William Jens (Jim) Harvey Interview

Good afternoon. It’s the 18th January, 2016 and I am interviewing today William (Jim) Harvey, a long-time business man of Hastings and I’ve got Jim with me now. Good afternoon.

Good afternoon, Jim.

Jim, I’d just like you to tell us about your family history, dating back – I know you have been here many generations, and we’d just like to know how you came to Hawke’s Bay, to the present day and running a very successful business. So over to you.

Well, thank you, Jim. In the beginning of this interview … I do it with thanks for my sister Anne who has delved into the history of the Harvey family back to the point when William Harvey was the second child of Thomas and Elizabeth Harvey. Elizabeth was Thomas’ second wife, the first dying in Cornwall, UK. They sailed in the ‘SS Helen Denny’ from Gravesend on 28 July 1874, and arrived in Port Ahuriri, Napier on the 22 October 1874. William had one half-brother and one half-sister, Elizabeth Anne Harvey [and] John Thomas Harvey. John Thomas and William were partners in the purchase of the horse and coaches from the Crowther family, and went on from there to call it the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company.

Thomas Harvey was the constable at Ahuriri for many years and was a much respected and well-liked member of the community. He and his wife Elizabeth are buried at the old Napier Cemetery on the top of the Hospital hill. Their graves are the first graves on the right of the main gates. Thomas Harvey, born 26 October 1840, Cornwall, UK, died 9 May, 2003 [1903] Napier, New Zealand.

William Thomas Harvey, born 12 December, 1877 in Napier died 3 July 1945, Napier, New Zealand married to Florence May Chapman, born 11 October 1884 in Melbourne, Australia, died 6 December 1960, Napier, New Zealand. They had four children, twins William Thomas and Florence Anne born 31 August 1909, Napier. William (Bill) died 17 December 1971, Fol [Flo] died 9 January 1998. Nancy Elizabeth, born 16 October 1910, died 12 June 1976. Norman, born 30 March 1921, died 30 November 1998.

Cherry Harvey was a daughter of John Thomas and she was the much respected and capable secretary of the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company.

(Refer to page 101, end of chapter, for more details from “Coaches North” by Len Anderson.)

After this, William Harvey and John Harvey formed the business known as Harvey, Fulton & Hill. William became an accountant.

Thomas Harvey and his wife Elizabeth (nee Richards).

Mary Jane Harvey and William Harvey, 6 December 1876, Port Ahuriri.

The death was announced of Thomas Harvey, for many years a police constable in Napier who passed away at his residence, Clive Square, on Saturday evening after a long period of ill health. His connection with the force extended for twenty-six years and he was well-known throughout the district as an efficient and zealous officer, one whose duties were always conscientiously discharged without fear or favour. He was a noted figure at all sports meetings and gatherings where control had to be exercised over large crowds, and in exercising that control he displayed an absolute impartiality that won respect for his authority and ready compliance with his mandates. On the breakwater, Wharf 2, he made his presence felt on the arrival and departure of steamers. His unremitting watchfulness and care probably prevented many accidents on those busy occasions. For a time he was stationed at the Spit, and while there was occasionally so roughly treated by notorious seamen that no doubt any otherwise robust constitution suffered materially. He retired from the Police Force in November 1901 having joined it in 1875. In April 1902 was publicly presented with a purse of sovereigns and a eulogistic testimonial signed by about a hundred and fifty of our business firms, professional men and leading citizens. Deceased, who was sixty-three years of age, leaves a widow and grown up family with whom the deepest sympathy will be felt. Flags were flying half-mast in town and at the Spit ceremony yesterday, as a mark of respect to the memory of one who [was] so generously and thoroughly esteemed.’

And this is another extract from the death in 1945 of William Harvey, who was my grandfather.

Reported that he died at the Napier Public Hospital last evening following a brief illness. He lived all his life in Napier, and from a youth he took a keen interest in the development of the town and district, eventually becoming one of the most noted and ablest civic administrators. Over the past half-century there have been few phases of public activity in Napier and district in which he was not closely associated. He was educated at various district schools and afterwards was employed for about eight years in the Union Steam Ship Company Napier office as a clerk. In those days he showed his interest in public affairs and was the first secretary of the Port Ahuriri Swimming Club and a keen member of the Napier Naval Artillery Volunteer Corps. Subsequently Mr Harvey, in partnership with his brother the late Mr J T Harvey, conducted a livery stable business which was eventually bought out by the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company, Mr Harvey being its first secretary. Upon relinquishing this office he entered into the fresh partnership to become the senior partner of Harvey Fulton & Hill, Public Accountants and Land Agents in Napier, later extending the business to Hastings. For his earliest entry into public life Mr Harvey was a staunch supporter of the preservation of scenic spots in the province, and with others in both Hastings and Napier he fought stoutly, though unsuccessfully, for the preservation of Balls Clearing, a bush in the Puketitiri district, and also the area known as the Turangakumu Bush on the Napier-Taupo road. Typical of his interest in the development of the province as a whole too, was his advocacy for the East Coast Railway, and at the same time he was partly instrumental in the determined efforts made to have the Lake Waikaremoana Hydro Electric Power scheme developed. He was a member of the provincial committee that laid the foundation for the establishment of the Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board, of which he was similarly known as the ‘Father’, being a member since the inception and holding office as the Chairman for six years.’

