take a seat here”, [chuckle] and I was sitting there spellbound. And then at the end of the night they have a lecture by the head shebang on the rules of the game, and at the end of the games, read out the appointments. “These are the ones doing senior, these are juniors, and these are the ones doing schoolboy refereeing, and I’m appointed to a bloody game. [Chuckle] And that’s how it started – I had no thought of it.

Yes, but you obviously had the talent and the …

Yeah, and it was quite fast. And so anyway, I got better and better, and you go up to Junior referee. And after a certain time, if you’re good enough you can sit the New Zealand theory exam. It’s a three-hour written exam, so they ask the whole book. So I thought ‘well I’ve got to … at this time my wife was sitting a dancing exam. She was a Scottish dancer … became a teacher and judge, so I was going to do the refereeing. [Chuckle] So she was sitting … and I’d sit there with her thing saying, “what’s a plies? And, what’s that?” And she’d answer the question, and I’d question and answer. So with my situation, I had been at work – I’d cut a bunch of off-cut white cards like a playing deck. And over a period of nights I went through the rule book, and there’s thirty-three rules. And on one side I’d write Rule 32, and what was the Rule, and on the back of it I would write the answer. So I’d write, ‘What is a scrum?’ I’d turn over and I’d write,’ A scrum is formed when three people from either side get together with people supporting them, with the ball put fairly in between them by a halfback.’ That’s word for word. So I’d write it. So I went through the whole book, and I had the stack of cards. So I would go through that stack of cards and then I’d give them to my wife. I said, “righto – ask me the rules of rugby.” And she’s say, “what’s a knock-on?” “When the ball is propelled by the arm of the player into the opponents’ dead ball line.” That’s what a knock-on is, word for word. And I got faultless.

So I went to this exam and it was a three-hour exam, and I finished it in two and a half hours. I thought ‘Christ!’ I didn’t even take my cards in with me. Some of them didn’t finish in three hours. So I’d finished it, went out quite happy. So when the results came out, they come [came] to the rugby referees, and we’re all sitting in the room, and … said “well the results have come out”, and he says “some of them didn’t pass”. He said, “Bob Boston passed, and he got the highest marks in New Zealand” [chuckle] “at ninety-eight and a half”. And they return your papers and I went through, and I got three half marks deleted. That’s why I got ninety-eight. And they weren’t wrong – they weren’t full enough. Like, it said, “if there’s a five-yard scum and the attacker’s taken the ball, what’s your decision?” “Well it’s a five-yard scrum”. “Yeah, but you didn’t say ‘the attacker puts in the ball’”. Wrong. Well not wrong – not full. So I had three questions like that where I didn’t give the ultimate answer, but I still got ninety-eight and a half, and I’ve still got that.

I think starting at four years old sharpened you up for everything you’ve done in life. Because everything you’ve done’s been successful, hasn’t it?

Yeah, well I tell you – this next bit’s coming.

So anyway … so I went up to Senior referee, and I started refereeing big games. And then I refereed my first Hawke’s Bay game, which was Hawke’s Bay-East Coast or something like that – not a very prominent game. But of course in Hawke’s Bay we had all these big players. We had Tremain, Able, Furlong, MacRae … you know, All Blacks. And even on Saturdays I was referring all of these top players. Napier Old Boys, with Tremain and … wonderful time.

So then I referred another Hawke’s Bay game against Wairarapa or somebody, and then I refereed another game with … Colin Meads was the captain – King Country – and that was the ultimate one where Colin Meads … and it was funny, I penalised him a couple of times ‘cause Colin was a great talker on the field, so I had him on a couple times and I took him up ten yards. So at the after-match function … and ‘course all the Hawke’s Bay, and all the big rugby officials were in a big meeting room … [chuckle] so Colin gets up to give his speech. He said “well, I want to thank the referee for his game”, he said “I tried to help him with some of his decisions and he didn’t want to know”. He says “I just let him get on with it”. [Chuckles] It was quite good.

So after that when the international games came they had to have senior … you couldn’t referee an international game in your own province. You had to do it outside – well, ‘course this started jumping up to thirty-five. So I was touch judge with big games like Australia playing Hawke’s Bay, with an international referee. Who else? Wellington … touch judge, and that was the game where we drew six all or something. Drop-kick in the last minute. And there was another – I did three games anyway.

