Wedd, Derrick James & Graeme Interview

Today the 25th August 2014 on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank in Hastings I have invited Derrick Wedd and his son Graeme, the third generation of the family who have been in Hawke’s Bay for a great many years.

Derrick and Graeme thank you for sharing with us the history of your family and how and when they arrived in Hawke’s Bay.

Good afternoon, it’s good to be in your company.

Well, I can remember my mother telling me that where I was born and that was in Grays Road and [?] and it was a little wee whare at the back that she was in bed in and I can remember that as time went on and the others were born, the rest of the family in the same area and same place. That was where it all started as far as my mind and memory go back.

Graeme:  Dad, what about your father – where was he born?

At Otane, but I don’t know anything about where Dad was as a child was born other than that he went to school in Otane. And from then on he came down to Hastings looking for a job after he had finished his school at Waipawa and managed to get a job at the Post Office, and he was delivering telegrams and that sort of thing during the early part of the war, and then after that the next I can recall of him is that he was called up in the Army and went overseas. There wasn’t a great deal that we were told about him but he was in France and he was a shooter and he was one of those who were up in a tree during the war and if any of the opposition came along he had the opportunity to run them down. That was where he was captured and he was injured with shrapnel and he was sent back over to England to hospital. He was in hospital in London and he didn’t realise for a few days that the chappie in the bed next to him was Ernest Cooper from Hastings and they were great mates and from then on came from the same place back in Hawke’s Bay and grew up in that vicinity in the farming world.

Graeme:  Dad, what about your father’s father – he lived in Otane didn’t he?

Yes, he was a saddler and he had all his gear and horses that he used to cart round the country for all his leather work.

Graeme:  At Elsthorpe he had his 88 acre block on the corner. One road goes down to Kairakau and there was all heavy bush and he cut all that bush and timber, put it in the river and sent it down to Napier and then after that he went and did leather work and he had two horses. He used to take all his gear round different stations and repair all their leather work on their horses.

Derrick:  I don’t know. I haven’t been told that one.

Graeme:   When your father came home from the war and he was working for the Post Office … and when did he join Murray Roberts?

Derrick:  More or less after he came back from the war, very shortly afterwards. I don’t know but I think it was more or less straight away. He was looking for a job and he got a job there at Murray Roberts as a junior in the office.

Graeme:   And that would be about 1920.

Derrick:  I’m not sure of that.

Graeme:   Dad was born in 1926. He had an elder sister Joy who was born in 1924. So grandfather Joe would have been married in the early twenties. Is that right?

Derrick:  Yes, it could have been.

And your mother came from Pahiatua. Her name was Ethel Bissett. They were a farming family in Pahiatua.

Graeme:   He was staying with the Clarks. Jim Clark had the Waipawa hotel and he shifted from Waipawa down to Hastings and he had a Commercial hotel in Hastings and that’s where Dad was staying. That’s where he ran into his wife, Ethel. I don’t know what job she did, it would be housekeeping work I would imagine.

And your father went on as a stock agent for Murray Roberts?

Graeme:   He got the job as a junior in the office of Murray Roberts and then he got to the stock department which he wanted to do. He worked as a Stock Agent. Mr Wellwood was the manager of the stock department at Murray Roberts and then Dad finally worked his way up and got the job as the stock manager and that’s where he carried on and he was an agent for them. After they returned from the war, all these blocks of Government that was put aside for returned servicemen. He managed to get through Hawke’s Bay and interview himself with all these people who had applied for property and managed to get a big majority of clients for Murray Roberts out of his investigations and that’s how he seems to have managed to collect all the stock business of some of these properties in the Hawke’s Bay area.

In that period Dad was getting a very small salary as everybody was in those days but he managed to get alongside the Wellwoods and the manager of Murray Roberts, also the Roberts family in Wellington who were Murray Roberts, and he used to come up to Hawke’s Bay and Dad used to take Mr Roberts out, make friends with all the clients that he had collected in Hawke’s Bay.

