Tremain, Mark Duncan Interview

Today is 14th December 2018. I’m interviewing Mark Tremain, the last of the Tremain family interviews. Mark currently is a plumber and irrigation specialist. Mark, would you like to tell us something about the life and times of you and your family.

From the beginning?


Okay. I was born in 1971. I know I wasn’t born in Willow Drive [Taradale], but I think it was Griffiths Street. And I don’t know when we moved to Willow Drive, but all my memories start in Willow Drive, I suppose, with the grass domain out to the side where we played all our sport every night after school, from cricket to playing in the creek, to biking down the road. Simon had us out most nights playing … depends on what season it was to what sport we were playing.

And then Dad subdivided the back section off and the Trowells moved in, which then gave me another team mate in my side of the team; rather than me just playing Simon and getting thrashed every five seconds. [Chuckle]

From there I went to Taradale Primary, so that was just walking to boring school every day. Left Willow Drive when I was ten, which was Intermediate … Form 1, I suppose it was then … and moved up to Puketapu Road where Dad had bought a farm off the Goodes … Trevor Goode.

Yep – the potato grower.

Potato grower, yep. Well the family owned that farm up until about two years ago, and I’d always said when I was growing up that I wanted to live here, so I remember the day after my wedding we went up there with the father-in-law and showed him what I wanted to do. And he’s an earth contractor, or was an earth contractor in Waipuk; [Waipukurau] and so he bulldozed the top of the hill off and we moved in there probably fifteen years ago today. Built the garage and lived in the garage while we built the main house.

I went to Taradale Intermediate, and then moved on to Napier Boys’ [High School] following the other two brothers. It’s been interesting growing up with those two boys. I think the main thing is, I was born outside of Dad’s rugby career, so a lot of people in the country don’t know that there’s three boys. So every time … or often when I meet someone new, they go, “Oh, I didn’t realise there was three of you.” And I always reply with, “That’s good.”

You’re the last man standing.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yep. The silent one gets away with a lot more. Moving up on to the hill, still at Taradale Intermediate; went to Napier Boys’; used to bike down the road every day and get the bus to school. I played cricket in the summer and rugby in the winter pretty much my whole schooling life up until high school when I gave up cricket ‘cause I wasn’t very good at it; and played rugby right through to leaving school – played for Old Boys Marist.

No after effects, no back problems or anything? Strong man, eh?

Not really … not really. I played [a] series of positions. Played prop early days; played hooker in my senior years; and played a bit of flanker as well.

When you were growing up, I remember Pam saying that she used to cart you three over to Havelock North by bus. That must have been quite a trip because she didn’t drive at that stage, did she?

I can’t remember that. No, Havelock … I remember going and meeting the Walls and … well, both sets of Walls, the Napier Walls and the Havelock Walls … and going to the Show. [Hawke’s Bay Agricultural & Pastoral Show] We’d go over to Havelock quite often to see the Walls for dinner and that, because of Waipatiki. And that’s where I took up my apprenticeship with Graham once I finished my seventh form year at Boys’ High and decided that I was over the education system and didn’t want to go to varsity. And I was working for Graham in the holidays earning money, so it was the next step to go and become an apprentice there. I worked for him – back in those days I had to do a six-month pre-apprentice trade course, so I went to Auckland and lived with Aunty Parp and Uncle Brian for six months in St Heliers, and went to Pt Chev [Point Chevalier] which was Carrington Polytech [Polytechnical] back then. And so I played rugby for Grammar Old Boys up there in the weekends, and that was good; and then came back and did my trade for three years – that would have made me twenty-one. Then I went overseas and spent three or four years just … don’t know really what I was doing for three or four years … travelling, coming back; I did a bit of work here and then go back over and … so yeah, four years is a little bit of a …

Footloose and fancy free …

Yeah, and it was also after Dad died as well, so I was sort of lost … well not lost, I didn’t lose my way, but … didn’t really know what I wanted to do then. And then came back, and I worked for Graham again for a while; then I went and started a plumbing company for Flood & Beattie, which was a building company in Onekawa. And then left them and started my own business and worked there for a while, and got a couple of guys working for me. And then I got Anthony, my business partner now, who came on board and bought the irrigation knowledge with him, and him [he] and I have been together now – probably be ten or twelve years now. And we joined Think Water, which was a franchise company out of Aussie, [Australia] coming up ten years.

