Symes, Timothy William Morgan (Tim) Interview

Today is the 26 January 2016.  I’m interviewing Tim Symes of Pukahu.  Tim, would you like to tell us something about your family?

[Bird noises throughout, deleted where possible]

Well I’ll start off with my grandfather who moved to Hawke’s Bay from Waverley in 1914 roughly, and set up a farming enterprise that we still own some of the land that he farmed. He was a third generation New Zealander from Waverley, and married another earlyish settling family … a Henrietta Jane Constance Brewer. They farmed and had race horses, Southdown stud, and was a [were] cattle breeder[s].

How big was the farm at that stage, Tim?

He had fifteen hundred acres on the Heretaunga plains.

And they were flats weren’t they?

Flats, and several blocks. There was three hundred and fifty acres at the northern end of Poukawa, and he had lease blocks elsewhere that he farmed. My father was only three or four when they moved here, and he continued farming after his schooling.  And I took over from him in the seventies.

My grandparents had three daughters and the son. The eldest daughter was Connie Menzies, the second daughter was Rua Stead, and the third daughter was Jean Stead – two sisters married brothers. There is a book on the family which was done by a distant cousin which … I’m reading a few notes out because most of my recollections of the history are actually hearsay seeing I wasn’t born until 1945.

My mother was from Gisborne from a family that arrived out in the 1870s, and we still have a lot of relations in Gisborne.

What was the family name in Gisborne?

My mother was born Judy Rutledge and they lived on a farm at Moanui in Matawai. Her father had come from Australia after the 1906 drought in Queensland, and walked off the farm there driving cattle six hundred miles into Brisbane to sell, and having enough when he arrived in New Zealand to buy a small place at Ruatoria first, and then he moved to Moanui. He married another Connie – Connie Reynolds in Gisborne, and had four children, my mother being the eldest.

My parents raced horses, and my mother actually came with race horses when she married that she trained herself, and showjumped and all the normal sort of things. She could capably do most of the jobs with the horses including the shoeing. My parents had four children – three girls, and me last. My sister Robin lives in Toronto.

All my life, as well as the farming enterprises which included cropping for Wattie’s, from very close to the beginning of the factory, we had race horses.  And all of us could ride including riding to school in Havelock, and galloping along the side of the road beside the school bus so we could beat it.

My sister Robin married a Canadian citizen, Willy Bells, and had his four children over there.

Where are they in Canada?

Toronto. Helen, my second sister, married Leslie Dunn and had three children, Gerald, Kim and Joanna.  And Joanna is married to Stuart Train and still lives in the house that was part of my father’s farming enterprise.  My third sister, Megan Harvey – Megan married Jim Harvey, Real Estate agent and auctioneer in Hastings, and they had two children, Diane who lives in London and Paul who lives in Hastings.  Diane has two children, Thomas and Amelia, and Paul has Lizzie and James.

I married Robin Walker who came from Hunterville. Her father died before I met her, but he had a farm right close into Hunterville, a sheep and cattle farm. And her mother was the daughter of Jim Hurley who had a lot of places in the Hunterville district. We have four children, Alice, Wilfred, Ben and Hannah. Alice – not married, and works in wine warehousing. Wilfred is living with Kate Davies and has two daughters, and works for his father-in-law Andy, at Drillers Poultry farm.  Ben is married to Christine Mouat from Southland and lives in the cottage at home, and is presently growing a small area of crops on the land which I have mostly leased out to John Bostock. He has three sons, Hugo, Will and Ed. Hannah, our fourth child, lives in Melbourne, married to George Marino and is a school teacher over there. She’s just built a house at Simpson’s Beach in Whitianga which will be their retirement home one day, but is quite handy for a holiday house for all of us at the moment.

I don’t know Simpson’s Beach.

Just past Whitianga.

There’s lots of little beaches there. The locals know them.