Then Mother, when her mother died, she had some money given to her out of the estate which was £15 and she had the money and Dad managed to have an opportunity of buying some – a portion of a block of land at Ngatarawa from Masterton. Dad got friendly there somehow or another and that’s when he …

Derrick:  And I was working at the Post Office being a telegram boy for about six months and then I managed to get a job as a junior to just do all the work running around on a bike in Hastings for Dalgety’s for all their clients, paying their accounts, all the messages that the clients had asked the boss in Hastings to do and that’s how that job in Dalgety’s arrived. The job came up and I went and saw Mr Dick Gifford in his office and he was down a bloody big hall in that same building it was just about bloody in the darkness and here’s Dick Gifford at a desk and he’s just got a light on the bloody desk and otherwise it’s jet black and I thought how the hell do you work here, but that was his office in those bloody days. The Giffords lived next door to us in Wellwood Street just off Grays Road. That’s how our friendship with the Gifford family came up by them living next door.

Now how old were you when your father died? 16 … 1939?

It would have been, yes.

1939 your father passed away. He was still the manager of Murray Roberts in those days wasn’t he?

Yes. Oh yes.

And he had only owned that farm at Maraekakaho 200 acres for just on two years?

Yes, the only way we got it was Mum’s money was given to her out of the estate of her father, so he said to her what an opportunity to buy this and he bought 16 acres, that’s what it was. £160, that’s how he got the place, through old Masterton. We just had the front paddock and the cottage and the back paddock behind that down to the water race. That was it.

OK, you acquired all that other land later on after your father died? As land came available you kept buying it.

Dad reckoned he was a hungry old bastard. A land agent lived in, his office was upstairs opposite the Pacific Hotel.

So you used to run the farm in your spare time and you were full time livestock agent for Dalgety’s.

At that stage I wasn’t. Bill Wellwood, Peter Wellwood’s father. He worked under him in Murray Roberts, old Mr Wellwood. He was a brother of the one that had the place at Mangatahi. As I said, I had to not go to school. I finished up in Standard 6 in Mahora school and had to look for a job. I finally was able to get a job as runabout boy at Murray Roberts. Dad was the stock agent there in those days and that was the only reason I was able to get a job there and I worked in the grocery with old Monty Tickner an old man who was in the grocer’s shop and he was a great old bloke. Every time he went in there, underneath the counter he would give you about half a dozen black balls. I used to love going into the grocers shop into the Farmers in the back store.

Dad, as I say, was an agent at Murray Roberts, he loved stock, and then he got a job as stock agent for the company and had a car given to him. It was a really old Austin and it was a great old car. It had celluloid windows all down the side. We used to go out to the beach on a Sunday for a drive and we thought we were Christmas in this old car. Anyhow that was his starting off as an agent and I finally was able to get a job with Murray Roberts. I first of all couldn’t get a job with them when I applied and that’s how I got a job in Dalgety’s as a junior office run around to do all the messages. I missed out on Murray Roberts and in the meantime while that was all happening Dad took ill with his asthma, he got asthma very badly, and finally he had to give away his work and I used to take him out in Murray Roberts car around Crownthorpe and all those to see his old clients that he was able to find farms for, through the allocation that the Government split all these blocks up.

When you were starting out and you became a junior stock agent, tell us a little bit about from the time you were a junior stock agent to the time you became an auctioneer.

Well I started off in Dalgety’s as a junior doing all the running round, doing all the messages for clients and the main one was in the mornings answering the telephone. It was either the Beamishes ringing up and giving their grocery order and these orders were coming through and I had to take a note of them, go and get them from the grocery shop on my bike and take them round to Mills’ truck before they headed off for their Crownthorpe run and running backwards and forwards over the railway line from Dalgety’s to Murray Roberts to Hawke’s Bay Farmers getting the messages. Had to go like one thing to 8 o’clock when the trucks used to leave doing their rounds up around the Crownthorpe area. And anyhow then I had about six months of that then I managed to get a job as it was getting round to ewe fair time and I had to go down to the sale yards with old Spencer Dillon an old drover. He and I used to work together shifting sheep from the holding paddocks over to the sale yards. His old dogs I had to watch them like billyo because he’d shoot down through the alleyways at the yards. The damn dogs would come in a number of times and I was nipped behind the leg. I couldn’t count, the blasted dogs. Anyhow those were the days I used to enjoy going down to the sale yards. Mum would wake us up at 3 o’clock in the morning and I’d be down there at the sale yards waiting for daylight to accept all these mobs of sheep that were driven down Maraekakaho Road. About 5 mobs, you could look down the road and see them, one behind the other all coming out driven by drovers coming down to the water hole, holding paddocks, and then we had to do our penning up. They were big days drafting all these sheep in the dust it was terrible. But we looked as though we were enjoying it because we’d see such a lot of our clients and hoping the markets were going to be good and they were. We had a tremendous amount of stock coming through, 20, 30, 40,000 some of those sale days we had and the sheep were in the pens right from behind the cattle yards right away down to beyond Davis Street and right down a bit further and came out on to a blind street which was at the back of Townsend Street and we had big pens for the ewe fairs and a there were a lot of them were temporary yards, wire netting pens we had down there, but by jove they were big days.

