West Franklin Breeze - February 2023

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Wedding Open Day

160 years since worst maritime disaster

7 February will record the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand’s history — the loss of the HMS Orpheus on the Manukau Bar.

On that dreaded day 189 men and boys lost their lives. The average age of the crew was just 22 years, with some of the boys conscripted as Royal Navy marines and seamen as young as 12 years old.

As flagship of the Royal Navy’s Australasian fleet, the Orpheus’ home port was Sydney. She was considered to be the most up-to-date vessel in the Royal Navy. On 31 January 1863, Commodore William Burnett set out on a mission to New Zealand not to reinforce the British ships already taking part in the New Zealand Wars, but to arrange for the withdrawal of two Royal Navy sloops: Miranda stationed in Manukau Harbour and Harrier. They were to rendezvous in the Waitematā Harbour but the Orpheus was behind schedule, and Commodore Burnett decided to save some time by cutting through Manukau Harbour rather than going by the intended course of rounding North Cape and sailing down the east coast. His decision was to be fatal.

She arrived within sight of the entrance to the Manukau Harbour at about 11am. The weather was clear and sunny, however because the commander was using an outdated chart the Orpheus was heading towards a submerged sand bank.

On board was Frederick Butler, a convicted deserter being brought back to New Zealand to rejoin his former ship. He was one of only two of the complement to have traversed the bar before. He warned the Commodore he was not on the correct course, but virtually as soon as these words came out of his mouth, the ship hit the bank.

Earlier from the signal station (at that time on the north head of the

harbour) the signal master Edward Wing had seen the ship approaching he signalled to “Take the Bar”. But when he saw imminent disaster, he revised his signal for the ship to turn north to avoid grounding.

The force of the surf soon caused Orpheus to swing around, exposing its port side to the waves. Considerable damage was sustained: the hatches burst open, cabin windows were shattered, and Orpheus began to take on water. The crew attempted to abandon ship, but the power of the sea’s surge made escape extremely difficult, and many sailors were swept away.

Meanwhile, the small steamship Wonga Wonga has heading out of the harbour bound for Wellington. She was being piloted out to the Harbour entrance by signal man Wing’s father Thomas. When it became apparent that Orpheus was in trouble, Wonga Wonga approached the beached ship and attempted to pick up survivors, many of whom had climbed into the rigging as the deck became submerged. At approximately 8pm, the masts began to break, killing most of the crew who

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Former presidents of Museum Society gain honours

Two former presidents and chairmen of the Waiuku Museum Society were awarded Queen’s Service Medal honours in the New Year’s Honours List.

Both have been dedicated historians and have focused on their particular genre of interests.

Clyde Harris Hamilton was awarded his QSM for services to the community and heritage preservation while the commendation for George Rafton Flavell was for services to Māori culture and heritage preservation.

remained on board.

Three inquiries were held after the shipwreck, but due to the unwillingness of the Royal Navy to admit an officer’s wrong doing much of the blame was laid on Edward Wing for not guiding the ship into the harbour and for failing to maintain the signalling station on Paratutae Island.

There were just 70 sailors (eight officers and 62 men) that survived the disaster. One was the prisoner Frederick Butler. Commodore Burnett lost his life.

The cause of this disaster is disputed, even after the Admiralty wrongly laid the blame on Edward Wing. Local Maori however, interpreted it differently. In the Manukau Harbour some distance from the scene of the disaster lies Puketutu Island. On the extreme western point of the island, in line with the harbour entrance, there grew a puriri tree, the tree was considered sacred and tapu to the Maori people. The day before Orpheus was wrecked, a European settler felled the tree and used the wood for fence posts. Hence, Maori linked the disaster with a violation of tapu.

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 - 69 are eligible for cervical cancer screening. If you haven’t had a Smear Test in the last 3 years, contact your general practice, or call the National Screening Unit on 0800 729 729. From July this year there will be changes to cervical cancer screening – more information is via www.timetoscreen.nz Free Breast Cancer Screening is available, every 2 years, to women aged 45 - 69. If you are overdue Mammogram, call 0800 270200. Advice on Breast Screening for members of the LGBTQ+ Community is available at www.breastcancerfoundation.org.nz

New Building

You may have noticed our new portacom. When complete this will give us dedicated drivethrough assessment and vaccination space for COVID and beyond. More info to come…

Health Advice

See full profiles of these men on page 4

Remember to call ahead (09 235 9102) if you have COVID symptoms. You can also call HealthLine on 0800 358 5453 or, if it is an emergency, call 111. waiukumedical.co.nz

The HMS Orpheus aground on the bar at the entrance to the Manukau Harbour on 7 February 1863. The valiant little coastal ship Wonga Wonga is in the background. Clyde Hamilton
Who was at fault — the Commodore, the Signal master or was it utu?
George Flavell
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Cancer screening advice also at healthnavigator.org.nz
Remember, please wear masks when visiting health facilities.