It’s in walking distance of Whitianga – we walk round. It’s part of the same bay along Buffalo Beach and then to there.

Well that pretty well covers the stud book doesn’t it?  


So your father must have been a fairly astute judge of land because all the land that he farmed here was probably the best land in Hawke’s Bay.

Yes.  The block that I actually live on my father bought, and was extra to what my grandfather had and is some of the better land around.

Those days they would have grown a lot of rye grass … fat lambs?

Yes, it was nearly all fat lambs, cattle and rye grass.

Did they grow any cereals at all?  Barley ..?

We started that at Pakipak [Pakipaki] in some of the lighter soils, but the irrigation schemes are not like they are now – the central pivots and things, which make life so much easier.

Yes, they take the pain out of the back and put it into the cheque book.

[Chuckle] Yes, I think they probably do. So the grass seed we used to have … well, I still have our mill, which – we used to harvest maybe three hundred acres of grass seed a year.  And in those days that was a very dusty job, and bagging it all up.

Was this a tow behind mill?

No, it was a 1964 Clayson – one of the early model combine harvesters, self-drive, and apart from minor modifications there has been no real advancement in the new …

That was a yellow colour wasn’t it?

Yes.  It still has all the variables and all the bits and pieces that the modern ones have, but they weren’t all hydraulically controlled. Some of them are, but on the new mills it’s all hydraulic and you just sit there and press buttons … alter things.  But I can do exactly the same job in mine, and after sitting in the shed for fifteen years I got it out three years ago and went and harvested some haricot beans for Scott Lawson.  And the mill had sat there for fifteen years and it went probably fifteen ks [kilometres] out to the end of Ngatarawa Road, and harvested the haricot beans without a single breakdown.  Unfortunately its rubber tyres are starting to look like they’ve done the years from 1964 to now, and I think the new tyres will cost more than the mill cost originally.

We’ve always known that the Symes family had this love of horses, and it was an integral part of the farming. Was it brood mares you were running here?  Did you train them?

My parents only had one or two brood mares. My grandfather ran quite a number, and imported a stallion or two over the years and then Bob Stead continued with that – his son-in-law – and took over most of the brood mares. But my father ended up … as most people with horses will know, when you have one or two brood mares, you soon end up with fifteen or twenty of them.  And this happened. I inherited more than twelve brood mares and at one stage I had twenty-four or five horses unbroken to try at the races.  And we set about and broke them all in, and got rid of some, and I tried giving brood mares away and that’s not something you manage to do.  If you have someone that you want to be a real enemy to, you give them a brood mare.

[Chuckle] Yes, ‘cause then their problem starts too, ‘cause they have a foal and no one wants to sell it, and then there’s another foal, and …

Yeah – and that continues.

And of course you only ever give away the fast ones. You keep all the slow ones for yourself, don’t you?

Well my father bred quite a few good horses over the years. He only ever bought one. He bought a horse called ‘Embrace’. He won seven or eight races and he was a half-brother to ‘Light Fingers’ that won the Melbourne Cup. He was never quite as good as her but he bred a lot of winners, and ‘Delvooy’ probably being the best, but the first horse he ever raced was a horse called ‘Salon’ and I think he won more races with ‘Salon’ than he won with ‘Delvooy’. He won seventeen, I think.

He was just a flat racer?  He wasn’t a hurdler?

No. We tried him hunting later but he was not awfully good at looking after his legs over the fences. He was a lovely horse to ride but not …

He dragged them along behind him.

He lowered them into the barbed wires. [Chuckle] He was a bit special for that. So I’ve continued with the breeding.

Well just before we start with the breeding, let’s go back to when you were a small boy.  You were born in 194 …


… and you went to school in Havelock North?

