Newspaper Article 1932 – Hawke’s Bay Pioneer’s Birthday




To-day Mr William Nelson, of “Waikoko,” Tomoana, one of Hawke’s Bay’s most prominent settlers, and one of the last few remaining links between the early past and the present day history of the province, will celebrate his eighty-ninth birthday. Mr Nelson has already been congratulated by various public bodies upon attaining such an age, and eulogistic references have been made by many speakers at the meetings of these bodies as to Mr Nelson’s long career, to the services he has rendered to the province – if it might not be better to say the Dominion – and those personal qualities which quite apart from the part he has played in the development of the province, would have marked him out for the respect, esteem and regard of his fellowmen.

Truly it has often been said that every great achievement in the annals of war or peace, every step of progress the world has made is due in the initial instance at all events to the outstanding qualities of a few people This is more particularly noticeable in young countries such as New Zealand is, where the spirit of adventure enters into the composition of practically all the early settlers, and when to this spirit is added the qualities of courage, of determination, and of foresight, great things can be, and are accomplished. It does not follow that all of the early settlers of this Dominion in whom the spirit of adventure was strong, were all equally gifted with those other qualities which single the few out from the many. But New Zealand has every reason to be proud of its early pioneers. There is perhaps no other part of the globe especially so far away from the world’s market centre, in which so much has been achieved in such a comparatively short period of time. To have peopled the Dominion with hard working settlers, to have brought the bulk of it into ordinary cultivation would have been, without anything else, a task of great magnitude, and without the presence of these few outstanding figures who are not satisfied with ordinary success, little more than this result might have been obtained up to the present time. But from the outset there were men of vision, men of strong individuality, of great public spirit, who dared and did great things, and laid the foundations of a progress and a prosperity which has made the small islands of Great Britain, from which most of the pioneer settlers were drawn, an example, and a lesson to other parts of the world.

Hawke’s Bay had its full share of such men. It has paid them due honour for what they have achieved, for most of them, alas, have passed away. But there is one amongst them who has not yet passed away, and whom, it is to be hoped, will still remain with us for many years, as an example and an inspiration for the doing of big things, for the carrying out of great enterprises.  This man is Mr William Nelson, whose 89th birthday, as we have stated, is to-day. It is not the purpose of this article to make comparison of the achievements of any of Hawke’s Bay’s noble and worthy bank of pioneers except to say, that there are none whose name we would place before that of Mr William Nelson, in their influence upon the progress and the prosperity of the province.

Birth and Early days.

Mr Nelson was born in Warwickshire, England, and prior to coming to New Zealand, had been engaged in big cement works, and afterwards in a gelatine factory (for Nelson’s gelatine was at that time a household word in Great Britain), and in these he got some insight into the best method of directing the energies of both men and machines, and also in the practical application of science. However it was his natural talent for organisation, combined with unusual qualities of foresight, of unconquerable courage, and indomitable will to achieve, which marked out Mr William Nelson, as possessing in a high degree those qualities which go to make not only a leader of men, but the ideal pioneer of industry. Mr Nelson had the breadth of vision to see the hidden possibilities in projects overlooked by others, and to envisage big things in them. And he had the confidence, the courage, and the energy to carry out his ideas, and to take big risks, if need be. His is a nature, which having once steeped on the path he deemed right or advisable, never swerved or turned back. In Mr Nelson’s dictionary he saw no such word as “fail”. If it had ever been printed there, it must have been altered to “faith”, for he had great faith himself, in the ultimate triumph of courage and determination over all obstacles, and perhaps an even greater faith in the triumph of right-thinking, of truth and justice.

Arriving in New Zealand in 1862, just seventy years ago, Mr Nelson early showed the spirit and the mettle of which he was made. In conjunction with his brother, the late Mr Frederick Nelson, he took up land at Kereru, then right in what one would call the “wilds” of the province. Here the young settlers set themselves to transform the wilderness into good pastoral country. Vigorous in body as he was in mind, the young Mr William Nelson endured all the hardships common to the lot of the early pioneer of those days. Whatever his hand found to do, he did, and did with characteristic energy. His methods too, were always progressive, and it was not long before a very great deal of improvement was shown on the farm he had taken up. And his experience gave him faith that in the highest possible development of New Zealand’s pastoral resources lay the future of the colony – as it was then. From then on his career may be said to be one of constant effort to carry out that faith, and hasten the bright future which he already saw on the horizon. Mr Nelson was afterwards interested in many farming ventures at Arlington, Waipukurau, Whenahou [Whenuahou] (mostly bush land near Takapau); Titoki, near Waipawa; Tuki Tuki, near Havelock North; Omatua, near Rissington, and at Pakowhai, and Mangateretere, near Hastings. At each of these places farming methods of the most progressive character, suitable to the location, the soil, cost of improvements, and purposes for which it was suited, were employed to bring the land into the most profitable use. Now practically all of these places have passed into other hands, that are reaping benefit from his pioneering enterprise and hard working and hard thinking. But that is as he wished it to be. And to-day there is no man who more sincerely delights in the success of the farmers who have taken over properties which he formerly held than Mr Nelson.

There are some other ventures of Mr Nelson’s early days which are worthy of mention as showing the variety of mind, as well as the progressive spirit of the man. In his early twenties he started the first flax mill in Hawke’s Bay, at Mangateretere. Later on he had sawmilling interests at Takapau, and Kopua. He was never chary about giving support to any project which seemed likely to assist in the prosperity of the province, or the contentment of the people.

The Meat Freezing Industry.

It is in connection with the meat freezing industry that Mr William Nelson’s name will be most intimately associated, and which will give him an enduring place amongst the industrial pioneers, not only of Hawke’s Bay, but of the Dominion. Just what New Zealand owes to this industry can never be really estimated, but it is to the foresight, the courage, and the determination of the pioneers in the industry that the final success of the industry is almost entirely due. In 1875 Mr Nelson visited England for the purpose of making experiments in connection with methods of meat preserving, and finally perfected a process which, on his return to New Zealand, he instituted in the works which he commenced in 1881 at Tomoana, and which were a great advance on the works of the kind then existing. This was just over 51 years ago, when, as old settlers well know New Zealand was passing through the worst slump in the Dominion’s history, not even excepting the depression at the present time. Mr Nelson, in conjunction with the late Mr J. N. Williams, of Frimley, started the erection of the boiling down and meat-preserving works at Tomoana. This helped materially to alleviate the distress from which the farmers were suffering, for wool was down to a very low price, mutton was selling at 6d per leg, and in the back-blocks stations large numbers of sheep were being killed for the pelts alone, as it did not pay to send them to the market. The straits in which the farmers found themselves at this time may be gleaned from the fact that in 1881 when the new meat preserving works were started the number of sheep in the Dominion has increased to 12,855,085, or an average of 27 sheep per head of population, and with no outside market. To-day, with a vast export trade the average is about twenty per head of population. The new method of meat preserving, however, which had been introduced by Mr Nelson himself after his experiments made here and in the Old Country a few years before, though it undoubtedly helped the farmers, gave no great promise of immediate reward, or of providing for any very great productive development in the future.

Two or three years later, however, came the dawn of a new era for New Zealand sheep farmers, when a Dunedin shipment of frozen mutton was landed in London in a satisfactory condition. Mr Nelson was not slow to recognise the vast possibilities of such an industry, and at once set about the establishment of refrigerating works at Tomoana, and later Gisborne, Waipukurau and Woodville, while he also assisted in the establishment of freezing works at Ocean Beach (Marlborough), Bluff, and in Canterbury.

Determination to Achieve.

No more striking example of Mr Nelson’s confidence, courage, and determination to achieve, could be given than in connection with his establishment of the first Hawke’s Bay freezing works at Tomoana in 1883. Works in connection with this industry has already been build by the New Zealand Refrigeration Co., at Burnside, near Dunedin, when Mr Nelson, in conjunction with his late brother Mr George Nelson, and a few others, formed a company under the name of Nelson Bros. Ltd., to extend the works already at Tomoana, for the purposes of commencing the business of refrigeration, the initial capital being £100,000. This was certainly a large amount in those days to invest in an industry which was then only in its earliest infantile stages, and which depended for success upon a system of meat transport which was only in its experimental stage, and the complete efficiency of which to the great majority of people, had by no means been proved. But Mr Nelson never doubted its ultimate complete success. He visioned a future of prosperity to the province from this new industry and he set himself the task of making that vision a reality. He built a very well equipped freezing works at Tomoana with small model cottages for the married workmen, fine huts, and a spacious dining room for the bachelors, a library and reading room, etc., in fact he established a small model village for an industry, which, under less able, far-sighted and energetic control, would probably have been a failure. For Mr Nelson had many, and very great obstacles to contend with and overcome. Though guarantees as to supplies of sheep had to be given the company had in most cases to purchase the sheep which were frozen, and run the risk of the varying markets, of failures in freezing or thawing-out, of break downs in the freezing machinery on board the vessels, of arranging for a regular and adequate export tonnage. In the light of modern commerce these things may appear trifling. They were not trifling in those far off days, and none but a stout heart would have surmounted all the obstacles met with. But the time came when the success of meat-freezing was recognised and acknowledged. It had not only come to stay, it is no mere figure of speech to say that it had come to bless. For from that initial beginning, from that hard won struggle, began a new era of prosperity, which has enriched the people of this fertile province of Hawke’s Bay, as it has enriched other parts of the Dominion, a thousandfold.

In the equipment of the first freezing works, the ingenuity of Mr Nelson was manifested. The meat-freezing machinery used was of the Hall, and afterwards the Haslam type, which up to the time had been proved the most successful, but the furnaces for heating were built largely to Mr Nelson’s own design, for the purposes of using firewood, instead of coal, as fuel. These furnaces were fed with logs of matai, or other wood, carried on small trucks which ran alongside the furnaces, and the writer has often watched, and even assisted in feeding the furnaces, and has a vivid recollection of an atmosphere which was certainly not a freezing one when the doors of the furnaces were opened. Subsequently Linde British freezing machinery replaced the Haslam type of machines.

The First Shipment.

The original capacity of the works was 400 sheep per day, but with characteristic foresight, Mr Nelson had arranged matters so that the daily killing capacity could be increased to 800 per day. The idea, however, that daily killing of carcases of even 400 per day, could be maintained was openly ridiculed by many people, but nevertheless in the first season, Nelson Bros. Ltd., shipped 40,000 carcases. The first shipment from the Tomoana works was made in 1884, on the sailing ship “Turakina” (New Zealand Shipping Co), which loaded at Napier, 9008 carcases of mutton, average 75½ lbs. each. Other shipments followed in quick succession, and the great development of this important industry proceeded apace.

To-day the export of frozen meat and by-products runs annually to over £10,000,000, to which has to be added the value of the exports of dairy produce, etc., all arising out of the development of the freezing process in connection with the transport of food stuffs. It is impossible to convey even a faint idea of all that the development of the freezing industry to Hawke’s Bay and the Dominion, to express adequately the benefit that the expenditure on wages alone has conferred upon the wage-earners and the trading communities in those districts where similar industries are established. It is sufficient to say that the pages of New Zealand’s history would read very differently in every way had no such industrial development taken place, and had there been no such pioneers as Mr Nelson to take the lead in introducing, and nursing the industry through all its trials. For there were some mistakes at first, as was inevitable, but these mistakes were the lessons which, when heeded became the stepping stones of success. The establishment of branch freezing works at Waipukurau and Woodville was undertaken with a view to assisting the farmers by minimising the transport charges, but it was soon found that a multiplication of overhead charges arising from having several freezing works much more than counter-balanced any saving, and that concentration at one works effected a very much greater economy of working. That the meat freezing industry has been the means of bringing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Dominion, has brought into profitable occupation land which could not otherwise be profitabily [profitably] farmed, that wealth and population has been attracted to the province, that the railway revenue from this source has been very considerable cannot be gainsaid, and it may well be said that the title of “the father of Hawke’s Bay” which has often been bestowed upon Mr William Nelson, is in every sense of the word justified, and this “grand old man” of the New Zealand meat freezing industry well deserves to be regarded as being one of the Dominion’s greatest benefactors. There are many millions, and multi-millionaires in fact, in other parts of the world whose services to the community could not in any way be compared with those rendered by Mr Nelson and those other far-seeing and public-spirited men who pioneered the meat-freezing industry in the Dominion.

Shipping and Marketing.

Having proved the success of frozen transport, the industry, as far as Hawke’s Bay was concerned, at all events, was still hampered by lack of regular, speedy, and economical means of transport. Sailing ships were being used for this purpose, the cost of landing the meat in London being somewhere about 2½d per lb. Recognising the great need for improved shipping facilities in this direction, Mr Nelson was responsible for sending Mr Robert Dobson to England with the object of arranging for an improved service. The result was that the Tyser Line of cargo-carrying steamers was inaugurated, which gave a much more rapid, economical and regular service, and enabled the industry to become established on a much more solid foundation. This line of steamers later expanded into the Commonwealth and Dominion Line, and afterwards became merged in the Cunard Line, and is still rendering fine service to the primary producers of New Zealand. The Shaw Savill and Albion Co., the New Zealand Shipping Co., Ltd and the Shire Line, also turned their attention to this trade so that New Zealand is now well provided with meat-carrying steamers of the best type for the purpose. Owing to the increases so rapidly made in freezing and shipping accommodation, it became possible to dispense with the previously existing necessity for calling upon the settlers to guarantee regular quantities of stock at stated intervals. In the early days freight charges alone were from 2½d to 11d per lb., but these with improved facilities some years later came down to ½d. The total charges upon mutton including slaughtering, freezing, freight, insurance, and London charges, had been reduced to less than twopence twelve years after the industry was started in New Zealand.

Messrs Nelson Brothers, of Tomoana, were not only the largest owners of freezing works in New Zealand, but had the largest frozen meat stores in London. Also, they were the most extensive importers of frozen meat into London. The firm purchased largely from other freezing companies as well as from stock owners, and in their combined capacity as a freezing company and as importers and distributors, they occupied the leading position in the New Zealand meat trade.

The collateral industries which sprang into existence of which were given added prosperity, by the birth of the export trade in frozen meat became scarcely less important than the freezing industry itself. Side by side with refrigerating were the tallow works (both for fine edible tallow and for ordinary commercial tallow), fellmongeries, meat-tinning works, sausage-skin factories, fiddle-string factories, and oil works and manure works.

Gradually scientific treatment and commercial enterprise found new means and very profitable means, of using what had at one time been looked upon merely as inevitable waste from the sheep, and at some establishments the scientific treatment of the industry had progressed so far that even in the first ten years of the industry’s existence some works were finding a use for everything obtainable from the animals that they slaughtered.

Improvements in Mutton Sheep.

Mr Nelson could not be interested in any industry for long without studying it thoroughly and acquainting himself with every detail, and seeking for means of improving it. When it became apparent that the type of sheep bred in Hawke’s Bay was not the type best suited for export purposes, Mr Nelson set about securing an improvement in this direction. Many years ago he established, with this end in view, one of the best flocks of Southdown sheep in the Dominion. This was done with the idea of improving the quality and value of the frozen mutton and lamb exported. This had the desired effect. The Southdown cross became the most favoured cross for export purposes, and to-day the best Hawke’s Bay lamb and mutton is the equal of the best in any part of the world, even the Mother Country itself. Although the stud flock was dispersed some years ago, there are still remains of it in other hands, on a smaller scale, but of equal breed, type and quality.

Reclamation of Napier South.

Another matter which claimed Mr Nelson’s attention for a time, and this to the very great benefit of Napier, was the reclamation of that area known as Napier South. He was a member of the syndicate (Messrs. H. Longlands, Geo. Latham, and the late Mr C. D. Kennedy being the other three), who carried out this work, which reclaimed an area of several hundred acres of what had been a smelly stretch of swamp, and provided Napier with a beautiful suburban residential area, well laid out, extensive recreation grounds, and gave the borough room for expansion, such as was at the time very much required. It was largely owing to Mr Nelson’s initiative and financial support that the work was so successfully carried through, and it is characteristic of the integrity as well as the thoroughness of the whole of the members of the syndicate that the reclaimed area was raised to a height well over what had been stipulated for (in a great part of the area the land is from 18 inches to 2 feet higher), and the residents at Napier South have thus never had occasion to fear a flood in that locality, nor is there ever likely to be one, for there is a very considerable slope from Napier South to the lower parts of the borough as it was formerly. In honour of Mr Nelson and in recognition of his part in the reclamation of this area, the large playing area, purchased by the Borough Council at a very nominal figure, was given the name of Nelson Park and the crescent-shaped road bordering the section on one side of the Park was called Nelson Crescent.

Mr Nelson as an Employer.

But there is one quality which has distinguished Mr Nelson throughout his long career, even more perhaps than his far-seeing and vigorous mentality, and his indominable [indomitable] courage, calm confidence and abounding energy, and that was his consideration for his employees. The relations between employer and employees were always of the happiest description. They were all just “friends”. He showed that by the splendid and ample provision made for his work-people right from the first establishment of the freezing works. Strictly just he allied justice to generosity, and tempered it with mercy when such was required. The writer has had many opportunities both in the early days of the freezing works and later, of knowing with what affectionate regard and even veneration Mr Nelson was held by his workpeople. He was a good judge of men, and his employees seldom left his service unless it was to start out in business for themselves (which he encouraged them to do, when possible), or when they passed away to the last resting place of all. It was often said, and with strict truth, that “Tomoana never had any trouble with its workers”, and Tomoana never did. Mr Nelson’s policy was one of consideration, and conciliation.

That he not merely applied this to his own employees was shown when, many years ago, after the big shipping and coal strike, he was instrumental in forming the Hawke’s Bay Association of Employers and Workers, to which employers paid an annual subscription and employees were admitted free. This association was designed to settle any industrial disputes in an amicable way by a round table conference of employers and employed, and by conciliation or arbitration as might be. This association proved of immense benefit for so long a period that it was thought all industrial troubles had ceased, and there was no need for the association to continue its operations further. That this was a mistaken idea time very soon showed.

Other Activities

Mr Nelson interested himself in many other ventures, for to his naturally progressive spirit everything was of importance that would in any way assist in the development of the country. Many years ago he was the patentee, together with Mr Bowen, engineer of the Tomoana freezing works, of the “Nelson and Bowen wool-drying machine,” one of the first machines manufactured for that class of work. This machine simplified and revolutionised the old methods of wool-drying in vogue at the time.

He was also largely interested in the company which took over the established business of Jas. J. Niven and Co., Ltd., engineers and ironfounders, extended the scope of their operations, acquired works in Wellington, Gisborne, Hamilton and elsewhere, and placing them in the position of being probably the largest engineering and ironfoundry concern in the Dominion, employing a very large number of hands.

Mr Nelson has always taken a very deep interest in educational matters, and has always given strong practical support to the encouragement of higher education. He founded the Heretaunga School, for boys, at Hastings nearly 50 years ago. This school, under the name Hereworth School, at Havelock North, is still continued. He was also one of the original promoters of the Woodford House School, at Havelock North, one of the best known schools for girls in the Dominion.

Mr Nelson has never sought prominence in public matters, yet there are few men who have kept more in touch with public affairs, taken a more sane and optimistic view of them, or given greater service to such matters near at hand. On river boards and road boards he has rendered much valuable service. He has studied the question of river conservation and flood protection for almost the whole period of his seventy years in Hawke’s Bay. There are few, if any, men with a wider knowledge of the questions. He has always taken a practical interest in this very important question, and in all the plans suggested for flood prevention on the Heretaunga plains. In many cases he has rendered great assistance in connection with the carrying out of protective works which have saved settlers in that region many thousands of pounds. To-day his interest in the question is as great as ever, and his opinion and advice on the subject is greatly valued by those settlers who have benefited by that advice in the past.

Personal Characteristics and Friendships

Not only in connection with business affairs, but in every walk of life, and amongst every section of the community, Mr Nelson had the faculty of forming strong and enduring friendships. His nature, simple, direct, strong, and always fair-minded, attracted all who were in any way associated with him in private life, in business or in public affairs. He held very tenaciously to his own opinion on any subject, but respected those who held differing opinions, and amongst his warmest friends have always been many who did differ from him on some points. But it has undoubtedly been this strong isolation of character and opinion which has enabled him to carry out all that he has accomplished, and to look back upon a long life of such achievement as few men are able to look back upon. If he has visioned big things he has not been merely a dreamer of dreams, or spared himself in his work for the land of his adoption. Conquests in the realms of war bring tragedy and loss, the conquest in the paths of peace which Mr William Nelson has, by his leadership and his courage, assisted to attain, has brought happiness and a prosperity to this Dominion the value of which cannot be estimated. In his benevolence, his assistance in the cause of charity, in the furtherance of any good object, he was ever most generous, but it was always without ostentation, and he never allowed his right hand to know in this respect what his left hand was doing.

He has been a very strong supporter, too, of the Hawke’s Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society, of which body he has held the position of president, and it was he who sold to the society the present splendid showground at Tomoana.

Mr Nelson married a daughter of the late Mr Henry Bicknell, of Bangor, North Wales, and there were five daughters and six sons of the marriage.

Many Happy Returns

To-day all Hawke’s Bay, and many other parts of the Dominion as well, will unite with us in wishing Mr Nelson many happy returns of his birthday. To have reached the age of eight-nine years, after a life of such vigorous and strenuous service, to have retained, as he has done, his mental vigour and his youthful spirit, is itself a great achievement, and to-day all will hope that he may be spared for many more, if it may be, and that he may at least live to see the sun of prosperity once more shining strongly on the province and the Dominion to which he has contributed so largely to bring prosperity in the past.

But whenever the time may come for his departure, his memory will remain and the service he has rendered will be a permanent monument more enduring that marble cenotaphs could convey.

During the screening of a picture showing at New Plymouth one of the characters, young Englishman who had numerous financial failures behind him, was asked by his father what he intended to go in for next. “I thought of going in for a sheep farm in New Zealand,” replied the character. “You leave it alone,” cried a fervent voice in the audience. “Yes,” cried another voice. “I’ve got one.”



All sections of the community to-day join in offering hearty felicitations to the veteran pioneer of Hawke’s Bay, Mr William Nelson, on the attainment of his 89th birthday. The story of his life is the story of Hawke’s Bay, and his name will ever be associated not only with this district which he did so much to develop, but with the venerable roll of the sturdy pioneers whose labours have left an enduring mark on the Dominion as a whole. His work will endure as a memento of his unstinted and enthusiastic endeavours for the promotion of the prosperity of this province, and the most sincere wishes are extended to him to-day from all quarters, that the evening of his days may be as quiet and serene as his early life was strenuous and hard.

Some eleven years ago, when the first pile was being driven in connection with the Inner Harbour scheme, Mr Wm. Nelson sent a message of apology for absence in which he said that he “was suffering from the incurable disease of old age” and that he did not know how to get over it. By all the signs, however, he has managed to hold his own with the same pluck and pertinacity that has characterised all his activities, and it is the universal hope that he may still be spared to enjoy many years of well-earned rest.

Honoured by Friends.

Dr. Johnson once said that it was a man’s highest duty to keep his friendships in repair. From that test Mr Nelson comes out with flying colours. His oldest friends are loudest in their praises of the man whom the whole community is honouring to-day. Mr George Ebbett, at that time Mayor of Hastings, said during the proceedings of the ceremony referred to, that he had known Mr Nelson for some 37 years up till that time, and that when he realised how much he knew and how much he had heard to Mr Nelson’s credit, and how little he had heard to his discredit, he was unable to do anything like justice to the qualities and personal attributes of the fine old gentleman. Everyone recognised that his name had always stood for everything that was straightforward, honest and just, and never for anything else.

A Well-earned Tribute.

His pioneering work on behalf of the freezing industry, harbour matters and in other ways directed to the public good, have at all times called forth the admiration of his fellow-citizens, who took advantage of the occasion already referred to, to present to him an illuminated address in the following terms:

“Esteemed Fellow Citizens: – On behalf of the several bodies and association we represent, we give expression to the high appreciation in which your name is held throughout the district. On all hands and from all classes are eager evidence forthcoming of the sincere regard and cordial esteem that form a fitting tribute to the many and varied, and always ready and willing services and benefits bestowed on communities and individuals alike during sixty years of continuous residence among them. So numerous and so diversified have these been that no attempt at specifying even the more prominent among them can be made.

“All who are acquainted with the history of the Province recognise that to your own well-directed energies and to the example and encouragement they provide, are very largely due to the progress and prosperity in which all have shared. You have thoroughly borne much more than your own full share of the burden of citizenship, adversity or calamity always finding you prompt to lead or assist in meeting it, and to your ever-helpful hands and your unselfish and kindly counsel numberless members of the community are indebted for their ultimate success in life.

“Though at time overloaded with the more intimate responsibilities and activities of the great undertaking which has been your main business care of later years, and which has done so much towards developing the happy position the district occupies, there has been no time when you have not found opportunity for paying generous heed to all public and private calls upon your attention. Thus in every way possible you have amply earned and, you may accept our confident assurance, have also completely won, such universal, such deep and such affectionate regard from all stations in life as will ensure the name of ‘The Father of Hawke’s Bay’ being handed down through many generations as one worth of all honour.

“It remains now only to wish you most heartily and gratefully long continued health and happiness, in the fullest enjoyment of the leisure which so many years of an arduous and beneficent life so abundantly merit”

These sentimets [sentiments] are here reproduced and repeated for the very good reason that they are as applicable to-day as they were in January, 1921, when they were first expressed.

An Enterprising Life.

Mr Nelson arrived in Napier some 60 years ago, but the earliest prospect from the top of Shakespeare road did not please him, and he departed, returning some years later to Kereru.

The station at Arlington, Waipukurau, thereafter enabled him to make a good deal of money in a short space of time, but he was eventually driven from his holding by dry weather and a plague of locusts. In his own words: “I had to start again from scratch, and have been scratching ever since.” He worked flax at Mangateretere, starting well but finishing badly. He returned to England convinced that he could not make his living in New Zealand; but for the lasting good of our fair Province he changed his mind some eight years later and inaugurated a boiling-down works and the freezing industry which has now for so long been so closely associated with his name and in which the prosperity of the community is so greatly bound up. His freezing works venture was not by any means popular at the start, but the cynical farmers soon came to learn what “stick-to-it-iveness’ of the Nelson variety can accomplish and now they are more indebted to his enterprise than ever they could have thought possible.

Throughout the whole course of his manifold activities Mr Nelson has remained the same kindly, shrewd, level-headed individual, neither to be hoodwinked by sham nor cajoled by flattery. And with all his retiring modesty he must needs forgive his fellow-citizens once more for taking this opportunity to render thanks in public for his noble service to Hawke’s Bay.


By Telegraph – Press Association

Monday marks an important anniversary in the history of the Dominion, it being the jubilee of the great frozen meat industry Fifty years ago, in February 15, 1882, the Shaw Savill and Albion Company’s 1230 ton sailing ship Dunedin, sailed from Port Chalmers for London with the first cargo of frozen meat from New Zealand. The Dunedin arrived in London on May 24 after a successful passage of 98 days, delivering her cargo in perfect condition.

This success of the venture laid the foundation of the frozen meat industry, which had rapidly expanded to an annual export of 2,000,000 carcases ten years later. To-day the four shipping companies engaged in New Zealand employ 78 large ships with a total refrigerated capacity of over 9,000,000 freight carcases.

Foodstuffs exported from the Dominion under refrigeration during 1931 were valued at nearly £25,000,000 out of a total export trade of just over £35,000,000. Last year more that 100 shipments of frozen meat and dairy produce were carried from New Zealand to Great Britain.

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15 February 1932


The Hawke's Bay Herald


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