Tremain Family Interview

Today is 27th August 2018. We’re doing an interview with the Tremain family, the three boys, Simon, Chris and Mark. Would you like to start, Chris? Tell us what you can remember when you were young about your father, about the rugby and those things, and school?

Chris: Yeah, sure. Well I was born in 1966, and I guess I don’t have too many recollections of very early days other than that we grew up in Willow Drive, which was one of the later suburbs of Taradale. Willow Drive was relatively new homes, and I distinctly remember the old house being somewhat smaller than it is now. It didn’t have an extension on the back of it, which came later; it didn’t have a pool; it didn’t have fences at the front, which were put in. I do remember very high trees in the front that we used to play in all the time, and a shed at the front where Dad had his motor mower and all those sorts of things. Out in front of the house was the Willow Drive Park which we used to play on relentlessly. And out the back we virtually had a spare section.

We grew up with the Lo family next door, a Chinese family, and there were four children there and they did have a pool, and a tennis court and so we used to swim in their pool all the time.

And at the back of the house was the Hay family, so Gerald [?] and Rachel Hay who lived over the back fence. And so between us we used to play in the back section all the time. I remember many, many tunnels that we dug out of the ground and covered them over with tin. And we had a big tree hut in the plum tree at the back there, and I remember Robyn Lo and Richard coming over and we’d play all the time there until one day we were digging and she chopped half her toe off, [?while?] were doing that. But … and another time when I jumped into their pool and took half my teeth off at the front there, much to my mother’s horror.

I remember we played a lot out on the park. Simon loved his sport out there and was always playing cricket, and having olympic games out there. He’d invite, you know, the neighbourhood round to participate in his games and … where more often than not that he would tend to win. [Chuckle]

I do remember Mark one time going for a bit of a walk down into the park, into the creek … Willow Drive creek … and you know – everyone’d be horrified about where he was, and you know, concerned that he’d been drowned – and finding him safe. I always remember that creek – we used to … you know, wade up and down that creek relentlessly – under the tunnels in the road, fishing for tadpoles and eels. And similarly round at Taradale Park. We’d always be hunting for tadpoles and … [chuckle] We were adventurers, and I think quite independent from a young age. I remember being allowed to bike into the Iron Pot in Napier with our fishing rods, and going fishing at the Iron Pot.

Taradale Primary was our primary, just round the corner. We used to walk to school. That was you know, not particularly far, a couple of ks, [kilometres] if that, but along the creek once again. And I remember coming home – we used to have a big plum tree and we’d climb up that when the plums were ripe. And I fell out of it one day and injured my leg pretty severely [chuckle] … had to get you know, a number of stitches in that. But those were the sorts of activities you did.

And those early days of White’s Gym … I don’t know if you guys remember White’s Gym?

Simon: Yeah, sort of.

Chris: Yeah, yeah … I mean …

Simon: Where was that?

Chris: That was round in Church Road, but Mr White was the – he had a bach at Waipatiki. We used to go to White’s Gym. And you know, all of the things that we did as kids – we were bloody busy – Scouts and Cubs were you know, a big part of our …

Did Pam have to become an Akela?

She did. She did, she probably talked to you about that.

So those days, your father was working for Williams & Kettle?

Yeah – I don’t have much recollection of his days in Kettle’s really. No, ‘cause he started at Tremain’s in 1970, so I was four at that stage, and I mean … you know, so you don’t have really … I don’t have much … the only recollection I have of that is really of the memories of farmers of the district. To this day I still recall activities of you know, of Dad going out and being in the yards with them; of various events around; coming back from … I remember one story when I was an MP, a guy came up to me and said “you won’t believe this, but your dad came back with a mate of his from Gisborne one night. And they were … [chuckle] they’d had a few beers, and they stopped in Wairoa and knocked on my door, and I gave them a bed for the night, and got … got Marge up – whatever her name was – to cook them breakfast of bacon and eggs in the morning.” You know, they were different days.

That’s how it happened. I’ve interviewed quite a few farmers and they all speak with great fondness of Kel …

Yeah, well in those days you know, you had All Blacks in your community.

… as a man – yeah, they thought the world of him.

Simon: So do we add anything to what Chris has said about those childhood days, but not doubling up what he said? All right, so thank you for that.

This is Simon now, and I guess to add to what Chris had, we had the lady we called ‘Dee’, who … Mrs Drury … who was over the back fence of the rear section. And she was like our grandmother, because our grandmothers were both in Auckland. So she used to look after us, you know, as good as any grandmother would, making shortbread and … you know, giving you money to buy an ice cream and all that sort of stuff, right? And then on that back section, later on the Trowers – Mum and Dad obviously sold that section to the … they sold it for $37 grand – the sort of number that comes to my mind … to the Trower family. And then Paul Trower was … he was in between Mark and I, so he was a good friend of ours, growing up in those days at Willow Drive, and playing in the olympic games, and cricket out in the park and all those sorts of things.

And across the creek we had a number of different families … the Crawfords, who – we broke Dad’s binoculars trying to watch them swim naked in their pool one time – Chris pulling them off me, or me pulling them off Chris. So I’ve still got those binoculars at home without the broken little bit on them. [Chuckles]

And then directly across from us … was it the Masons? Yeah, the Masons. And then over from them in Totara Street was Andrew and Caroline [?Ayr?].

Mark: And the Duncans.

Simon: And the Duncans, yeah – Kirsten and Brenda and Jeanine. Yeah.

Just where was Willow ..?

So Willow Drive came off Neeve Road, so the Town Clock … Taradale Town Clock … it ran towards Avondale Road.

And the creek that you’re talking about – the one that runs that way?

Yeah. And the run to the Town Clock used to be known … well it was the marathon in my olympics, right? So from our place, round the Town Clock and back was the olympic marathon. Must’ve been all of about one kilometre probably.

Yeah, that shortcut through to the school – we used to call it the shortcut remember? And you’d go down … what was that ..?

Together: Avon Terrace.

Simon: Avon Terrace, yeah. Yeah, I remember having a big fight there with a guy – he was your age – Stewart Ebbett – one day. He pulled me off my bike, and I just grabbed onto his hair and hung on for dear life.

And yeah – that was the only sort of … things I had to add to that, I think.

Chris: Any other neighbours, mate, that you recall?  No – I was just trying to think. The only other ones I recall is … Warwick Crescent. And it was kind of like … in those days it was a … quite a lot of State houses, just down, and you could walk from the end of Willow Drive through to the vineyard, which used to be the Mission …

Mark: Oh, the Porters.

Chris: … vineyard. And yeah, the Porters were down there, and the Aranui family … James Aranui … they were in that Warwick Crescent area. But yeah, we used to walk down there, and you could steal grapes [chuckle] when they were in season – I remember doing that. And further down was the Beaton family, across from the creek there. And the big house across the creek, which was the Buck Buchanans.

Simon: That’s right.

Chris: And [?] – that was one of the flash Harry house[s].

Mark: Is that lady [?] down there?

Simon: Dowling?

Chris: Dowling, yeah. No, that was … sorry, I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Not Buck Buchanan … [the] lady Dowling – you’re right, mate.

Helen Dowling?

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I’m wrong. Yeah. Oh, the other thing I think is worth … is that we spent, or I spent a lot of time up Sugarloaf hill, and I remember having carts that we would – we would climb to the top. We were always adventuring and going up there, and then we’d drive to … when they first put the subdivision in there, we had carts that we’d go down the hill on.

Any teachers that you guys remember from …

Simon: Family pets – I remember we had a couple of golden labs.

Mark: Yeah.

Simon: We had Goldie down there, who we ended up giving away ‘cause I think she barked, or bit or something. And we had Patches, the cat, and then obviously had Sheba, but Sheba was mainly up at Puketapu Road as well, wasn’t she? But she was there for a while.

Neighbours? Yeah, so there I know [speaking together]

Chris: Yeah, old Mrs Magill.

Simon: … Mrs Magill, right next door.

Mark & Chris: Yeah.

Mark: I remember Betty Crawford, on the other side. Mrs Griffiths …

Simon: Mrs Griffiths – she used to have ‘Garden of the Year’, didn’t she?

Mark: Yeah, all the time. I remember I’d shoot my slug gun out the side of the house and shoot the sparrows … and bouncing it off the concrete and Mrs Magill’s windows.

Simon: Yeah.