But I was touch judge on a lot of the Ranfurly Shield games. Well, it was magic. So you’re part of the whole thing. You went to the Rugby Union after … you went to the pub with the international guys. And when I got to forty, I said “that’s it – I’m retiring.” Top of my grade, just like when I left Martin Print, I was the top of the game – successful company, and I was the General Manager. And I moved. And the same with refereeing – I was the Number Two referee in Hawke’s Bay, I had all that experience – I’m not going to wait and go downhill. Top of the game – retire.

Yes, I used to work for Kel Tremain.

I had a lot to do with him in rugby.

Yeah, he was a man who had so much to give.

He did. I’ll tell you one thing about him which you might be interested to know, seeing you know him. When I tossed up, if he was the captain, when you tossed up you had two different captains, not this game, toss up and say “now what do you want to do?” And one would say “oh – we’ll play with the wind”. Or the other captain might say want to say “oh – we’ll play against the wind, or we’ll play that way”. That was their choice. Now with Tremain – if he won the toss – “say what you want Kel” – he said “we will attack that end first.” Isn’t that a better expression? That’s [?] talk – “we will attack that end first.” It stuck in your memory. There’s one you can tell a lot of people.

Yeah, I see quite a lot of Simon still.

Yeah, well you tell him that.

‘Cause that’s what he was like.

Yeah. But quite often on the field he would question me, and I took him up. He’d say, “oh, that’s not right, ref.” I’d go up ten yards, and I took him up three times once … ten yards, yeah. That’s it – never said another word. Ever. He wanted to run the game see, and of course he could do that with a lot of referees. And run the game, like a lot of All Blacks can do it.

So that’s my refereeing, so learning that exam – that was the key to it.

See, but you had a method in your madness, didn’t you, by creating a system that you could learn it all?

And I passed it on to other learning referees as well.

There’s one or two out there that probably need that help now, too.

Yeah. ‘Course, it’s all different now – I wouldn’t know where to start now – far more technical. But the referee today they run the game. They say “get back, get back”, or …

And they’re calling, they’re talking all the time.

All the time.

So then we have another part of your life where you met your wife – where did you meet her and what was her name?

Well her name was Joy Nugent, and she was part of a family that lived in Wairoa. And they came up to Napier to live and her brother Tom was in the Tech rugby team which I was in. And I was halfback and he was playing wing, so we got quite friendly. And I was in the Frivs playing drums, and she was on stage. And he said to me … Tom said, “my sister’s in that too”. He said “sometimes she has trouble getting home, being at the port. You know, if you ever feel like it you could run her home,” so I did. So I ran her home. We twigged together, and we got engaged and [?we got?] married.

So she grew up in Napier?


Well you know, you said Wairoa, didn’t you?

Yeah – she came from Wairoa with her family, but then … she was about sixteen I suppose, when she come [came]. When we got married she was nineteen and I was twenty.

And so what did she do?

She worked at Harris Hats as a machinist.

Yes, that was a big company once.

Big company, yeah, and a lot of friends there. So that was what she did, and ‘course I was at the printing, and we got married at twenty. So she was a dancer, and she’s got her exams for teaching in Highland. She was a great dancer, and she was a judge. And in our early married life she would go out to Maraekakaho, or out the sticks somewhere as the judge, and I would go with her, and drive her out and be with her. So she’d be there and she’d have to write reports for all the things. And she was very good at it. She did that for a number of years and teaching as well. And we converted our double garage in Meeanee Road – we put in a proper tongue and groove floor so she could teach. And she also went up to either Wairoa in the railcar, to … what’s the first stop? Not Wairoa …half way to Wairoa, where the lake is … Tutira, and she taught in the hall up there every Saturday. Yeah – quite a following of pupils – go up on the train and come back on it.

It’s interesting the influence Scottish dancing had in our communities. I was interested hearing Evelyn Foster talking about Ahuriri being a Scotch [Scots] and Italian fishing village which I never realised. And it had its own pipe band, and its own dancing.

And that was the Frivs hall. It’s down the road, in Waghorne Street.

Once a year the Frivs came to Havelock in the old St Luke’s hall and it was the turnout of the year. Still remember Vic Viggers and Wally Ireland.

Yeah, me too. Len Dadson. They did one show – they did a lot of country … I’ll tell you this one – might amuse you. They had a skit going that … they’d make a guy disappear somehow, and then later on something would happen and he’d come in the back door. So anyway, they did this show and what they didn’t know is that they were next to a river that was tidal. And when they got there, ‘course it was only just … nothing, but during the show the tide come [came] in, and [chuckle] this guy [chuckle] jumps out the back and [chuckle] suddenly he’s in the river, and he comes in all dripping [chuckle] … that’s how he turned up [laughter]. Yeah.

