Tremain, Simon David Interview
Today is the 16th day of November 2018. I’m doing the Tremain family, and this afternoon Simon’s going to tell us the life and times of himself and his family. Thank you, Simon.
Thanks, Frank. I’m just going to start off with my early memories of my childhood when we grew up at 5 Willow Drive in Taradale; and we had a big park across the road, and we had a creek. I was attending Taradale Primary School and Taradale Kindergarten, and my memories of that time are playing on that park a lot. We had a neighbour by the name of Paul Trowell; and my younger brother, Mark, who I used to play a lot more with probably, than Chris; and we always used to play cricket. I used to play a lot by myself as well; I was always throwing the ball against the brick wall at Willow Drive, and then bat it back with my cricket bat. Or I’d be over in the park – there’s a power line running across the middle of the park which used to be my goal posts. And I’d always pretend I was playing in some All Black game, and with the cricket I always would pretend I was one of the batsmen … Vivian Richards or something. And you know, I’d have score cards and you know, everything like that. And as a young guy I used to spend lots of time in the creek, eeling, fishing, walking under the road; so through the tunnels. So you’d walk through and you’d scare all the fish out, and they’d all come flying out and someone’d be at the other end with a net to try and catch them.
We used to have a shortcut through the back of Avon Terrace which came out onto Church Road at the time – it’s obviously full of housing now. But that used to be a shortcut that we’d take on our way to school, to Taradale Primary. Used to have a fish bowl, and I’d put my eels in the fish bowl, and I remember my cousin staying in my room one time, and just couldn’t work out what this smell was. And under the bed was my fish bowl with all the dead eels that’d turned over. Yeah. I remember the Willow Drive environment was awesome, and we had a pool; we had a games room; I used to play with my army guys … I was big on imaginary things.
And I remember the 1978 All Blacks. Dad knew Bryan Williams, so I’d obviously just started getting into my rugby and the All Blacks at that stage. I would’ve been ten years of age, and Dad sent my autograph book off to Bryan Williams, and Bryan Williams got the All Black team to sign it, and sent it back. I always remember when that arrived one day, and being over … you know, just jumping up and down, and how excited I was. I remember all our neighbours. We used to sell raffle tickets – I’d make up a raffle, and we’d go and sell them for $2 or whatever, and then we’d have a draw; and I’d make my profit out of it and we’d go and give the neighbours … Mrs Magill, Mrs Griffiths, the Trowells were at the back obviously, Mrs McRobbie … you know, then a couple of other older people as well that lived along there.
So you were an entrepreneur salesperson those days?
Yeah, a little bit. I told Eduard, my son, that story a couple of years ago; next thing him [he] and his friend Sophie were out knocking on our neighbourhood [doors] pretending they were selling tickets on behalf of Westshore School and pocketing the money. So we had to give them a bit of a stern talking to at that stage.
I was always a mad sportsman, and you know, I was always pretty good at rugby and cricket. And I remember scoring seven tries one Saturday, and it was in the paper – ‘Kel Tremain’s Son Scores Seven Tries’. So, well when you were the son of Kel Tremain, you’re always – whenever it was talked about – you were ‘son of Kel Tremain’. Well [of] course I was also son of Pam Tremain, but …
You were known as ‘Son of’, weren’t you?
Yeah, well actually that happened when I made the New Zealand Secondary Schools, so it was quite a bit later. When I was eighteen I made the New Zealand Secondary Schools team, and they adopted me as ‘Son of’ then; a guy, Errol Brain, named me ‘Son of’ and the name was picked up pretty quickly by my other friends.
So I always used to have Olympic Games, and so … well Mark, and Paul Trowell, and myself and anyone else we could find, and we’d set up all these different things that we had to do as part of the Olympics. And you know, one would be a marathon which we’d run to the clock tower and back; and [we’d] do hundred metre sprints, and you know, all those … throwing the javelin, and you know, anything, and we’d make gold medals and silver medals and bronze medals. So of course I think I was always winning; that was the way I used to like playing these games; [chuckle] I was slightly older than those boys.
I remember going to Taradale Intermediate; and we used to bike to Primary, and we used to bike to Taradale Intermediate. At Taradale Intermediate I was Head Boy on that second year, and I played Ross Shield rugby in both those years, so it was Form 1 and Form 2 back in those days. And I remember we used to have a couple of girlfriends that used to bike round to see us, so we were quite young then when we were having girlfriends. But I remember a girlfriend, Toni Gray, and another one, Nicky Smith. And Mark Johnson became a very good friend of mine at Taradale Intermediate; he came in the second year we were there.
