A Grand Old Man
THE LATE MR. WILLIAM NELSON, HAWKE’S BAY PIONEER.
ALL Hawke’s Bay is touched by the loss of Mr. William Nelson, who passed away at his home near Hastings last week at the ripe old age of nearly 90 years. Up to within 48 hours of his death, he took the liveliest interest in public affairs, particularly those of the province which he had done so much to bring to its present ﬂourishing condition. It is for his enterprise in the freezing industry, with which he was connected from its inception, that the late Mr. Nelson will be best remembered. As early as 1880 he established boiling down works at Tomoana, and a couple of years later converted them into freezing works. He was largely responsible for the Tyser Line (now Commonwealth and Dominion) extending its operations to New Zealand.
In the sphere of business he was as one of his friends put it, “a Napoleon of a man, to whom difﬁculties had been stimulating rather than discouraging.” He had wide interests, having also established a ﬂax mill, and later was interested in J. J. Niven and Co. Much land passed through his hands. Fifty years ago he founded the Heretaunga School (now Hereworth). The Hawke’s Bay A. and P. Association virtually owes its new grounds adjoining the Tomoana property to Mr. Nelson’s generosity.
In local body work, Mr. Nelson was particularly efficient in river board matters.
Mr. Nelson was born in Warwick, was well educated, and came to New Zealand as a youth of 20 in 1863.
After tramping the country, and serving in the militia, he took up sheep-farming, and established himself at self at Waipukurau. One of his earliest friends was Archdeacon Samuel Williams. Hawke’s Bay went through a very heavy earthquake in the ’sixties, so heavy that a weighty safe in the Archdeacon’s house was thrown across the room. This so impressed Mr. Nelson that he always covered himself against earthquake risk, and persuaded many of his friends to do likewise, with the result that he received some heartfelt thanks after the 1931 disaster.
Mr. Nelson married a daughter of the late Mr. Henry Bicknell, of North Wales. Their family originally consisted of ﬁve daughters and six sons.
Photo caption – The late Mr. William Nelson. – Elizabeth Greenwood photo.