Mark: It was not ideal. [Chuckle]

Chris: The other thing that – when Mum and Dad put a pool in – they were wonderful entertainers. And they did a barbecue on the far side of the pool which he used to love cooking, you know. Dad was a very traditional kind of cook – he was … you know, he was … like your [chuckle] your spaghetti on toast and the barbecues … this was at Willow Drive, yeah. And you know, I remember his fortieth birthday for instance, was a hell of an affair. And all the town … you know, they had a big group of friends. Dad was, you know … loved people, and so did Mum, and so they always had good parties.

Simon: Yeah, I remember those early days. Yeah, Mum and Dad used to go on golf tours and rugby tours, and so I remember 1976 – that’s when I would’ve been eight; Mark would only have been five …

Mark: Four.

Simon: Four. Four or five, and they took … they went on that tour for six weeks. So it was one of those sort of, you know … a memory where we got sort of shipped around the … stayed with the Campbells, and …

Chris: Yeah, with Dee – I remember staying with Dee a lot.

Mark: I was always with Dee.

Chris & Simon: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah. I know Dee was … yeah, Simon’s right. She had a … I think it was a brother called Mr Weaver … remember him? Round in Avondale Road? And yeah, Dee’s husband – she’d been married, and he passed away. He was a pilot in the war, I think. And so she never got married again. But she was pivotal in our lives I reckon, as a you know, grandmotherly figure. And she did, she … you know, [in] terms of … almost like an au … might’ve been an au pair when Mum and Dad went away. You know, she’d either come over and stay with us or we’d go and stay with her. And so she was – yeah, she was really important.

So obviously there was always an interest following your father with rugby …

Chris: Mmm.

Did you all play rugby at primary school?

Mark: Well only from … yeah, Taradale Primary, but mainly at Taradale Rugby Club up until intermediate, then on to high school. And Dad used to coach all our teams I think, at Taradale Rugby Club. So we’d go to Taradale Rugby Club and then on to Napier Old Boys after the end of the day, and watch that game.

‘Cause that would’ve been mighty, to have an All Black coaching the teams?

Simon: Yeah. It didn’t really … you know, just ‘cause he was an All Black, it wasn’t like he was any different to any other father – but I assume he was, and we obviously thought pretty highly of him. I always remember getting an autograph once, in the Marist clubrooms, and someone coming up to me and saying “well the only autograph you should really have is your dad’s”. And I said “yeah, I think I’ve got that one”.


Chris: Simon was a great collector of autographs and he really you know, had many, many autographs over the years – it was a real passion of his. It was a fantastic idea.

I’ve got great memories of that [?] which is when we were having a fight one night in the Old Boys’ gym after the game one night. But we always used to go into the – I mean Dad was very habitual, so on Saturday morning he loved his races and so we would go into the TAB with the ‘Best Bets’. You know, couldn’t do it on the phone in those days, so we’d be doing that on a Saturday morning, then we’d go to sport … our sport. And then we’d go to [chuckle] the rugby and watch Old Boys play. He did a stint as – did he coach the Old Boys team for … Oh no, no – it was Hawke’s Bay. He coached Hawke’s Bay Under 19, or 20 …

Simon: Under 18s.

Chris: Under 18s for a while.

Simon: [??] I remember coming through, the Wellington half-back – he was always the one that Dad thought would be an All Black.

Chris: Yeah, yeah – they went up the Coast on one trip I remember, and there’s some interesting stories about that. But I don’t have such recollection of him as a coach in junior rugby. I remember – like, Mark and Simon played for … we all played for Taradale Club, which was … you know, Dad believed that you should play for the community that you were living in, rather than leaving the side. And then we all went to Taradale Intermediate, and we all played for the Ross Shield teams, and you know, then we all went on to Napier Boys’ and played First XV rugby.

Now the thing I wanted to talk about Dad was – which I don’t know if it’s been mentioned so far – was about his … the way he was involved in charities, particularly with the Crippled Children’s Society, and Hohepa. So Hohepa was started by the Harris family, and Dad was heavily involved with fund-raising for that. And I don’t know ‘bout … you guys remember, did you go … we used to go on bottle drives. This’d be on a Saturday or a Sunday – we had the trailer on the back and we’d drive all round Taradale, knocking [raps on table] on people’s doors, and bring in their bottles. And you’d always, you know, you’d know the guys that were big drinkers [chuckle] ‘cause they’d have crates and crates [chuckle] … “this is Mr Harrison’s house, and yeah – you’ve always got plenty of flagons that we can take and we’ll make heaps out of him”.

Yes – some of them you had to be a bit careful because we did that as well, and here’s the kids saying “oh, d’you see all the gin bottles!” [Laughter]

Chris: Yes, so he was pretty much in the community. And the first recollection I have of him working was he used to do auctions on a Saturday morning. And because they didn’t do – they obviously had to work seven days a week in those days and didn’t do open homes. So he could raise quite good cash just doing house lot auctions.

Simon: Chattel auctions.

Chris: Chattel auctions, yeah, yeah. And he used to give us … what, a buck or a couple of bucks … for running the chits from where the auctioneer was, back to the front desk. And that’s why when Weaver died we did a chattel auction at his house. I remember they came up with this grenade [chuckle] from the war, and I was always fascinated by it. But I’m sure it was [chuckle] taken care of. D’you guys remember going to those chattel auctions?

Mark: Not specifically, but [?].

Simon: And I definitely remember different chattel auctions, yep. And he used to try and make … you know, used to try and make fun of people out there in the crowd, and get them laughing, and … you know?

Yeah, he was very good at that.

Simon: Yeah.

He got very involved with the Taradale Rotary Club with their fund-raising auctions, and …

Mark: They might’ve remembered him like that.

Simon: We used to – like Chris said, the routine was pretty much Napier Old Boys in the afternoon, right? And Dad’d stay for beers, and we’d just run round the club rooms, and get us home at some stage. And Sundays, often we went over to Havelock North to the Wall’s place, didn’t we?

Mark and Chris: Yep.

Simon: And we used to – they had a pool – and we used to play at their place and Mum and Dad and the Walls’d have a few drinks, and we’d end up getting back home Sunday … late Sundays.

Chris: And the other thing I … probably for [?] reasons, the A&P Show, which was a religious event for us as a family. And we would pony up with about five or six other families at the Meeanee interchange, and we’d all drive across to the A&P Show grounds with our picnics. And we’d all you know, get a car park spot together, and have a great time, you know. It was in those days when the drink/drive thing wasn’t quite as … [chuckle] as strong as it is today. And … have very fond memories of my mother on one particular occasion – it’s probably one of the few times I’ve seen her [chuckle] where she’d had too much to drink [chuckle]

Simon: Bit tipsy.

Chris: … and fell over the chilly bin when we got back into the house – I recall that.

Oh, it was almost a ritual for Hawke’s Bay people to all meet, and for a lot of the cousins it was the only time they met, was at the Show.

All: Mmm.

Simon: What time did we live at Willow Drive until?

Mark: I was ten.

Simon: You were ten – yeah, I was about thirteen.

Chris: And I was in my last – it was my last year in high school.

Simon: Yeah. So 1984 then? ‘83 – ‘84? It was round then, wasn’t it, yeah. I always remember one of the … from Willow Drive, obviously our games room, and you know, we used to play Army and that down there, and we used to set up these big [?] I always remember that guy, Ian Wood, staying with us and crashing Mum’s car … rolling Mum’s car.

Chris and Mark: Mmm.

Simon: And so I came out in the morning, and I know that I’d been allowed to take Mum’s car out that night – so he was just a billet. And so he was older than Chris – I’m not too sure how we ended up having him staying there.

Chris: I don’t know either. I must have …

Mark: Dad [?…?]

Simon: Was that how we ended up having him? Anyway, I came home in the morning and said … “oh,” I said “how’d you go in the car last night? Did you crash it?” And I didn’t realise, and everyone [chuckle] just looked at him, blank. Yeah, he rolled it, wrote off the car, and I didn’t know. He was at Auckland Grammar School, and he’d come down with some athletic champs. I don’t know how it … he must’ve been staying with us ‘cause Dad knew his family.

And I also remember that party …

Chris: He missed out on being Head boy at Grammar, because of that.