Who was the principal those days?
Ted Waaka was the principal of Taradale Primary and Jock Morris was principal of Taradale Intermediate. Yeah, I remember like, bowling for Taradale Intermediate; I took 7 for 9 one day, and 6 for 8 another day, so I was in those age grade Hawke’s Bay sort of teams at the time, and most of the Hereworth boys were in the Hawke’s Bay team. A young guy, David Loughlin, you know, he was actually the son of Maxie Loughlin, who played in the Ranfurly Shield with Dad; he was in those teams with me.
Yeah, so there’s good family times. We used to always go to Waipatiki Beach for summer; we used to always drive up to Auckland in the May and September school holidays. Mum and Dad would pack us in the Holdie [Holden] and up we’d go to Auckland to stay with our cousins. And we had girl cousins, so Mum’s brother, Uncle Brian and his wife Parpy [Pamela] who was very good friends of Mum right through the years – we’d go and stay at their house in Hillsborough, I think it was … think it was the name of that road. And they had Leigh and Briar who were the cousins there. And then we’d go and stay with Dad’s brother Graham … Graham and Jenny, and his daughters Leigh and Rosalind. And then we’d obviously also stay with our grandmother and grandfather over in Northcote; and our grandmother and grandfather Sid and Mildred in St Heliers; and Elsie and Bert, over there. So that was sort of growing up. Always remember Mum and Dad always being awesome parents, both sides. Dad used to enjoy … he’d always go to the rugby on the Saturday. He’d always go and watch Napier Old Boys so I’d always tag along with him. He’d go to the club rooms, he’d have a few beers, we’d be playing outside on the park, just kicking the ball round.
Very much a very tight family.
Yeah, no, we were pretty tight given, you know, the difference in ages of all the kids and things, but I know my Granddad and my Grandma – they didn’t have a car, so that’s why they always would’ve been travelling by bus … bus and boat; they’d catch the ferry across to the city.
And Pam told me about taking you three across to Havelock to visit Margaret Wall; she used to have to take a bus.
I don’t think much has changed these days. They used to go and see the Walls on a Sunday, or the Plesteds on a Sunday. And they’d drink during the afternoon and we’d play in the pool and, you know, do what kids do … our kids do now; and then they’d drive home – and after they’ve had a few. Well that’s pretty much what we do now on Sundays – we hang out with our friends, and we go to Waipatiki Beach, and nothing really changes, right? Everyone loves Hawke’s Bay, and you come back and you bring your family up here.
All our kids are going to the same schools we went to, and I went to Napier Boys’ [High] and you know, so I had five years there. And you know, my really good friend at Napier Boys’ was a guy, Simon Kerr, who I met at a Ross Shield Tournament in Waipuk, [Waipukurau] when I was at Taradale Intermediate, so in our Form 2 year. And he made the Hawke’s Bay team … Hawke’s Bay Ross Shield team … which I made. I always remember going and playing for Hawke’s Bay versus Waikato in Taupo the day of the flour bomb test, and when Gary Knight was hit on the head by one of the protesters of the Springbok tour in 1981. So I missed the test, and all the family had gone up so I was pretty upset about that; but obviously I enjoyed playing for Hawke’s Bay Ross Shield team. So I met Simon Kerr then, and we became, you know, great mates at Napier Boys’.
He’s still around Napier isn’t he?
He is, yep. Simon Kerr’s still here, Mark Johnson’s still here; so those two guys were my … and Craig Sudoric; so Craig Sudoric was a good friend of mine at Taradale Primary, as was Paul Campbell – they’re both here still. Craig Sudoric’s still a really good friend of mine. I don’t see Paul Campbell that much … PC … these days, but whenever we catch up we’re, you know, it’s like it was only yesterday. And Taradale Primary … I remember Louise Wilson was the girl that all the boys … I mean, that was his sort of girlfriend. I remember holding her hand one day in the line when he wasn’t there; and just little things like that. [Chuckle] And Louise Wilson actually became a girlfriend of Mark Johnson’s when he was at Taradale High School. And Craig Sudoric went to Taradale High School, but even though Simon and I were at Napier Boys’, and Fraser Holland obviously as well – I knew Fraser from the beach, and obviously he went to Napier Boys’ and he was in the same year as we were – we were a very tight group of friends from very early on. And we made good friends with the Napier Girls’ girls – Anna Fitzgerald and Robyn McKay and Jane Fullerton-Smith and Sarah Twyford – and Sarah and Mark Johnson, well they’re married today. So yeah, so we had lots of good friends growing up.