Editorial: Tiffany Brown tiffany@westfranklinbreeze.nz

Sandy Smith sandy@westfranklinbreeze.nz

Annie Chappell annie@westfranklinbreeze.nz

Keely Muir keely@westfranklinbreeze.nz

Advertising Sales: Chris Stabler sales@westfranklinbreeze.nz

Publishers: Bill & Ngaire Deed bill@westfranklinbreeze.nz

r e e z e B

A breath of fresh air for West Franklin


Waiuku Fire Brigade Callouts NOVEMBER Waiuku Fire Brigade Callouts NOVEMBER

Happy new year to our Breeze readers and the communities of west Franklin.

Hard to equate the generally wet and disruptive summer we have had so far with that of a couple of years ago which brough drought conditions rarely seen in parts of the region and had everyone scrambling to find and use water so carefully. I look forward to normal transmission resuming in February and March which are generally our most stable summer months.


Answers on page 11



Crossword No XC253903

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust MONTHLY MISSIONS


Manukau Heads 29 Dec — W2 Crew tasked to Manukau Heads to assist a male patient in his 50s involved in a paragliding accident. He was flown to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition.


1 Declare commitment to a fellow with company (6)

commitment to a fellow with company gamblers after onset of addiction (8) plaster, it’s used for attaching sheets of extremely inclined to tremble (7) sovereignty, say (4) put in the post around start of (5) raised by very noisy people? (4) president in London area (9,4) stuck out in attempt to gain (4-4,5) confused with nitrogen (4) get meat (5) concert, or metal (4) is a port (7)

4 They help gamblers after onset of addiction (8)

9 Sort of plaster, it’s used for attaching sheets of paper (7)

Aka Aka 1 Jan — W2 Crew tasked to Aka Aka to assist a male patient in his 20s involved in a bonfire accident and in a moderate condition. Transportation to hospital by helicopter wasn’t required and crew returned to base.

1 Sailor stumped by ploy that’s hard to understand (8)

2 Father’s lithe but delicate (7)

11 Quiet one extremely inclined to tremble (7)

12 Downfall of sovereignty, say (4)

3 Bank is really heartless (4)

13 Perfume is put in the post around start of Christmas (5)

Āwhitu 23 January — W1 Crew tasked to Āwhitu to assist a male patient in his 40s involved in a motorbike accident. He was flown to Auckland City Hospital in a serious condition.

5 Expensive seats on plane for those studying commerce? (8,5)

14 Murderer raised by very noisy people? (4)

6 Sibling has success after short time (4)

17 Guides president in London area (9,4)

19 Old Harry stuck out in attempt to gain sympathy (4-4,5)

7 Rubbish and burnt remains under English tree (3-4)

22 Gas, one confused with nitrogen (4)

8 Maxim is speaking (6)

23 Kate’s off to get meat (5)

24 Some jazz in concert, or metal (4)

27 New Orleans is a port (7)

I want to personally acknowledge two outstanding members of our community who were acknowledged in the New Years” Honours – Clyde Hamilton and George Flavell. Both with longstanding commitment to the history and heritage of the Waiuku/ Awhitu areas and both worthy recipients of these honours.

Over the years I have nominated people who have done huge amounts in various communities and often they are just ignored. It makes me think as to whether there needs to be greater transparency as to how nominations are assessed. Currently it seems the office of the Prime Minister is responsible. Over the past few decades, there might be the case to suggest a political bias along with a desire to prioritising certain areas of service along with a bit of feelgood factor over a longstanding and dedicated public service criteria. All that aside, George and Clyde are great New Zealanders who are exactly the type of people who should be honoured.

Auckland Council will soon be putting out for consultation, the first draft budget of the new Mayor. Without going into detail, it will be extremely challenging in the current financial and economic time to have a budget that delivers what is needed without stretching the ability of ratepayers to pay. We must balance the budget.

What meat was on kiwis’ plates on Christmas Day?