And there was one act they did … there was one guy that was a big tall guy, I think it was Len Dadson. This was when I was at school. And they had a reduction thing, and they had this tech there with a guy who wanted to get to six foot. And the guy would be go in and there’d be smoke coming out. And anyway, they had the act there, and my brother and I, we used to [?] on late nights, ‘cause we were still little school boys. So of course there’s sparks come out [??], and they take away the curtain, and ‘course Len’s gone, and us little kids standing there with all his old clothes. [Chuckle] Yeah.

It was good fun – good clean fun though. And so … married life and children, how many children?

Two. After we’d been married three months my wife got pregnant, and then I went in the Army – ‘course I was out before the baby was born. And three years later we had the second one. And Joy couldn’t have any more after that, so we just had the two.

They grew up very successfully – my son David, he went to university and he got a BA degree in Palmerston, and we were very proud parents. And he was learning guitar off a Napier guy called Bob Ross, and he taught him guitar through the two or three years we were playing. And David went to Bob Ross one day for his lesson, and Bob Ross said to him, “I’m sorry there’s no lesson today.” He said “what do you mean?” He said, “I can’t teach you any more, so today and in the future, we’re just going to play together, but I’m not teaching you ‘cause I can’t teach you any more.”

Isn’t that a wonderful thing?

Yeah. So he went a couple of times, but anyway, he went to Australia … he’s had a BA and he went to Australia … working in some firm and he didn’t like it. So he rang me one day from Australia and he said “I’m coming home” … ‘cause by this time he was married, and … kids. He said “I’m coming home – I wonder if I can stay with you for a while?” I said “yeah, okay”. I said “what are you going to do?” He said “oh, I’m going to play my guitar.” I said “doing what? Well, how you going to earn a living?” And he said “I’ll just play my guitar”. Oh, Christ! So I said “well I wish you luck”. So anyway, he comes back and the next thing – he’s teaching. And it went on, and now he’s teaching and has done for years, twelve schools.

He’s very well-known.

Private pupils every night after school ‘til six thirty, all day Saturday, and exams … school exams. And he’s had a couple of pupils that have won the Young Musician of the Year, including my nephew.

So he’s doing exactly what he loves?

Exactly what he wants. And every two or three years he goes over to Spain, sees all the big wigs and that – but that’s his life. And there he is up there with his daughter. [Shows photo] She’s a wonderful … she’s a professional musician too. So he proved me wrong. So he’s got his own nice home and there’s a purpose-built studio … the whole thing.

And the other one, he is a motor mechanic. And I took him for his first interview at Monarch Motors in those days, in Hastings Street. I went with him for his first interview and he got the job, and away he went. And it was some months later they found out he was colour-blind. And the way they found out – they said “go and get that red car and bring it in over here”, and of course he brought in a blue one. [Chuckle] And of course nowadays, apprenticeships aren’t available in a lot of things. If you’re colour-blind you can’t be an airline pilot, you can’t be a train driver, and you can’t be a car painter … so many things. But anyway, and he still is colour-blind of course, it doesn’t change. So he’s all right.

I tried to join the Air Force for my CMT, and I couldn’t because I was colour-blind.

Did you have a colour-blind test?


What was it like? What did they do?

They had all these little dots all over the page.

Right. Well I had one of those colour-blindness tests … I had a guy applying for an apprentice[ship] and I got him – and his father was in the car and I was in the office, and I got there and I interviewed him and I got this colour test done. I said “what’s that number?” And he said “there’s no numbers there”. I said “well it’s a six.” So they can’t [??] but you know it’s a six. So every one he said was wrong. So I asked his father to come in – I said “have a look at this”. And I’d say to his son, “what’s that colour [number]?” He said “Six”. And his father said, “no son,” he said “that’s an eight”. He said “no, no …” And his father … I said “your son is colour …”, and he couldn’t believe it. And of course he didn’t get the job either.

Grandchildren? How many grandchildren have you got?

Six grandchildren – we’ve got two girls and four boys.

Right – what are their names?

We’ve got Jacob, Nathan and Anna – one family – and Joshua, Shaun and Naomi. So one is in England, he’s married, he’s now turned forty. That was the first one, so that’s Jacob. And one is in Auckland, that’s Nathan, making a wonderful career out of music with his guitar. He’s the one that won the Musician of the Year. Brilliant. He’s in a group called White Chapel Jak, and they go all around the North Island playing big functions. They play at the Rugby test match at half-time in front of thirty thousand people. That’s the stage he’s at. And they might get flown to Wellington to play at a function and flown back with accommodation and a thousand bucks each or something.