I started at Central School in Hastings because my father had gone there.  On the second day I walked home, so I was then taken to Havelock Primary which I obviously enjoyed more, ‘cause I didn’t walk home.  [Chuckles]  I was then taken to Taupo for my health and went to Taupo-nui-a-Tia College which was all one school in those days.  And I went to the primary school there for a year when the family first bought a house in Taupo, and with all the aunts and uncles and different members of the family staying to look after me.  And then at eight I went to Hereworth and then on to Christ’s College. And I really enjoyed my time down there.

What sports did you play, Tim?

Certainly not cricket. I was always the scorer because I was always bowled out more or less on the first ball and I couldn’t catch a ball. But I played rugby and in the summer months took swimming as a sport. But I ran in the cross country races – I competed in the New Zealand Championships one year, rather ingloriously.

But you still competed?

Yeah.  I got to run, it was in the Port Hills in Christchurch. I might have finished, I think, in the first forty. There were a hundred and sixty in the race.

Did you enjoy your time in Christchurch?  It must have been a new adventure for you, off to Christchurch, which was a fairly big jump away from home.

No, I boarded at Hereworth so it was pretty much the same, and there were ten of us that went at the same time from Hereworth to Christ’s. We were actually a little clique.

Are you still in contact?

I see them all at Old Boys’ dinners and things like that.

So you left school and did you come home to work on the farm?

I got into Massey University in the first intake to the Vet School.  They took thirty-two of us in and I think twenty-eight got passed – I’m one of the four that didn’t. They told me not to come back after the third year probably because I spent most of my time at the races.

You were furthering your education, weren’t you?

[Chuckle] It was very interesting. The lecturers all used to try and get me to get them tickets for the races. [Chuckle]

Yes.  I guess in those three years you would have learnt quite a lot really, in spite of not making it.

I was very hard pressed to learn all the Latin names of all the bones on all the animals and those sorts of things. It was too much repetitive hard work, and I’d had what I think was probably an extremely good education up until I went there. The first year at University I didn’t have to work ‘cause I’d done it all before. That was the disaster. If I’d been to a local school that hadn’t extended us quite like Christ’s did, I probably would have had to keep working much harder all the way through.

Yes, certainly.  So after that you left Massey?

Yeah – that was about 1966 I suppose, and I worked with the horses with my parents and we had a particularly good spell with winning a lot of races for a year or two.

So were you active in training them?

I was working on the farm driving a tractor, but we had two men that also drove tractors and so I’d only have to fill in when they weren’t doing it.  So I had quite a lot of time to ride the horses and we used to ride into the track in town for gallop mornings. We didn’t transport the horses like we do nowadays. We used to ride in there, work them at the track and then ride them home which is sort of four miles in and four miles back, so they got a lot more work than they get nowadays.

We took it for granted that horses were always put in a truck and carted, and I interviewed someone recently and they said they used to live up in Crownthorpe and when they used to compete in the Show, all the people used to ride their horses down to compete.

We used to ride to the Elsthorpe Sports. We used to ride through Havelock, through the Chambers property, cross the Tukituk [Tukituki] River at Horseshoe Bend, and ride all the way down to Tukituk [Tukituki] – probably thirty miles. I don’t remember too many of those trips, but I do remember riding twelve miles out to the Maraekakaho Sports, and others.  And when we went to the Hawke’s Bay Show and we’d be showing our ponies in the Ring Classes and things, we would ride them there on the morning before they went in the Ring Classes and it used to make them much better behaved.

I can imagine because you would take the edges off them.

None of this prancing around and being flighty [chuckle] after they’d ridden six miles or seven miles to get there.

Did you do showjumping … competitive equestrian work at the Shows?

I did for a while. I competed but I never had … with the race horses we never quite had the access to the show jumping types … we had some that we schooled up and took, but I then went on a [an] overseas trip. I had competed at the March Show at the Showgrounds – now the Horse of the Year Show – but I went overseas for only six months and when I came back I found they were jumping about a foot higher than they were when I left. The improvement in the late sixties was enormous.

So what brought that about?