10 Run to family to find how diffent ethnic groups get on (4,9)

15 Vegetable from Devon town (5)

28 Rank of Victoria for example (7)

29 Pretty girl holds skirt lower (8)

30 Quail or another bird engrosses student (6)


Victoria for example (7) holds skirt lower (8) another bird engrosses student (6)

16 Wish evil on scoundrels beginning to exasperate (5)

18 Bucket for plant? (8)

The result comes as part of the Great Kiwi Christmas Survey – the fifth edition of the poll run by Retail Meat New Zealand in conjunction with Beef + Lamb New Zealand and NZPork.

19 Headgear left with hesitation for gangster (7)

1 Sailor stumped by ploy that’s hard to understand (8)

2 Father’s lithe but delicate (7)

20 View from old wing (7)

21 Not accustomed to being unemployed (6)

3 Bank is really heartless (4)

5 Expensive seats on plane for those studying commerce? (8,5)

25 Female supporter wants new health food (4)

26 Ring everyone after end of epic (4)

6 Sibling has success after short time (4)

7 Rubbish and burnt remains under English tree (3-4)

8 Maxim is speaking (6)

10 Run to family to find how diffent ethnic groups get on (4,9)

15 Vegetable from Devon town (5)

16 Wish evil on scoundrels beginning to exasperate (5)

18 Bucket for plant? (8)

19 Headgear left with hesitation for gangster (7)

20 View from old wing (7)

21 Not accustomed to being unemployed (6)

25 Female supporter wants new health food (4)

26 Ring everyone after end of epic (4)

The poll of over 1000 Kiwis covered everything from what style of Christmas they would be having to when is the appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music. For Christmas dinner, New Zealand lamb was the winner with 38.3% of the vote with ham coming in a close second at 35% and third in line was beef with 13.1%.

Most kiwis opted for a traditional style meal with a BBQ as a second preference and 18.5% of respondents said they were catering for a big crowd. Of those polled 36.8% said they expect to have ten or more people for Christmas Day and 40.2% spent 2-3 days preparing for their Christmas feast. 58.3% said they would be eating their main Christmas meal between midday and 2pm on Christmas Day with 24% eating after 2pm in the afternoon.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Kit

Arkwright says the holiday season is a great time of the year for Kiwis to come together and celebrate with family and friends.

“Food is always an important part of celebrations at this time of the year and it’s no surprise that New Zealand lamb will be the centerpiece for many Kiwis as they celebrate the festive season.

It’s a traditional favourite for the Christmas table and is not only delicious but can easily feed a crowd.”

Cooking their Christmas meal in an oven came out top of the poll with the BBQ following closely behind. 61.8% said they expected to have at least two days’ worth of leftovers to wade through and of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a mouth-watering dessert and once again pavlova took out top spot with 68.5% having this iconic kiwi dessert on their Christmas menu. Trifle followed by strawberries and ice cream were second and third in line respectively as sweet treats.

69.1% of respondents said that spending time with family is their favourite

During the election campaign I spoke often about the need for Council to look at what, why and where it does things. I stick by that and am hoping the draft budget will be the driver for a change in approach in a number of areas for Council. This includes the Council Controlled Organisations and obviously, having been appointed to the Board of Auckland Transport, AT will be something I am very focussed on.

The Mayor has made it clear changes are needed at AT and in general, I agree. However we can never lose sight of the fact that the Government, through it’s policy statements and as basically an equal or greater funding partner as Council is to AT, it has to take responsibility for many of the decisions AT has made or priorities that have been so widely criticised. Rural areas and smaller urban towns need to be better considered. I am determined to pursue a change that sees all areas treated equitably in terms of priorities and changes to design and approach that reflect pragmatism ahead of idealism.

This year and this electoral term is going to be very different from those we have experienced since 2010; there is no better time to try new approaches. Have a safe and happy remainder of summer.

part of the festive season which is up from 61.6% from last year. 17% said that they were celebrating with more family and friends this year due to Covid restrictions having been lifted with 39.6% saying they will be scaling down their Christmas due to economic pressure.

The question of when to begin playing Christmas music received the highest percentage of votes (79.2%) agreeing that Christmas music should only be played in December.

