Newspaper Article 1938 – Hon. H A Russell Dies

Hon. H. A. Russell Dies


Leading H.B. Sportsman and Pastoralist


The death occurred last night at his home, “Little Flaxmere,” following a very short illness of the Hon. Harold Arthur Russell, M.L.C., one of Hawke’s Bay’s leading sportsmen and pastoralists, and a man of many and wide interests. He led an unusually full and active life, and there were very few spheres of public activity in which he was not either closely associated or keenly interested.

Born at “Little Flaxmere” in 1871, he was the eldest son of the late Captain Sir William Russell, K.B., who, after coming to New Zealand with his regiment, the 56th, took up a number at grazing properties in the province. Mr Harold Russell received his early education at Heretaunga School, now known as Hereworth School, and later went to England where he completed his education at Bradfield College.

Returning to New Zealand it was not long before he embarked upon his career by working at “Tunanui [Tuna Nui],” the estate of his grandfather, but after a few years he took over the management of another big portion of the family estate, “Sherenden,” which was disposed of in 1907. He then purchased “Apley” station, a property on the Mangaone river and though in 1919 he moved to “Little Flaxmere”, he continued to control both properties up to the time of his death.

The late Mr Russell became one of the province’s best-known breeders of certain types of stock. At “Apley” he specialised in Aberdeen Angus cattle, as well as continuing his activities as a sheep-farmer. At “Little Flaxmere” he established a stud of thoroughbred horses, breeding among others, Tigritiya, Corazon, Belles of Dhandon, Tigerland and Nadador, one of New Zealand’s greatest steeplechasers. He evinced considerable interest in the new Remount Act and was a member of the commission appointed to advise on the best means of increasing the number of horses suitable for military purposes.

Polo Interests.

A keen polo player and foundation member of the Hawke’s Bay Polo Club, which came into existence in 1892, he played with and captained the provincial team which won the Savile Cup in 1906 and subsequent years. Later he became secretary and then president in 1918, two years later he gave up active participation in the game. He was a member of the committee of the New Zealand Polo Association for over 20 years, and though no longer an active player, he continued to reveal his keen interest in the sport.

A long association with the Hawke’s Bay A. and P. Society was maintained by the late Mr Russell. He was president for a number of years at different periods. Ever on the lookout for means of consolidating the society and watchful of its development, he was in office when the present show-grounds at Tomoana were purchased.

He also held the highest offices on the Hawke’s Bay Jockey Club and for a term was president. He was a life member of the Hawke’s Bay Hunt Club and throughout his life he was closely associated with the club’s activities. In his early days he was frequently prominent in amateur contests over the country and also on the flat, being a particularly good rider. He was president of the Hunt Club for two years.

For very many years he was a member of the Te Aute College Trust Board and was chairman for a considerable period. At various times he represented the Okawa and Puketapu ridings on the Hawke’s Bay County Council, and for a term was a member of the Napier Harbour Board. He had also been a member at the Hawke’s Bay Licensing Committee and also the Napier High School Board of Governors.

Business Activities.

In the business field he was associated with the firm of Williams and Kettle Ltd., for some 25 years, and was chairman of directors since the retirement of Mr Nat Kettle in 1932. He was also a director of the Acetone Welding Company, Napier. He was appointed to the Legislative Council in June, 1934.

The late Mr Russell was a particularly active man and though engaged in a wide sphere of public activities, he continued personally to control his large farmland and pastoral holdings. Possessed of a bright and genial nature, a ready wit and a full understanding of human nature, he was very much a “man’s man” and was highly respected by all sections of the community.

The loss of so prominent and able a product of the province is a big one and widespread sympathy will be expressed to those who are left. In 1897 the late Mr Russell married Miss Eva Nelson, a daughter of the late Mr William Nelson, of “Waikoko”, but she predeceased him some three years ago. He leaves two sons, Messrs William Nelson Russell of Dannevirke, and Robert Nelson Russell of West Australia; and three daughters, Mrs. H.B.C. Holmes, of Andover, England and the Misses Molly and Shirley [Sally] Russell who lived with their father at “Little Flaxmere”. Major-General Sir Andrew Russell is a cousin.

The funeral will take place at the Havelock North Cemetery tomorrow morning. The Rev. S. F. M [N]. Waymouth, vicar of Havelock North will officiate at the ceremony.


Legislative Council Tribute

(From Our Own Correspondent.)


“I am profoundly shocked to hear of the sudden and most untimely death of the Hon. Harold Arthur Russell, a member of the Council since Jun. 22, 1934,” said the Leader of the Legislative Council, the Hon. Mark Fagin, last night. “In the late Mr. Russell I have lost a true and valued personal friend, who was a very fine New Zealander in every sense of the term. Our late colleague bore an unimpeachable character and was well known as a splendid sportsman. He was a man of few words and quiet disposition. Truly may it be said that he was one of Nature’s gentlemen who won the hearts of his fellow members irrespective of their political leanings.

“The late Mr. Russell took a keen interest in the work of the Council and always bore a tolerant attitude in his criticism which was consistently fair and just,” Mr. Fagan said, “I feel quite sure that every member of the Council will join with me in regretting the passing of our late colleague and would wish to join with me in expressing the sincerest sympathy with those left to mourn his loss.”

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Newspaper article

Date published

15 July 1938

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