Just the fact that there was more showjumping and I did a lot of training with Colman de Bolger and different ones, but I never had a horse that looked like it was going to jump to those kinds of levels.

When you came home and started running the farm …

Well I came home after six months overseas and – I think it was probably in ’69 – and my father had just been diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease, which meant he could do very little on the farm in those days.  And so I took over running the farm, and my brother-in-law took over half and I took over the two hundred acres here, and have farmed it ever since. My father used to help me for a while feeding out but I sort of made all the decisions for some time.  And he was busy helping me feed out, and he hit the wrong foot brake of the tractor and rolled it into the Awanui Stream – threw me off the transport tray one way and he went the other way with the tractor.  And I found that the safety frame had dug into the creek, flipping it completely over and he was just out cold on the ground.  And I brought him back up to the cottage, because the tractor was kaput by that stage, under water … under water, not enjoying it much.  And my father and I walked back up to the cottage where I lived with Robin at that stage and … think probably before we had any children.  And he had a very strong drink, a tumbler full of whisky, and we got my mother to come down and pick him up and checked out that he was okay.  He never helped on the farm again after that.  [Chuckle] In fact he signed it over to me the next day and at the lawyer’s.

So during that period then you said you used to have a couple of people driving tractors for you. You would have had Fordson tractors those days I’d imagine?

Yes, yes.

You’ve always had Fordson tractors haven’t you?

Yes, they’ve always been the blue ones or whatever, but yeah, we had them, and I think I still have two of them, the 1964 models. They’ve become extremely expensive to replace and with the farm mostly leased out we can manage with just keeping one going that will do most things that we need.

When you look at the replacement cost of a tractor these days you wonder how people can justify them.

Not unless you’re growing a huge area of crops. The farm is leased to John Bostock, and I’ve had this discussion with John who’s got himself into it in a pretty big way, and he can buy a tractor or two every year I think. But unless you’re growing in the thousands of acres it’s not possible.

Prior to you leasing to the Bostock Enterprise you grew a lot of crops for Wattie’s?

Yes. I grew peas and beans, double cropping them, and then we started growing tomatoes for a few years until Wattie’s decided to go to six growers only. It took a few years after that for me to lease the farm out. We had some good years, but I think probably only one in fifteen was better than leasing the farm out.

You’re absolutely right. You were always hoping for a big crop next year to cover the losses.

Well, yeah – we used to make a profit but not a big one. And when you grow tomatoes for ten cents a kilo, it’s hard to get rich on them.

I always remember Barry Davidson, the factory manager, when we went in to negotiate the prices of peas. They were not sympathetic to us as growers, we were just providers of raw material for the factory, weren’t we?

Yes. They even told us once that if we gave them the tomatoes for free they still wouldn’t be competitive with the ones they were getting out of China, and we felt that wasn’t our problem, that was their problem, they were paying too much for other things.  But it didn’t work out in our favour in the long term.

So now you’ve leased the farm, and you’ve got, I suppose, your interest still with horses. You go to the track some days during the week, don’t you?

I go occasionally at the moment. I’ve been stopped for a little while. I’m hoping to get back to taking horses back into the track again shortly.

Must be quite envious when you see some of the prices they get for horses at Karaka these days.

It’s an interesting thing there’ve always been sales. You’d love to do the figures on all the high-priced ones and see how much they win. It doesn’t work out.  But like they say, there will be quite a few out of the sales that will pay their way – some exceptionally well and there will only be a handful of people that will make money out of them.

Just going back historically, your parents built this homestead here, didn’t they?

Altered it. This homestead was built much earlier, sometime in the 1860s or ‘70s.

Well who would have farmed this before your family?

My father bought it from Lockie & McPhee, and Lockie was a Scottish school teacher who came out to New Zealand and named the place Wellfield after his highland home in Scotland. His family went out of farming, and one of them developed the electrical supply company and went back into racehorses and called his place Wellfield Stud down in Palmerston, which has since been on sold to other people. So the McPhees were another Hawke’s Bay family – I think they were just a partner with the Lockie one who farmed the place.