So you’re well and truly established. Do you do orchards as well?

Totally – that’s our main focus is orchards, vineyards, then we do lawns, and … like we’ve done the gardens out here for the Council.

My old orchard now is run by T & G …

Oh yeah.

I had put all the water systems in; they came in with their machinery, but the speed that they put them together. The cost!

Yeah, it’s not cheap. And the thing is that now when they take over a new block or an old block, the spacings are different as well, so there’s a lot of technical stuff about it.

Yes. And you obviously work anywhere they need irrigation?

Yep. 2013 we got a contract in Blenheim, so I took the whole family down there. We put the two older kids into school, down in Rapaura School down in Blenheim; and the youngest was only still at kindy. So we lived there for a year … I lived there for.

Was this a big vineyard?

No, it was the town wastewater plant. ‘Cause back five years ago there was a big incentive by the government to give an alternative solution to get rid of town effluent, rather than just pumping it into the sea. So we turned it round and put it on to a hundred and ten hectares of ground for pasture, hay, silage, that sort of stuff.


Yeah. So that was that. Then we go all round the country doing the Summerset Retirement Villages all round the North Island.

Well that’s a good contract to have.

Yep. And then pretty much if someone pays us, we’ll go there.

Yes, well you’ve got a new one coming up in Havelock. haven’t you?


So you met …


Where did you meet her – locally?

I knew Jan; she’s a Porangahau girl, or Wanstead to be precise, and she was boarding at Girls’ High [School] … so she was a year behind me … at Girls’ High, in the hostel but we really didn’t have too much to do with each other. And I ran into her in England in about ‘98, ‘99, somewhere round there; and then it was a couple of years later that … I went down to Wellington … that it was actually the game that John Eales kicked the winning goal down in Wellington. And I met her there, and from there it sort of just progressed.

And so when were you married?

03/03/04. No, 04/04/03.

Right. And children?

We now have … Jack is my oldest, he’s just finished Year 9 at Napier Boys’; Greer is [has] just finished Year 8 at Puketapu, and is going to Napier Girls’ next year, and Annika is ten on Sunday, and she is moving into Year 6 at Puketapu.

Wonderful. I always feel very proud when I hear people go to Napier Boys’ because I went to Napier Boys’.

Yeah, it’s a great school.

When I left high school I didn’t know any of the people that I grew up with in Havelock; anyway, it didn’t matter in the end.

Right. But also today because of social media, they know … this is not every kid, but a lot of kids in every school. It’s unbelievable.

Well we were isolated, totally. And of course … no girls there, and it was quite different.

Even in my years, we only knew us and Napier Girls’ and a few people from other schools, but not the volumes they know now, you know – lots of people.

And so what did Jan do?

No, she went to CIT [Central Institute of Technology] down in Trentham for a term, and then gave that up and ended up working for the National Bank in Wellington, and from my understanding she basically ran a team of people that did all the paperwork for the dealing room. So the dealing room did a deal, they’d get it pushed through to her and she’d sort all the paperwork and all that sort of stuff.

Awesome job …

Yeah, yeah. No, it was a great job; she did that, or did bank work over in London and all that sort of stuff after that. So she moved from there to Hawke’s Bay and worked for Stewarts [Stewart Group] and the guy Sabiston in Napier for a couple of times.

David …

And now she does a bit of work for us, and does stuff at school and whatever she does for the kids.

Well besides being a family man and having your children, what do you do for hobbies? Do you play golf?

Not much.

You haven’t got much time?

