Lady Wattie made home her empire
While her husband the late Sir James Wattie developed his cannery empire which is now Heinz Wattie’s in Hastings, his wife Gladys was happy for family and home to be her empire.
From 1946 until 1972 that home base was Mangapapa (now boutique hotel Mangapapa Lodge) just out of Hastings.
A good wife and mother, she quietly did what needed to be done, looking after everybody and helping out friends and family as they needed it, son Ray Wattie said.
She did it all without fuss and certainly without ever getting angry.
He says when his father started his cannery in 1934, times were tough and the couple had to make do. They had a small farmlet in Pakowhai Road and his mother would milk the cow, churn the butter and collect the eggs from the hens to barter with the local grocery store.
Ray said while his father was an adventurous businessman, his mother took a more conservative approach and Sir James always discussed his business ideas with her.
He said his mother did not enjoy being in the public eye but she would always support Sir James at functions whenever that was required.
Lady Wattie, along with her husband, had a great love of horses and horse-racing and she was in Melbourne in 1962 to see their horse Even Stevens win the Melbourne Cup (Even Stevens was one of the few horses to also win the Caulfield Cup in the same year). Although Lady Gladys followed the horses keenly throughout her life, she never placed a bet, Ray said.
She was also a keen rugby follower and All Blacks fan.
Lady Wattie died on Friday aged 96. She is survived by sons Ray and Gordon and their children and grandchildren.
Photo caption – LADY WATTIE