on page 11 Ph. 09 238 5188 Mob. 021 343 335 www. sepio.co.nz Specialists in commercial and domestic insurance
3 Awhitu Road MVC 5 Belgium Street Car Fire 5 Mare-o-rehia Road Bonfire 5 Karioitahi Road Vegetation 6 Colombo Road MVC 8 Queen Street PFA 8 Te Toro Road Vegetation 9 Opauatu Avenue Structure fire 10 Miro Place Fire in vicinity 12 Waiuku Road MVC 13 Fernleigh Avenue Vegetation 16 Karioitahi Road Medical 17 Kitchener Road Flooding 18 Kitchener Road PFA 20 Karioitahi Road PFA 22 Awhitu Road Tree down 22 Waiuku Road Tree down 27 King Street Medical 29 Manukau Heads Road MVC 2 Sandspit Road Medical 2 Fisher Road Rubbish 3 Masters Road MVC 4 Kitchener Road Medical 5 Ron Wyatt Drive Smell of smoke 6 Colombo Road Rubbish 6 Waiuku Road MVC 9 Sandspit Road Cat stuck in tree 10 Constable Road PFA 11 Pouate Way Portaloo 13 Victoria Avenue Smoke from car doing burnouts 13 Queen Street PFA 13 Williams Road Fire seen from Sandspit (nothing found) 13 Arrowville Road Vegetation 17 Collingwood Road MVC 18 Hyland Place MVC 19 King Street House fire 21 Constable Road PFA 21 Queen Street PFA 25 Glenbrook Beach Road Vegetation 27 Karioitahi Road Medical 29 G. Irwin Road Paraglider down 30 Meachen Terrace Patient lift 31 Misa Road Vegetation 3 6 5 4 2 1 6 5 9 2 3 8 3 1 5 2 8 4 1 7 3 4 9 3 1 6 5 2 8 3 9 3 4 9 7 8 5 5 6 6 2 4 5 7 2 7 3 4 1sudoku.com 1sudoku.com n° 35229 - Level Hard n° 324661 - Level Hard 8 1 1 6 9 7 9 2 1 4 2 9 5 4 5 3 7 4 8 6 7 8 5 9 4 9 3 1 7 8 7 3 5 5 6 1 2 4 7 6 8 9 1 7 5 2 8 6 3 1 9 7 6 7 5 1sudoku.com 1sudoku.com n° 321064 - Level Hard n° 323294 - Level Hard Page 1/2 - Check the solutions, print more sudoku puzzles for free and play online at: https://1sudoku.com/print-sudoku
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New budget for consultation soon

Accurate 2023 Census details a must for West Franklin

Franklin Local Board member Sharlene Druyven said it is important that all local people take part in the census. “For many of the last censuses, West Franklin figures have not truly reflected accurate information,” said Sharlene. “The data from a census is used by our local government to gain information about growth, and population numbers that are not always accurate. We need this information to push the cases for our local benefits and without accuracy we are working blindly,” she said.

The official five-yearly count of New Zealand’s people and dwellings, citizens, residents, and overseas visitors are just a month away. Census Day is Tuesday, 7 March 2023.

“The 2023 Census is the only survey we all do as a country. Not only is it the official count of people and the places we live or stay, but it provides a point in time understanding of life in Aotearoa New Zealand and how the population is faring now, and how life is changing over time,” Simon Mason, Deputy Government Statistician and Deputy Chief Executive Census and Collections Operations said.

The information collected is turned into census data that is used to make important decisions that impact every person and community.

“Iwi, community organisations, councils, businesses, and the government all make important decisions about where to fund and locate services and key infrastructure like hospitals, schools, roads, public transport, parks, and recreation facilities using data from the census,” said Simon.

For example, Nau Mai Rā, which supplies affordable power to whānau, was started when Ezra Hirawani and Ben Armstrong saw census data that showed that 130,000 families were living without power.

“There are many examples all over the coun-

try of how census data has been used to help improve the lives of Kiwis. It is so important people take part so the data from the 2023 Census truly reflects who we are as a country and the communities we are part of,” said Mason.

The census is the only way we collect information about how many people speak te reo Māori and provides data about which iwi people are affiliated to.

“Iwi use census data to understand more about their people, where they are living and how they are doing. This helps to plan for future generations and may influence how services are funded and delivered for Māori in the future,” Simon said.

For the 2023 Census there will be double the number of census collectors in communities to assist those that might need it.

“We are making sure that it will be easier for people to take part in the next census. There will be more choice about how to take part –either online or on paper – and there will be more census collectors providing more support to people so they can complete their census forms,” Simon said.

“For the first time the census questions will be translated into New Zealand Sign Language. Braille will be available again, and questions in audio format to assist people to take part. Information about the census will be available in 29 languages, and the call centre is being set up with nine languages.

“I encourage everyone to help make a difference and play their part in ensuring Aotearoa New Zealand gets the best possible data we can in the 2023 Census: Tatau Tātou – all of us count,” concluded Simon.

100 years and still going strong

Resident at CHT Home in Waiuku Mary Harris turned 100 on 19 December 2022. She is the second resident to turn 100 years in 2022.