Simon: Remember that party you had for the musical? So you were in the fifth form, weren’t you? And …

Chris: I was in seventh at that stage. No, must be fifth – must be fifth. [Speaking together]

Simon: No, ‘cause that girlfriend you had, Meredith – she was a [?] former.

Chris: Oh, that’s right.

Simon: But you had that party in our garage at Willow Drive, because I got to bring a couple of my friends and a couple of girlfriends as well, which was … yeah, that was good. That was great, really – Chris had this big party with all the … you know, with all the …

Chris: Cast.

Simon:  … from the production, from Napier Boys’ and Napier Girls’.

Chris: And we put a tent off – we set up a framework and put it off the front of the garage because we had that big garage down the side of the house which had a [?] which got caught in the washing machine.

Simon: Yeah – in the garage, yeah. And one other family from Willow Drive … see, I don’t know which mate it was. And Mark – they said we were hassling Mark … annoying him … and Dad said “leave him alone – do not touch him again”. And I was so – “oohh” – like I was pretending I had [?] – so Dad just grabbed me, gave me a hiding, and then I came flying out of the bush, and the boys reckoned I went over the power line and landed on the grass. [Chuckles] Wasn’t quite as bad as that.  [Laughter]  But there was a PC that was there, old Bernie Fraser … PC old Fraser was there, and you know … yeah.

Justice was meted out.

Simon: Yeah, justice was delivered.

Chris: One thing I’ll touch on is the holidays, and the trips to Auckland. Because we used to travel religiously to Auckland, you know, as kids because that’s where our family was – all the relations. And so we’d either go up there – normally we’d have driven up. I don’t recall going on the bus, because we’d go up there and we’d spend quite a lot of time with our grandmother … with Elsie … over on the North Shore, and with Mildred and Syd in St Heliers. But Grandma was a … she was a great one for … ‘cause throughout their lives they never had their licence – they never owned a vehicle. Just wish they could’ve grown [??] … [speaking together] But Grandma would get us on the bus, take us into town, across the bridge, and then we’d go out to MOTAT [Museum of Transport and Technology], or the zoo, or … we’d go right down to South Auckland one time. Remember when we went down to South Auckland? I think you and I had a scrap, or might‘ve been someone else – but the old black things that used to go on the cow teats? And we got cow poo in them, and we were like … the old German hand grenades, throwing them around, and Grandma was horrified! [?…?] this kid had been covered in this stuff and … anyway, so we … I do remember that.

Simon: Well I remember – I think his name was Simon too … it was a younger kid that was with us. Yeah.

Mark: Don’t remember that.

Chris: Don’t remember that? And another – I mean we did a lot of holidays as a family. I think the holidays are quite a formative … Do you guys remember the holiday round the Coast – the East Coast?

Simon: Yep.

Mark: See we used to do that all the way home from Christmas, actually.

Chris: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But only once round the Coast though. D’you remember that Coast one?

Simon: I remember going round there. So I thought we did that a couple of times. But Dad used to take the dinghy out, put it on the back …

Chris: Yep.

Simon: … went up the East Coast and went out fishing. Caught snapper one day, and … you know?

Chris: Yep. So I’ve got quite good memories of that.

I mean, we all remember, you know … Simon, while he was at school, caught a cricket ball … well [?] caught a cricket ball and knocked his tooth out of his head – there was a post in his way …

Simon: I had a ball in my hand, and he hit another ball. And so I caught the second ball and the first ball popped into my tooth, yeah.

Chris: So Si and I had a fight in the car in … like going through Tauranga, or Papamoa or somewhere – I elbowed him in the blimmin’ mouth, and it knocked his tooth out. You can imagine, you know …

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: … Christmas holidays – Mum’s just going “this is the last thing I need!” ‘Cause I mean where’re you going to find a dentist to sort it out, so I don’t know exactly what they did to …

Simon: I had two like … pins in there – I mean I just had these two pins hangin’ out.

Mark: Oh, lovely!

Chris: So sorry for that, mate. [Chuckle]

But then we went on round the Coast, and I remember … might’ve been [?Godsworth?], but anyway we were up in Waihau Bay. We actually … think we stayed with friends … like, the Whinerays were there, and we stayed with Wilson. And we went out on the reef collecting seafood, and I stood on a kina. And ohh, I was in agony for days, ‘cause they couldn’t get the pins out of the bottom of my feet. We came round there.

There were … that other big trips we did – other trips were down the South Island, round the South Island …

Mark: Milford Track.

Chris: Yeah, yeah – you [???]. And we went to Fiji, and the other one I remember was the Australian trip we did.

Simon: Gold Coast.

Chris: We only did two overseas trips while we were … which is, if you look at our children these days, [chuckle] and overseas trips. Mark, d’you want to talk about the ..?

Mark: Well I don’t really remember too much about it. I remember the Milford Track, and going to stay with the people in Te Anau, and some black sand beach down there – I assume it was on the West Coast. But oh, I don’t remember too much, I was only about seven at that stage.

Chris: Right. Yeah, yeah.

Simon: But you walked the Milford Track, didn’t you?

Mark: Yeah. All of it bar one piece, Dad had to carry me up the thing, but yeah. Was in the … further on down the track I think, but I can’t remember too much.

Chris: Well I’ve got good memories of … we came across on the ferry, and we went down and we stayed with Dad’s good mate at Westport, Ross Burrows …

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: In the …

Simon: Black & White.

Chris: … Black & White Hotel. Can always remember staying up in those rooms, and we’d you know, have hotel … feed …

Simon: Smorgasbord.

Chris: The feed was, you know … oh, you just reflect on those days and how things are … generally just small things like going to the Cobb & Co was a big deal in those days, and those sorts of restaurants. Now its just kinda like, you know, every other week, you know. But Cobb & Co, and then we went down the West Coast – we walked on the Franz Josef Glacier, we did the Milford Track which was … I mean Margot Lowry was a long-time …

Simon: Oh, yeah – another girlfriend.

Chris: [Chuckle] … long-time penfriend. [Chuckle] She looks a bit older as well. [Chuckle]

Simon: Did you meet her recently, did you?

Chris: Oh, I took Ange and the kids back and we went and stayed with them over in San Francisco.

And then we came up the east coast – again, stayed with his friends. What was his mate’s name who was a veterinary … Stone.

Simon: Oh, yeah, Gerry Stone.

Chris: Gerry Stone, in Christchurch, and we stayed at the beach out there. That might be the black sand beach you remember. But we rafted when we were down in Queenstown – I think I might’ve done that with Dad, alone.

Mark: [?]

Chris: But yeah, the Milford Track was …

Simon: I remember the Milford Track – I remember the birds, what’re they called? You know, the little parrots?

Mark: Keas.

Simon: Keas – the keas, yeah. And they were wrecking the car, like going round and just ripping the rubber of the mirrors.

Chris: Yeah, I remember the last day – for two days it just poured … absolutely bucketed down, and you know, the waterfalls were coming out of the hills.

Well I think that’s one of the pluses for it raining at Milford, because you see how it can be. And it’s pretty spectacular … you know, all the streams come up fifteen feet. Did you freedom walk it, or ..?

Chris: Ah, no – we had the luxury … well [chuckle] Mum wasn’t a great tramper, and so yeah, I think that was the deal.

The other two holidays that I recall quite vividly was the Fijian trip where we went out to …

Simon: Mana Island.

Chris: Mana Island. You guys might have some memories of those?

Simon: Well I remember us diving for … we got those shellfish, right? And they had … obviously the shellfish …

Chris: Conch shell?

Simon: Yeah. And they had obviously a living organism within the shell and we couldn’t to take them home, so we had to bury them, and kill that, and then we’d pull … hollow that out before we could take them home.

Chris: A year later.

Simon: Was it a year later, was it? Okay. I was thinking … I don’t know if they’d die in sort of a few days. They rot, do they? Yeah.

Chris: I remember distinctly – ‘cause we took Nana and …

Mark: Syd and …

Simon: Yeah. Syd and Mildred.

Chris: … Mildred came with us. And when the islanders found out that they had an All Black on the Island, out on Mana, they … the Chief invited us for … to the rugby game. So Dad had to referee this rugby game. And I remember, like even by that stage he was quite a big man, and he – I actually remember, he used to sweat relentlessly.

Simon: Yeah, he used to sweat a lot.

Chris: Yeah. And then … but I do remember them having the kava ceremony afterwards in the Chief’s hut. And then we had the …

Simon: Yeah, I remember that.