We enjoyed good success with the First XV. One of my greatest claims to fame was I made the First XV in the Fifth Form, same as Simon Kerr, so as a sixteen-year-old; but I made the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools that year as well. And I probably … to be fair I think they put me in ‘cause they thought I had a bit of promise, but I probably wasn’t really big enough to be playing in that team at that time. And that was all the Te Aute guys … the Te Aute team was the top team in New Zealand in our year. That was 1984 when I was in the Hawke’s Bay Secondary Schools [team] with all those boys.
And in 1983 Simon Kerr and I went to Australia with the school First XI, so we were only Fourth Formers and we were in the school First XI cricket team. In 1984 we went to Canada and United States with the … Chris was in the team too; he was obviously Seventh Form, I was Fifth Form … we went on that trip for a month over there, which was awesome. I always remember one of the stories – we were out doing pumpkin picking as we were trying to raise money to go on the tour to Canada. And this guy goes, “How d’you like your beers?” It was ‘cause he was talking to school kids, he goes, “How d’you like your beers – d’you like them cold? Or you like them f****** cold?” [Chuckle] I always remember that – we thought that was great. We said we liked them f****** cold. But yeah, there’s lots of little stories that come up; and I don’t know how in-depth you want to get about that, but, you know …
This is reminiscing – anything that is funny or involves you as a person, your family … we’ll have those.
Yep. Yeah, so like as far as growing up with Mark and Chris … two good brothers; and you know, I think Chris used to pick on me a little bit and I remember Mum – once I got big enough and we had this fight in the dining room once, and Chris was maybe eighteen and I was sixteen – I think she ended up throwing water on us, because it got a little bit out of control. I used to grab Mark and sit on him, and you know [chuckle] … so I think that’s just what you do as boys, right? So never anything too malicious that I can remember. Chris took my tooth out in the back of the car one time, but again not intentionally; he sort of elbowed me, and I had a broken tooth anyway. Alan McIndoe from Taradale Primary took my tooth out – I had the cricket ball, and he hit another ball at me when I already had one. So I caught the second ball but the first ball went through and smashed my tooth out. I always remember a guy, Warwick Le Quesne, telling me that I said, “You bastard!” I don’t actually remember saying that word; he always said to me, “You bastard”, but …
So I went to Otago University; always remember leaving here on the train, and it was almost like it was our ticket to freedom, ‘cause Mum and Dad would never let us go out while we were under the [their] roof any later than midnight, or it have even been eleven-thirty. We always had to be home, right? And I’d always go, “Oh – my friends are allowed out, ra ra, ra”, and Mum would say, “Well that’s fine. You’re not. When you go to university you’re a free man – you can do what you like.” Right? And it was awesome, I had a girlfriend, Jo Ross, from Colenso High School, and she went down to Otago but that relationship didn’t last too long down in Otago.
And I got into a place called Selwyn College, that’s a hostel down there; and Mark Johnson was in Selwyn College, Simon Kerr was in Selwyn College, Fraser Holland was in Selwyn College – so the whole gang was there. And again, played rugby down there, played for University Under 21s; also played for the New Zealand Under 19 team that year against Wales. We had an Otago Under 19 team that played them as well … I was captain of that … and we beat them. The year after, so my second year at university, I made the New Zealand Universities team and we went on a tour to France for the Universities Rugby World Cup, which was amazing. I think I must have been the youngest in the team, but I’ve still got some good friendships from that tour with those guys; and you see them around, and everyone always recollects that tour – it was fantastic.
Mum and Dad used to come down to Dunedin, and I remember them sleeping in my flat one time. I said, “Oh, just come and stay at the flat, there’s no one there.” All my flatmates had gone home for the school holidays, and it was actually I think when I was playing for South Island Universities. And Mum and Dad hopped in the bed and it just collapsed in the middle, right? So they decided to go to a motel. And Dad I think’d given me a whole trailer load of firewood, ‘cause we were feeding the neighbour’s fence onto the fire.
