Newspaper Article 2007 – His love for orchards and racing continued to grow

His love for orchards and racing continued to grow


Jack Wilson was one of those guys who just couldn’t give up what he loved doing most.

Almost right up to when he died in Hastings on March 29, he was still spraying and pruning in the little home orchard which had become his hobby since retiring from the business of orcharding in which he worked until he turned 80 in 1999.

His interest in orchards came from his father Herbert, who farmed a pedigree jersey herd and also became an orchardist in the Hastings area, and after whom Wilson Road was named.

A signalman in World War 2, Jack Wilson started orcharding after World War 2, in partnership with his father, and brother Lou.

He became synonymous with Irongate Orchard, which he bought in 1953. Part of the property had been in apples since 1918, and tomatoes were added, producing for Heinz Wattie’ [Wattie’s] for 38 years. Potatoes were also grown as the interest expanded on to leased land.

More land was bought for orcharding in Irongate Road, and Jack also bought 24ha in Ruahapia Road, in partnership with accountant Paddy Sutherland.

Cropping was reduced as more land was planted in fruit trees, and as the orchard expanded to about 80ha. The operation also included a packhouse, putting through about 105,000 cartons a year.

Much of the orchard was sold as he retired, orchards were pulled out of the remaining 23ha, and the land was leased-out for cropping.

Even being laid-up in Cranford Hospice could not keep him from his lifetime interest in horse racing, with yet another reward as his three-year-old Classic Dale won a maiden in Hastings, barely a furlong down the road, a week before he passed away.

Classic Dale’s win at the race track was one of many he enjoyed over the years, and the horse was one of four horses which won for him in the last four years.

Among them was Mybigfatgreekhorse, a Zabeel son he bought for $A10,000 ($NZ11,000), and named after the two luckless Greek former owners who bought him for $80,000 but had to get-out in a partnership-split. He had also won in recent years with Classic Star and Hurry Along.

Jack Wilson was born in Napier on October 29, 1919, and had three brothers and one sister. He went to Hastings West Primary School (now Raureka).

He joined the army at the age of 21, and as a Lance Corporal served with the 2nd Div. Signals in Italy in World War 2, and was mentioned in dispatches.

After his return he met Yvonne Burnham, who had also gone to Hastings West, albeit some years after his own term, and they married on July 28, 1947.

He is survived by brother Frank and sister Marion, Yvonne and their five sons and three daughters, and by 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Newspaper article

Date published

26 April 2007


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today


  • Paddy Sutherland
  • Frank Wilson
  • Herbert Wilson
  • John (Jack) Herbert Noble Wilson
  • Lou Wilson
  • Marion Wilson
  • Yvonne Wilson, nee Burnham

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