Didn’t know that myself.

That’s Mr W Harvey?

This is my grandfather that we’re talking about.

The Napier Thirty Thousand Club provided Mr Harvey with still another avenue through which to pursue his services to the interests of the home town and district. He was one of the Club’s earliest members, and subsequently held office as Secretary and eventually President. He was one of its staunchest members, particularly in furthering its plans for the civic development of the town’s amenities such as the development of the Marine Parade. He was the donor of the gazing bowl, from the same years proved such an attraction on the parade. He also contributed substantially towards the cost of planting the palms in the Kennedy Road Extension into Marewa. Mr Harvey made many gifts to the Borough Reserves, and with his family was associated with the presentation of the Harvey Memorial at the Latham Street entrance to Nelson Park, this being erected in memory of his parents, his father being well-known in the town as a Police Officer. The Municipal Library and the Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery were also recipients of his generosity, and he made available to the library a valuable collection of books for the New Zealand section. In recent years he directed his enthusiasm towards the provision of the Centennial Memorial, a winter garden for the Marine Parade, and though the war intervened and caused this project to be shelved, in the meantime he had constantly kept in mind that since 1940 such subsequent substantial donations have come to hand as a result of his persevering efficacy on the project. Apart from his six years’ service as a member of the Napier Borough Council Mr Harvey was a foundation member of the Napier Rotary Club, President of [for] many years of the Napier Competitions Society and office bearer of the Napier Chamber of Commerce. He was also a prominent member of the New Zealand Accountants’ and Auditors’ Association. He leaves in addition to his wife, a family of two sons, Messrs W T Harvey of Hastings, Norman Harvey (presently on active service overseas), and two daughters, Mrs Ti Tuck of Auckland and Miss Nancy Harvey of Napier, and also two sisters Mesdames John Fenwick and M J Barnes, both of Napier. The funeral will take place at Park Island at 2pm.’

That’s fantastic. I’ve got here the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company with J & W and a little bit about John Thomas Harvey and William Harvey.

I’m ad libbing this. My grandfather was the auditor of the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company in those days, and he would take the coach from Napier to Taupo. He would stay at the Terraces Hotel – or the then Terraces Hotel – and walk from there into the town, and as he walked along the lake front he selected two sections and he purchased those sections. And it’s interesting to say that myself and my wife Megan own half that section today and have built a house on it. Going back to my grandfather’s purchase in 1922, the other half of the section is owned by my sister Anne O’Rourke. It’s nice to be able to say that some of those pioneers’ days of my grandfather are still in the Harvey family with our houses in Taupo.

They had a great coach service, ‘cause it states here – ‘Coach Service to Taupo, Patea, Wairoa and Waikaremoana.’

I can’t quite remember, Jim – the coaches were phased out, but I don’t know what year. But I do recall being told the next means of transport was – I think they might have been V12 Packard cars – and they were the means of transport in those days. Some of our relations … and I stand to be corrected here, but Sir Russell Pettigrew was a relation of the Harveys and he also was very friendly in those days with … oh, think of the other carrier … pioneered trucking over the Taupo Road from Napier.


Leadbetter. And those two gentlemen somewhere in the family tree were mildly related to the Harvey family. And of course with Russell Pettigrew, with his strong connection towards Wairoa with his farms, and Leadbetter of course was a very well-known carrier, so both those chaps were some[how] related to us, but unfortunately I can’t relate to what extent.

But the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company went on and became a very large … transferring people and they actually became part of Newman’s in the end. A fellow by the name of … going to say Ashley, I don’t think that’s right. Mr Giles anyway, was a tall fine man whom I knew, and he was the General Manager of the Hawke’s Bay Motor Company when its head office was in Emerson Street [should be Dickens Street] in Napier, and that period was within the last twenty-five or thirty years. And I happened to know Mr Giles, he was a nice man.

So the business of Harvey Fulton & Hill progressed to a point where my late father, William Thomas Harvey – and he ran the Hastings office – he was a registered valuer, and he was registered under the Valuers Act of 1948. And in those days you became a registered valuer for good behaviour and ability, no exams required – bit different today. And Dad was … William Thomas Harvey was also the Hastings City Valuer and was responsible for the acquisition for the Council … Hastings City Council … of most of the land at Flaxmere. And Dad negotiated all those … a lot of that land for the Council and as a consequence the Hastings City Council developed parts of Flaxmere to the extent of what we know today, which houses about twelve thousand people.

Dad was a Justice of the Peace; he was a keen sportsman; he did a lot of swimming and swim coaching in his earlier days. He married Ida Norgard Sorensen, and they had two children, myself, Jim, and my sister, Anne. And Anne subsequently married Gerald O’Rourke who was a stock agent – tragically he passed away at a very early forty-one years of age. Anne lives now in Taupo as I mentioned, on part of the land that our grandfather purchased.

Harvey Fulton & Hill progressed, and Dad met an untimely death with that horrible disease, cancer, in 1971. And he was a past President of the Hastings Golf Club, he was past President of the County Club, he held numerous directorships, one of which was the Waipukurau Building Society. And when the Waipukurau Building Society merged with the Hawke’s Bay Mutual Building Society I, Jim, was appointed to that Board in my late father’s place.

He attended Napier Boys’ High School, Napier West Primary School, and in the early 1900s his father William Harvey founded the business. We are not exactly certain when Harvey Fulton & Hill was founded – we think it was in 1918 but we’re not a hundred per cent sure about that. But it is fair to say that we are now only two and a half years away from one hundred years, which from the family’s point of view is a huge achievement and we all look forward to being about when we can celebrate that.

William Thomas Harvey, my father, was sent to Hastings by his father in 1932 to manage the Hastings office. And Dad became the General Manager of Harvey Fulton & Hill in 1965 when he bought his brother Norman out, and Norman continued to run a real estate business in Napier until the early seventies, and then he moved to Auckland.

Harvey Fulton & Hill, as we know it, was William Thomas’ company, and I was fortunate enough to join my father after starting in the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1963. Dad was taken from us in 1971 which was a huge shock to us all, not to mention myself who was not very old, and was still learning all sorts of things that I had to learn. And it was a very difficult period of time for me but the firm survived and we came out at the other end of the tunnel, probably a stronger place.

Harvey Fulton & Hill made a major change in 1978 when I merged with Barry Long Real Estate, and for the first time since its inception Harvey Fulton & Hill had a name change and it became Harvey Fulton & Long. The standards that were performed going back to my grandfather’s day were continued, except the accounting functions of the firm were long gone. And my late father really had – he had some accounting connections with staff, but after that the business became a real estate agents, valuers and auctioneers, with the firm’s auction rooms situated in Russell Street in a location that we held from 1932 until the property was sold – gobbled by the Bay Plaza development in about 2008.

Dad had Lodge interests and he was prominent in the Masonic Lodge. And he is survived [by] my mother Ida, [who] lived till about 2003 I think. And of course my sister’s still alive and she lives in Taupo.

And I married Megan Mary Symes in 1964, and we’ve celebrated our fifty years of marriage which has been a thrilling time for us. And the Symes family were well-known farming community and thoroughbred breeders, and raced horses for a number of years, which is a pastime that Megan and I are both quite partial to … at present we have shares in a couple of very slow horses.

And how many children do you have?

Megan and I have two children – Paul … William Paul Symes Harvey. And Paul, with the evolution of change Harvey Fulton & Long became Harvey Coxon in 1997, and in 2007 Paul and I sold our shares in Harvey Coxon to Terry Coxon, and subsequently bought the valuation practice back in that negotiation. And I gave those shares to Paul and he is now running … as the Managing Director of Williams Harvey, who are registered valuers and property consultants. And for the first time since 1918 our family connection with real estate is confined to valuation matters and not real estate sales. Paul is doing well and the office is very busy.

We have a daughter, Diane Judith, who lives in London. And she married Wilfred White about twenty years ago, and we are fortunate to have a grandson of eighteen who I’m told two … three days ago, that he has been accepted for Cambridge University in the King’s College, which is a huge achievement and we are all so thrilled about Thomas’ inclusion to go to Cambridge. We’ve a granddaughter in London, and she is still at school. But Milly is a lovely little girl, and it’s sad that they’re so far away, but we’ve been fortunate enough that we do manage to catch up with them, both us to there and them coming to Hawke’s Bay.

I guess it’s sort of getting close to me now, Jim. 

Yes – well we want to know about you because I see you were in the First XI at the Hastings Boys’ High School – fast bowler and recognised batsman – I’ve read a number of articles about it.

I suppose my real involvement with commerce and everything came home brutally to roost when Dad died aged sixty-two and I was only about thirty, and it was a crushing time for a young fellow. We were not long married and it was pretty jolly difficult, but we managed to survive those things. And I was educated at Hastings Boys’ High School and my sister was educated at Nga Tawa School for girls. It’s fair to say that my parents had myself booked to go to Christ’s College and I was unable to fulfill that booking because in those early years I suffered with bad eczema – skin eczema – and asthma. Thank God I’ve grown out of the asthma, but I still suffer from eczema from time to time but that’s another thing. But I was educated at Hastings Boys’ High School, Hastings Intermediate, and my primary school education years was [were] at Parkvale School.

I always enjoyed sport. I played a lot of cricket. I played First XI at Hastings Intermediate, and I was one of the first intake at Hastings Intermediate and I was in the Second XI right from the start. At Hastings Boys’ High School I was in the First XI. I was lucky enough to score a hundred and one not out against Napier Boys’ High School, which doesn’t happen very often and I’m quite proud of that fact that I got a hundred. And I used to get the ball through in the air, I used to bowl a bit quick. I’ve always been a tall sort of a guy, and I used to enjoy bowling a bit quick and I had a bit of success too.

But when I was getting close to leaving school I played quite a bit of golf and I played golf reasonably well for quite a while. I’m single figures and I used to enjoy the game, and I used to play a lot of golf on the weekends as opposed to school fixtures. I played school cricket in the weekends but later on I played a lot of golf. And I enjoyed golf, and I still do – I still play golf. Not nearly as well as I think I should.

In my business career I have been the President of the Hawke’s Bay Real Estate Institute. I’ve been chairman of the Valuers’ Institute in Hawke’s Bay.

I was appointed – I can’t remember the exact date, but I think it was in about 1982 – I received Government appointment to become a member of the Land Valuation Tribunal in Napier … the Hawke’s Bay Land Valuation Tribunal … and I held that position for twenty-eight years I think. And in that time I was very fortunate to sit on the bench with some of the best and most recognised judges in New Zealand. And probably the highlight for me was I was fortunate to sit beside Dame Silvia Cartwright in a very minor argument over the valuation of a residential property in Napier. Putting aside the subject matter – what a delightful lady, and she ultimately became the Governor-General of New Zealand. And I always look back on that as just a wonderful experience … lucky enough to be sitting right beside the lady, who happened to turn round at the end of the evidence time and said to myself and my other Land Valuation tribal [tribunal] and this is exactly what she said – she said “Righto guys, you’re the experts, sort it out and come and report to me”. Again, a wonderful lady.

I had a lot of strong interests in horse racing and administration. The Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club in those early days was a fortress of who’s who and landed gentry in Hawke’s Bay, and I decided that I wanted to become a committee member of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club. And I had two large campaigns in those days. The membership was twelve hundred, and we wrote letters and I had committees and … anyway, I was hopelessly bashed the first time I stood, to the extent that I started to think ‘well maybe you can’t break into the bastion of Hawke’s Bay landed gentry, and maybe you just can’t do that sort of thing’. But I was persuaded to have another go and I was lucky enough to be elected the second time round. And that was back in 1972.

But the five years or seven years prior to that date I applied and won a position with the New Zealand Racing Conference, and I was an Assistant Stipendiary Steward for seven years. And I attended race meetings from Gisborne through the East Coast down to Wellington and out to Wanganui, and I was going to the races fifty-five and sixty times a year. And I enjoyed that, but my golf and most other sporting aspirations faded away because I was married with two little kids, and if I’d played golf too, I’d have never been at home. So I’m not blaming the racing world for the way I play golf today but it had something to do with it.

And when I became a member of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club Committee I held a unique position in New Zealand racing, where the President of the Conference gave me specific special permission to be an Assistant Stipendiary Steward and still a member of the committee, but I wasn’t allowed to officiate at Hawke’s Bay, which goes without saying. But I held that position for two or three years. I always had a strong feeling about the judicial control of racing and how it was administered, and I organised judicial seminars in Hawke’s Bay and in the Manawatu. I spoke at Flock House on judicial matters and how chairmen should act and operate.

Flock House was what?

Flock House was the … J J Stewart was the headmaster, and it was a college for rural students. It’s not there any more – I think the buildings are there, but it ceased as Flock House some years ago.

Was it like Smedley?

