Newspaper Article 1964 – Prominent HB resident dies at age of 93

Prominent HB resident dies at age of 93

A man who devoted much of his adult life to land reclamation, soil conservation and rivers control, Mr George Nelson, of Havelock North, died at his home, “Keirunga,” yesterday. He was 93.

Mr Nelson was the third and, till his death, only surviving son of the late Mr William Nelson.

Mr George Nelson was best known for his association with reclamation work in Napier, work in which his father was also keenly interested.

George’s Drive and Kennedy road, Napier, are among two landmarks testifying to his practical concern for the adequate drainage of waterlogged areas lying adjacent to Napier.


Mr Nelson as a young man was keenly interested in the rivers problem. He allied himself with his father’s interests as chairman of the Clive Rivers Board. Later he was associated with the Kennedy brothers, civil engineers, in the drainage of Napier South. The names George’s Drive and Kennedy road are perpetuated in the large built up areas in Napier which owe their origin to the vision of Mr Nelson in association with the Kennedy brothers.

Mr Nelson, who held an engineering degree, designed the dredge used in drainage work in the flood areas near Napier. Living today are people who remember being shown the patent worm-threaded screw used in the dredge.

Mr Nelson was engaged by local bodies throughout New Zealand to report on different river control schemes. One of these was the Waimakariri river control scheme in North Canterbury.


He made a lifetime study of soil conservation and rivers control and some years ago visited Europe and the United States to gain further knowledge. He made a special study of the Rhine in Germany and the Mississippi in America.

Another of Mr Nelson’s absorbing interests was the controversy at an earlier period over the Inner Harbour.

He was a staunch advocate of the construction of the Inner Harbour. He was among a group who held strongly to the conviction that a harbour would be built at Port Ahuriri at less cost and affording more shelter than the Breakwater harbour.

That controversy was resolved by the 1931 earthquake.

Mr Nelson was educated at preparatory school in England, Heretaunga School, Hastings and Christ’s College, Christchurch. He joined Nelson Brothers in 1889 and was engaged as an assistant, erecting machinery and equipment under the supervision of Mr J. J. Niven.


Mr Nelson was sent to India in 1893 as a junior member of the commission to investigate the prospects of opening a trade outlet in India for New Zealand frozen meat.

Later he was in England in charge of the engine-room at Nelson Brothers cool store, London. He was taken into partnership with J. J. Niven and Co., engineers, at Napier in 1893. He became principal shareholder and proprietor of the company in 1903. He was managing director until 1913. After being in charge of Niven’s London office, he returned to New Zealand and retired from the directorate in 1921.

Mr Nelson was one of the original directors of the Hawke’s Bay Herald-Tribune when the company was founded in 1912. He was on the board of directors for 48 years.


A pioneer motorist, he was among those who were instrumental in the formation of the Automobile Association (H.B.). At the time of his death he was the sole surviving foundation member.

A number of years ago Mr Nelson made a bequest of some 17½ acres to the borough of Havelock North. The land is parkland adjacent to his home.

Mr Nelson was twice married. In 1899 he married Miss Mabel Price, daughter of the late Mr Alfred Price, of Takapau. She died in 1935. They had three sons, Mr George Waldo Nelson, an engineer, who lives in Brisbane, Mr Philbrick Nelson, a surgeon, who died in London in 1936, and Mr Quentin Nelson, who now lives in England.

In 1937 Mr Nelson married Miss Elizabeth Goldsmith, daughter of the late Mr Richard William Goldsmith, of Napier, and she survives him.

Photo caption – MR GEORGE NELSON

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Newspaper article

Date published

19 October 1964

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