So that was 1939 … ’38, I think, ’39 … my father bought this place. He did some alterations to the house, and I added to it quite a bit in the late seventies – pulled down … there was the old lean-to style kitchen on the back, and I pulled all that off and built the new bedroom.

Prior to your family living here, buying this block, obviously your grandfather owned quite a lot of land already in this area.


Where was their homestead?

That was Richmond Park, which is now called Sasanof.  And my father inherited that but my mother wouldn’t shift there. She said the house needed too much doing to it.  And my uncle and aunt, Rua Stead and Bob, who was already farming the land attached with the house as a horse stud, moved into the house. And the other uncle, Alec Stead, when he married they built a house for him on my grandmother’s Estate which was between here and there. That was the Symes Estate that Alec … at the end of Riverslea Road. They had four hundred and something – four-fifty acres in there.

Big land owners.

Yeah.  Well it went from Longlands Road right through to Pakipak, [Pakipaki] apart from small holdings along the edge. My aunt Connie Menzies, sold the land to Borthwicks for the freezing works that they built, and were demolished in the ‘31 earthquake. Other than that the land went through to where Angus had a feed lot and horse training over there. That was part of my grandfather’s holding. My father sold it to a friend of his, a Pat Bellaby, and sold a hundred acres off the back of the Pakipak [Pakipaki] block as well, down Russell Road – all now settled in small lifestyle blocks.

So when you talk about having three hundred acres of rye grass to thresh, that was a pretty big exercise in those days, because it was at the end of the box mill and the beginning of the …

We had a mobile one before the Clayson, which … people used to stand on the back and ram the grass seed and that was towed by a tractor.  And that was … the chaps on the back, it was hard work and they looked like … they were dusty, and all you could see at the end of the day was the whites of their eyes if they weren’t crying.

I know – it was a terrible job on the mill.

And cough and splutter – and all of them would sit down in between and have a cigarette.  [Chuckle]

When you presented that amount of rye grass seed to whichever company you were dealing with, that must have been quite a big exercise as well. That’s a hell of a lot of sacks of rye grass.

Yeah, yeah – it was. And it was all hand loaded on to the trucks and hand loaded off at the other end. At least at the Williams & Kettle store between Queen Street and Heretaunga Street they used to drive the trucks down in and you used to off-load on to the level at the same size of the truck – they built up the floor. Any of the others it was all hard work.

The Hawke’s Bay Farmers you could back in and load to the same level, but that was a pretty huckery old seed store too. These centre pivot irrigators I see there’s one over on the Pakipaki – Stortford Lodge … one there, and you’ve got one here.

That was a block I had.

Do you have to put those in or were they put in by the lessees?

The lessees have put those in and after a certain amount of time they progressively became ours. He’s depreciating them, and we end up owning them at the end of the lease. We’ve got one here too. I’ve got a pretty big one out here.

It’s huge. I saw it working one day and thought ‘oh’, and I think – Tim having to move all those pipes once upon a time.

I’ve still got all the pipes. You can’t sell the buggers.  [Chuckle]

When I developed that sixty acres of mine into orchard and vineyard and so forth, I put all mains, pipes, underground for the irrigation.  Twenty years later the orchard was pulled out.  All that stuff underground – they just rip it up with the big rippers.

They came in here, and I had a six-inch main all round the farm, and the rippers went through in one paddock.  But John needed … before the central pivots came in he used cotton reel irrigation … and he needed all the things, so he brought a digger in and we lowered it all below the level of the rippers. That was a huge job. You had to dig it up deep enough to drop it in another nine inches or ten inches to be below the deep rippers. We did that, and we pulled one line out but most of the farm was still able to be irrigated with pipes from these mains takeoffs. If the pivot breaks down or blows over in a gale we can always save a crop if we have to – I’ve got enough pipes to irrigate the whole hundred and fifty – two hundred acres.  [Chuckle]

Do you have any other land apart from this homestead block?

No. I had this share in the Pakipak [Pakipaki] land and I sold three quarters of it to my sister that lives in Toronto, and one quarter to Joanna & Stuart Train, who’s [who are] Helen Dunn’s daughter and son-in-law.

Now, you spend a bit of time in Australia don’t you?  You’ve got a sister there?

No, daughter.

And they are farming?

No. No, no – those ones are – that’s Marianne MacSmith, my first cousin, lives just out of Orange, and she’s Rua and Bob Stead’s second daughter.  But I’ve been to visit two or three times.

Do you and Robin have any other interests outside horses and farming?  I know you’ve always had an interest in politics.

Yes – tired of that I think, but Robin plays golf at Bridge Pa and can’t understand how she doesn’t get better. [Laugh]

Yes.  You’re not meant to get better at golf – that’s par for the course.

Yes, she’s still waiting for her first hole in one.

Do you travel at all Tim?

Not me particularly, because I find walking can be a bit of a problem with my injuries from horse riding, but Robin travels quite extensively.

Just coming back to your horse days – did you break the horses yourself?

Early on yes. More recently I’ve had other people do it. I seem to have lost the patience for doing the job properly. I like things to happen far too quickly.

Has someone shot the parrot?   Or is it his sleepy time?

He’s right behind you.

He hasn’t said a word. He’s listening to us.

Yes he’s listening, right there. Can you see him?

I know he’s there, but when we started he was chattering away.

Now Tim, would you like to tell me something about relations around your family because I know you have a wide dispersal of people you’re related to in Hawke’s Bay.

Well from my mother’s family and her mother, who was a Reynolds, we’ve got Gaddums and Burkes in Gisborne, and it becomes quite a large family, they’re fairly good breeders before the time of TV. [Chuckle]  And further back on that side the Sunderland relations and that includes the Giblins and the Nelsons and one or two others.

Down at Undercliff, there was a family there – Sunderlands – were they any relation to you?

Yes, that was my mother’s uncle … great uncle I think. He was the manager for William Nelson for the Tomoana Freezing Works, and his sister was William Nelson’s fourth wife.

I didn’t realise that William Nelson had four wives – gosh, it’s a wonder he had time to develop the freezing works.

[Chuckle] Maybe he needed to get out of the house.

Yes.  So then Ossie Nelson – he was related to you too. Ossie used to live in the Mangapapa …

He was a second cousin of my mother’s. He lived at Mangapapa.

He used to come to our farm rabbiting. He was a great rabbiter, he had a bevy of dogs and a shotgun.

My parents went there for dinner at Mangapapa when they came home from their honeymoon.  And … I think cousin Gladys was Oswald’s wife … and she came in and announced that dinner was served, and as they went into the dining room they saw the last of the rabbiters’ pack disappearing out the door of the window with the roast.

Oh, you’re joking! 

[Chuckle]  So those are some of the relations – so that’s Dick and Punch’s parents.

And another story from their honeymoon is they were staying at Bert Symes’ place in Waverley and … a two-storeyed house, brand new … and the twins climbed out of their bedroom window, down the water tank and were off across the farm. My father said he would have tanned both their hides.

How old were the twins?

Three.  [Chuckle]

You’re joking!  [Chuckle]  It’s interesting that your grandparents came from Waverley to Hawke’s Bay. That was interesting, because Waverley was such a green, grassy area, lovely hill, you know …

My grandfather, Alf, farmed in partnership with his older brother Bert, and the family story is, all of them moved away to get away from Bert, who was a hard task master.  They moved far and wide. Uncle Stuart went to Wairoa. Uncle Harold went to Gisborne and ran the Mangatu blocks for the Maori Incorporation.