Mary Kathleen Harris was born in Westport in the South Island. She is the eldest of six, growing up in a happy family.

When she was in her teens, she went to Wellington to live with an Aunty and where she finished school.

Then she worked for the government in the customs duty. She got married on 8 February 1947 to Kenneth whom she met during the war. They had two children Paula and David.

Later, Mary’s husband was transferred to Auckland as an accountant. They moved to and spend the rest of their lives in

Howick. Kenneth passed away 29 years ago.

Mary has five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Mary moved to CHT Waiuku and has been a happy resident

here for two years. She enjoys her walks around the facility three times a day.

Asked what her secret is, she said “taking life as it comes and be happy”.

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Two years in the job for mill boss

Robin Davies is heading into his second year as Chief Executive at New Zealand Steel.

The Welshman has worked in the steelmaking industry for over 25 years, first in the UK and later in New Zealand where he moved with his young family in 2008.

Despite a three-year stint from 2017 as president of parent company BlueScope Steel’s North Star facility in the US, Robin was eager to get back to NZ, which he calls home. Having grown up on a farm in Wales, life in rural Patumāhoe with his wife and three sons provides the local community feel he’s familiar with.

Robin reflected that his first year at New Zealand Steel has highlighted how crucial in-country steel manufacturing capacity is to economic stability and growth.

“What stands out to me is the effort our people have made to provide some stability in the customer market dynamic. We’re proud of the way we’ve worked through.”

Robin said the hope for the coming year is to see domestic and global supply chains stabilise after the disruption of the last few years.

Taking a leadership position on decarbonisation is a priority.

“We’re actively exploring technology solutions to rapidly decarbonise our steelmaking operation. If we can collaborate effectively across the sectors, this challenge is also our biggest opportunity.”

The mill boss said he gets energised by being out in the plant and catching up with team members during a typical work day, enjoying

George Flavell, QSM

Born 4 February 1936, George Flavell was the eldest of boy siblings. Their father and mother were Bill and Kahurimu Flavell. George helped to look after his brothers and did what he could to contribute to their household.

From a very early age George had an interest in making, building, creating things of interest which has continued throughout his life.

the chance to interact with people throughout the operation and gain face-to-face perspectives, rather than being tied to the desk all day.

Robin would also like the operation to continue its focus on attracting a broader demographic of staff. “We’re seeing our efforts have an effect—over time we’re welcoming more diversity to our workforce in terms of gender, age, skills; people from all different walks of life.”

He said attracting a variety of people to the business provides the organisation with better overall outcomes from diverse inputs.

“The image of what a traditional steelmaker is has changed. Our technology and automation is improving all the time, which in turn means that we have work that appeals to a broader range of people with broader skillsets.”

Robin said New Zealand Steel’s support of community initiatives is a great source of pride for the company and its people. Long-term support for programmes like Rotary Youth Driver Awareness (RYDA) and Waiuku Search and Rescue are meaningful contributions to the safety of not only employees and their families, but the wider community also.

His favourite community contribution is the eight-metre tall Fred Graham sculpture at Centennial Park on Kitchener Road.

Commissioned by New Zealand Steel in 2015 to reflect on and celebrate its 50-year history, Robin said the stunning artwork represents the organisation’s commitment to its local community.

“New Zealand Steel is anchored here in Waiuku.”

A fellow life member of the Waiuku Museum Society recalled George as being a decisive chairman with a very kind nature. He would allow members of the committee free and convivial discussion about any subject. George has subsequently been honoured with life membership of the Waiuku Museum Society.

Since his retirement, George has focussed on his whanau’s genealogy, West Franklin geography and environment. He has the most comprehensive

knowledge of all the pa sites and their names within the district. He is the ultimate historian of Ngaati te Ata. In recent times he has been given the honour of representing his hapu, iwi and whanau at indigenous leaders’ hui, the furthest away being Hawaii in 2018.

He has a willing nature to share any of his knowledge with anybody.

With environmental matters, because of the history and knowledge of all pa sites, he has also embraced an unmatched knowledge and love for conservation of any natural attributes.

He is a master carver, a knowledge he willingly shares with young men of his iwi.

Now in his 88th year George is a well-respected elder of Ngaati te Ata and he continues to work for the betterment of the iwi and tribes of West Franklin.

The name Flavell derives from the French name of d’Flavelle. George’s French ancestors date back to the French aristocracies and while not confirmed, are thought to have left France for England during the early stages of the French Revolution. On arrival names were anglicised and became Flavell. George’s great grandfather Thomas emigrated to New Zealand in approximately 1836.