And that’s two of them.

Well … and this one’s … she’s a school teacher. Naomi, schoolteacher, and got all her degrees in teaching. So she teaches privately and teaches at school, and she’s got three kids so she doesn’t do a lot of it.

And the other brother, Joshua, he’s a high flyer in financial circles. Big job, staff under him, yeah – big salary, new home.

And one of the younger ones, Shaun, he’s just started to become a schoolteacher … three-year term.

The one that went to England, he was the bright bugger – Joshua. And he started his own company – all to do with computers, so I’m really not sure what it was, but in the end he sold … he had a partner and they sold their business, and he’s a millionaire. And now he and his partner have started another company. And when you hear of him he’s in Ceylon, or he’s in Burma – all around the world. And his business … they’re developing things to do in hospitals. I don’t understand what it is, but it’s big money.

Wonderful to hear the success of the younger ones.   Right – now coming back, you retired and you started another adventure.

The adventure was that I had already been doing it, but this time I thought ‘well there’s enough money in this to do it full time’. And what I was doing was … and I’ll tell you the story, how it started. I went to Melbourne on business and I stayed on a Saturday and there was a big game of Australian Rugby on where … it’s in a big circle. And when I left the ground at the end of the game, there was all these things happening at the gate, people buying scarves and caps, and they were buying [a] coaster of the game … of the two teams. So when I got home I thought ‘now those people going out there, if that coaster had the score of the game on it, that’d be a lot of money.’

It would.

Be worth a lot of money. So I had already set up my own bindary ‘cause I was a book binder, and I had a press, I had a power guillotine, book presses – the whole thing. And so as an experiment I got a couple of blocks made for the base of it with a border. One of my machines was a die cutter so you put something in it and it would cut to the shape of the die, whether it be a triangle – die cutter, and one was a gold blocking press, secondhand, that I bought. Gold blocking is that you have a die which is recessed – the part that’s bold is what’s going to press, and the stuff that’s recessed, doesn’t press. And you get that heated up and you press it under the board with a foil … metallic foil … and the heat transfers to it onto the bottom.

So I had all this gear, so anyway, I thought I would do a sample. So I did a sample, and I was going to a big party down in Wellington so I stamped one out for this guy’s twenty-first birthday. Yeah … and this is the date … handed them around and they were all impressed, you know, it’s got his name on it and the date. So I did that to a few things, and then I saw there was a school jubilee coming up in New Plymouth. So I made a sample up and sent it to them and said “I can do these coasters as a commemorative of your jubilee coming up, and here’s a sample.” So I said “I will bring a sample over to you to New Plymouth”.   I drove over and I saw the girl, and I’d put them into … I had a special box made and folded up with … stamped on the jubilee as well … so you open the lid and there’s six coasters. So first of all I showed them one, and they said “oh yeah, we might want three hundred of those”, and I said “yeah, okay. Well here they are in a box”. “Well we might want three hundred boxes”. “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, I thought you might”. So here we go … expansion. [Chuckle] So then I could write to anyone that’s having a jubilee in New Zealand.

So then I got onto rugby and there was a game in England. It was New Zealand playing Wales, so I had it prepared and I waited – I had the score numbers set up in type that I could pick out a one, or a two or a three. And I had the background all done and die cut … whole coaster. So I listened to the radio and the score, whatever it was, 8-6, set the type, over-stamped the score and I went down the pub. “Here’s a coaster of the game”. He said “Christ … game only finished an hour ago”. “That’s right, yeah”. So he took it home and he showed his neighbour, so his neighbour rang – “Look, we want …” So pyramid selling.

So then I started doing it seriously, and after a while I approached the Rugby Union. And I went down to Wellington – to use the silver fern which is a protected thing – and I agreed to pay ten per cent out of my sales to them, and I went into production. And then the tour – the first tour that came, I think it was ‘82 or something – and the Lions came to New Zealand. And when they played Hawke’s Bay I got in contact with somebody I knew involved in the Rugby Union, and I went to his office and he had with him the manager of the Lions’ rugby team. And I said “look … pleased to meet you”. I said “I’ll show you a sample of what I’m making under jurisdiction of the New Zealand Rugby Union and this is the result – this little pack with six coasters, which will have the monogram of England and the monogram of New Zealand and the four pools of the tour”. So I showed him, and I said “what I’m going to do is, when the game is at Napier I’m going to approach the supporters team – there’s about six bus loads of them coming – and I’m going to show them what I’m doing, and I’m going to take their orders and make them. And the day after the test I will deliver them in Auckland with the score on”.