Chris: … big feast. Yeah, big feast. And we actually went over to Suva, and we drove back from Suva ‘cause Dad wanted to visit some … you know, whenever he took those golf tours away, he did used to go and visit the hotels before. And he would also in those days go to the Duty Free Shop and arrange for all the prizes for the golf tournament. So I remember him taking them. In those days Duty Free was a big deal – you got a massive saving, and that was a highlight. And when we came back we stayed on the south coast with Nana and Pa, and I remember stopping in sugar canes, and … but he loved … think he was a traveller, and those golf tournaments became quite … you know, a significant part of the travel business.

Mark: That’s why Dee was such a big part of the family, because …

Kept you under control.

Simon: Mmm.

Mark: Yeah, but Mum – yeah, so …

Chris: Forgets how often … [laugh] … they were on.

Mark: It’s good.

Chris: The other thing I thought I’d be talking about, especially with Dad in my memories, is we talked a little bit about Rotary, but Dad had very good and close friends in the Rotary Club as well – guys like Dave Nichol, John Campbell, Peter Sugden …

Mark: Peter Reid …

Chris: Peter Reid …

Simon: Ron Ebbett …

Chris: Ron Ebbett … and they used to go away on boys’ weekends. They’d start and … I remember regularly Dave Nichol’s Holden Kingswood station wagon, and they’d pull up. They’d have crates of beer in the blimmin’ back, and off they’d go to Taupo with the golf clubs and the first stop would be the Westshore, then it’d be the Bay View, and then it’d … they worked their way up to Taupo. So very fond memories of that, and certainly that’s how … that’s how I met Pete Ebbett and the Ebbett family through those relationships. And … used to go and stay and work on Ebbetts’ farm for … certainly in the lambing … school holidays.

But what … and also the Lodge is the other thing I thought we should touch on, which is …

Simon: Oh yeah.

Chris: … he was a – Dad loved the Lodge, and was a very dedicated …

Mark: Mason.

Chris: … Mason. And I often recall being in the car with him and he’d be reciting passages from the Lodge Book in terms of … he had to learn these passages. And he was very, very good at learning those – he had an incredible memory for – he could memorise things pretty quickly and recall a vast amount of text. Yeah.

He was good at sponsoring clubs too, wasn’t he? He didn’t mind giving, but he wanted people to be …

Chris: Loyal.

… loyal to them.

Chris: Yeah, that’s right.

Simon: Yeah. Hard being in business like that, isn’t it?

Mark & Chris: It is.

Simon: Unfortunately it doesn’t always come back. But you know, I think he was pretty good … or very good … at you know, setting that community involvement for the business, and giving. And when you do give you can’t expect to get back in return, right? So, you just hope it does come back.

Chris & Mark: Mmm.

Mark: Any other memories of those days, guys?

Simon: I’m just sort of … I’m just trying to think about the age group we were in, and see I sort of compartmentalise it to Willow Drive, and then Puketapu Road, you know. And Willow Drive, for me, was primary school, intermediate, and just touching on high school. And I still remember you know, a couple of girls from intermediate days on their bike[s] you know, coming down Willow Drive. And then I sort of, you know – I must’ve been in third or fourth form when we went up to Puketapu Road. And the different things you do as a young kid, you know, as you grow up, and next thing – someone’s got a car, and you know, what we did in those Puketapu Road days. So ‘86 was my last year at high school. Yeah, and so Chris’ would’ve been ‘84, and Mark’s was ‘89.

Mark: ‘89.

Simon: ‘89 was it? So, you know, we haven’t really talked much about the high school years at this stage – we just talked about Willow Drive. Yeah, so anything more about Willow Drive?

Chris: The other thing about Willow Drive was some of the jobs we had. So I think we all had ‘Dominion’ paper runs – did you have one, Mark?

Mark: Yep.

Chris: And what was the area you covered?

Mark: All of Taradale … well most of Taradale, out to Auckland Road. There was only one house on Auckland Road and I used to bike for ten minutes to get to that one house to deliver the paper.

Chris: [Chuckle] Did you ..? The same run?

Simon: Yeah – exactly the same run.

Mark: I was just going to say, we all did the same run.

Simon: And we used to take the dog with us – well, I did.

Mark: On a Thursday, when it was rubbish day, was always a …

Chris: Yeah, so the dog. And then one of the deliveries that I remember doing was St Joseph’s Maori Girls’ College, and you had to take the paper up to the nuns.

Mark: Yeah, in the church.

Chris: In the church. So that was you know – that was part of that. But that was kind of rain, hail or shine, and except if it was really pouring down, poor Dad inevitably had to get up and take you around.

Then I’ve just had a flashback of the types of cars that we used to have – the Valiants … and what was that big blue thing that Dad had? It was a big blue latest Valiant … like that. It was kind of a hangover from the stock agent days.

In terms of jobs again, we all worked in McDonald’s supermarket. And so that was just through the knowledge of the family – all packed groceries there and did the cleaning on a Saturday morning before we …

Mark: So yeah, I was newspaper, Form 1 and 2 …

Chris: Yeah.

Mark: … and Form 3 to Form 7 was in the supermarket. And you weren’t allowed to leave unless you had another job to go to. I know Simon left and went to ICA umpiring.

Simon: Yeah, a good cricketer.

Mark: I left and went to the milk run for a week, and that was too [?] hard, and the supermarket [??] …  [Laughter]

Simon: Did you?

Chris: Classic – yeah.

Simon: I always remember Mark – Dad used to protect Mark, his little favourite little son, you know – the young one coming through. Mark used to get away with murder, I reckon.

Mark: [Chuckle]

Chris: And your youngest doesn’t these days, Simon?

Simon: [Chuckle] He does a little bit, yeah. Yeah. You’ve got to look after the younger one.

I always remember getting colour TV, right? Because the 1976 Olympic Games … I used to like – I used to keep scrapbooks of everything, Olympic Games, All Black Tours, Commonwealth Games … and the 1976 Olympic Games – we got a colour TV for that. So I was eight.

Chris: Mmm. Oh, actually, speaking of TVs and … we went into the lounge with the fireplace, and one of the things we used to do in the lounge was – before the colour TV – was, Dad had this massive collection of slides.

Simon: Oh yeah.

Chris: And we’d have these slide shows. He’d set up, and Mum’d have some soup, and then out come the projector, and we’d click through the slides and look through. That – now, I’ll say Dad loved sport generally. So we’d always get up and we’d turn on the TV for the FA Cup Final. And get up religiously for that, and also for the – when the Tests started being played live, we’d get up for those you know, rather than watch it …

Simon: I just saw on the ads there, it said colour TV came to Australia in 1975.

Chris: Right.

Simon: So the first colour TVs were out in the late sixties.

And was Kel the collector of all the photos? Your family have got a bigger collection of sports photos than anyone I’ve ever known.

Mark: Oh, those ones in frames?


Simon: Yeah, well they’re mainly ‘cause Dad was in so many teams. So we ended up at some stage just framing them all, didn’t we?

Mark: Put the border round there.

Simon: Yeah. And then we ended up giving them out to each other, didn’t we?

Chris: Mmm.

Mark: Yeah.

And so what did you do when you left high school? You went to university?

Chris: Yeah, well we haven’t really reflected too much on high school yet. No – we all went in to Napier Boys’ High, and the obligatory route was by the bus in Taradale there. And I biked – I used to bike quite a lot, certainly in my sixth and seventh form days, but that was before – see, the younger brothers got a car. That was never … never an opportunity for [chuckle] … and I remember you used to talk about that, ‘cause the first car was the Moke, was it? The ‘Wimp’?

Mark: It was a Mini Moke, wasn’t it?

Simon: No, it was a Hillman Imp. Hillman Imp. Was that the first car, was it? The ‘Wimp’.

Mark: Yeah. [Chuckle]

Simon: Yeah, but like I was in seventh form when we got that … in sixth or seventh form.

Mark: That’s when the boys pushed it into the lake, didn’t they? Across from the … when it flooded across from the school?

Simon: I don’t know – yeah, probably.

Chris: Didn’t you run it dry out on the Parade one time?

Simon: No, that was the Corvette …

Chris & Mark: The Chevette.

Simon: … the Chevette. Yeah. I ran it dry … boiled it one time, blew up the motor.