Well, it was more like a big university sort of place, you know. They had little cubicles, comfortable sleeping accommodation. And the Racing Conference organised this thing and I was asked to speak at it. So we went on from there, and I resigned by stipendiary position and became the Chairman of Judicial Committees in Hawke’s Bay. And I was also appointed by the Levin Racing Club, and I was the Chairman of the Levin Racing Club meetings – they raced about four or five times a year. And I really did enjoy that.

My life on the committee of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club got busier because I became the Treasurer for eleven … twelve years, then I was the Vice-President, and I became the President of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club in 1991.

And in 1992 the winds of change were blowing and I could see great merits in amalgamating and merging clubs to share facilities and bring the assets together. And with the help of a fellow by the name of Des Fredricks who was the Chief Executive of Bay Racing, we put this thing together and Hawke’s Bay Racing Incorporated was born and the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club name disappeared forever. It was a sad day, that part of it, but the creation of Hawke’s Bay Racing … which is still functioning, and pretty well too today. And I suppose it can go down in history as ‘Harvey was the President of the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club that sacked himself’, because by taking Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club into the Hawke’s Bay Racing Incorporated, the Club that I was the Chairman of ceased to exist.

I subsequently became a board member of the Hawke’s Bay Racing Incorporated. And there were also changes in the judicial world of racing at that time. The Judicial Control Authority which was a national offshoot of the racing hierarchy, was set up whereby all people officiated as judicial personnel were employed by the JCA … the Judicial Control Authority. And I applied for one of those jobs and I was appointed one of their Chairmen, and I really did enjoy that. And I think probably – I think it’s fair to say that in 1994 I was entrusted with the Chairmanship of the Judicial Committee at the Wellington Racing Club Cup meeting in 1994, and to be Chairman of the Judicial Committee at Wellington Racing Club, by my reckoning was a hell of an achievement, and I was very thrilled about that. And I think probably that was the pinnacle of my racing things.

I got a lot of good things happen to me with racing. It taught me how to assimilate evidence; taught me how to be fair and it also taught me how to talk quietly without getting angry. All those factors are so important in the general run of life. Yeah, I got a lot out of racing.

I went on and I was still working at the office, and Paul was working with us. Then the change came when we sold out of the Harvey’s livery and Paul started Williams Harvey. And I worked for Paul, which was part of the deal I suppose, where the father said to the son “well, I’ll do all these things for you, but I want you to give me a job”, and he was happy enough to do that. And I worked for Paul for about five years, and in the end I ended up retiring from property valuation work. I still do a bit of chattel work, but I’d clocked up fifty-five years I think, working for the firm and I didn’t think that was a bad innings. So I’m retired now – I go to the office but I don’t do any physical work for them and I just enjoy seeing the office progress really.

I think that’s me really. My wife Megan – she’s an artist. She holds a Diploma of Fine Arts from Canterbury University. Megan’s family were very keen horse people – ponies and horses. Megan had a strong bent for dressage, and so much so that Megan actually represented New Zealand on five occasions in the Samsung and Haig International Dressage tournaments, which was an achievement in itself. The only disappointment from my point of view was that those postal competitions didn’t warrant the New Zealand colours, which I couldn’t quite come to grips with.

Megan’s the daughter of farming stock and we have a small farmlet – it was a bit larger before when we had the orchard. And Megan just still loves animals. And we’re very happy where we are, and we’ve got six acres. At times it’s far too much, but other times it’s a joy. And we enjoy good health, touch wood – we think we’re healthy. And we get to Taupo not as often as we should, but I thank God that my grandparents achieved what they did, and the assistance for myself and sister, and our kids. It has been fantastic.

Not to mention my mother’s side, the Sorensens. They emigrated from Denmark. They lived in tents in their first home in Matawai in Gisborne, and came down to Mangatahi just out of Maraekakaho, Hastings. I can’t exactly tell you when – about 1910 or 12 I think they came down. And the family farm is still being farmed by my cousins – John Sorensen’s on the old home farm, and Paul Sorensen who was the son of Jim Sorensen – he’s farming on a block just five ks [kilometres] down the road. So our family roots are still here in Hawke’s Bay.

I don’t really think there’s a great deal more I can say, Jim.

Right – I think that’s [an] extremely good outline of your family and very interesting indeed – great to hear it. I’ve interviewed a number of people in Hawke’s Bay and the depth of knowledge that we’ve gained from people has been immense.

Yeah, I’m sure. And isn’t that good? Isn’t that what the whole exercise is about? 

It is … it is. And we’d just like to keep it going. So thank you, Jim.

Thank you, James.

Original digital file


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Interviewer:  Jim Newbigin


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