Those mobs that came from down there at the water hole the day before you went out to Longlands to the rail head and you had to move all those stock from the Longlands didn’t you to the water hole. So all the stock to the sale, a lot of it came on the rail.

It came from Waipukurau on the rail and from Wairoa.

A lot of stock used to get drove from East Coast right up the…

Oh no, they were the big road mobs.   But this is all our local stuff here. It was all driven. No trucks at all in those days. And when the trucks did start bringing in the mobs the trucks were only small and these poor drivers had to crawl in the trucks to get the stock out. There would only be about 70 or 80 sheep so they had truck after truck and that’s where Sherwoods came to light and produced more trucks and it was a lot easier getting all the trucks’ stuff delivered and so we could carry on penning the stock up and by joves they were long days in those days of the Ewe Fairs. Tremendous sales they were. You know, 30 – 40 ,000 sheep through the sale yards.

And you’d start selling at 10.30 in the morning and you’d still be selling at 5 o’clock at night.

It could have been later.

And you were…

I was the stock clerk in those days to start with and it was there that I had the opportunity to get up and sell some of the rubbish down the end of the sale and that’s how I was able to get into the auctioneering. I used to get into my old Austin car which is just a little one but I was travelling back up to Crownthorpe and those places. The auctioneering in a big car practising how to do it and they were great days learning to do that. And that was under an old chap, stock agent manager, Bob Condon. We used to call him the cackling gun, yak yak yak, never stopped. Anyhow he was a tough boss. By gosh I used to have to write a report in the office about the stock sales and I’d take it in to him on a sheet of paper.” Is that all you got” and he’d add up this and then he’d have another look at the story I’d put in on paper and he’d cross that off and I’d think this is lovely, then I’d finish up I’d have to rewrite the whole damn report again. This happened week after week. I’d think “gee you’re a tough bugger”.

But in the ’50s and ’60s you used to sell  … Monday, Stortford Lodge – Tuesday, Waipukurau – Wednesday, Stortford Lodge – Thursday, Wairoa.

Not all the time. Wairoa was more or less once a month or something like that. Used to go up to those sales. Went once a week and did Wairoa. That was a card that I used to think about. Aunty [?] Allen, Mr Allen, who was a brethren. He was hard work, and he used to buy a lot of small pens of stock and take them down to Tomoana for killing and I used to have to gather up all his stuff all the time. By joves, I’ll never forget those days. It would be dark by the time I had finished up all the small pens and get all his work done for him. Anyhow those were my jobs as a stock clerk

That went on for about 4 years and just at the end of that period it was getting near war time and I was balloted in the under 18 jobs to Waiouru and do three months up there. That part of the programme was that age group was military training. So that was just at the start of the war we did that and then we were balloted into another issue. We were put into the artillery and we went to camp in the Wairarapa. And in a big paddock we had to put up all these tents and dig holes in bloody hard shingle, river bed stuff for our tents and we camped there for just on 12 months. We were just waiting and then we were getting close to Featherston. They were getting frightened about the Japanese coming in there and we were just on the border when they had their break in and there was that trouble with these Japs making an escape. But anyhow that stayed on for quite some time and in the meantime I was getting breaks to come home. I got home for a month and go out to the farm and help Mr Wellwood who was a neighbour [?] and do odd jobs there on the farm. The agents in Murray Roberts tried to get Mum to sell the farm and she nearly did but I said ‘for goodness sake don’t Mum’, and it never happened, thank glory. So we’ve still got that piece of land today.