Chris: So yeah, we used to travel in … but oohh, we’ve got hundreds of stories about Napier Boys’ High School, but you know, it was a big step from Taradale. It really was. I remember Grant Dearns – he was the big blimmin’ senior when I got there. And I remember having a fight on the bus one time on the way in, with a guy Roberts. [Chuckle] Yeah, you have all those memories about different scraps you had over time.

Simon: Yeah, well they call him Tappy Tremain …

Chris: Yeah, well he wouldn’t get out of this guy’s seat, so … anyway, I probably deserved a smack in the head, so it was him – it was fine. But what do you recall about Napier Boys’, Mark?

Mark: I just remember having to drive … to bike down the hill every morning from – ‘cause I was up at Willow Drive [Puketapu Road?] by then, so … And it was always … going down was fine – well back then it was a shingle drive. Going down was interesting sometimes – ended up over the fence every so often.

Chris: Did you get caned?

Simon and Mark: Yep.

Chris: Tell us about your caning experiences.

Simon: So my first cane was I punched a guy in the head, ‘because I lent him my tennis racquet and he gave it back to me the next morning, and it was broken. And I punched him in the head, just as the [?] walked in, so I was outside History for the whole lesson. And then – it might’ve been Social Studies or whatever it was called – and then at the end of that lesson he caned me. Oh, that hurt. My other one was from Bob McCaw when we basically came back late from lunch. Simon Kerr, Bob Turner and myself had been somewhere else – we must’ve been about … we certainly weren’t prefects. Simon Kerr used to take … when he was Head Prefect he took so much time off school they basically just about took the badge off him.

Chris: When were you caned?

Mark: [?] caned me for …

Chris: He’s a family friend.

Simon: Yeah.

Mark: … for locking – well, three of us locked this boy in the music room cupboard. So next day – warned about that. And Mr Stevens I think his name was, he was a really good tennis player.

Simon: Carrot. Carrot Stevens.

Mark: And he was good back-hander, ‘cause he was a Hawke’s Bay tennis player. And that … oh yeah, I remember that hurt, ‘cause I mean – right up my back. Ouch!

Chris: I got caned by Mr Riseborough in – I think it was fifth form. And it was …

Simon: Was he a maths teacher?

Chris: Yeah. Well we went … I used to go home to Paul Goss’ place for lunch and we’d have spaghetti. And we used to go up to John [?] place on the hill for lunch and his dad had this collection of small millimetre videos. Paul used to watch pretty dodgy ones, actually. [Chuckles] And then we missed the period, it was maths class. And when he found out the next day, he said “what d’you want to do? Do you want a detention, or do you want one of his …” Me, John [?] and Richard Twyford. And Richard and I took the punishment – took the two round the bum, and moved on. [Chuckle]

Simon: There was a bit of a sting all right, I remember that.

Chris: It’s different days now.  Now what else do you remember about Napier Boys’? I mean it was – there are schools of … you know, relatively hard knocks.

Simon: Oh, I look at my kids now – they’re going through third form and fourth form, and I reckon they’re two quite hard years. You come into the third form and you’re just a little junior in the school, then fourth form, you know, not much is going on.

When I was in fourth form our whole class was in detention … we used to have to get signed off at every class. We used to throw things at teachers and … you know. And then fifth form you’ve got School Certificate and everything, you know, you’ve got something to actually work towards, and you’ve grown up a little bit, and … you know. Rugby and cricket were pretty key for me in those times. And yeah, then in sixth form, and you got all your exam marks out. Simon Kerr was outstanding sportsman in our school, and I was sort of … you know, trying to compete with him, but I was certainly second to him.

I remember he got Head Boy and I was Deputy Head, but then I got Sports Dux, and he should’ve definitely been Sports Dux, and I’d give him that I think, as an – you know … “here you go, Simon”, because [chuckle] Simon Kerr didn’t really perform the role that he’d bought. That’s my sort of recollections of Boys’ High.  Not so good round the production called ‘The Boyfriend’. Had a great group of friends … girlfriends from … you know, when I say girlfriends – friends that were girls, in Colenso, and lots of good friends that were girls in Napier Girls’ as well. So we had lots of different parties we used to go to, and it was good. Loved it.

Chris: I think we all shared that. Did you have any shows like that? I did three of them – Mikado, The Desert Song and Westside Story.

Simon: Three!

Chris: Yeah. I did third form … fifth form and …

Simon: Jeez!

Chris: It was always a great opportunity to meet …

Simon: The girls! [Laughter]

Chris: I don’t think I made the most of it in third form, but from fifth and seventh form I did.

The call of the wild!

Yeah, no Simon’s right, it gave me a great opportunity, and we had [a] really broad group of friends.

What about you, Mark?

Mark: I worked backstage. [Laughter]

Simon: ‘Traids’. [Chuckle] Oh, you’ve got to tell the story about how you got ‘Traids’.

Mark: Mr Ohlson?

Simon: Yeah. Olly Ohlson. ‘Cause we had Olly Ohlson, didn’t we?

Chris: Oh yeah, I had him.

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: He’s a treasure.

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: [Chuckle]

Mark: Well, he was my economics teacher. And he was talking about AIDS, and he asked the class who would be the first person in the class to get AIDS. And Jeffrey Smith put his hand up and said “Tremain, sir.” And that’s it … Tremain and AIDS … Traids.

Simon: Was that his nickname? [?] Because he’s such a …

Mark: Mate of mine at school.

Simon: … he’s always such a handyman, and obviously a plumber and qualified drainlayer and all that sort of stuff, everyone thought he was called ‘Trades’ ‘cause he was a good tradesperson … wasn’t the truth.

Chris: I remember Ohlson when Simon and I both went … you went on that Canadian trip, eh?

Simon: Yep.

Chris: Yeah. You know, in my last year at school – first we’d had a pretty damn good year and won the Polson Banner and the [?] Cup. And we’d all all had this trip we’d been planning for eighteen months to go to Canada and Hawaii … Canada and America, so we did that at the end of my seventh form year. But Ohlson came with us, and I remember when we came back through Hawaii, Dennis Paxie and I were staying in the same room as John.

Mark: I got put in the hostel when … was it the Maoris in Wales? ‘87?

Simon: ‘87 was the Rugby World Cup.

Mark: Oh, maybe that – well okay, it was – I’m sure it was that, when you were over there, they came over.

Chris: Yeah. No, no, that was ‘91. [Speaking together]

Mark: Can’t’ve been ‘cause … [speaking together]

Simon: When did you leave school, in ‘91?

Mark: … no, cause I was put in the hostel. I was put in the hostel for six or eight weeks while they were away. And Mr Ohlson used to always make me carry his golf bags around the golf course once a week, and make me late to dinner so I’d get detention every week.

Chris: He was a wonderful teacher.

Mark: He was great.

Chris: You know, he was incredible really, I mean [speaking together] … yeah, I’ve got great memories of John – he was a wonderful teacher. What about other teachers that you had, boys?

Simon: Well [?] Davy was our headmaster … Bruce Davy … he was headmaster for all of us, wasn’t he? And yeah, Bob McCaw was a great man, I always quite liked Bob McCaw. Oh, and obviously Rick Ellis was our [speaking together] rugby coach.

Chris: Yeah, Rick was … Rick was …

Simon: Mike Shipton was our cricket coach, ‘cause I remember, I went to Australia when I was in the fourth form with the First XI. Simon Kerr and I were just the young guys. And on that fifth form tour, again we were just the young guys, and see I think the senior guys got up to a bit more mischief than the younger guys did.

Chris: You did meet that long … [speaking together]

Simon: Oh, yeah – I did, yeah.

Chris: You sent roses to her.

Simon: [Chuckle] I met this Canadian girl and I fell in love with her, over there, right? And she rung up one day, and Mum and Dad just said, “never ring back” – boom. And I never heard from her again. [Chuckle] And then she contacted me on Facebook, and I said, “oh, what happened, you know, way back then?” [Chuckle] She said “I was told to never ring you again”. That’s the first time that came out.

Chris: Classic.

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: The fund-raising for that trip was … you know, we were out in the bush blimmin’ chopping trees and pruning …

Simon: Pruning pines. Pumpkins …

Chris: Pumpkins … you must be conscious of time?

No, no, no – I’m only watching time for Mark, ‘cause he’s got to go at five.