So Otago was great; lots of fun times down there, made lots of lifetime friends. Made the Otago team in my second year, and then my third year I was more regular. But there was [were] a lot of loose forwards … good loose forwards … Aaron Pene, Jamie Joseph, Mike Brewer, Brent Pope, Paul Henderson, and in those days they never used to bring the subs [substitutes] on, so I did a lot of time sitting on the reserve bench. Got a few games – I think I played like, six or maybe eight games for Otago; not a lot over two years. But when I went to the Rugby World Cup, Laurie Mains, the coach, wasn’t very happy that the university guys went on that trip; he felt we should have stayed back and played for Otago, but we were never going to do that, we were always going to go on the trip … you know, the tour.
So I left Otago with a commerce degree. I got a job in Auckland and I got a job in Wellington, so I was either going to go to Auckland and play for North Harbour, or I was going to go to Wellington and play for Wellington. So I ended up taking the Wellington option, mainly because a guy at one of the local clubs, Western Suburbs, got me on a trip to play Sevens in Bahrain with Eric Rush and his mates, Lindsay Raki and all those guys. So I went on lots of Sevens trips with those guys – we were called the Mongrels; it was before the World Series Sevens took play [place]. I’d just about made the New Zealand Sevens team in my last year at Otago; I was on standby actually … scored a couple of tries and had a great tournament, but there was only one team in those days, and only nine players were selected, so … yep. And they used to take all the best All Blacks as well, the likes of Zinzan Brooke, and you know, Jonah Lomu. I played in a Sevens tournament with Jonah in Singapore, as part of that team of Eric Rush’s.
But went to Wellington; had three great years in Wellington; Western Suburbs I played for; I bought a house there, in Hataitai. Dad came down one time and we bought a house over in Northland … can’t even remember what the name of the suburb is. It’s too far out of town, but Dad and I bought it fifty-fifty in that. And I worked for BNZ [Bank of New Zealand] in their Foreign Exchange department, so I ended up trading the Japanese Yen. And I always remember … I think I started on thirty grand, [$30,000] and then I was increased to forty grand [$40,000]. I remember telling my Uncle Brian … he was manager of ASB Bank somewhere in Auckland, and he reckons I was on the same money as him and he was not happy. He was not happy at all. And then I … I didn’t even really understand it, but you used to get a ten grand [$10,000] bonus every six months, so back in those days that was a lot of money for a young kid.
And then of course, the massive travesty [tragedy] happened when our Dad died in 1992, right? May 2nd. And we were given a week’s notice; been advised that Dad was going to die. So we came home; came home from Wellington and remember leaving work on the Friday and just heading home. I couldn’t play rugby at the time; I’d hurt my back in a game, and so I didn’t have rugby on the Saturday and I just went home. I just left the office and got home, and Mum told me as I hopped in the car at the airport; ran up the stairs crying, and seeing Dad in bed, and he was on oxygen in a tank for about a week; and then he died. I used to shower him every day, and he wouldn’t let anyone … you know, he wanted Simon to look after him and shower him, which was … you know. He was obviously trying to keep his privacy and dignity and that, you know. And that was a terrible time, to lose your father at that age.
But you know, I always remember when I first went to Wellington … that’s the story I was going to say … I couldn’t decide if I wanted to go to Wellington or I wanted to go … no, I was going to go back to Dunedin. But starting a job and like, working, versus being at university was like, poles apart. I rang up Mum and Dad one time and said, “Well, I want to go back to Dunedin.” Then I rang and said, “No, I want to stay in Wellington”; then I rang and said, “I’m going back to Dunedin.” They said, “Just do what you bloody like, but make a decision.” Right? I ended up staying in Wellington, thankfully.
Anyway, Dad died; Chris came back immediately, and Chris and Mum tried to get the business re-established. And then six months later they said I’d better come home as well, and so I came home, and I was the marketing manager for a period of time. Used to take photos of the houses, and do some scripts. And we used to have column centimetres in the paper, and we used to have 8 x 2s, and 10 x 1s, and all that sort of stuff, Frankie, that you’ll remember well.