Clyde Hamilton, QSM

Mr Clyde Hamilton of Waipipi was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for his services to the community and heritage preservation.

Clyde was a member of the Waiuku Museum Committee from 1970. He served as President from 1995 until 2009, during which time he oversaw community preservation programmes. In the mid-1980s the Museum owned the scow Jane Gifford. The restoration was operated by a sub-committee. Clyde as Museum chairman took an advisory role.

The Museum, under Clyde’s leadership spearheaded the establishment of the Manukau Lighthouse Trust, which oversaw the restoration of the Manukau Heads Lighthouse at Awhitu. This included the repositioning of the dome and the prism, and the completed lighthouse has created an interesting tourist attraction in the area.

Awarded Life Membership of the Waiuku Museum Society in 2020 in recognition of his work for this organisation, Clyde has also been Patron of the Waiuku Museum since 2017 and is a member of the Awhitu Historical Society since 2009.

Clyde grew up in Waipipi and attended Waipipi Primary School, riding several miles on horseback to attend.

Despite the hardships of farming in the 1940s, his parents sent him to King’s College Otahuhu, for his secondary education. He credits this institution with having encouraged skills of leadership and community participation which were soon put to use locally when he returned to the family farm and established his own family with his wife Jean. Their combined appreciation of music and traditional choral forms lead to his involvement in church choirs in the local Presbyterian and Anglican churches, where they also served as organists. He is an Ordained Elder of

the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. As an aside, if you were a child meeting Santa in Queen Street Waiuku, during the 1960s, he was probably the man behind the beard.

While their children attended Waipipi School, Clyde served on the School Committees of the time, and was presented with a gold watch for long service. He and Jean would later write a history of the school and district, and contribute to Waipipi School reunions. Clyde continued his interest in, and service to, education as a member of the Waiuku College Board of Governors from 1965 to 1988.

Local history has been one of Clyde’s lifetime passions, and he has researched, written and created many booklets. Clyde has always found his involvement in community activities most interesting and rewarding. In recent years his extensive local knowledge has been regularly called upon and he has enjoyed continuing his research and helping others with theirs. It is an interesting reflection of technological changes during his lifetime to consider that the boy who rode a horse to school became the man who used a computer to record that history.

Clyde acknowledges that this award recognises not only his work but also the teams who have contributed significantly to the activities which have enabled the community projects he has been involved with to succeed.

Clyde and Jean are now residents in the Possum Bourne Rest Home in Pukekohe.

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George Flavell, QSM Jean and Clyde Hamilton Robin Davies, Chief Executive New Zealand & Pacific Islands at New Zealand Steel

Milestone for fourth generation business

Wrights Jewellers of Pukekohe will be wellknown to West Frankliners over the years. Celebrating 110 years, the fourth-generation family business celebrated the milestone, and is believed to be the oldest-family owned business in Franklin.

The original Wrights jewellers store was located at the top of King Street in Pukekohe. The store was opened in 1912 by Walter Wright who had completed his watchmaking apprenticeship in England in 1900 after serving a ten-year apprenticeship where he was trained to hand make pocket watches.

Walter was born in Westport where his father Thomas and mother Hannah had settled for a short time during the gold rush era before returning to Bexhill on Sea, near Brighton in south east Sussex. Thomas was a clockmaker and owned a jewellery store in London before immigrating to New Zealand.

Walter eventually returned to New Zealand, stopping in Australia on the way where he met and married his wife, Florence. They arrived in Auckland in 1911 and set about finding a place to open a jewellery shop. Walter made a train trip from Auckland to Pukekohe; he was impressed with the area and its proximity to Auckland and decided to open his first shop there.

The first shop was an old weatherboard building just down from Perkin’s Building, now a Hospice shop. Walter and Florence lived in the rear, while out front one side of the shop was used for clock repairs and the other side was run as a fruit and vege shop by Florence.

In the 1920s, the shop moved to the centre of King Street, the location being next to where the Gary Logan Pharmacy now stands. It was in the 1930s that the business moved to the existing site at 149 King Street.

business. During these times stock was hard to get, and the business survived on doing repairs.

Jack came back from war and took over the business from Walter. Jack’s war service had held him in good stead, and he was able to acquire small import licenses for watches.

Jack and Ava had four sons, Ralph, Norris, Kevin and Gary. In 1965 Ralph and Norris purchased the shop from Jack. In his retirement Jack got his pilot’s licence, played golf, and went fishing at his bach in Glenbrook.