Simon: Mmm – I’ve got to go too, at five.  Chris – you know, Head Boy [??], 1984. Yep. That was a pretty fine achievement.

Chris: Yeah, it was a great opportunity. And the other thing is … I think the thing is, we all got through the school and did pretty well, got our School Cs and we all participated and …

Simon: Mark was a … we were all prefects at the school. So I think you know, there’s a good history there of … I did want to touch on when we went to the hostel, because I had the same, and I was in … Mum and Dad went away a lot. [Chuckle] I was put in the hostel for a term as well, in the fourth form … third or fourth form. And I remember having a … that was formative, because James [?Poehanga?] who ended up being in the First XV with me – I got into a fight with him one time as well, so …

Simon: That’s right – [chuckle] Tappy Tremain, he was in lots of fights, eh? No wonder he knocked my teeth out, you know? What were you going to say about a Maori boy?

Mark: I had the same when … no, no, not about Napier Boys’ … my biggest memory of from up the hill was being Dad’s dog all the time.

Chris: [Chuckle]

Oh, with the sheep?

Mark: With the sheep.

Simon: Oohh …

Mark: And you had to get them in before the next race, ‘cause he’d stop doing everything to listen to the race. [Chuckle] And the sheep’d go out again so we had to round them up. That would be my biggest sort of memory of that.

Simon: That’s classic. I haven’t heard that one before. I do remember one time, though … I’d jumped off the verandah up there because Dad was wanting me to pay the phone bill for this girl that’d been ringing from Canada, right? And so I said “if you want the money, then I’ll just go down to get it”. So I grabbed my Eftpos card and went out on my balcony – I was on the second floor – and jumped off the balcony. On the way down I ripped the guttering off, so that would’ve cost him five times as much as the phone call.

Chris: [Chuckle]

Simon: And I stormed off down town, right?

Chris: We had some raucous parties up at …

Simon: Puketapu?

Chris: Puketapu Road. I remember having one up there after we won the Polson Banner, or the …

Simon: Yeah, we definitely won, ‘cause I was in that … was in your team.

Chris: It was bloody [?karma?] I reckon. We did hakas of the blimmin’ front lawn – yeah, it was a … interesting time.

Mark: Well the reason I know that we – I was still at Intermediate – was, they were having a party and they forgot that I was still at the school social. So I waited … after the school social I waited out at the gate for two hours, or three hours, and then no one came and picked me up, so I walked home …

Chris: Oh my God!

Mark: … walked in the door and yelled at everyone, and they were just sitting there, partying away!

Simon: Who was this? Was this Mum and Dad?

Mark: Mmm.

Simon: Not us?

Mark: No.

Chris: Did they call Social Welfare after that? [Chuckle]

Mark: No. Wasn’t such a thing. [Chuckle]

Simon: And that’s what I always remember – we … Dad would always have to pick us up after sport, so he’d be coming home from work. But you know, he would forget us more often than not. And so he’d get home, and Mum’d go “where’s the boys? Where’s Simon? Where’s Chris?” Or whatever – so he’d have to go back.

Chris: And there was no phones in those days.

Simon: No, no, there was no phones, right? And yeah – you know, our bikes’d … couple of bikes got stolen. We used to mainly bike down the hill and catch the bus.

Mark: Rockin’ up outside the BNZ.

Simon: Yeah.

Mark: Sometimes the front wheel’d be there on Monday morning, but not the bike.

Simon: No.

Chris: They were good … great days, you know? Anything else you remember about Taradale, or anything in particular?

Simon: Well, the supermarket – we all had jobs at the supermarket, didn’t we? And yeah, I always used to go through the rubbish bins when I had the bike and look for the bottles, ‘cause they were always blimmin’ eight cents a bottle.

Chris: And all the magazines.

Simon: Yeah. And the magazines out of the back of the …

Mark: Yeah, they’d take the front cover off.

Well, the other thing – the big shed that Kel built that he put all the gear in …

Chris: Oh, that was Goode’s potatoes.

[All speaking together]

Simon: Yeah … he didn’t built it. He didn’t build it.

Chris: No, he didn’t. It was the guy Goode.

Or Trevor …

Trevor’s Potatoes.

Mark: I think going up to Auckland – our aunties would lock the houses down, ‘cause we – but they all had girls. And so when the Tremain boys came to town we used to wreck everything.

Chris: And there’s two good stories I remember – are you going to tell him?

Mark: I remember Wayne getting thrown down the laundry chute at parties.

Chris: That is – that makes three, so … thrown down the laundry chute; one time Simon I think, brought this stink bomb, when we were in [?] house. And he let it off, and I just lost the plot and went in and threw up on her brand new settee. [Laughter]

And there’s another time when we were staying with Jenny and Grant – because Jenny was particularly … a lovely woman, but you know, having two daughters, and … the three boys. Anyway, we ended up having a scrap of some kind, and one of us put our foot through the bottom of their fish pond – they had one of those fibreglass fish ponds. [Chuckle] They must’ve just sat there as we left going “thank God they’ve gone!” [Chuckle]

Simon: Yeah. I think you know – I don’t know how much – as three boys, we used to sort of fight quite a bit, right? So [chuckle] … like, my kids don’t really fight at all. And I was just going to ask if the girl/boy, girl/boy thing, you know? Don’t know. Mum used to say “oh, no, you didn’t”. But we used to fight all the time.

Chris: We had a couple of scraps up in Auckland – remember one time, I tried to throw you off the balcony at …

Simon: At Grant’s?

Chris: Grant’s.

Simon: Yeah, you pushed me off and broke my nose. [Chuckle]

Chris: I don’t recall any nose being broken. [Chuckle]

Simon: It was!  [Chuckle] Seriously!  I … whether it was broken, or just smashed … it was really bleeding.

Chris: It’s going to sound like we were bloody …


… terrors.

Simon: Yep.

Well, when you left school, Mark you went to join ‘the surgeon’ …

Simon: The surgeon! [Chuckle]

He called himself a drainage surgeon.


And so you went there …

Mark: Drain surgeon.

… to learn the trade.

Sanitary science. Yes. So I went … in 1990 I went and stayed with my aunty and uncle in Auckland for six months to do a pre-trade course, and then went and started my apprenticeship after that. So while I was up there we played with Grammar Old Boys …

Chris: That’s right.

… for six months. And then yeah, spent two and a half … spent a lot of that two and a half years in the apprenticeship, and then stayed on for a few more years after that, and left to go overseas about ‘93 … yeah, would’ve been ‘93.

You were all overseas when Kel …

I wasn’t, I was still doing my apprenticeship. I was only twenty. Simon was in Wellington at the BNZ.

Yes, but I think you were on a bit of a tour weren’t you?  When Kel went to Hong Kong?

Simon: Ah, no, no, that was Chris. Chris was overseas and I was in Wellington. I remember seeing the news on the Friday afternoon and … just told to come home. So I just left – walked out of work, hopped on a plane and went back to Napier. Remember coming up the stairs, crying, and … yeah, I knew something really bad had gone down.

Well obviously at some stage you met your wife?

Mark: Jan? Jan was a year behind me, at Girls’ High, so I knew her there. But I went back overseas about ‘96 … ‘97, and saw her there. And then – it was only for a couple of weeks – and then the Cup week there – [it was] probably a year and a half later … ah, I know exactly when it was. It was when John Eales kicked the goal in the cake tin to win the …

Simon: Oh, yeah.

Mark: It was the weekend.

Simon: I was at that game.

Mark: And I went back down to Wellington.

Chris: So was I. I was at that game too.

Mark: And that was when the relationship started, really.

And so she’s a Hawke’s Bay girl?

From Wanstead, down Porangahau. Anyway …

Chris: We should go through a few old girlfriends over the high school years. That was your first girlfriend, mate?

Mark: Of any consequence. Susie Jones …

Chris: Susie Jones …

Simon: Susie Jones.

Chris: That should be recorded for posterity.

Simon: She’s the [?famous?] one.

Mark: She crosses the street now, still to this day, to ignore me. [Laughter] Still to this day, she’ll cross the street …

Simon: Really?

Mark: … when she sees me coming.

Simon: That’s a bit harsh.

Mark: Never mind, you get over that.

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: Classic … classic. Who was your first ..?

Simon: My first main girlfriend was Jo Ross. She was one of those Colenso girls in our high school days … fifth, sixth, seventh form.