I had a long term girlfriend at the time, a girl by the name of Benita Higgins; so she was always the love of my life for a long time, but we ended up splitting up at one stage. I can’t remember exactly when that was, but it was sort of over the holidays – I’d come back to Hawke’s Bay, played for Hawke’s Bay in ‘93; I played for the Wellington rugby team for three years down there … played thirty-eight games for Wellington; and I played thirteen games for the Magpies, and one of those was against the British Lions when we beat them; and I scored the winning try, which has always been a bit of a highlight. Split up with Benita end of ‘93, start of ‘94; and Alex Wylie and Greg Halford were looking for a loose forward to go and play in South Africa, so we went over to Port Elizabeth and played for the province there called Eastern Province. And I remember, yeah, the highlight of that I played against England for Eastern Province; and there was a bit of a fight with Tim Rodber, and him [he] and I got ordered off the field. So that was [chuckle] probably not the highlight, but it was the thing I was most well known for over there. Came back at the end of ‘94; got back with Benita – had met a young girl called Hester Cornelia Visser … met [??] when I was over there, but nothing had gone down at all. I don’t think she was that keen on the Kiwi antics that we were up to. Got back with Benita at the end of ‘94, but split up with her again in early ‘95, and it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
I went back to South Africa with the ‘95 Rugby World Cup. Younger brother Mark and I took a bus over there – not too sure why Chris didn’t come; oh, maybe he had to stay back and look after the business, I think, yeah. Yeah, so Mark and I took the bus, though Chris came over for about ten days, actually. Anyway, on that trip I rung [rang] up Hettie’s friend, Conrad, and said, “Conrad, come out for a beer in Pretoria, but make sure you bring Hettie with you.” So she came out for the beer, and that night we had it off, and from that day on we … [in] some miraculous way she came out. I took her out for dinner one night, and spent a couple of days with her, and then said, “Why don’t you come back to New Zealand for summer?” Now you know, for a young girl to come to New Zealand for summer and be allowed to go – her father let her go ‘cause he’d been to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and he let her go on this tiki tour to Australia – then she came out to New Zealand for the summer. And I remember crying when she flew home, and thought, ‘I wonder if I’m ever going to see her again?’ But I ended up going and seeing her that Easter in South Africa and met her family, and then in that June we met in Malaysia in a place called Penang. And we both just decided it was either all on or all off – it was too far to have a relationship. I asked her to marry me, and rang her parents, and we decided we’d get married; and that was ‘96. We had our engagement party at the end of ‘96 in New Zealand, so she came out for summer again; and then we got married at the end of ‘97. Yesterday was twenty-one years married. Yeah.
And if I talk about my life from then ‘til now, you know, I obviously came back, went into the business. And yeah, it’s a lot about the business; it’s a lot about Hettie, she came back – she was a medical student, so she came back to New Zealand and Denis Atkinson, I remember, helped us get her a job in that first … I can’t remember what it’s called, your first year out of university … you have to do your first year and then you become a qualified doctor. And you have to do so many years at the hospital, and she’d work at the hospital and she’d do night shifts. And we had lots of fun times before we decided to have babies; and we had our first baby, Anouk, just after I’d had my back operation. Anouk’s fifteen today, so … 2018 we are, so that was 2003. So ‘97 to 2003, had our first baby; went on a couple of awesome trips to Europe, and to the Greek Isles with Fraser and Nic, and Mark and Sarah, and Andy and Pip – we had a boat, we did the Greek Isles, and so there were lots of different little overseas trips and things, and the company just kept on ticking on, didn’t it?
And Chris went into Parliament in 2005, I think, and we had an agreement that if he stayed in Parliament for longer than two terms I would buy him out. And obviously the global financial crisis came along in 2008 … March 2008 … and we went through a couple of pretty lean years. But I don’t ever remember them being that bad, right? Even though the market was crap; we weren’t making much money; but you know, we still ticked over and we still did all right, and we still bought some buildings; and I still had my beautiful house at Whakarire, and I built my bach out at Waipatiki, so we must’ve been doing all right, you know? We must’ve been doing all right. I think we made some pretty good money in ‘05 and ‘06 when Chris first went into Parliament.
And then I bought Chris out of the business – with a plan in mind though, I didn’t just buy him out to buy him out – to sell the shares to other people within the business. And I sold shares … I bought Chris’s shares and I sold them to Fraser Holland who had come in and was general manager of Tremains; I sold them to Jude Minor who’d come in and was running Colliers for me; and I think I sold them to Cam at the same as well. But Cam Ward – his arrival on the scene, a young guy, very aggressive – yeah, he became the top seller of real estate for commercial in New Zealand two years running. So to do that out of Hawke’s Bay is pretty amazing. And he had these massive visions of growth and all these things; and I always remember his numbers – and I used to think they were absolute bullshit, right? Of where we could get to, and our market share goals. And then we signed the agreements, and we were at Simon Kerr’s Provedore, we signed the agreement; and I can’t remember why but he screwed it up and I lit it on fire, right? That was the end of the agreement, right?