Gary started his apprenticeship under Ralph in 1971 and Norris moved to the new Papakura shop where he was manager. Meanwhile in Pukekohe, Meyers chemist shop had become vacant, so the opportunity arose to expand the shop.

The 1970s and 80s saw the advent of electronic watches, engraving machines and a bigger range of jewellery. Ralph and Norris set up a specialist store in the Arcade, Pukekohe. In 1984 Gary purchased Ralph’s share in Pukekohe and the Papakura shop was sold.

Walter and Florence had three children, Ralph, Oswald, (Ozzie) and Jack. Ralph owned a bookshop and library in Kaikohe and Oswald and Jack both trained as watchmakers. Oswald opened a jewellery store in Kaikohe, and Jack eventually ran the Pukekohe store as well as opening a new store in Otahuhu.

In 1940 Jack joined the New Zealand Airforce and trained as an instrument repairer and serviced auto pilots in the Pacific. While he was at war his wife Ava and father Walter ran the

In 1999, the shop had a total rebuild. The business joined the Gemtime franchise which allowed them to print colour catalogues, magazine advertising and better buying power. Gary’s daughter Rhian bought Norris’s share of the business in 2016 and in 2020 at the beginning of the covid pandemic, Rhian and her husband Ben purchased Gary’s shares making her the fourth generation to be involved in Wrights Jewellers.

Wrights Jewellers still to this day has an onsite workshop where watch repairs, jewellery repairs, and custom work is carried out. With a focus on quality and craftsmanship, the team delight in sourcing beautiful, meaningful jewellery which will be treasured forever.

r e e z e B Phone Chris today 020 4089 9939 Advertise your business Wedding Open Day Sunday 19th February 11am - 2pm Purchase your ticket at www castaways co nz/open-day Castaways Wedding Open Days are a perfect way to experience what your special day can look like Meet our preferred vendors all in one spot and speak to our events team while enjoying complimentary canapes and tea & coffee!
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Photography by Wright’s Jewellers store in 1912
The façade of Wright’s Jewellers of today.

The forgotten railways of West Franklin

If you think about railways in West Franklin today, the Glenbrook Vintage Railway immediately comes to mind, and rightly so. It is a national treasure created by bold and innovative enthusiasts over the last 50 years and now enjoyed by many. But the GVR has its origins on the earlier Waiuku Branch Railway, and even that was not the first.

The earliest railways in the district were the bush tramways on the Awhitu peninsula. The area was rich in kauri forest and there was a ready market for that timber across the harbour in Auckland.

Following the land wars and when European settlement of the Awhitu Peninsula began, some commercial interests turned to harvesting those rich kauri forests. There was a good stand in a gully near the settlement of Awhitu, now called Wattle Bay, but separated from the settlement by a substantial ridge.

A tramway was built through the gully ending in a tunnel

which provided access to Awhitu and the beach. This tramway served an early sawmill at Wattle Bay, the proprietor being Mr E. Gibbons. The wharf there provided access to shipping which carried the timber to Auckland for sale. This timber was cut out after five years and the tunnel was collapsed with explosives to render it safe.

In the 1880s, another mill run by Mr Roe was established in the area now known as Boiler Gully, named for the derelict mill boiler which was left behind and eventually scrapped. When this area was cut out Roe moved his operation to what is now known as Tram Gully, carrying the logs by a tramline which extended some seven miles into the bush with several branches. The trees were felled, and the logs hauled to the tramline with bullocks. They were loaded over skids onto bogies and then run down the hill by gravity under the care of a skilled brakeman whose job was to ensure that sufficient inertia was gathered on the steeper parts to carry the load over the flats. The bogies were returned to the skids by horses. At the waterfront, the logs were floated and made into rafts which were then towed to Roe’s much larger mill at Onehunga by the paddle steamer Oregon. This operation ran for at least another five years. The valleys remain known, as do their roads as Boiler Gully and Tram Gulley.

The government railway line south from Auckland reached Pukekohe in 1875, and although a branch to Waiuku had been proposed as early as 1880, the construction was not authorised until 1912 following the election of William Massey as Prime Minister. The first sod was turned on 19 February 1914 but progress was slow in wartime and the branch was not completed to Waiuku until 1922. Freight services were regular,

carrying stock, coal for the dairy factories and general cargo, however passenger services were minimal and abandoned completely in 1948. The Waiuku branch was destined for closure in 1968 however was saved by the need for a railway to serve the Glenbrook steel mill, which became the Mission Bush Branch. Today’s GVR as an 10km line from Glenbrook to Waiuku.