Chris: Yeah, well Meredith was my first girlfriend which was … classic.

Simon: She was two years older than Chris, which you know, at school, was quite random.

Chris: It was random – it was a strange time. [Chuckle]

Simon: He liked his older girls.

Chris: But ended up with a younger one.

Yes. Children – how many children?

Mark: I had three. 04, 04, 03.

And what are their names?

I’ll go 03, 03, 04 actually. Jack’s my eldest, then Greer and then Anika. Anika’s nine, Greer’s twelve and Jack’s fourteen.

And you live in ..?

I live next to the family home in Puketapu Road. We bulldozed … my father-in-law dug the side of the hill out and we built there fourteen years ago … fifteen.

Downhill all the way to the village?

That’s it. So yeah, the kids go to Puketapu School, and Jack goes to Boys’ High.

And Jan, does she work?

She used to do finance in Wellington for the dealing room at the National Bank, and then she came up here and did a couple of jobs. But no, she helps at work now and then.

All right, well …

Yep – done.

… but we just needed to fill in those few details.

Simon: Yeah, shall we all do the same then?


So, I basically went to Otago University, had three years down there and then went to Wellington in 1990 and worked at the BNZ in the dealing room there until ‘92. And obviously, Dad died in ‘92, so – basically it was May 2nd ‘92, wasn’t it? And so I came back, and Chris went into the business – he can talk a little bit about that – but I stayed in Wellington in the dealing room for another six months before Chris sort of said “hey … need some help here – either you come back, or you know, we need to make some other decisions round the business, and with family.” Right.

So I went back to Hawke’s Bay at the end of ‘92, and I had a pretty serious girlfriend at that time, who I had in university as well, called Benita … Benita Higgins … and she came back and lived with me at Mum’s at one stage, up on Puketapu Road. But I was initially the Marketing Manager for Tremain Real Estate. Chris said, “here’s some column centimetres – work it out, because [chuckle] that’s what I had to do”. And we used to have to … like, put the ads together, right? With the photos and all that sort of stuff, right? That’s pretty … pretty random.

Chris: Often is though.

Simon: Yeah. But I remember a couple of ads that I came up with once – ‘Sign of the Times’ and had our hanging sign, and had all the signs of all the other companies all on one fence. And they didn’t like that very much. And we used to … you know, Chris came up with the Corporate Triathlon and we drove that through, and … Mark, when did you join the business? D’you remember what year? Mark came in as a salesperson at some stage …

Mark: Yeah, it was a [?] tour and I had to go up.

Simon: [Chuckle]

Mark: So I went in as a twenty-year old trying to sell real estate, so …

Simon: You did all right, you got a few sales.

Mark: Yeah.  I got out as soon as I could, really.

Simon: [Chuckle] D’you remember what year that was?

Mark: No. I knew [know] it was when we were in Milton Road.

Simon: Yeah. So it must’ve been … ‘cause I would’ve said ‘93.  I played for Hawke’s Bay, really my only year I played for Hawke’s Bay, so that was ‘93, and I went on the – Mark and I took – I went to South Africa in ‘94, met Hetty, but it was just very briefly. Mark and I took a tour to South Africa in ‘95 – a bus load of Hawke’s Bay people. We still see quite a few of them round the town today, although the last few of them are getting a bit older and probably dying now. So I got – basically I got married in ‘97 in South Africa, and had my first child, which [who] was Anouk in 2003; I had my second child which [who] was Eduard in 2005; my third child which [who] was Mela in 2007; and my fourth child, Kelly, in 2009, yeah. Anouk’s fifteen today; thirteen, eleven and nine – Kelly just had his birthday on the weekend, so – yeah.

Chris: I mean you should call some of that time playing for Hawke’s Bay – I mean you … Simon scored against the French and against the British Lions.

Simon: Yeah – I didn’t score against the French.

Chris: Oh – so just against the British Lions?

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: So they were two momentous wins for Hawke’s Bay against …

Simon: My rugby career was pretty easy. I played for Otago for six games; played for Wellington, thirty-nine games; and then I came up to Hawke’s Bay and played in ‘03 thirteen games; played against the Lions – scored the try, which was great. I got selected for an All Black trial in ‘91 which I couldn’t play in ‘cause of my back injury. And I had a big fight with a guy, Tim Rodber in ‘94, which made the front page of the London papers when I think you were over there.

Chris: Yeah – no, no, [speaking together] that was in …

Simon: No – Tony Mossman it was.

Chris: Tony Mossman sent me the …

Mark: Tim Rodber – that was in South Africa.

Simon and Chris: Yeah.

Mark: ‘Cause he played for Eastern Province.

Simon: Against England.

Chris: Against England, so Bruce Wylie was the coach.

Mark: Right.

Chris: He was there when … Greg Halford ..?

Simon: Yep.

You mentioned Tony Mossman?

Simon: Yep.

Is he David’s son?

Chris: Yes.

Simon: He’s a good mate of Chris’, so he’s the one that sent me the paper clipping.  Yeah, so CT, you [do a] run through of your boys and girls and when you got married?

Chris: Yes, so … well I went to university in ‘85 and did four years at Massey University, so played there for the Blues and then, ultimately the Massey Rams, which were the Second … sort of Second XV – even though we played Premier rugby, we were in the second team at Massey. Loved my Massey days – that’s where I met Angela. She was at Teachers’ College initially. I didn’t meet her until second year, and I met her through my flatmates I lived with at 492 Church Street in Palmerston North. And my flatmates – three of them were Teachers’ College girls, two of whom were from Napier … who were mates from Napier Girls’ High School, Andy [?] and Linda Farquhar. And so I met them, and I met her at a dinner party one night – they invited me round, and we went on from there. So yeah, she was my girlfriend all through uni. I went there to do a marketing degree, and then decided … or I ended up doing accounting degree with a marketing diploma.

Couple of things that happened there were … Pete Ebbett and I – he was a great mate of mine, and he’s now passed away. At the end of my second year at university we decided – we had a few dollars saved, and we decided we’d go to Australia for our whole university holidays. So we flew over to Brisbane, and there was a guy, Craig Nicholas, who was a mate of mine from schooldays, who was living in Brisbane, so we slept on his lounge floor. We did a bar course for – well we used most of our money doing this bar course, ‘cause they guaranteed you’d get a job at the end of this bar course. [Chuckle] So ten days after doing that there were no jobs, and poor old Pete ended up down on the Gold Coast working in … and I ended up on Moreton Island. I lucked in on teaching windsurfing and sailing, so … did that for …

And then our last summer, Andrew Bayley and I – university was easy [chuckle] in those days – we ended up, we flew over to … got a green card and went to Canada, and we skied at Lake Louise for pretty much most of the summer. We got a job in the Lake Louise Inn, and … I have many memories of that time, and then ultimately came down by Greyhound bus all through and back down to San Francisco and down to LA. So had a great trip with Bayles, but those were the things you could do in those days.

Simon: I think I did it hard in my holidays – I worked at the wool stores [chuckle] and the freezing works. Sounds like a lot better idea what CT did. [Chuckles]

Mark: At the freezing works, stealing cube rolls.

Simon: Yeah. Correct. Yeah, we used to get a fair few of those down our front …

Chris: Oh – now there’s another story, ‘cause I – it must’ve been in between my third and fourth year – I worked in the wool store as well. This was in the young Turk time of Tremain, and we used to go out to the Puketapu pub, which was just over the … over the hill.

Simon: [Chuckle] He loves these fighting stories, doesn’t he?

Chris: Well – Simon Kerr [?] – he took on these skinheads in the pub. And they were just sort of … Red Lights or something in our day … and he gave them a bit of gyp. Anyway, so – night’s over, we go out to the back of the car, and …

Mark: Is this Christmas Eve we’re talking about?

Chris: Was it Christmas Eve? Yeah, think it was.

Simon: Yeah, someone mentioned it was, yeah … Christmas …

Mark: Yeah.

Chris: So anyway, this guy’s waiting out there for Simon.

Simon: Yeah.

Chris: Lays into Simon, and I thought ‘well, I can’t actually stand here and do nothing about that’. So I came round, [chuckle] actually [?slotted?] this guy, and broke [chuckle] two bones in my hand. [Laugh] He wasn’t well. [Laugh] He wasn’t well at all, but that was the end of the fight. [Chuckle] It was not good. So I ended up – couldn’t use a wool hook for the rest of the summer, so I ended up on the machine.

Simon: And Traids, what about you? You played for Hawke’s Bay B …

Mark: For Hawke’s Bay B, yeah.

Simon: A hooker.

Mark: Couple of games for Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools, and I got into Reserve for the Hawke’s Bay As, but never got on.

Chris: Oh, good effort. Yeah, I never got to those …

Simon: Oh, you played Hawke’s Bay Under 18s …

Chris: Oh, I played Hawke’s Bay Under 18s, but from Premiers I never …

Simon: Too small, CT’s a bit small.

Chris: Yeah – might’ve been … some talent might’ve been missing as well.

Now we haven’t said much about Pam, because Pam did take over the reins initially with the company, didn’t she?  When …

Well, yeah. Can I just … so I’ll just finish on ..? So Ange and I … just on the kids. So I finished university, I went up to Auckland and worked for a company called Gosling Chapman. Yeah, it was an accounting firm, and then for another company called Richard Cavalier for a year. And then we always planned to go overseas together, so it was … bit of an interesting story. Dad had a great mate, Roger … the former Finance Minister of …

Simon: Roger Douglas.

Chris: Roger Douglas. And they’d been – and this other guy, Max Brown – so these were old mates of his from Auckland Grammar. And they were always scheming different projects, and I know Dad got into this project with Max for this motel up in … I still drive past it on the way up the motorway across from the Karaka … horses. Anyway, so Dad got into … invested through Max into this motel. It was … they all … [speaking together]

Simon: All disastrous.

Chris: … paid the bank to get out of it, you know? [Chuckle] And then this next project, Max had this … he tried to get Dad into … it was a big – you know, that big stadium they tried to build in Manukau? Oh anyway, Dad didn’t get involved in that, but we did get involved in this thing called the Holiday Club. So Max and Roger had found out – this is about – what, 1991 – and there was a … [the] Harvey Wallbanger Hotel had gone into receivership, so they picked up this deal – they bought this hotel in Paihia on a conditional contract. And the contract was – you’ll never believe this – that we had six months to down sell fifteen per cent of the accommodation in advance, and we could only go unconditional if we’d reached that sales target. But that’s how desperate they were to sell this hotel. Anyway, we tried to sell it as a timeshare – I went up there for about two months, actually, just before I went overseas, and worked in the hotel with this guy that was running it … God! Anyway, we weren’t successful, [chuckle] and they ended up just not going unconditional on the property and lost some money in the process, and … yeah, interesting.

So anyway I went overseas, spent time in the UK, worked for a company called Hat Trick Productions in a TV show called ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’, and did two seasons of that. And then same story as Simon and Mark – I mean I was there in ‘92 when I – oh! I should talk about ‘91 – Dad brought a tour over, and I travelled with him around France and Ireland.

Simon: Rugby World Cup.

Chris: Rugby World Cup, yeah. There was [an] interesting story on a ferry boat between France and Le Havre, which … don’t know if I want to go there.

Simon: [Chuckle] Just tell the story. [Chuckle] So Chris went into the wrong room, right? He thought it was Mum and Dad’s room, and he went in and hopped on the top bunk. Anyway, this lady wakes up in the morning and starts screaming “we’ve got a tramp … we’ve got a tramp in the room!” [Chuckle] Right? And it was Chris.

Chris: Yeah – he’d actually given me this person’s number – I’d written it on my hand, and I opened the door and sure enough, there were two people on the bottom bunks. I jumped into the top.

Simon: Least he didn’t tap anyone. [Chuckle]

Chris: Oh, no – there was no tapping. [Chuckle] Yes, so – came home at the time when Dad … same as Simon … you found out Friday afternoon, I found out Friday morning. I got on NZ1 Friday afternoon New Zealand time, and flew home. I was home by Sunday, and Dad passed away on the following Saturday.

Simon: So were you in Hawke’s Bay then, Mark, were you?

Mark: Mmm. I was flatting down in Avenue Road.

Simon: Right.

Mark: I remember ‘cause there was duck shooting … it was the opening of the duck shooting on the Saturday morning. And the phone rang about five o’clock – I thought it was the guy ringing, coming to pick me up for duck shooting. It was Mum ringing.

Chris: It’s hard to think … the thing is, you know, I …

Simon: So when did you get married?

Chris: Oh, I got married ‘93 – end of ‘93.

Simon: In Feilding?

Chris: Yep, in Feilding. Married Angela, and now got three children, Sam, Will and Lily, in ‘96, ‘98 and 2000 they were born, so … yeah.

But coming back to your point about Mum, look … look, she didn’t have a licence.

I know.

To her absolute credit, she worked her bum off in very difficult circumstances, to get her licence. But she never really ran the company per se …


But she was just incredible through that period. And the thing to reflect on at that time was that Dad’s business wasn’t just real estate – he had quite a significant travel agency …

Had an orchard.

… and orchards, yeah. So I got … had to get involved – and a selection of race horses that …

That’s right.

they had to wind their way out of …

Fast ones, and slow ones.

Simon: [Chuckle] Not too many fast ones.

Chris: Yeah. One particular race horse where a couple of his mates whose names can remain nameless, hadn‘t paid the bills for some time, so … yeah, had to work our way through that little exercise, but …

The travel is worth actually touching on, ‘cause we always focus on the real estate. Travel was different from real estate in that it wasn’t a hundred per cent owned. We had … minority shareholders and only twenty-five per cent in three businesses. So we – you know, we tried our hardest to get on top of that and make that business really be successful – we did all sorts of things to try and do that – we brought in another partner in Maxine Riggs – but ultimately it was a business that was under pressure from the internet, and it fast became a business where you couldn’t get a return on your equity of any significance. So you know – we changed the brand to Travel Café; we bought coffee shops in there to try to … But you know, to cut a long story short, we weren’t successful in building that business. On top of that, I think we lost the momentum in the travel on the tours, you know, and those had been quite successful in …

Simon: Yeah, and a lot of them had been based around golf as well, and also based around Dad, with his big personality, and you know … you couldn’t really expect young boys to go in there and pick up that.

Chris: He was very much the catalyst. I remember there was one trip where they took like, two hundred people away …

Simon: On a tour, yeah.

Chris: Oh, that might be an exaggeration, but it was a lot of people, they got up to like, three or four buses. And they’d take their own professional … took pro’s away … couple of pro’s to be part of it, and – it was significant. And there’s still … like the Jenkins, who still – you know one time Dad shouted them a free trip up ‘cause they did their twelfth trip or something or other, you know? Or tenth trip.

So look, ultimately we sold the travel agencies. Remember Greg Southcombe?

Simon: Mmm.

Chris: Yeah, we brought another partner in, Greg Southcombe.

Simon: [Chuckle] Lots of great partners along the way. It’s hard getting good partners in business. And you know – Mark, you’ve got a good partner, haven’t you?

Mark: Mmm. Oh, he’s a bit green for a redneck, but he’s all right.

Simon: Yeah. And me … I’ve got good partners now. Chris and I – we’re in a good partnership where we’re in a business.

Chris: Yeah. And the business grew significantly. Ultimately Simon grew as a leader in that business, and gradually, you know, assumed responsibility and control in that business. And he was very good as a … you know, he got into the sales team and learnt the craft and respected the people, which was fundamental in our business. Yeah, so it was … in those early nineties, you know, it was challenging.

Oh, was it ever!

Simon: So is there anything else, Mark, that you want to say? [Speaking together] Maybe we should do our own individual ones from that time. The way I look at it is, we all grew up together, and then we all left home. We all came back when Dad died, and then we’ve all got our own little stories from that point on. And – you know, and basically all had really successful families and all our wives get on really well.

There’s a story of each of your life …

You know, I think we’re really lucky, and how open we all are, you know, ‘cause money can be [?] in families as well. And also – wives don’t get on and blah, blah, blah, and there’s always … we’ve got Mum in the mix as well … yeah.

Chris: That’s not our wives that don’t get on.

Simon: No. I said our wives all get on – it’s great. We’ve been lucky.

Chris: At some point as part of real estate time – there’s some stories in that.

Simon: Yep.

Thanks, Mark.

Mark: No worries.

Chris: I think we’ll can it here, mate, and …

Simon: If we want to do another one …

Okay. Well thanks, Mark, Simon and Chris, thanks for sharing your family with history.

Original digital file


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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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