We took on Colliers in 2004; we took on Sotheby’s in 2012; Cam and I and Fraser and Jude did the deal in 2010, I think, with Chris. No, no, Cam came into the business in 2010 – we might’ve done the deal in 2012, just as we were getting Sotheby’s underway. And Chris was out of Parliament, I think in 2014.
But Cam’s drive … basically Sotheby’s was an option; I had the option – they were friends of mine – Cam drove me to go and do that. Cam turned Colliers into a big business in Hawke’s Bay, and Cam drove me to expand out of the area, which you know, we’ve really only just … we did Taupo with Sotheby’s two years ago, started in 2016; yeah, we’ve done ‘16, ‘17 and ‘18 now. And we’ve only just now gone into Tauranga and Wairarapa and Rotorua – we did Rotorua twelve months ago. We’re putting Tremains into Rotorua on the 1st of December as the Tremains brand, yeah, in Rotorua. And we’ve got a Tremains brand now in Taupo, and a Sotheby’s brand in Taupo; we’ve got Sotheby’s in Wairarapa; and in Rotorua we’ll have Colliers Rural; got Colliers in Taupo; we’ve got Colliers Rural, Tremains and Sotheby’s in Rotorua; and Colliers Rural, Tremains and Sotheby’s in Tauranga.
No wonder you have to have all this staff around you.
Oh! I know, it’s ridiculous – I don’t even know how many people we employ now, but I think it’s over four hundred. It’s quite a lot, yeah – it’s ridiculous.
Got four beautiful kids. As I said to Hettie, I love hanging around my friends, I enjoy work; but I would spend every day of the year if I could with her and my four kids, right? And we’ve been on some amazing trips together … five years ago we went to South America for three months on the back of the South African trip; two years ago we went to Europe; and this year we’re going to South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique for seven weeks.
Yeah. Being able to spend every minute of every day with your family is awesome. Yeah. You know, I always sort of said, if I woke up tomorrow and I was told I wasn’t going to be around any longer, what would I wish I’d done differently. I don’t think I could have really done too much different, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve done to date. My family … I love those kids, like we all do. It’s amazing that bond from parent to child; I love my Mum and Dad, absolutely, but I love the bond … I’m sure they love me more than I love them, sort of thing, because you go and you have your own family, don’t you? You know? And it’s that bond from the parent to the child; you know, they’ll love their children more than they love me, right? That’s just how it is.
Simon, I’m privileged in some ways because I’ve seen the way you treated staff as family. It wasn’t just about your family. And this was Kel and Pam and you and Chris – it was always hard to explain the generosity, the trust, the socialising, the support; you don’t get that in every company.
I think we’ve found that when we’ve gone out of the region, you know – it’s amazing how people just are attracted to our brand, you know? And the fact that we’re genuine … we have a genuine interest and care in people and their families, right? And I’ve always sort of … if someone works for you, right – I’ve always felt that was a bit of a debt I had to them, because they’re actually working for us and so we actually owe them to look after them, and … you know? That’s how I feel, anyway.
And you know, we were proud of the Tremain brand.
And there was a point where we were very disappointed where Tremain was being overshadowed by the Professionals; but eventually it came back.
Yeah, Chris and I decided to rebrand back to Tremains, you know.