But you went away in the Navy didn’t you?

Yes. Anyhow then when I reached 18, still in the army, I was getting sick of it just hanging around down there in the Wairarapa and a mate of mine he had applied for the Navy and I thought right that’s what I’m going to do too. So I put in an application and I was received and that was the next thing. I was in the Navy. I was a bit disappointed after we had finished our three months over in the island … we did our training, it was a Navy barracks anyhow. Just straight out.

It was on the Hauraki Gulf, straight out.

We used to have to row right round that bloody island. Those bloody boats. Two on one oar and four aside. They were big things. Anyhow and then after I finished my course there I had to lo and behold get a bloody New Zealand draft and I was on a mine sweeper here, out from Napier for lucky only six months I spent on that bloody minesweeper. Then I managed to get a UK draft and got over to England and spent the rest of the war there and happened to be lucky enough to be on leave in London the day war was ceased. So that meant three or four days when I hardly went to bed.

And when you came home?

And then when I came home … what do you mean?

You got married, or joined up with the company again?

Yes, joined up with the company. I stopped again for a very short time and then managed to get out and it was old Billy Hamilton. He was our agent. I managed to get an old Austin and thought I was Christmas. Old Austin cars. But it didn’t last too long. Lasted about 3 or 4 months and it just fell to pieces.

Going round doing bits of jobs round town, the Aerial Mapping Company were in some offices just over the road from the railway line and we used to see these young ones who were working there acting the goat with one another and used to stop and have a chat with them and call out to them over the roof. There was a girl out there and she looked very nice and I happened to meet her one day on the corner just by the Pacific Hotel. We had a bit of a chat and that little chat used to happen just about every night after work and that happened to be the marriage of my good lady.

Graeme:   May 1948.  Because Chris was born in late 1949.

Derrick:  Well, I knew it was somewhere about then.

Then the rest of the family?

Graeme:  Twins in 1950.

Derrick:  Yes, I suppose it would be.

Graeme:   Then he went into recess and concentrated on his job. And 17 years later he had another one. Hamish.

Derrick:  Oh dear, that was a hell of a surprise. Anyhow he was a very popular boy with his brothers and sisters. His sisters used to take him up too high in the pram. They really spoilt him. Anyhow he turned out to be a damn nice son.

You had 43 years with the Company.

Yes. Well I had 40. I didn’t realise it was a bit more.

Graeme:   And you’ve been retired for 33 years.

Derrick, you might tell us a little bit about the Stock firms and how many stock firms there were at the time and where we are today.

Well, they don’t exist.

How many stock firms were there when you were the boy running around with messages?

Well when I got back to Dalgety’s after the war their shop was in King Street. I used to have to help out in the back store where they had a dressing plant there. You had to do a certain amount of work there where they were dressing rye grass and bagging maize and all that type of work, and sometimes they were getting over loaded and you had to help them there but I spent most of the time at Stortford Lodge sale yards. There was only one sale a week at Stortford Lodge. They used to be big sales and you’d be arriving there in the morning before daylight

How many other companies were there at Stortford Lodge selling stock in those days?

Dalgety’s, de Pelichet McLeod, HB Farmers’, Williams and Kettle’s, and Loan & Mercantile. That was all.

Wright Stephenson’s?

No they weren’t there. They weren’t there until pretty late. They weren’t there when I retired.

Graeme:   They amalgamated with Murray Roberts didn’t they? That gave them a right to come into the sale yards.

Derrick:  Yes. That was after I retired.

Oh was it?   Amazing isn’t it? Wrightson’s didn’t sell stock in the sale yards until they amalgamated with Murray Roberts. The likes of your competitors like Doug Grieve and Jack Thompson. You used to do a lot of work with them when you were doing client valuations.