So I got all these orders and they wanted to give me money. “No, don’t give me money. I might have an accident or something, and I … no money. Nothing. I’ll be there in your hotel, North Shore – The MontAzure – I’ll there, nine o’clock the morning after the test. So I’d be all set up – I’d have every one finished except the score of the last game, and that would finish at half past four. I had my family, I had the type, I had the machine heated up, and it was just a manual machine – put it in, score, out – score, score. So I had my whole family, and we’d finish say, one o’clock in the morning. We’d make up all the orders, load up the car with my son, drive through the night to Auckland and we’d arrive say, eight o’clock in the morning. And the first time I got there there the team was in their bus and the motor was running. I drove in and they said “Oh, here’s the man with the coasters”, and I drove in. And I met the guy … the leader of the tour party, and we went into his office and I had all these coasters and he’s got all the money. And I could show you pictures of this. He’s got all the money – helped me put the money in the car. And ‘course they took them back to England and they showed them to their clubs. They all want them. Everyone wants them. So I did the Lions, and the French, and I had a ring from Canada. They were bringing a team out to New Zealand – they rang me – from Canada. “How do you make these things?”  So then I used to put them into picture frames and a wall plaque.

So I met my wife because I was playing rugby with her brother – I think I mentioned that earlier. So she worked at Harris Hats, making hats … very good sewer. And she used to make patchwork goods, which I’ve got samples of on my beds here. Beautiful stuff … a great worker. And she learnt dancing and she’s a very good dancer, and I’ve got heaps of ribbons that she’s won and certificates that she’s won. And then she became a dancing teacher and she had to sit this exam which she passed with honours. And she used to go out judging dances out at Onga Onga and all round the countryside really. And I’d go with her as a driver, just to help her there, so she did that for many years. And she was a great ballroom dancer as well, and very light on her feet.

So we were married fifty-three years. And we’d been overseas several times, and we had planned before we got to retirement age to do an Asia … three months’ trip … and we were going to Europe again – which we’d already been – but we were going to Israel and Egypt. And we were going down on the Nile, and we were going to Masada, which always intrigued me and the Pyramids. We were doing all that, and we were going to China to the Warriors in there, and all those things we hadn’t done, ‘cause we’d done a lot of travelling. So we booked our ticket and we paid $30,000 up front, and we got all our visas.

And about a month before we were due to go we were lying in bed on a Saturday morning and I put my arm around my wife affectionately and I said to her, “I can feel a lump in your breast”. So she shot out of bed. Sure enough, there was a hard lump about an inch and a half long, and about half an inch deep, hard as rocks. So she got dressed, went down to the doctor and he said “it looks like cancer. You’ll have to go in for a check”, and they booked her in for the next Friday. And she said “well, if they do a biopsy” … they put her out and do a biopsy … “if they find that the biopsy is definitely cancer, don’t wake me and up tell me it is, just do the operation”. And that’s what happened. We all went out – it was Princess Alexandra at that time, round the port. So she goes in there and has the biopsy and they check it all – “no, it’s cancer” – and they come and tell me “Well, we’re going to have to do a mastectomy – remove the breast … that’s that”. So they did, and she was quite in good spirits after that. But it wasn’t good, and of course we cancelled our trip. So that cost us about … we lost about $5000, ‘cause we didn’t get money back for all our visas and … all the costs. So anyway, that was gone. So we never did go.

So after a couple of years she seemed to be pretty good, and she became President of the Ladies Bowling Club at Omarunui, so she was going all right and playing bowls. So we said “well, we’ll do a little trip … we’ll go to Australia and we’ll go to Ayers Rock, and we’ll go up the Sunshine Coast and we’ll do all that”. So we did that. So we went on the Ghan train, which went from Adelaide … and at that time only went to Central Australia, Alice Springs. So then we took a trip out to Ayers Rock, and climbed a bit of the rock and all that sort of thing.

But she wasn’t really well, and we came back and we didn’t go away again. And she gradually got worse and in pain and … so she had to go to the doctor every month and they would x-ray her, check it out and she was on pills. And then she had to go to the hospice. And we went seven weeks the first time and she didn’t get any better, and in the end she ended up taking twenty-three pills a day. And I took her to the doctor in Taradale finally – she wasn’t very good – and after his examination I said “well okay,” and when my wife got out the door and shut the door to the doctor’s office which left me, I said “I don’t want my wife to know this, but” I said “how long has she got?” And he said “she’s got no more than six months”. I said “right, well my wife doesn’t have to know that”. She died six months later almost to the day.

So anyway, when we got home she couldn’t do anything. She said to me one day – she was going round the furniture like this, holding on. And she said “I’ve got to say I can’t do any more, you’re going to have to do everything”. I said “well that’s no problem”, I said “I’m bloody near doing it now, so … and I’m quite happy to do that”. And eventually we moved a single bed into the dining room, and we moved another single bed into the dining room for my daughter-in-law, who was an IC nurse, and my son and they came and lived here for the last three months of her life. And we had the hospice people come in and give her injections for pain, she had it on retirement [retiring]. So they came, and then she went into a coma. And the medics came in this day and they said “we’re going to put an extra injection now – we’re going to put another one in her other leg, another one here, and we’ll come in tomorrow”. And I said to the nurse “will there be a tomorrow?” And she said “probably not”. And there wasn’t – she died at half past four in the afternoon. So we had a big family funeral.

So how long was ..?

So she was seventy-two. Seventy-two … that’s thirteen years ago. That was that. So I was left in this big house … four beds.

You can never read what’s going to happen in life, can you?

No. So I’ve had a few lady friends since then … none of them’s worked out. I mean, when you’ve had the best … doesn’t happen. So that was that episode.

Now, coming back to …

Coasters? Did I say on there the beginning of it? Yeah, I was on a business trip to Melbourne and I went to the Australian Rules game there, and … fifty-five thousand people there. And I said to the guy next to me “is this the final?” And he said “oh, no this is only a club game”. He said “it’s pretty big”. And in the end I was like a lot of people -there was [were] no seats left, and in the end I got two empty beer cans and had them, and they had to stand up so I could see. That’s how busy it was. And then the thing was, as it finished all these thousands of people went out there, and they were all buying these mementoes, which were caps and scarves and bottles and all sorts of things with the names. And it gave me an idea, where if I had something saleable like that with the score on of the game, and they walked out with that, they’d sell big time.

So when I came home I pursued that idea and I thought I could do it with rugby. So there was a test match on the radio, so I prepared all this and I had the gear to make these coasters – to stamp them out in gold foil and to die cut them into shape. So as a preliminary I waited until after the game, put the score on them and I went down the pub, and gave them to a few people. They took them home and showed their next-door neighbour, and they took them to work, and then it was like pyramid selling. So that was the start of my career.

So from then on, when the tours of the Lions and Springboks came to New Zealand I would contact the tour parties and show them a sample of what I was going to make and at the end of the tour I would deliver them to the hotel in Auckland the day after the tour just before they left to go home and I would arrive with all these coasters in various ways with the score on of yesterday’s game. So I would take their orders but no money, and when I arrived I would hand over the coasters to the tour leader and he would [hand] over a handful of cash for me, so that’s how it all started. So it went on year after year after year. The Springboks and Lions.

How many years would you have produced these?

1981 was the first tour when the All Blacks went to … I think it was – they played the Lions, something like that – but that was the first one. And then the next year they toured here. So after a couple of years I thought ‘well this is too much, I haven’t got time to go to work.’

And at the same time I was making labels, reel labels as well. All the labels were very small things, like – biggest was about two inches by an inch, and I had this little machine that would stamp all the labels. And of course all these things are so small and the orders are so small, like ten, twenty thousand – the printer wasn’t interested. For a start they couldn’t do them that small on the reel and this was a reel fed and a reel delivery with the labels that I cut on this extension reel. So I used to get all the orders through work which we couldn’t produce and we would normally have to send them out to another producer, so I sent them out to myself and charged the company and they’d put their mark-up on.

And another thing I did then, I haven’t told you this, but we used to produce the colour cards as I mentioned earlier for the paint industry, and with every order we used to have to send out and get say, one thousand of the paint colour cards laminated both sides. Well it’s not laminated … it’s laminated with plastic, but it’s really called encapsulating because encapsulating means it’s slightly bigger than the actual card and it’s clear-sealed right round so liquid can’t get in. If you guillotined it you could get water in. So that’s what you call encapsulating. So we used to send out – we did these, and they were for the different shops that sold the paint to have on the counter. So every shop wanted one, so there’d be a thousand wanted to be encapsulated and we’d have to send them out, and it was a hassle – we’d have to send the cards out and we’d wait and wait … so the easy answer was for me to buy a machine and do them myself in my garage overnight, so that’s what I did. And the company would put their commission on it, so everyone was happy. We got the job … The customer was happy, they got them straight away, I was happy ‘cause I didn’t have the hassle of getting them done, and the company was happy because we satisfied the customer and they made a profit.

Do you know Trevor Page?

Yes. Page Plating Company – they were round the corner from us.

Yes. Just amazing really that sometimes you people undersell yourselves by saying you started off on the back foot, but you were ten years ahead of most of the other people.

When it came to business.

That’s right – that’s what counts.

I had the ideas, I could produce the ideas and make a hell of a lot of money out of it.

Yes. So then you got to a stage where you mentioned once rugby became professional things changed.

There was no tours. They’d fly in and play a test and go home. And it was professional.

And so you decided at that stage to fold your tent?

Yeah, well the Rugby Union wanted … they wanted so many thousand up front which I hadn’t done before, and the commission [that] was set at ten percent, to fifteen per cent. So sure it could fit in with what I was doing, but the fact that it had gone professional and I was old – been doing it for twenty years. Forget it. I don’t need the money any more.

Now, did you ever fish or bowl or do anything like that?

Yeah, I bowled.


I bowled at the Omarunui Bowling Club. So my son’s father-in-law, Jim Deere, he was a great bowler. In fact he won New Zealand … something bowls … he was a good bowler. So I started off with him, and my wife did too. But in those days the Bowling Club was a women’s club, and a man’s [men’s] club using the same facilities. But we didn’t play with or against each other and it’s two separate clubs. And you couldn’t get in to the Club unless someone nominated you because it was a closed membership. Well I got in, and Joy did, I ended up on the committee there, and Joy became the President of the Ladies, later on. And then later on the Club amalgamated so we were one Club, and played together as well. We played women [women’s] or men’s or combined. So I was there and I played quite well and the second year I was there I won the Junior Men’s Singles Championship, and later on I was in the team that won the Men’s Triples Championship. And I had five … when I was skippering my own team I had five Championship Runner-Ups. Five! But anyway, two of them – they used to have the New Zealand RSA competitions and they had the Taradale one – it was a two-day competition, two days, quad. So the first time I went into it I picked out my own team, and they weren’t sort of high profile people but people that I used to play with in graded teams. And we went in and we played for two days and we won it. So we went off all expenses paid to Blenheim to play in the New Zealand finals. Well we didn’t win it, but we did pretty well. And the next year we won it, and we went to Palmerston. And the next year we got second, and we were due to go to Invercargill but because of the cost they decided they wouldn’t send anyone, which is fair enough. So those were my three big wins, apart from a couple of Championships. So a big part of my life, and my wife – we played mixed bowls together … very big part of my life. So when I got to eighty I decided I wouldn’t … or might have been seventy-five … decided ‘well, that’s it. That part of my life is finished, and I don’t want to skip, if you skip you’ve got to walk up and down all the time, and on your feet. Done my share, so I gave it up. In my younger days I played squash purely for fitness to be a rugby referee.

You’ve certainly seen some changes rung …

Oh, I have.

… sportswise.

Yeah. And in the printing industry.

The opportunity to sell mementoes … many people have ideas but that’s all it is.

One time at Martin Print we had a – this is not the manager who let the place go bung, we had another manager before him … professional manager … and he didn’t know anything about printing, he was a professional manager. And he wouldn’t make any great decisions on his own. So he said to me one day “look, I’ve been to Adelaide and I’ve seen this machine that does die cutting of labels” – you know, you print labels on a big sheet and if they weren’t square labels they’d be shaped like neck labels and things. He said “I’ve seen this great thing and I think that would be ideal for what we do”, you see, but he couldn’t decide. He said “I want you to go to Adelaide and decide”. Now he’s the manager. So I go over and looked at it and I come [came] back … no. I said “that’s a machine for mass producing like, hundreds of millions of labels for the whole of the South Island wine places. We’re little New Zealand here. They produce New Zealand’s yearly contracts after lunch”. Bloody ridiculous.

And then he was in Australia and he said “we need another machine”, he said “I’ve seen this machine in a big printing place here. I’ve gone over to see it because it’s a second-hand machine. It’s a four-colour printing press, a Japanese machine, Ikimono or something like that, and it’s still running. He said “I want you to go over and assess it and buy it”. You know – “why couldn’t you?” “No no, no, you go”. Right, so I go over and I’m talking to the operator and I said “how’s the machine going?” “Oh, not too good”, he says, “it does this and it does that”. I said “yeah – that’s the trouble with these Japanese machines”. So the engineer that I went in with to check this out – he said “there’s another machine I’ll get you to look at that’s for sale”. He said “it’s under cover, it’s been taken out of this business ‘cause they went bung, but it’s a good machine and its a Heidelberg, German, top of the range, full colour”. He said “it’s going for a song, $250,000”, or something. He said “I’ll show you”, and it’s still under wraps, not even running. And I looked at it and made my conclusion, I said “yeah, right”.  So I go back to Napier and I made out a report, and he said “right – well when does the machine arrive?” I said “well, the one you wanted me to see, we’re not taking that. We’re buying a Heidelberg … well, it’s only my recommendation, but there it is.  It’s a Heidelberg, it’s only a few years old, it’s under cover. The deal is that we’re buying it for $200,000 with a new machine warranty – guarantee. They are shipping it to Napier at their cost, they are bringing engineers out from Germany to install it and to instruct our staff. That’s the deal”. So it had to go to head office. Done.

Yes, it’s funny how you hear names like Heidelberg.

Yeah, big name. Well in our factory in Napier we had more Heidelberg machines than any other company in New Zealand. Heidelberg letterpress offset machines.

I guess you had them because of the quality. You buy them once.

Yeah. It was like the Rolls Royce of printing. They were expensive but they were good, and good backup.

So what do you do now you have given up bowls? You don’t fish?

No, what I do now is I play cards … 500, up to four days a week … four afternoons a week, and I play indoor bowls – all of these at the Senior Citizens. And the indoor bowls are on raised tables. So I play at Napier Senior Citizens on Tuesday, I play Taradale Senior Citizens on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday should I want to. So that’s five afternoons, six afternoons a week I play cards or bowls.

The bowls you mention are raised?

Raised tables, about that high. So you don’t have to kneel down on the floor, which getting older, is hard.

That’s amazing, I’ve never heard of that. Well I started playing indoor bowls when I was about fifteen. But I always found the bending …

Yeah, the getting up – well, a lot of them have a wooden stick to just lean on. You’ve still got to get down and get up, and now you’ve got to walk up the other end. So indoor bowls is a miniature outdoor bowls, almost the same rules.

Well that’s wonderful.

There’s a bias bowl.

And you socialising and using your skills.

We play two games, you can either play mainly as fours – a number of people fours or triples or pairs. And you play one game of eight ends, and then you play a different team on a different table. And then you have afternoon tea. And you’re home at four o’clock.

That’s even better.

Well this takes your time now.

Well, we’ve got a recording room at Stoneycroft, it’s a big two-storeyed house. Anyway a friend and I, two of us, do interviews. Most wonderful histories – see, today we’ve found out things about the printing industry … I had no idea. But I didn’t remember all the other things about you – the drumming …

Oh, it was going for a few years, the band, with Ernie.

So can you think of anything else that we haven’t covered?

Oh no, that’s pretty good.

Okay, well I’ll just finish by saying thank you, Bob, for sharing the life of your family and your life with us.

Yeah, okay.

I don’t know how it happened but my father had an old, old car and he didn’t want it so the simplest way was to dig a hole in … we had a great big chicken run with all the fowls … so we buried it. And when we eventually moved, some other bloke bought it, and he dug it up and restored it. So here’s a photo out of the newspaper and a write up about how he found it and restored it back to its original. It’s quite a talking point.

It certainly is. Bob’s just going to tell us now about his son, the guitar player, receiving some awards from …

Government House. So my son, David Boston, he learnt the guitar off a guy called Bob Ross when he was a young guy. And when he got to about sixteen he went for his lesson, and the instructor said “there’s no lesson today”. And my son said “why not?” And he said “because I’ve taught you everything I know so therefore you just come and we’ll play along together at no cost.” So that’s how quickly he learnt the guitar. And he ended up teaching in twenty schools in Hawke’s Bay and private pupils. He built his own studio, and his whole life is that. So a few years ago he got mentioned and awarded the Queen’s Service Medal. And he went down to Government House in Wellington with me and his other son that is also a guitar player, to receive his medal. So we were very proud of him – and he’s still teaching today.

Original digital file


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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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