History of the Newbigins


The brief history of  the Newbigin family has been compiled from many years of research and involving many names. It is an attempt to trace a surname distinctive to the North Country and to outline the main branches.

Herein has revived the memory of successive generations who possessed this earth for their short period. Some figured briefly in local affairs, others found a new life in distant lands but mostly they were content to lead peaceful lives amid familiar surroundings never far from the waters of the Tyne.

It may be that their descendants on reading of their story can find a sense of kinship with these Northumbrian forbears of bygone days.

Our Northumberland family as far as can be traced with accuracy, were living from an early date in Hexhamshire. Their place of origin was the wooded hamlet of Newbiggin at the junction of Dipton Burn and Devil’s Water, a place first mentioned in documents in 1355. From here it would surely seem the family name derives and only a few miles further north in the Wall Country there appeared towards the end of the middle ages what we might term our “first ancestors”.

The name NEWBIGIN derives from Old Norse – a new “bigin” being a building or dwelling. Several places in the north of Scotland bear this name while its use as a surname occurs in scattered references throughout the Middle Ages.

In the 13th Century there was a family deriving their name from Newbiggin-by-Sea in Northumberland; another near Midridge in Durham. A William de Newbigging who was one of the outlaws who kidnapped the unpopular Bishop of Durham in 1317. John de Newbigin ordained at Corbridge in 1335, was a bearer of a letter from the university of Oxford to Winchester in 1333 and subsequently Rector of Gateshead; another John was Bailiff of Newcastle in 1397. Adam de Newbigin described as a Scottish knight agreed to border laws in 1249. whilst that is probably the earliest reference to the use of the name occurs with Robert de Newbegyng of Newburn who witnessed a deed in 1166.

As a surname, Newbigin is rare and distinctive to the North Country – only one individual bearing this name appears in the entire list of householders enumerated in the Hearth Tax for Northumberland in 1664 and from him we can claim direct descent. The spelling of the name can take every possible variety from the mediaeval struggles with Neubighying and Newbiggynge to the rustic Nowbidggam and Newbekin (Hexham) of Northumbrian tongue. Certainly in the middle of the eighteenth century when Joseph Newbigin, founder of the Ryton branch, began to sign his name with a single ‘g’ to distinguish it from a place name it had become a matter of pride to his descendants who have followed the tradition since.

John de Newbiggin of Errington in the chapelry of St Oswald in the parish of St John (Lee) in the county of Hexham came to the cathedral church of Durham on the 7th July AD 1496 and there upon the ringing of the bell was immediately given immunity; before this 12th June, that is the Sunday after the feast of St Barnabas the apostle recently passed, he made insult to a certain Gerard Still of Hexham, a freeman, and struck the said Gerard in the chest with a semi-lance called a spear-staff, from which the said Gerard died; for which crime he is given immunity and freedom.

By the 16th century the Newbigin family were family established in this area. Because of the strict vigilance needed in the Borders all able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and sixty were required to bear arms in readiness The meticulous Muster Roll of Henry VIII in 1538 shows the number of men and their accoutrements – both able footed soldiers and those ‘more able’ having a horse and harness. There appears a concentration of Newbigins in the vicinity of St John Lee. They were a hardy lot. Later many became the trader for butchers followed by so many generations of the Newbigins was perhaps a logical extension from their early days in cattle lifting.

The name Newbigin appears around the city of Durham through the marriages and the branches are: Newbigin of St John Lee, Newbigin of Bywell, Newbigin of Blaydon,  Newbigin of Newcastle and Shields, Newbigin of Hexham, Newbigin of Ryton Grange  and Newbigin of Ryton and that is the start of the name “SADDLE NEWBIGINS”

How we got that name:

So runs the family legend about the Saddle and Old Campbell, as he was known to them. Until the First World War, two Newbigin aunts of Ryton Farm preserved the saddle cloth and panniers belonging to their forebear James Campbell. With the visible evidence handed down, this branch of the family became known as the “SADDLE NEWBIGINS”. The cloth read: Edward Newbigin’s wife Jane Campbell had a sister whose family had to escape from some danger in the hills of Argyll to join the great Argyll. Their parents travelled on a famous white horse, Old Campbell’s wife on pillion and the children in the panniers at their side. The great Duke of Argyll wanted to buy the horse on account of its wonderful performance but Old Campbell replied “No my lord, for I like a good horse as well as you.”  The saddle cloth and panniers were preserved at Ryton Farm and Jane’s family who kept them were always known as the SADDLE NEWBIGINS.

Edward Newbigin, third son of Joseph Newbigin and Mary White settled at Ryton West Farm and Ryton Grange as a farmer with 126 acres.  In 1799 he married Jane Campbell so making a dual link between brother and sister. They had nine children, the latter five were baptised in a batch by his friend the Rector of Ryton.

In 1819 he presented Edward with an inscribed Bible and indeed his farming friend was a respected pillar of the community to judge from the newspaper report of his death in 1848: “Death at Ryton on 6th October after a short illness, aged 75, the much deservedly regretted Mr Edward Newbigin, farmer.

He was the oldest tenant on any of the Townley Estates in the county of Durham and had attended 80 rent days without a single interruption.”

All did not run smoothly after the death of Edward with disputes over the land and the fishing rights on the Tyne, then in 1861-62 coal was discovered under the farm land. Edward’s son John had taken up his father’s tenancy and was now edged out; several letters on the archives of The Stella Coal Company testify to this attempt to gain control. Finally it ended in the case of Newbigin versus Townley in Newcastle County Court on the question of tenants’ rights. John was awarded costs 148 pounds but lost the tenancy. His wife Elizabeth died in 1858 and being now a widower with several children to support, he decided to seek a new life in New Zealand.


Born at Ryton in Northumberland UK. Edward along with his father John, brothers William 1845-1865 Andrew 1852-1883 and sisters Elizabeth 1847-1865, Clara 1856-1927 set sail on the ship “Ardberg” in 1864 from London to Auckland.

The “Ardberg” was a fine looking ship of 921 tons and in addition to a large cargo had brought to our shores 136 passengers, all in good health, there being only 4 deaths (infants) and 4 births. The trip took 120 days.

Edward was granted 140 acres by the government before he left England. He did not come out as an immigrant, but paid the passage money of all his family and was entitled to this grant of land. He sold it for 3/6d an acre but never saw the land.

Unfortunately in 1865 a severe fever epidemic came about and John, William and Elizabeth died. They were buried in the Grafton cemetery.  Andrew  joined Edward and moved around the Auckland area for some years eventually moving to Napier, NZ, and worked in the hotel industry. He died at an early age and was buried in the Napier cemetery. Edward and Clara then took a steamer to Napier.

Edward wanted to be a farmer and arriving in Napier he rolled up his blankets and pack and walked forty miles to Lowry’s of Okawa.  Each Sunday was wash day in the river and some horse trading. After eight weeks he decided to head back to Auckland and on the way while taking refreshments in a local pub in Napier he was talking to a friend in his North of England “brogue”, a Mr Swan (of Swan Brewery) who asked “are you from the North of England?” “Aye,”  he replied. Mr Swan told him to report to his brewery and there he stayed for twenty years, starting off as bottle washer to head brewer. He had worked in a brewery back in Durham.

Edward had brought Clara down from Auckland, built a home and she lived with Edward till she married Frederick G. Smith, a well-known family in Napier.

In May 1882 Edward married Margaret Willis (from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia). They had three children, Elsie (Beatson)  Doreen (Roake) and Dudley.

Edward took a trip back to the UK with his new wife and on returning to New Zealand bought the Hastings Brewery from Mr Geo. Ellis, thus starting his career in 1884.

In the Cyclopedia of New Zealand 1908, page 461 under “Brewers” is an article on Edward. It reads:

Newbigin, E, Brewer, Wine and Spirit Merchant, Aerated Water and Cordial Manufacturer, Burton Brewery, Hastings.

Established 1881. Telephone 12. Bankers, Bank of New South Wales. The brewery has all the latest appliances for the manufacture of beer and cordials. Water is obtained through a four-inch pipe, from a well 271 feet in depth. The analysis of the water shows its chemical qualities to be especially adapted for the manufacture of  beverages. Six men are employed at the brewery, which is a fine three-storeyed building, and all the plant is arranged on the  gravitation-principle. The cellar is large and cool and the bottling department is constructed of brick, ensuring an even temperature. The ales produced at this brewery are of high character, delicate to the palate, and for brilliancy and flavour leave nothing to be desired. They have been awarded several prizes, and the leading hotels have them on tap. Since he took possession of the brewery his output increased threefold. Edward has been President of the Hastings Bowling Club.

Edward suffered considerable loss during the 1931 Earthquake and during the depression he offered land in Market Street for a “Good Cheer Depot”, the site of where his building was demolished during the ‘Quake.

A report states “the meals were as plentiful, nourishing and piping hot. Boiling-hot vegetable broth with more or less unlimited bread was followed by a great plateful of Irish stew with carrots and turnips added to the stew.” The hours were 12-2 and 3.30 to 5pm. School children before the adults.

Edward and Margaret lived in a fine two-storeyed house on the corner of Hastings Street and St Aubyn Street, the brewery being their neighbours.

They had three children, Elsie 1885-1961, Doreen 1900-1981, Dudley 1902-1964. All were schooled at Woodford House,  Dudley at Croydon (Wellington) and Christ’s College (Christchurch) as well.


Born at Hastings. Schooled at Woodford House, Croydon (later Wellesley) and Christ’s College, 1917-20. At Croydon it turns out from delving into old papers I found that he was quite a sportsman, into rugby, athletics, tennis (doubles and singles) and cricket where he played against Upper Hutt (suburb of Wellington). Then on to Christ’s College where he was an accomplished boxer and enjoyed his time throughout his time in School House.

After leaving college Dudley, Doreen and Elsie did a world tour, the first of two before marriage. While on his second trip he worked in a brewery at Prestonpans, Scotland, for half a year, then it was back home and learning the trade. Dudley took over the brewery on the death of Edward in 1934.

His social passions at this time were polo, golfing and flying. He had a Gypsy Moth plane, wings folded back, kept it at the brewery in Hastings and would tow it out to Bridge Pa with the brewery truck. Dudley won many trophies at air shows throughout the country,  he had pilot licence No. 31 in NZ. A foundation member of the Hawke’s Bay East Coast Aero Club and an executive member in 1929-30 when he won the first triangular course run from Mangere, Auckland in a Tiger Moth. He was awarded the New Zealand Cup for this feat the first time the cup was open for competition.

Show jumping and hunting on his fine show jumping horse “‘Aladdin’, with the hounds was another passion.  He was the first to have a horse float made at the brewery and placed on the back of one of the trucks. Everyone thought he was barmy but it was not too long before the local carrier (Powdrell) had followed.

Dudley at college was a boxer, winning the Paper weight cup and later in life a leading amateur boxer of his day, winning many trophies and later became President of the New Zealand Boxing Council. So all in all he was an accomplished all-round sportsman.

Shooting was another pastime. He was a crack shot with his made-to-measure “Greener” double barrel side-by-side shot gun and he loved his yearly duck shooting at Karangahape each May.

Travelling was on his agenda with three world trips, one following the 1924 All Blacks on their tour of the British Isles undefeated.

Married Moira Margaret Brunton September 4th 1930 in Wellington at the Basilica, in the presence of Harry Stanley Rathbone, a sheepfarmer of Waipawa, Hawke’s Bay (my godfather), Alec Stead of Hastings and Kathleen Penelope Blundell of Wellington. (Grandfather Edward opposed the marriage as Moira was in the Catholic faith. In those days it was very strict to follow one’s faith.)

After marriage Dudley and Moira lived on the corner of Hastings Street and Victoria Street, a really nice home with a sunken garden, fish pond, tennis court and swimming pool, two large walnut trees, massive garden and plenty of lawn as well as a short walk to the brewery. They were there for many years before moving to “Hillington” in Havelock North, another large property with ample room to play in.

Elizabeth was married at Victoria Street (1960) and Virginia at ‘Hillington’, Havelock North, (1962).

Dudley and Moira had three children: Edward James Dudley born 1931, Elizabeth Beatrice born 1934 and Virginia Anne born 1938.

Elizabeth and Virginia were baptised into the Catholic faith, as was Moira.

Dudley was Anglican and I was baptised as an Anglican.

Elizabeth (Greenslade), Virginia (White/Wall) and Jim had a wonderful time with our parents who were firm but very fair. If we misbehaved out came the strap and that was the end of the matter.

It was a sad time when Dudley passed away, far too early in life at 62.

During the war years 1945-54 Dudley was called up for military training at Linton camp near Palmerston North for a few months but as he owned a business was given a shorter time so he could carry on his line of business.

He then joined the Home Guard and one of his jobs was to patrol the coast from Napier to Cape Kidnappers with a gun, but no ammunition. He drove a Chevrolet van (like a station wagon) with a keg of beer for his platoon to partake of on those hot dry summer days of Hawke’s Bay.


The Brewery named first as Burton, but one with the same name was in Palmerston North, so a name change to the trade mark was made, and that was Leopard.

The draught beer was delivered in wooden kegs up to 56 gallons to hotels around Hastings and Napier. Bottled beer in quarts (750ml) was pasteurized, bottled and mainly sold at the brewery.

Also soft drinks and cordials made at the brewery and sold to shops, motor camps and hotels in the Hawke’s Bay district.

A Wine and Spirit licence, hard to come by in those days where the minimum sale was equal to two gallons (9 litres) approx. Your order had to be made up of 12 bottles of beer and spirits.

MY LIFE: Edward James Dudley Newbigin



My parents were Moira Margaret (Brunton) and Dudley Harmood, my grandparents were Margaret (Willis) and Edward. I had two sisters, Elizabeth Beatrice and Virginia Anne.

My earliest days were my bringing up at the family home in Victoria Street, known as “ Korari” It was a beautiful, oldish home built about 1922 and covered about a quarter of a block. (Hastings was formed in blocks)(see photo in pictures)

It had a tennis court in grass and a swimming pool, sunken garden, fowl house and an outside washing shed along with tool shed and garage. Two magnificent walnut trees at one of the entrances. We used to gather up the walnuts in a barrow and sell them to a Mr Landells for a shilling or two. In those days it was quite a lot of money. A plot for vegetable garden was outside the kitchen window, where I saw my father pulling out weeds then planting carrots, potatoes, spinach and silver beet. Also a chicken run where we got eggs each day.

We had a circular drive both on Victoria St. that led to the front door that opened into a spacious front hall. Then straight in front was a sitting room with all the finest materials used and this was only used for entertaining, then into the smoke room where we sat most evenings with a fire place and large cupboard that housed the drinks, sliding doors to the dining room and then to the kitchen, high ceiling and gas stove. Dishes washed by hand, pantry and safe for keeping food (no refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers in those days).

My mother bottled fruit and beetroot, made beautiful ice-cream. Following on from the kitchen was the maids’ room (later to become my sleep-out) and then the nursery with a wetback for the airing cupboard. Down the hallway a bathroom, two bedrooms then another short passage bathroom (black bath and basin) and pink walls, toilet, my father’s dressing room and then the main bedroom.

Our car was a cream Buick 8.

Mondays was wash day so about 6.30 the tub in the outside wash house was filled with water and a fire lit underneath to heat the water. Clothes were scrubbed on a wash board (rough wood in the middle) and when washed put through a wringer to release the water before being hung out to dry.

Some other points:

We returned milk and fizzy bottles to the shops for a credit, the shops then had them collected and credited when their next delivery was made.

We had one radio and much later had a black and white TV, very small with a screen about the size of a handkerchief.

In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand as electric machines had not been thought of.

When we posted fragile things we wrapped them in shredded paper and old clothes, not bubble wrap or styrofoam.

We mowed our lawns with a push mower (human power). Later we had a Morrison motor mower with a roller, and this often took a lot of time to start as the plugs got overheated.

We drank tap water as there were no plastic bottles.

We filled writing pens with ink.

We sharpened old razor blades instead of throwing them away.

People took the bus or rode bikes or rode a horse to school or walked (nothing to walk five or ten miles) instead of expecting their mothers to run a taxis service to deliver or pick up from school.

We had one electrical plug in each room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

Milk was delivered to your house each day by horse and cart – one put out coupons.

The early paper was delivered by boys on a bike or in town a boy would have a bundle under his arm and sell.

Mail was delivered by the postman who blew his whistle on delivery and if you had a dog, that started the barking.

Trams were used in the cities – a great way for getting around.

We had one telephone in the house, our number was 2574. Party lines up to six people would have the same number but a different ring. That is where a lot of  gossip came from, eavesdropping.

My grandfather had a Ford car (see photo in scrap book #1) and we had a Buick 8 car and later a Vauxhall Velox followed by a Humber Supersnipe.

When I had returned from Wellington I bought a Morris Cowley 1928,  in 1958 with a (“dicky” seat) in the back that opened like the boot with seating for two. The car had a canvas roof. I bought it for 12 pounds ($892 today 2017)

The Burton Brewery, later to become Leopard (this was our trademark for our cordial department), was a block away on the corner of Hastings Street and St Aubyn Street. It had 23 artesian spring wells, some of the purest water in NZ.

During my holidays from school I helped my father with odd jobs in the brewery. Many times I was up at 3am for a “cuppa” then Dad and I went off to start a brew for the day.

First job was to fill the bucket with coal (about a hundred shovelfuls) while Dad turned on valves and a pump to set the fire in the furnace going, and this took about 45 minutes to heat to the right temperature, then off to the brew house and load the vats with malt (grain).Then when the water was at the right temperature the taps would be opened to the vats and the vats filled to the top, about nine thousand gallons. This was left for two days with stirring every four hours, molasses was emptied into the brew for coloring, how much depended on a lager or stout.

Later in the process the beer was piped to the bottling shed where it was filled into ABC bottles and crowned, into wire crates and then into tanks of hot water and lowered into these for pasteurising, then labelling ready for sale.

Following the vats being emptied, the grain had to be shovelled out down a chute awaiting Mr Steiner (owned a pig farm at Meeanee) to feed to his pigs. We used to get the Ivor boys, who were the NZ champions in their weight division for boxing and this was good for their staying power and fitness (no gyms in those days).

My earliest memories:

Kindergarten with Miss Ramsay in St Aubyn Street West with about twelve pupils. In a garage as I recall from 10am to about 2pm. Must have started about four or five years of age. It was fun. Very strict.

I had the biggest hiding of my life from my father, I do not recall for what, but I hid under Mum and Dad’s bed amongst my mother’s hat boxes but my father found me and really gave me a whipping that stayed with me for a very long time. I can remember my mother telling Dad to stop, stop, that is enough but he continued. I howled for days and threatened to run away from home.

We were often told that we were to be seen and not butt-in.(talking)

One of my pastimes was to throw a tennis ball against the house outside the kitchen allowing it to bounce once and then twice and catching it. I was told I did it for days, weeks at a time. It must have been the start of my enjoyment that I got for playing sport.

I lived in a lovely setting in Victoria Street, a corner section with Hastings Street (now the Heretaunga Club)

We had a tennis court, swimming pool and a sunken garden that often flooded and overflowed into the next door neighbour’s, a Mr Price who was also a fireman, disliked by many including the fire Chief Harlen who often sent him to empty it with the fire station equipment.

1939 – 1945

My first year at Hereworth. The youngest in the school, I was just seven. It was the start of many years of boarding at school and a learning experience that in the early years was a little frightening. In the first two years if you got more than five minus marks for being naughty you did an hour’s detention on Friday afternoon – gardening, firewood for the headmaster (Mr JDH Buchanan) and later if very naughty the cane after morning assembly.

The day started with rising at 6.30 exercises in front of the school buildings for twenty minutes, a run to the front gates, followed by a cold shower, make your bed inspected by your prefect and then breakfast, assembly at 8.30 and classes at 9am. Four classes in the morning, two in the afternoon. In my first two years we had a lie-down in the afternoons of about an hour.

Between classes in the morning a bottle of milk with thick cream (yuk) on the top. (compulsory).

Fire drill at nights without being told, Havelock fire engine would come, we would go down fire escapes and report in our squads for roll call. It was fun.

Another was when my father Dudley and Pat Barker who both had planes (Dudley a Gypsy Moth and Pat with a Tiger Moth) would fly over  and drop flour bags as if they were bombs. We would all scatter to our trenches that we had dug out and lie flat in. A siren would sound for the commencement and at the end. Remember this was during the second world war (1940-45) so we had to be prepared.

Everybody had a ration card for our food so we were on short but healthy meals.

In our spare time we made nets for the army to camouflage guns.

Sport consisted of cricket at the start of the year followed by hockey then rugby in the second term (soccer for 1st years) and then start of the third term hockey followed by cricket.

Swimming sports in the first term and athletics in the third term.

With rugby on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. A barley sugar after our games.

Friday’s assembly was when the headmaster (Buchanan) read out those that had been naughty during the week and had earned a detention, (too many minus marks) meant that you did jobs around the school for an hour and those with too many minus marks then reported to the Headmaster’s study to be caned on the backside, usually three strikes.

Sundays we went to St Luke’s church in  Havelock North, we walked and in those days as I remember it was a gravel footpath as was the road.

Hereworth was a wonderful friendly school with understanding masters (Norman Elder, Syd Grant, Preston Thomas, ? Collins and Miss Buchanan, ? Dixon and Fred Spinney for music).

I took a shine to all sports especially cricket making the 1st XI for three years, captain in my last year. Hockey I enjoyed, played centre half, swimming I learnt all the strokes and remember the barrel races in a half barrel racing down the pool – you sat in the barrel and paddled with your hands, often falling out.  Rugby I enjoyed.

I remember playing cricket in Colts club against our mothers. I was the promising player in the school and my mother bowled me first ball. She never let me forget it.

At an early stage when Moira and Dudley went to England I stayed with the Harrises at Hangaroa near Gisborne and went to school at Waerenga-A-Hika and Hangaroa for a month or two before Hereworth.

Time to move on.


Then it was off to Christ’s College in Christchurch and into School House.

I was following in my father’s footsteps as he was at Christ’s and the same house from 1917-1920

Boarded a train at Hastings railway station with mother and father heading for Christ’s College via Wellington, then on the ferry to Lyttelton, train to Christchurch. So it was a twenty-four hour trip. My sizes for clothes had been sent to Ballantyne’s Clothing Shop, so after two days I was set up to start my secondary schooling, was introduced to the Headmaster (Tec Richards and the Housemaster Pat Williams and Matron). Shown around School House, common room and dormitory.

Mum and Dad left their little boy and headed home the same way as they had come.

Although I had spent seven years at Hereworth as a boarder I was still homesick at being on my own for the next few days.

On our train that had left Gisborne at 1 am with a number of boys ex-Hereworth leaving Hastings about 8.30 arriving in Wellington around 4.30. Some of the names on our trip were Duncan Buchanan, Robert Fish, Duncan Hamilton, Neil McHardy, Tony Moore, Ashton St Hill-Warren, Digby Hylton Smith, John Tiffen, William and Richard Harris, David Reeves from Gisborne. It was some trip with stops at Waipukurau, Woodville, Palmerston North for a “cuppa” and a pie and then Levin, and finally Wellington.  No heating in the carriages and they rattled.

On arrival in Wellington I often went up to Uncle Jim and Aunty Delia MacParlane for a light meal before heading for the inter-island ferry to Lyttelton then by train to Christchurch and taxis to college in time for chapel. It was twenty-four hours each way, a lot quicker than when my father (Dudley) went down by boat that took three days to Lyttelton (1917-20)

Amongst our luggage was our “tuck boxes”, extra eats that went into our lockers in the common room.

Within the first two weeks we had to learn the school haka and we got our orders on our jobs as “FAGS” and in my case cleaning the prefects’ studies (2) each morning, rising at 6 and then in the evening collecting bread and milk from the dining room, delivering back for the prefects for their late supper. I had that for two terms.

Within these two weeks we had the new boys’ concert where we had to sing two songs standing on a table with a light directly in front of us. If we stuttered while singing the prefects would tell us to start again. It was a harrowing experience. ( I sang “The White Cliffs of Dover” and “Don’t Fence Me In”).

If we stepped out of line in the house a prefect could put us on report to meet at the house library before bedtime to be caned (3 strokes). One could appeal to the housemaster but if that failed you got double.

The prefects, if they decided on wanting some “sport”, often would go up to the dormitory and ask “who has been talking” and if no one answered the whole dormitory were told to go to the library and each prefect then took turns in caning each of us (22 in our dorm.)

First year students were to clean and polish prefects’ shoes each day and army cadet uniforms with brass buttons had to be polished to a real shine before cadets for army training exercise each Friday afternoon.

Talking of cadets, we used to have barracks I think once a year where we went to Burnham Army camp for training with machine guns (Vickers and Bren), pull them apart and put them together again. We also shot on the firing range from different yardages.

I always will remember a new master that was a sergeant major who took us for long marches and he would say “quick march, pick it up, not so quick in front” in a gravelly voice.

School started in the morning with house roll call about seven after we had all had a cold shower or had plunged into a bath of cold water, then to the common room for roll call then off to the dining hall for breakfast. Some days we had exercises on the quad, like knees bend, arms outstretched and swinging from side to side, touch your toes, no bending your knees.

Often during winter months we walked out of school gates into Hagley Park.

Chapel each day at 8.30 with the first of two classes each morning. Lunch break and a further two classes in the afternoon followed by sport. Cricket or rowing in the summer or rugby or hockey in the winter. Gymnastics, boxing, swimming were part of the curriculum.

Tennis in your own time. We had a court at the back of School House. Other sports were fives and squash and athletics.

Unlike today, for time outside of the gates, one was to get a leave pass from the housemaster and only four a term, the same on Sundays to visit friends that had been approved by your parents. So with a twelve week term we had many weekends to fill in at school, although the Botanic Gardens next door were in bounds and that allowed us to catch a duck or two, kill and cook over a Bunsen burner in the chemistry lab. Not too bad as Sunday meals for those who stay at school were very minimal.

If I remember our study day was: period one maths, geography, botany, Latin – lunch – history, scripture (scripture was virtually every day).

Gym classes twice a week.

Sport in the afternoon (each day except Friday).

I enjoyed my time at College, met some great friends who are mates to this day.

Enjoyed all sports especially cricket, squash, hockey, fives and rugby. For two years 1st XI the captains were Eldon Coates 1949 (a Douglas Jardine type) and John Lester 1950. We were a very strong  team and won virtually all our matches including against Christchurch Boys’ High.was quite

One of the highlights of my time in the XI was against Boys’ High I took the last two wickets with the last two balls of the match. Our first win for ten years and again the following year. We were one of the best teams College had put together for a number of years.

A story I would like to tell is – “I was asked many times to play with one of the house masters (Tank Poole) after prep at night and often I would let him win and he would invite me for supper. He would then announce to his fellow teachers that he had beaten me and another teacher, Zane Dalzell, a good player, did not believe him as he could easily beat his fellow teacher, but hardly ever won against me. At a reunion many years later he remembered this and then asked me – how come – I explained that if he won I had supper after the game.”

Squash champion for three years in a row 1948-49-50.

Senior study – one below the prefects and these people were the real bullies in the house who would get first and second year kids and call for them to report to their study. You had to stand to attention while they yelled at you, made you put your head on top of a hockey stick and go round and round till you got so giddy you could not stand up, so they push you from one of these thugs to the other. Another was to laugh at yourself into a mirror while they screamed at you. Another was being called to a dormitory where you were told to crawl under the beds while they hit you with a pillow and often they had a slipper or something harder inside. We did have some satisfaction during the year when the Headmaster heard about this and they were all caned by him and gated (that is, not to leave the school grounds for two weeks). Mind you, they tried to find out who spilt the beans to the Headmaster.

As I went through the years I became a house prefect. We had very little trouble with the new boys. My fag was a Hawke’s Bay boy (Tom Lowry) and I knew if I was too tough on him his father would probably let my father know and he would give me “what o”. Tom reminds me that I had not paid him for his jobs that he had done.


Meeting the real world and working in Wellington.

Boarding/Customs /Levin’s/ Cricket/ Hockey/Reid & Reid/Wharf Strike

When first arriving in Wellington about ten days after leaving school as a boarder and 12 years boarding, I was having my eyes opened to the real world of working with men from all backgrounds.

My first boarding house was in Thorndon amongst fifty others, on the floor with mattress and two blankets and told that the bulk of people start work at 5am (wharfies) so you will be woken early. I stayed two nights. Then moved on with two others that I met at Levin & Co (General merchants) where I was to work for the next three years. After the two nights I moved into a boarding house in Austin Street with the two from Levin’s and one from Johnson’s merchants. A lovely landlady but her husband was not so nice. He worked on the wharf, more of that later.

I stayed in Austin Street for more than a year and had to move when the house was sold and then moved to Blakey St in Karori with two teachers and another who was a trader. Had a happy six months but found the travelling just too much with trams not always running on time.

So then it was into a flat in Hawker Street (Mt Victoria) with John Ashworth (Levin’s) and John Barnett (ICI). This guy use to put brandy on his weetbix the night before to soften them up for breakfast.

Levin & Company was an old firm in Wellington where the directors were old school mates of my father’s from Croydon School (now called Wellesley College in Days Bay, just out of Wellington) and my father had organised that for me

My day started at 6.30, collecting the mail from the central post office and taking it back to Levin’s opening and distributing to the different mangers, repeating this every hour till 10am. In between, as the office boy, my job was to put a piece of carbon paper between four sheets of invoice papers ready to go to the typists. My job was to keep a reserve of about one thousand invoices so that the typists never ran out. If one of the managers rang a bell I ran to that office to carry out his message.

Leaving at night after the last manager had left locking all papers in the strong room. Most nights if you got away by six o’clock you were doing well, but at the boarding house the evening meal was on the table, so after some discussion with the landlady (Mrs Hager), she kept my meal till I got home, although this was not what her husband wanted.

Later I had Richard Day join me in the “box” (that was our office) and his father was one of the directors of the company so he pushed me into a number of errands that I was to make. We had some arguments but I found he went home to Daddy, told him a cock and bull story which was not true so found myself being told off next morning.

Each morning after the first mail I was to clean, fill and polish ink wells, and change the blotting paper of all six or seven managers.

My father had asked the directors to move me around the company to give me a grounding in all aspects of the company, so the next move was to merchandise, taking orders from shops for groceries and liquor. This was crazy as I had no idea what half the items were so had many callbacks to go through the orders again. I made a suggestion that one should work at packing groceries first and then moving back to taking the orders and so it came with a bright suggestion and a big thank-you with a bonus in my pay that week of 2/- (about 20 cents today). My pay was 10/- a week with 5/- for board a week, buy your own lunch and your travel both ways by tram. Not much left over, I can tell you. After about three months the directors moved that anyone more than one hundred miles from work was to get an extra 5/- a week, so that was a big help.

During my time at Levin’s I moved around different departments, starting in “the box” then moved to Merchandise (taking orders from customers) then out to the store packing orders for the customers, learning what baked beans were and what size cans, toilet rolls  and whether they wanted rough or smooth etc. then into insurance and on to customs where we cleared liquor for embassies, looked for stock that had arrived from the UK, searching out the stock from the different sheds on the waterfront. This was a really good area to be walking – along the waterfront, meeting others from likewise firms, checking our fishing lines which we all had a share in. We were not that successful. I had a good relationship with Customs NZ and the examining officers who we used to meet in shed 29, which was call “P” store, where goods that were suspect were opened, tested and looked for any tampering within the cases.

Levin’s agencies were Black & White Whisky, Catto’s Whisky or Saccone Whisky was the main problem of tampering from the long boat trips from Scotland where often it was found that a powder substance would be falling out of some cases and on opening up bricks would be found inside. The crew were masters of opening these cases without cutting the wire that kept the lid on, sliding bottles out and putting  the bricks in for replacement. The weight of the case usually was the same as an ordinary case with twelve bottles in it.

An amusing story here was on examining a case with, say, five bottles damaged in the case, the guy from the shipping company would hand a bottle out to those attending. I would take my lot back to the flat or boarding house. I was doing this for about nine months so you can imagine how much stock I had. When our account got too high at the store on the corner where we got our groceries the owner was asked if liquor would suffice for payment and he always agreed. One day after work when walking back to Hawker Street, the police were at the store questioning him about selling liquor, which of course was not allowed.

Hell, I got a fright, as did my flatmates, so we nailed the floor boards down very securely in case we got a visit.

My boss (Arthur Pearce) in the Customs Dept of Levin’s was a colorful gentleman who also had a radio show one night a week called “Cottoneye Joe”. This show got me started on to jazz and stayed with me for the rest of my life. People like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Hogey Carmichael, Ella Fitzgerald, Glen Miller plus many others were real favourites.

Arthur lived at Paremata, just out of Wellington, and he had a magnificent range of records. I often wonder where they all went.

On Friday nights after the Grand Hotel (we all congregated there for the “swill”) closed at six (closing time for pubs then), about eight of us Levin’s lads would return to Levin’s knowing that the travellers of the company would be having a few “spots” in the spot room and that the front door would not be locked, so we got in and hid behind the counters until all was quiet and all had left, so we carried on where they had left. We also had one of the boss’s sons with us, so that was a help if we got caught.

The travellers woke up to this after a while and seeing the bottles emptying rather quickly, started marking the bottles. But we saw the marks and then refilled the said bottles with water. In time we got caught.

It was at this time that the 1951 wharf strike was on and we young lads after work reported to the police station to be taken on to the wharf via army vehicles to do a three to four hour shift. We were called “scabs” and were disliked by the wharfies.

Also, we would have sleepovers at our woolstores at Kaiwharawhara, on the road leading up to Khandallah, as the wharfies were known to try and burn them down. We caught two on different nights trying this.

One of the major events in my time at Levin’s was the centennial ball in the Kaiwharawhara wool barns to which all the branches (Wanganui/Hawera/New Plymouth/Blenheim) were invited. We juniors were sent out to erect wool bales around the dance floors and set up food stalls (Shaw Saville Shipping staff) and bars (Fort Dorset Army staff). What an event. Next morning one of the managers was missing but was found about eleven o’clock. He had fallen asleep between some wool bales, I think a little under the weather.

We played rugby once a year against Dalgety’s, another merchant, with both sides featuring rep players. They were certainly great days and I made lifelong friends.

Taking our gear to Blenheim via the scow, a flat-bottom boat called the“Echo”,  our lodging on these sleepovers, paid our fees, we played cards, ate fish and chips and generally had a great time.

While at Levin’s packing groceries I used to leave early to go to the Basin Reserve for cricket practice and the floor manager got a bit cheesed off about this and decided to sack me. (I had just been picked in the Wellington Plunket Shield team). So having had a year or two at the company, I went and did my “thank-yous” to the managers who asked WHY. When I got to MR Duncan the Managing Director, a fine gentleman who had been a very fine all-round sportsman representing Wellington and NZ, he would hear nothing of this. The floor manager was called for and before me while in his office asked WHY.

I was leaving work early to go to cricket practice. (Eric Tindall, the selector, had already rung one of the managers and it had been OK, I was informed). Well, along with the Rugby rep, Ted Buddicom, we were presented in front of the staff and given a present. And so I stayed.

Moving on, I was then sent to the cellar to learn how to break down spirits to the strength that was set at the time that spirits were allowed to be at that time. I really enjoyed this and it held me in good stead for my future.

A position along these lines came up at Reid & Reid, a South Island subsidiary operating behind the public library, which I took and stayed with them for about fifteen months.

My job was to break down brandy and rum that the company brought in from overseas, that was – to make it drinkable as on arrival it was over proof, over 100% (OP) alcohol. I was to bring it back to thirty-five under (UP). This was done by using distilled water and caramel to colour it.

The Hogshead that it came in carried about one hundred gallons and sometimes we had Butts that carried one hundred and sixty-five gallons. To roll these around took some doing. In those days we did not have forklifts. Pallets had just arrived and our company had just purchased a pallet lifter that lifted about six inches off the floor.

When breaking down spirits I had to wait for a customs officer to oversee the way I did things. I must have been a very reliable as the officers often told me to go ahead without them being present. Only four officers for Wellington.

Once broken down I then bottled the spirit into 700ml bottles (the largest in those days). We had one customer that wanted brandy in a stone demijohn of about three gallons and they also took sherry.

After bottling and corking then it had to be labelled. As I was appointed by HM Customs to fulfill these tasks I was the only person allowed in that area where these functions took place, so my job was full-on.

I can remember one of the biggest jobs I had was opening one hundred cases of Westminster Gin that had small bottles (64) per case with screw tops and I was asked to open them, tip the contents into a vat and then re-bottle into 700ml bottles. The fumes that came off when tipping in the vat really made you very oozie and  I had to take a break every half hour or so. I was pleased when I had finished this task.

I really enjoyed my time with Reid & Reid, a small company tied to the Dunedin company of Speight’s Brewery. Met some real friends as well as Customs people who helped me greatly when I was back in Hastings *

During this time my cricket was going from strength, playing for the Wellington Club, having the NZ captain in my first two years (Geoff Rabone) and later Lester Castle (lawyer and ombudsman).

We had a pretty talented side and being the youngest team, we were given John Reid to play for us. Perhaps we relied on him too much but as it turned out we won every game that John was not with us. He would be playing either for Wellington or NZ and during our winter in England playing in the Lancashire League.

I was the fast bowler and started in the lower grades as the club had a local lad that had been in the team for a couple of years and it was not too long that the new import from Christ’s had arrived and along with David Crowe and Robert Whyte (ex 1st XI Christ’s) were turning heads at the pace that I was bowling. Half way through the first season I was promoted to the second eleven and then the following season to the 1st XI and there I stayed till I came home to Hawke’s Bay in 1956.

I played a number of games for the Wellington team in unofficial games (Manawatu, Hutt Valley etc) and was then promoted to the Wellington Plunket Shield team and played two matches versus Auckland at Eden Park Auckland and Fiji at the Basin Reserve.

My record – Batting: 2 matches, 4 innings, 2 not outs, 7 highest score, 17 runs, average 8.50; Bowling: 67.4 overs, 12 maidens, 222 runs, 7 wickets, average 31.71

In 1954 I was awarded the Ron Murray Memorial Cup for the most wickets in Wellington club cricket (57).

In fact Trevor Malloch (Kilbirnie Club) took one more than me but the club bowled him throughout the innings, did not do too well and the powers-that-be decided as my captain played to win our match, that he only bowled me as he thought fit.

While in Wellington I wanted to keep my squash going but the only courts were the Wellington Club on the terrace and that was being used as a storeroom, so I went and saw the manager and asked if I could get some people to clean the court so we could then use the court. “Oh that will have to go before the committee”. As it so happened, amongst the committee members were Mr JDG Duncan (Levin’s) Mr Vogel (Chairman of Levin’s) who also had a court out in Lower Hutt. (More of that later).

Well, Dave Crowe and Bob Whyte and a couple of our mates got stuck in on weekends, scrubbed the walls and floor, got rid of the cobwebs and after about four weekends had it ready for play. The members thought, “By jove, this is great, we must use it more often” so I was told that if I or my friends wanted to use the courts we would have to write in to the committee and they would make was quitethe decision and let us know, each time we wanted to play. Once more it was who you know and it came to pass that all we had to do was ring the manager and he was to give us the OK. It seemed it was appreciated by the members and we seemed to have it to ourselves most weekends up to 3pm when the club closed.

I was asked by Mr JDG Duncan if I would go and play squash with Mr Vogel, the Chairman of Levin’s, at his court in Lower Hutt on Sunday at 2pm, This often happened after my first visit. I would catch the train from Wellington to Lower Hutt and walk about two miles to the Vogel mansion and meet Mr Vogel at the court that was at the bottom of the garden. After the first game he would cough and splutter. My thoughts were was he going to have a heart attack but no, he came back and after about an hour he would call it off. Back to the house and change before offering me afternoon tea while he poured himself a good spirit. I remember him often saying “I must give up the booze and cigars” but he said that every time I played. I got to know him really well and he was a great help. It was who you knew in Wellington that opened doors.

Also at that time I became a member of the Palmerston North Squash club and often hitched hiked to Palmerston North in the mornings play squash most of the day and back to Wellington in the evening. In the early days I left my gear in a locker and the following visit my gear was so stiff it virtually walked out to meet me. I met a girl at the club who offered to take my gear home to her mother who would wash it and leave it back in the locker.

I watched John Gillies, ex-England champion, play ten of the top Palmerston North men. He won all matches and had about five points scored against him. It was brilliant, and from that game I learnt how to play the “drop shot” and the “lob”. From then on that was what I practised and became fairly good at it.

In April 1955, while playing cricket near the end of the season, I heard a loud crack while throwing a cricket ball (like the sound of a bullet being fired). I had thrown my arm out of my socket. It was painful. So my father says “come home and get treatment at the Hastings hospital”. So I did.

It was hard settling down at home after having spent seven years at Hereworth, five years at Christ’s and five years in Wellington.
(16 years out 24)

I had treatment on my shoulder for five months every day along with stretching exercises and at the beginning of the cricket season I was ready to go. I joined up with Hastings Old Boys cricket club.

I started work with my father at Leopard Brewery after a month of arriving in Hastings. Washing bottles, a tedious job, the washer going round and round. You put the bottles from crates into it upside down. Very primitive based onto today’s standards.

Once the beer was brewed and stored in large wooden vats for about ten days for fermentation, it needed the froth taken off and when I knew what to do I was sent down at all hours of the night (as it was called) to “rack off”. It was a full-time job as we had to keep it going as we were selling our beer as we brewed. The only break we had was Xmas.

We would put up a keg of 45 gallons in the brew house for our customers when they came in to buy beer to be filled into their demijohns. To get the beer out a hole was bored into the bung to let some air in and then a wooden tap was inserted.

At the brewery we also made cordials and soft drinks and supplied about every grocery and fish and chip shop in Hastings and Havelock. There was one other smaller maker just starting up.

Also, there  was a wine and spirit shop on our premises, with brand of beer in 1 quart glass bottles, the brands being DB, NZ Breweries and our own Export No. 1, Hawk Ale, Pale Ale and Stout.

I remember a gentleman one Christmas morning coming around to our house in Victoria Street complaining to Dudley that he had asked for Export No. 1 Ale and he had received Hawk Ale and he did not like it.  Dudley said they were out of stock and that was all we had. But he would take his crate back and see if he could find a crate of Export. We soaked the labels off (Hawk Ale) and replaced with Export, dried the bottles and delivered the said crate back to him. He was over the moon and thanked Dad very much.  It showed how people buy product by the label.

It was a big day when we bottled beer as it was hands on all round setting up the filling machine, the capping and labelling and the pasteurising tanks getting the water to a certain temperature. Many stoppages happened each day with machine failure or broken bottles jamming the filling machine, but once all this happened and the bottles were placed in boxes (crates) of 24 bottles to the box, put into a metal holder that held eight boxes and a hoist moved them along a line and placed into the tanks for half an hour. When lifted out they were left to dry before labelling. That was the finished product.

Each brew probably produced about 100 dozen bottles and the balance went into barrels.

The floors of the brew house and bottling shed, both beer and cordials, were sloshed in water or hosed down often to get the clean the sticky stuff off the floor so gumboots were worn most of the time.

Way back in the 1920s Grandfather Edward wore boots – no gumboots then – and it was said this had led to the amputation of part of one leg where gangrene had set in.

My father had a great team working with him where all the staff stayed for many years. Jack Walsh 37 years, his son Basil 22 years, Jo Bell 32 years, Harry Butler 30 years, the Appleby brothers 30+ years, Townsend Brothers 30+ years, Jack Fendall in the office 25 years.

Lunch time was one hour so out came the tennis ball and the crates for stumps and cricket was played. I often enjoyed this when I came home from Wellington and the game really was great fun as everyone wanted to smash my bowling out of the yard and all wanted to get me out. The lunch room was papered with cricket news from the Wellington Evening Post cricket results .

Then one Sunday afternoon Dad and I were preparing for another brew when a gentleman came in to the brewery looking lost in the middle of the yard, just wandering around and on being approached asked if the brewery was up for sale. “No” was the reply.

This foreign-spoken man said he was representing Heineken (Dutch) Brewery and left his contact details.

After many discussions with our accountants Brown, Webb, and others it was decided to press ahead with a possible sale. A price was set along with other arrangements and that the Wine and Spirits department was not for sale.

Lion Breweries heard about the sale and the top men came to Hastings to negotiate, as did Dominion Breweries but their offerings were well short of what we had decided. Then, as the main shareholders of The Canterbury Malting Company said, if we sold to an international company that they would not allow malt or barley to be sent. Heineken then said they would import their own, or bring it in with their own ships. So the sale went through about with the exception of the Wine and Spirits.


Liquor licences were few. In Hastings besides ours was Luttrel’s, later HB Farmers, De Pelichet and McLeod. And we had to sell a minimum of twelve bottle equivalent of two gallons but at a cheaper rate than the hotels where one could buy a single bottle at a dearer rate.

In our case, when a customer bought we had to write all orders into a fixed-page book with name, initials address and what they bought. This was inspected by the police each month. They were looking for persons to see if they were buying too much and if so were they on-selling it or for own use.

When I came home from Wellington I changed the system to writing an order out into a three copy with carbon paper and the third copy acted as the police copy. This did not satisfy the local constabulary and he would not accept it so in the presence of the constable I rang my friend who handled this particular issue in Wellington and asked him to speak with the constable. After some time a very red-faced man then told me never to go over his head again.

I was right but he gave me a hard time after that, once taking me to court claiming that a dozen of beer did not have the full quantity in it. The magistrate, knowing of this gentleman’s reputation around Hastings, told him to pull himself together and stop wasting everybody’s time. Case dismissed. He retired within six months.

I started with a bottle store at the rear of our office at the brewery.  I was the first person to open a bottle store on a Saturday, open  9-12 and 2-5.

After about a month someone rang my father at lunchtime and wanted to know why so many vehicles were lined up outside the brewery gates. Well, word had spread and I was on my way. Business really moved on from there. Others followed a few months later. The matter was brought up at National Wine and Spirit level. A letter was sent to desist but I ignored it. The powers-that-be came to Hastings via the train to lecture me but being stubborn and after all it was my business, I was not going to bend for the big men in the industry who virtually ran the liquor industry in NZ.

I found out in later years when I was on the council that the power was with DB,  NZ Breweries, NZ Wine &Spirits (an off-shoot of NZ Breweries) and fortunately they did not have the numbers to vote against the smaller independents as more of us were voted on to Council. They were not happy.

The new bottle store for our wine and spirits was built in 1958 on the corner of Ellison Road and Miller Street and had a drive-thru. One was only allowed to move a bottle store within a quarter of a mile in those days. It was designed by Neville Norwell of Davies, Phillips and Chapman architects of Hastings. We were in those premises for about eighteen years and then moved to the corner of Miller Street and St Aubyn Street, a building once more designed by Neville Norwell and moved in 1977.

Many things happened during this time, the major one being the Black Budget of the Minister of Finance Mr Nordmeyer, a teetotaller who raised taxes on liquor in a big way. Imports were affected as well and restrictions were placed on the supply of spirits to customers. This became a tricky business where I had to determine who could get what and how many bottles each month. No-one got more than six bottles (that was spirits).

Import licences seemed to be restricted in Hawke’s Bay so, as I had contacts in the Customs Dept in Wellington, I went over the head of the local man whose name was  ???? His brother was also the manager of the Bank of New South Wales (our bank, now Westpac) and after my application went into Wellington I was granted a substantial import licence for spirits, wine and fortified wines.

was quiteI was called to Napier one afternoon to see the Collector and knowing what it was all about I took my lawyer, Peter Gifford, with me, and pleased I did as threats were made to me of going over his head to Head Office. I found out later that Head Office gave him a bit of rev up. From then on he gave me a hard time until later after several months I felt I was being unfairly treated and Peter Gifford then sent a letter to him and a copy to HO. He settled down after that but I still felt he had in for me but then out of the “blue” he was sent to Auckland for retirement.

was quiteI ran this business with Don Brian, an accountant, as I had no knowledge at all of accountancy and l wished later I had (sorry I did not taken this up at school). Easy to look back.

About ten years later the business was sold to a Auckland company, Hughes and Cossar. (the worst decision I made in my life). Why I agreed to it still baffles me. Hindsight is a good thing.


It was during this time that I married Louise Walker from Longlands (Hastings) in 1962. We were married in the chapel at Iona College (Louise’s old school) with the reception at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers Tearooms.

Our honeymoon was to the Coromandel and Taupo. On our way home we got a broken windscreen in our VW Beetle. It was cold and wet so we were all rugged up with balaclavas on and we looked like a couple of thugs. About that time a prisoner had escaped and was in the area of Rangitaiki. We could have been stopped as we did look out of place. At that time the police were looking for an escapee who had made a name for himself called Wilding.

We lived on Havelock  Road just outside the village boundary for a few months and later into the house next to our bottle store in Miller Street where we spent a few years before moving into our old family home in Kaponga Road, a big rambling old home, comfortable, very large with out-buildings and drainage problems. I remember that the Havelock Council made us join the local sewer system instead of the septic tank we had. A drain had to be dug from the back door to the road at the bottom of a very long driveway. It cost a mint that we could hardly afford.

About this time my mother (Moira) was not that well and a house was built on the lower tennis court in front of us. During this time Sam (1964) and Edward (1965) were born and with the large area they had room to play.

Later, having bought a section on the hills of Havelock at the top of Durham Drive, a section of ten acres with great views of the whole of Hawke’s Bay, we built and moved in 1968. The house built by Peter Bridgeman. It had a swimming pool, a safeguard also for water in case of fire. A happy time was spent here with very little frost and often above the clouds when all else was covered in fog. It took nearly four hours to mow the lawns, no ride-ons in those days.

We relied on rain water so were very careful on its use for showers and washing. When short we sometimes filled the tanks from the brewery that provided artesian water. We had two five-thousand gallon water tanks which we pumped back up to the house.

Mary was born in 1968.

About this time I joined the Havelock North Rotary Club and stayed for thirty-seven years. In the early days we helped with ventures within the community, like cutting wood for the elderly, helping build the Havelock North High School swimming pool, picking kiwifruit, and I picked up intellectually handicap children every Wednesday and drove them to their school in Hastings.

I was also a member and Vice-President (one year ) of the Havelock North Men’s Club where many hours were spent playing snooker, bash and hope the balls went in the holes. I was not very good.

After some twenty-five years we moved closer to the village to Gillean Street, a short walk to the village. The house was being built at the time  Two-storeyed, three and a half bedrooms, two showers, three lavatories. A small garden originally with a spa bath but after the children left home we converted it into a plunge pool.

Our children – Samuel James following Havelock North Primary, Hereworth, Christ’s, Havelock North High School (his last year) and then Massey University.

Edward Dudley following Havelock North Primary, Hereworth, Christ’s, Havelock North High School (his last year), Victoria University

Mary Louise to Havelock North Primary, Woodford House, Training College in Palmerston North, moving on to teaching worldwide.

We are still at Gillean Street 2017.


My first memories of cricket was at Hereworth with a Mr Preston-Thomas who showed me the straight drive, the dead bat and the defensive shot. Then it was how to catch and finally to bowl. I thought this game was great and was the start of a lifelong sport that I followed all my life. From those informative years I progressed through  the stages of going up the grades, finishing with three years in the 1st XI, the last as captain.

I remember the time when we were playing our mothers and I strode out to bat and my mother bowled me first ball with a grubber (along the ground all the way). What a let-down.

On to Christ’s where I started in the under 14s grade and then progressed rather quickly up the grades, skipping two of them. I had turned into a useful slip and gully fielder, a fast bowler and a useful batsman, making the 1st XI as 12th man for the main school matches and in year (1947) and for the next two years a regular member of the side.

I was classed by the media as a very fast bowler for a schoolboy.

My most notable achievements were that we beat Christchurch Boys’ High in 1949 and 1950. In ‘49 I was bowling the last over as the clock was striking 6 o’clock and on the fifth ball the 9th batsmen was caught and with one ball to go and silence around the ground and a false start on my part and bowling off a twenty-four pace run, I took the middle stump out of the ground. Our first win in ten years.

Back at College and as we trooped into the dining room the whole school stood and gave us all a standing ovation. Something along the lines of schoolboy stories we used to read about.

The following year, with practically the same side, we gave them a real thrashing.

(Now about Wellington Wanderers and playing for Okawa.)

My first visit was by invitation from the late Tom Lowry, owner of Okawa, with a coconut matting laid over concrete on a lovely setting surrounded by huge poplars.

When driving out to the ground with my skipper, Gavin Newman (Old Boys Cricket Club), I remember him saying “when Mr Lowry asks you where you field, just say wherever you put me or where do you bat, just wherever”.

Well, that first game he put me at second slip and in the first over I took a screamer of a catch and I remember him saying “always been looking for a good slip fieldsman”. At the end of the over Newman said to Tom “put him in the covers, he will save many runs in that position” (that was my preferred position). Well, at the lunch break Tom gave me a real dressing-down saying “why did you not tell me?”.

From then on I learnt much from the game and also the way the game should be played, hard but fair, no questions asked. Many enjoyable days spent with Mr Tom Lowry (Snr) and others: Snow North, John Gordon, Reg Bettington (brother-in-law to Tom, 12th man for Australia, spin bowler especially on a matting wicket), Steve Lunn, Jim Lowry (brother, Oxford Blue for tennis), Doggie White and others.

I was fortunate to have this opportunity and also went on tours around the North Island against some fine ex-NZ players.

Later still after Tom died and the old brigade of that era had retired I managed to keep some of my old cricketing mates together and we started playing the schools such as Karamu, Hastings Boys’ High, Lindisfarne, Hereworth, and at the same time have a coaching session with the boys along with their coaches.

We managed to play other out-of-town teams, Wellington Wanderers, The Valley of Peace, Christchurch, The Diplomats, Wellington, amongst others.

Players were Paul Jones, great prankster, Peter MacLean, stories for hours, and very knowledgeable on all sports, especially cricket, Mike Patton, Lloyd Singleton, Don Brian, John Henderson, Lee Totty, Roger Spencer to name a few.

Wellington Wanderers

While working in Wellington I played cricket for the Wellington club where my great friend Trevor McMahon, whom I had met in my first year in 1951, a wicketkeeper who played for NZ on the tour to India in 1953 put my name forward for membership to the Wanderers. It was such a prestigious club that it was a privilege to be asked, let alone to be admitted, however in due time I received a letter asking that I present myself to the President, Mr Chateau, and some of the committee, to put me through the wringer and see if I was a suitable candidate. I must have been because the following week I was picked to play against St Patrick’s College in Silverstream, presented with my cap and welcomed.

After that virtually every Sunday I was picked to play against many of the secondary schools in the region as well as the yearly trip against Foxton, Wanganui Collegiate and Shannon, How I got off work I do not know.

We had some really fine cricketers: Rue Morgan 12th man for NZ at the age of 19, I can still see him playing off the cover drive, the best I have seen along with Walter Hammond (England), Ash Ashenden swing bowler both ways who taught me so much on how to bowl out swingers and ducking the ball back.

I joined the Wellington club side under the captains of Geoff Rabone, a NZ captain, a hard taskmaster and in my first two years I played for the 2nd XI then after some very good performances I was selected for the top team. I can remember not sleeping for nights before my first game at the Basin Reserve and it was against Wellington College Old Boys and in my fifth over of the day I had a “hat trick”, that is three wickets with three balls. That was a great achievement and was well written-up in the papers in Monday’s Dominion Post.

Later I was picked to play Plunket Shield versus Auckland at Auckland, versus Fiji at the Basin and many other games against Hutt Valley, Manawatu etc. Wonderful,  wonderful days with a great number of friends whose company I shared attending Test matches.

..Wanderers in later years bought some land near Waikanae and laid a ground out with a pavilion so that they could reciprocate and invite the schools and others to this venue.

Wonderful days were spent during my time in Wellington and the many friends I made for my lifetime.

I left Wellington in 1954 for Hastings. Here I am back living with my parents, after seven years as a boarder at Hereworth School in Havelock North then five years at Christ’s College, Christchurch, in School House, followed by five years in Wellington, so it was hard to fit in to family life. Not knowing many friends at the time in Hawke’s Bay, it was a difficult time.

Coming home it was to start working with my father in the brewery, and at that time I had ruptured the tendon in my right arm playing cricket in Wellington so I was at the Hastings Hospital having physiotherapy each day and this was for eight weeks.

As my arm progressed and summer was approaching, cricket was in my thoughts and what club should I play for.  I was approached by Don Brian, later to become the accountant in the bottle store, to play for Old Boys Hastings.

My first visit to the nets at Cornwall Park I arrived in my “whites” and got looks from many. “Is this our new coach?”. In Wellington it was compulsory to wear “whites”, from then on it was shorts and any kind of shirt.

Over the years we won the inter-club championship on many occasions and during my time as captain we won three years in a row. I also played for Hawke’s Bay and captained the side a few times. Served on the committee and was club captain and made a life member in 1972.


I wrote earlier about squash in the early days in Wellington and at Christ’s, and now in Hawke’s Bay a few diehards who had played in days gone by got together and looked for a site in Napier.

I attended that first meeting in the company of Don Mochan, New Zealand champion, working in Napier but playing out of the Palmerston North courts.

Along with Don was Ken Elliot, ex All Black, John Tonkin, Michael Rout, (school teacher Napier BHS) and the Mayor Mr Spriggs who played during the war years 1939-45, and others.

The Mayor along with Don, John and Ken had some plans drawn up for two courts inside the old reservoir in Cameron Road. It was decided at the meeting that if those present agreed we would raise funds a quickly as possible. As it turned out two phone calls were made before the end of the meeting and cheques were in the mail to the tune of five thousand pounds so the mayor rang a builder and asked when he could start. The answer was NOW.

Seven weeks later we were playing squash. It was unbelievable how everything just fell into place and more money was forthcoming, I never saw anything move so smoothly in my lifetime. None of this red tape we have today.

We had a downstairs “Grotto” where we had the bar and this place got a name all over the country from visiting players for the hospitality that we turned on.

One of our highlights was the New Zealand Championships, an event that the head of NZ Squash thought we were incapable of running. It turned into a howling success even with the visiting English Team.

Others that I played were Hasim Kahn, one of the best world players, Rosham Khan and many top Australian representatives.

I served from day one on the committee thru to President as well as the club champion on a few occasions. I was awarded Life Membership. Many great stories.

I left Napier to start finding premises in the Hastings/Havelock area, eventually building two courts in Havelock North.

About twelve players from Napier got behind the building with Craig Morgan and Sons our builder, Graham Wall took on the plumbing, Pat Hinton plastering the walls.

Members dug the drains for sewer and power, painting – I can remember Gordon Kelt and Graeme Lowe hanging on to rails, painting with one hand for dear life.

To raise money, once more our farming friends spread the word around their farming friends for a cattle beast donation and other ways that only those with the knowledge of farming know about. Ian Featherston, (Manager of Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s Co-Op), Athol Hutton, Rod Fraser, Ian Kelt raised many funds within their field that they knew so much about.

The likes of Margaret Wall, Isobel McLean, Sue Pinfold, Carrie Barron were tremendous in supply of “smokos” and the furnishings, along with kitchen design.

One of our big tournaments was the “WATTIES”, a very successful event for the club with players coming from around the North Island.

A big feature that the participants looked forward to was the night of the “Hangi”, held at Mick and Dawn Small’s house over the back of the peak.

Two courts were built originally and now have four. Sir James Wattie was our Patron, I was the first President and the first Club Champion, and later presented with Life Membership.

Finally, summing up and bringing you all up to date in 2017 from when I started this history of the Newbigin family in 2006, then started the job of digitising it in 2013 at the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank in Omahu Road, Hastings.

I feel I have had a privileged upbringing with my education and workplace on leaving college to go to.

I excelled well with my sports but not so good in the classroom.

The highlights of my life to date (2017) are:

Marrying Louise Walker, the birth of  Samuel James (1964),  Edward Dudley (1965) and  Mary Louise (1968), that was the greatest thrill. Then seeing them grow up and pass all their exams at university then moving into their successful working life.

Nordmeyer’s “Black Budget” a dark day in NZ in those days with increases in taxes.

Missed compulsory military training called (CMT) where men from the age of eighteen were called up to serve into military service. I was examined, as were others, but I was rejected because of web feet, Army (no good for marching), Air Force (bad eye sight), but the next night same doctors, I was in a group of cricketers and passed A1.

Selling my Wine and Spirit business to Hughes and Cossar, (Auckland), the worst decision I think I ever made.

Well, Louise and I are here 4 Gillean Street, Havelock North, Phone number 8777640 – Fax number 8777638.

My hobbies: Watching test cricket, Club cricket at Cornwall Park Hastings, I played around with a Marklin Train set (we bought it for Edward in 1970). Milo may take it up, I have left notes for him. Fly fishing, now looking for another. Now 85 up another year in October.

At the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank virtually every day, typing with two fingers this HISTORY of the NEWBIGIN FAMILY.

Something I regret and that is not finding more information from my parents, uncles, about days gone by and family history.

Keep the family tree going.


(often known as EJD)

“It may be – oh! triumphant and transporting thought – that the great grand-children of the present race may think kindly of the was quitescribbler of bygone days.”

Original digital file


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Compiled by Jim Newbigin 2017

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