Yes, well we did a fair bit of that sort of thing. Properties being sold or raising right money, valuation of land and the stock that these properties were carrying. But being a stock man I only did the work as a valuer of the goods. They seemed to have a lot of that sort of work in those days. Seemed to be a lot of farms split up with their sons, father and son selling some of the block or the son taking over some of the farm and the stock and it had to be valued and we had a lot of that sort of work and some of the properties that were sold were bought by an outsider. He had a valuer who valued for him as well as the valuer for the salesperson, the vendor. We used to have a lot of arguments and that sort of thing but it was a lot of fun doing a valuation with the opposition and trying to be as close as we could to one another and our prices and if not we would have a fair sort of an argument about who was right and who was wrong and on some occasions it was a big amount and we would leave it to have a discussion with another firm when we would come in of an evening. Other than that we did a terrific amount of valuation sales. All the stockman’s stock we counted – it was like the wash pool. We counted thousands of sheep a day there for the Glazebrooks, and even on Torent Station and Oban Station, old W R Richmond’s places. We had a lot of work there. Waitanui. A lot of those big farms. We did a lot of that sort of work and valuations. I enjoyed that. It was testing your own idea of business and your quality of stock and the prices and what have been that class of stock in the saleyards and then comparing with what you were valuing on the property. So there were all those sort of jobs …..

The old boy always used to say “Jim, there’s a big difference between the men doing their values that knew their values and those that were called in that didn’t have a clue.”

Yes by jove, we used to have a few arguments alright. Even Doug Grieve and I, we used to have a few bloody arguments. He really tried to bloody well bounce me God knows how many times but I dug my bloody toes in with them.

He was with Hawke’s Bay Farmers?


And then you’d settle it all back at the County Club at night.


Getting on to the sporting side. Did you play rugby for Hawke’s Bay?

No, I didn’t. I played for Hastings High School Old Boys. They were the only team I used to play for. When I was stationed in Waipukurau I used to play for a Waipukurau team and we didn’t call ourselves old boys just a Waipukurau team. Then I came down to Hastings and played for Hastings Old Boys here and I’ve got some photos somewhere of our team. Les McCarthy was our coach and I can’t recall the fellows who were in our Old Boys team.

What was your position?

In the front row of the forwards of Hastings High School Old Boys. I only played for them for about 3 years I think.

Graeme:   Too busy on the farm. But you used to play golf, it was like a religion.

And you were a good golfer too. If I remember – very cagey. Like to tell us a little bit about it? And then you get into a golf cart and …

I hope you print this one. I used to love playing at Bridge Pa. We used to ride the bike out there on a Saturday and get a job of caddying. I’m just trying to think of the Pro’s name. We used to get 1/6d for caddy for the afternoon and this Pro used to get 3d from that 1/6d for getting us the job. He no more got us the job than the man in the moon.

Andy Shaw or Aubrey Dyke?

Andy Shaw I think it was. Gee he was a miserable bastard.


Yes. There would be 20 of us all waiting for a job and he’d come out and say “Here you, here” and he didn’t see the boss until you went over and got his bag.

Did you have to carry his bag?

Yes. Oh Christ yes. There were some bloody big bags sometimes too.

Graeme, you got down to a fairly good handicap didn’t you? What was your lowest handicap you got to?

Graeme:   Ten I think. I was on ten for quite a long time.

Derrick:  I think he might have been on ten for 30 or 40 years.

I think he was on 10 too long.

Especially with these bloody tournaments. It was bloody cold when you came in and here was a fellow out there beneath the trees with a little trailer and boxes of stuff on it.

Oh the wine and spirits man?

Come over and have a warm up. I was fortunate enough to be invited once and went over for a drink and he said “you’d better have another one”. And then another one and then another one and the next thing I knew I woke up and I was in bed. And I thought what am I doing here?

Who took you home that night?

I’m buggered if I know.

Graeme:   Was it you Jim?

He’s the one who bloody well put all the booze down my neck!

Graeme:   Oh, he put it down your neck. You didn’t put it down yourself?

I had really nothing to do with it in those days. But I had a friend who took him home that night.

Derrick:  The bloody car was left out, the company’s car.

Graeme:   He never missed a round of golf on a Saturday afternoon. It was like sacrosanct. Tee off at 10 past 12 quarter past 12 was it. In those days Jim the draw was always in the paper wasn’t it on the Wednesday or Thursday night. You knew who you were playing with. You were still playing golf at 90. You were 90 when you had the accident coming home from golf.

Derrick:  Yes, I was too.

Graeme and Derrick, I want to thank you very much for the chat today. We’ve learned quite a bit about another old identity of Hawke’s Bay and that’s what the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank is wanting from people, so thank you both once again.

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