Well that’s as far away as you could get from Waverley isn’t it?

[Chuckle] More or less.  Bert, the eldest, nearly made it to a hundred. He would have been the first member of the family to make a hundred, but he died two weeks short of his hundredth birthday after walking from the Old Peoples’ Home down the hill at Wanganui to watch a football game – which was probably three mile walk – and then walking back afterwards, and he caught pneumonia.

Yes – they were tough.

They were a different breed – they could do all the things on the farm. Alf could blade shear between two and three hundred sheep a day, and I’ve since been told by ones that worked for him that he had the most violent temper if they did something wrong, but completely forgotten about half an hour later.

So we’ve covered some of the relations there. The Rutledge relations is [are] a big family – huge in Australia. William Rutledge, my grandmother’s grandfather, founded a stock and station agency which went spectacularly bankrupt in 1860.  But until then they’d printed their own money, and all sorts of things.

What area was that in?

He was at Port Fairy, south of Melbourne. It’s on the great Ocean Road.  And in the 1850s he had a fleet of ships exporting wool to England, and he sent more gold out from Port Fairy to Europe than the Port of Melbourne did. He was one of what you would now call one of the ‘super-rich’.  But he was in England for two years for the children’s education when the firm went bankrupt, and his brother-in-laws didn’t manage to save the business.  But he was a director of the Commercial Bank of Australia, and one of the founding members of … became Westpac … the Bank of New South Wales.  And another brother-in-law founded CSR – Colonial Sugar.

Did you ever run across a book called ‘Cattle King’ about the chap Kitson?

Yes, yes I’ve read it – I’ve got those …



And you’re talking about this relation of yours exporting all this stuff. There are some stories that are amazing aren’t they.

I’ve got books on him. He also was known as Terrible Billy. He got himself elected to the Parliament in Melbourne, and assaulted the Speaker of the House on the steps of Parliament – was sent to jail.  But you couldn’t be a member of Parliament once you’d been jailed, but his constituents re-elected him immediately.  [Chuckle]  But he died. My grandfather, William Leslie Rutledge, can remember him.

Now you haven’t had many relations in the South Island, have you?


Obviously they were all warm weather people …

Well, maybe.

 … ‘cause one of you married someone from Southland.

Ben did.  He went to Dunedin – get as far away from his parents as he could [chuckle] for his University years.

[Chuckle]  Just coming back – we’re probably getting near the end of what we need to do. I always remember the first time I really met you was you and Doug Twigg formed a deputation and called on me. You’d been charged by the then Hawke’s Bay Electorate Chairman to go out and form two more branches, and one of them was Brookvale.  And I was the one that invited Michael Laws to come and see whether it was worth standing for the Hawke’s Bay Electorate. But that’s a while ago isn’t it?

It is, yes.  Politics is so difficult.  I don’t know that it was a huge mistake getting Michael Laws. I’ve got a funny feeling the National Party needed shaking up at times, and that actually did some good.

Well it did. But yeah, he wouldn’t compromise.

The National Party involvement … I went back for quite a few years, but the disheartening thing was to me was the recovery after the Douglas years, when school fees and everything else like that became oppressive.  And Ruth Richardson promised to give help to the private schools, and in the first Budget she did it after they got re-elected.  It was a year until it happened, and it was less than the GST on the fees. I have never made a donation to the National Party since.

It was as if she wasn’t hearing – she didn’t seem to understand.

My – you know, it was possibly self-interest, but I put four children through boarding school and it cost a lot of money.  And the fact that it was no longer supported by the Government meant that we were paying taxes for our children to have been educated, and paying ourselves.

Can you think of anything else that we haven’t covered?  ‘Cause you’re probably busting to get out into those potatoes.

No, I’m not. [Chuckle] It’s too hot.

So Tim, this is great that you’ve given me some time to carry out this interview.  If there’s anything we have missed we can always do an addendum to it.


So at this point then we can relax.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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