I’ve been very lucky with both my brothers; we’re all a little bit different, right? But you know, both my brothers have been massive supporters and confidants; you know, we’ve always been able to talk things through. Every family has got little issues, and money’s always … you know, money’s the evil of everything, isn’t it, you know? But I think we’ve managed to get through that sort of stuff. Mum is the unsung hero without a doubt, you know. Mum is … Mum’s amazing; and I do think, you know, daughter-in-laws and mothers have this funny relationship, right? And boys and their Mums … we just want to look after our Mums. We love our Mums; we don’t see anything … our Mums are perfect in our eyes. But you know, it is hard when you’ve got your wife and your family, and your Mum, right? And that relationship – it’s probably one of the most difficult things I think, life hits you. I talk to a lot of people about their mother-in-laws and that, and a lot of people have issues, right? Which is really sad I think. But I’ve always believed something is there for a reason, right, and something happens for a reason. It’s almost like … I reckon that’s there because they’re trying to say, ‘well you know, you’ve got your family, but you know – who’s looking after my Mum when she’s by herself?’ And you know, she doesn’t have Dad any longer, and … you know? So yeah, it’s hard; like Mum is [an] awesome Mum. You know, if I was at work at the freezing works she’d be up at five o’clock in the morning making sure I had lunch for the day, and setting the standards. Like, Dad always set the standards; Mum always lived by the standards, and … anyway, trying to make sure that us boys were raised with the same standards. As Chris used to say to me, “Well, what would Dad think of that? What would Mum think of that?” And I’d go, “Yep – I know the answer.”
The other thing is your family [family’s] contribution to the community, and I’m talking about your involvement with Napier City, Hastings, sports groups, everything. That’s been an ongoing part of your …
Well, I just think it’s just part of being and working … working in the community.
Doesn’t always happen.
It doesn’t. And I was actually reading an article about the guy who’s the head of Amazon; you know, he’s the richest guy in the world, right? He doesn’t do anything like that, whereas Bill Gates gives pretty much … he’s committed to give his entire fortune back to charity, you know? Quite amazing. But you know, I think that anyone that [who] works and lives in a city, and runs a business in a town in the community, owes to give back, you know? You’ve got to give back. And we’ve done lots of things in different ways, and you know, I think we can stand tall and feel that we are part of the community, you know? People, I think, when they talk of Tremains … Hawke’s Bay people … it’s a warm fuzzy, you know, people like Tremains.
Recently with the advent of the supermarket carry bags … you remember the carry bags we …
Oh yeah, yeah – we gave those out as presents.
I’m surprised how many of them …
Are still around …
It was a great idea …
It was a great idea – we should’ve kept doing it.
So Simon, to the future – where do you see yourself? Well, I suppose you’ve got to grow these children and send them off to university.
Yeah, well I’ve got … Anouk’s fifteen; she’s a beautiful young girl. Yeah, she’s got an amazing future ahead of her – she can talk to anyone. She’s not going to be a scientist; I think she’d be great in the sales industry … I think she’d be great in our business, but you can’t push her anyway; she’s just great with people.
Edu … yeah, he’s a bit of a brainbox, probably could do anything he wanted. They used to sort of say that Simon probably could’ve done anything he wanted too, but he was just a little bit lazy. And actually, what happens in your life pushes you in different directions, right. But Edu I think’s pretty keen to get into the business too – he can see what property deals do, and he thinks that could be a good way to make some money.
And Mela, my darling little eleven year old … she is going to be a vet, without a doubt. So she loves her animals, and she’s ‘arty farty’; and she’s going to Woodford this year, so it’ll be interesting to see how she just … she gets hurt pretty easily, and you know, girls can be a little bit mean sometimes, so we’ll see how she goes in that next stage of her life.
And young Cully who’s nine – again he’s amazing; and the fourth kid always seems to pick up things a lot, you know. He seems very smart, and he’s got a really strong heart – when he plays rugby he just goes non-stop the whole time. So I think he could be … both Edu and him play good rugby, and … I don’t know, Cully could be anything. Cully could be anything, so yeah.
Okay, well I think we’ve probably just about covered most things.
I think so.
Can you think of anything that you haven’t told me?
No, I don’t think so. Like, you know, I’ve just been lucky that I’ve … Being married is tough; you know, you’ve got to get through the ups and downs. And I always remember when I told her I was getting married, Mum basically said, “Simon, good luck.” Right? You know, “It’s hard enough marrying someone from up the road, than someone from half way round the world.” But imagine the experiences that I’ve had by being married to someone in South Africa, and their family, and their culture; and you know, it’s been an absolute massive addition to my life and my kids’ lives. And Hettie has been amazing … she gave up her whole life, for me – she reminds me of it of course. [Chuckle] But that is the truth, that’s what she did; and she’s been a [an] amazing wife. Yeah.
Okay, well on that note, Simon, thank you very much for the interview. This is important for Hawke’s Bay and your family; and also thank you for the contribution you‘ve made to Hawke’s Bay. Thanks again, and have a happy Christmas … you’re going to be in south Africa?
We’re in South Africa. Thanks, Frankie.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper