Newspaper Article 1932 – The Passing of a Pioneer

Hawke’s Bay Herald



Full of years and honour, Mr William Nelson of Tomoana was yesterday laid to rest, and it is fitting that Hawke’s Bay should claim for its own all that is mortal of one of its best and most faithful servants. Now it may be said that “that rich earth a richer dust conceals”. The full account of Mr Nelson’s wonderful career has already been published, but it is impossible to refrain from adding a few words to the many tributes that have already been paid to his far-seeing ability, to his indubitable integrity, to his kindly charity, and to his straightforward and powerful personality.  He was spared to see the fruition of many of his plans for the development of the Province, but many more years will come and go before Hawke’s Bay’s debt to him is paid or the influences of his sound policy fades. The human agent passes, but the work survives.

It is given but seldom to any one individual to exert such a wide spread influence on the affairs of his day, but Mr Nelson’s breadth of outlook and strength of character were such that he handled no useful concern which he did not improve, and so great and manifold were his activities that the whole of the Dominion is to-day reaping the benefits of his untiring and faithful work. His passing is a definite landmark in the history of Hawke’s Bay, and the vast assembly that gathered and pay their last tributes of respect to his memory showed that the significance of his passing by the whole community as well as by many from far beyond our boundaries.

It is sometimes said that an obituary notice is largely a fulsome eulogy that is expressed in almost the same terms whatever the worth of the subject may be; but in this case the expressions of thankfulness for a great life well spent and of genuine sorrow at the loss of the most outstanding man of his generation in Hawke’s Bay came from the heart of our people. It is with all sincerity that we apply to William Nelson the words used by Mark Antony over the body of Brutus:

“His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man!”

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Date published

19 November 1932

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Newspaper article


The Hawke's Bay Herald

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