No. Last time I played golf was Monday for Napier Boys’ for a fundraiser; [the] time before that was probably two years ago in Fiji.

So you’re not a regular?

I’m not a regular golfer, no. No, there’s not huge amounts that I do on a regular thing; every Thursday we try and have … there’s about twelve guys that … we normally get four or five up to my place for tennis, so I really enjoy that. Apart from that, I follow the kids around and do … no, Greer’s right into surf at the moment, and Jack; I really enjoy going to that and helping with that.

Now Waipatiki – you’ve been going to Waipatiki for a fair while now?

Yep. We have, I’ve got photos on my wall of me in my bassinet at Waipatiki. So we basically … my understanding of Waipatiki is we used to own a bach there that Dad had to sell to be able to afford to start the real estate company; and from then on we rented the bach straight behind. So the bach we used to own was right next to the Walls, and so then when we sold that bach we rented for next twenty-odd years the bach directly behind the bach we used to own. So there’s a little alleyway through to the Walls, so we’d live in that bach but then sleep in the Walls’ bunkhouse and all that sort of stuff all the time.

And I can remember it was fifth form that we bought our first bach after that at Waipatiki, so I was what? Fifteen, sixteen? And we had that bach for probably … well, Mum had it for a long time, actually. So I don’t know exactly when – but Chris would know all those things, he’s good with those things – Mum still had that bach, but Chris and I bought the old farmhouse. And then the farmhouse had the house there and two buildings behind; each building was two motel units and we revamped. So I had the middle unit, Chris had the front farmhouse and Amanda Holland had the back. And so we did them up; we would’ve been in there for ten years, I suppose.

So what happened, when the three boys did the subdivision at Waipatiki, I got one of the sections when we closed off. And so I sold my little bach to Mum, who sold her bach cause it was too big for her now, and so she moved in there for a fair few years. And then Chris and Mum just sold theirs probably a couple of years ago. And so now Chris is building; and I started building August last year and I got code compliance this week.


Yeah. So I was very happy about that. So I got a builder to stand the frames and I pretty much did the rest.

It’s interesting, access has made it so much better. God! When you think of that old road …

The old shingle road.



But lots of crayfish …

Still enough crayfish.

Righto. Well, what haven’t you told me?

I don’t know. Do you need any background information on Jan’s family at all?


Okay. Right, so Jan’s maiden name is Grenside. Her father is Arthur Grenside and her mother is Pam, and she was a Ritchie out of Ashburton. And Arthur’s father was from Wanstead, and they kept on the family farm. And Arthur’s father was in the ‘21 All Blacks. I’m just trying to think of his first name … Bert Grenside. So yeah, they’ve been from down there the whole time. They sold their farm … be coming up eight or nine years ago now.

Okay – now with your Think Water, what sort of machinery …

Yep. So we started off with a couple of vans. Now we’ve just increased those over the years and now we’ve probably got about ten vehicles – two diggers, two ditch witches, two dingos, various trailers, big truck; ‘cause at the end of the day it’s either you subcontract out or you do it yourself. And we’re finding it’s far easier and far more certain when you’ve got your own gear.

Well you can do it when you want to.


That’s about timing isn’t, it?


So where do you centralise yourself with your ..?

We’re in Onekawa; we’ve got a building in Onekawa that [and] we’ve just bought the place next door as well. So we’ve opened the yard up ‘cause we were getting too big for ourselves. We’re just … in January we are opening in Omahu Road as well.

Wonderful. Okay, well I think probably we’ve just about covered everything and when it all comes together it’s going to make quite an interesting story of the family ‘cause they’ve certainly left an imprint on Hawke’s Bay.

Yeah. I leave home at six o’clock every morning to make sure I’m home by just after five, ‘cause I thought, ‘Well I don’t see the kids in the morning, so I want to see them at night.’ And that’s how I try and get round that.

All right, well thank you, Mark, and thanks for the contribution you’re making to Hawke’s Bay.

Thanks Frank. Cheers.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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