Quiet Hero Farewelled
Edward William Earp
July 1929 – May 2013
Ted Earp came to Hawke’s Bay from a family dairy farm near Opotiki in the early 1950s. He worked his way from an early age, cutting scrub for the Forest Service and farmers before he was drawn to the Whakatu meat works, then owned by the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Meat Company of Hastings.
After qualifying as a mutton butcher, Ted went on to become union delegate, then treasurer of the union, secretary of the union and then secretary of the Hawke’s Bay Branch of the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union.
Ted could account for every penny of the union funds, or the funds of the welfare society that he ran. It was a strong foundation for the respect he gained over many years.
Ted served as secretary to the Hawke’s Bay branch of the New Zealand Federation of Labour for many years. He had meetings throughout New Zealand as an official of the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union. Ted was fully involved in negotiating the New Zealand Meatworkers’ Union superannuation scheme which was subsidised by employers and gave meatworkers the opportunity to retire with a comfortable nest egg and fortnightly payments above the old age pension.
Ted was a quiet hero who spent more than 50 years serving as a trade union official. He was progressive in many areas. He helped set up the Whakatu Welfare Fund, which provided instant assistance to families in times of desperate need or the loss of a member of the family. Ted encouraged the Whakatu Credit Union, which has become a major financial institution with offices almost nationwide.
Ted was always there in good times and bad. When a union family’s daughter, Mona Blades, went missing, Ted and Bill Bennet negotiated with the meat company and the NZ Police to provide busloads of volunteers who searched the Napier-Taupo road area for any sign of Mona. Ted was among the searchers for days.
There were happier times, such as the union setting up the Whakatu Afforestation Trust to provide off-season employment for workers and another means of savings. Ted was there when the first trees were planted and when the first tree was cut down 25 or so years later on. Ted was also on the Board of Union Medicare Group based in Christchurch which became one of the largest medicare groups in New Zealand with rest homes in Greymouth and other centres. He also served as chairman of the board until about 2005.
The establishment of the Inter-Works annual sports tournament was another of Ted’s good works, raising the level of fitness of all involved.
Ted was proud of his children, especially their development in tikana Maori and whakapapa. He spoke with delight about the arrival of new members of the family and grandchildren.
Ted, or Poppa as he became known, was always there for school prize-giving and sports events.
Arohanui, dear friend. You have left a great legacy for your family and friends. You have done great service for your family, your trade union and the community.
Ted is survived by his wife Sue and an extended family.
By Michael Kitchen