Prior to development of reliable roading most practical means of transport to Waiuku other than the railway remained crossing the Manukau Harbour to the port of Waiuku. There was also a great deal of traffic on the Waikato River. Prior to the end of the Land Wars this had been for military purposes but by the 1860’sfreight and passenger services became frequent and reliable. There was, however, no connection between the Waikato River and the Manukau Harbour. The former British Army supply depot at

Camerontown near what is now known as the “elbow” was identified as the logical southern terminus of a proposed tramway to the Manukau Harbour which would provide easy access from the Manukau Harbour to the Waikato River. The land was allocated and surveyed. On 7 January 1862 the Auckland newspaper “Southern Cross” reported that “Sir George Grey has intimated that he will open the Tramway that is already laid out, two chains wide from Packington Township on the Mauku” to Camerontown. It was never built, but the southern part of the road remains “Tramway Road”.

Shipping to the ports on the peninsula continued until displaced by roads which were not adequately completed until the 1950s. There were a few other novel uses of railways in the district. Many of the wharves on the Awhitu Peninsula were equipped with a short railway to carry goods

to and from the road to the wharf shed. These were level and propelled by human power. Some dairy farms, in level country featured short railways from their milking shed to the cream stand at the gate. The last of these disappeared with the introduction of whole milk pickup with tankers. Serious consideration was given to the use of rail to ship iron sands to the Glenbrook Mill, but this was overtaken by the innovative and successful slurry pipeline which has served to this day. The Mission Branch remains a vital transport connection to the steel mill from the National Rail Network. The GVR, now a fully certified mainline rail operator continues to grow and flourish. The railway from Paerata to Mission Bush provides undoubted potential opportunities for extension of the Auckland Railway Network into what is now the southwest extremity of Auckland.

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A bullock hauled bush tramway at Taupaki Bush similar to Tram Gully on the Awhitu Peninsula. Photo: Te Papa Collection
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Logs at the mill at Onehunga with tow vessel Oregon on the beach in the background.

Tourists can bring income to the farm

Farmers can find out how to add income to their businesses through agritourism at a Pukekohe workshop in February.

Franklin Local Board economic broker Christina Rogstad says those in the sector frequently search for ways to add value – especially when their businesses are subject to economic pressures outside their control – but the benefits of agritourism are often overlooked.

She has organised to bring Agritourism NZ founder and leading tourism marketing consultant Marijke Dunselman to Pukekohe to outline the benefits of setting up an on-farm tourism venture.

“If you want to learn, learn form the best,” Christina says.

“Marijke has 25 years’ experience in the field and has helped agricultural businesses and farms across the country develop successful tourism operations to add income streams.”

She says the cost of the workshop is being part-funded by the Franklin Local Board to keep it within reach of anyone who may already have an idea. Businesses that could partner with agritourism operators are also welcome.

“You think of four-wheel -drive groups, horse-treks, tour operators, manufacturers, growers … they might all have something to offer that could add to the experience of agritourism in Franklin.

“People can be put off by assuming there’s endless red-tape and restrictions, health and safety and that sort of thing, but Marijke can explain how to navigate the issues. The perceived barriers are not insurmountable.”

The one-day course is on 23 February at the Franklin Local Board offices above the Pukekohe Library, and the $95 fee (plus

gst), includes course materials, lunch and morning and afternoon tea.

Marijke says the course is ideal for anyone looking to start, and those wanting to maximise the potential of existing businesses.

“We will look at case studies and agritourism product development, the things around what might work on a particular farm, what’s involved in setting up, pricing and opportunities to work with others.

“There is also a section on marketing, because obviously the more people who know about a business the greater the potential. And we also look at how existing agritourism businesses can increase revenues.”

She says Franklin is in a good position to make the most of its established horticultural and agricultural history.

“It’s certainly the closest point of call for international visitors looking to see what ‘clean and green’ really means on the farm, to understand what goes into food production, to get up close and personal with animals and to just generally experience rural life.”

To register email info@agritourism.nz.

Valedictory: Edward (Ted) Shaun Michael Kitching

One of the original Mudlarks, Ted Kitching passed away on 7 January 2023.

“I first met Ted while canvassing for signatures to get approval to clear mangroves in the Waiuku estuaries around 20072008,” said Ian Scobie, chairman of the Mudlarks.

Ian continues his tribute: “He was walking up Sandspit Road having been for a swim and asked what I was doing. When told he said you’re the guy I wanted to see, as he was already concerned at the spread of mangroves in the area.

“Ted was a dedicated ornithologist and felt the mangroves were taking over much of the important wading bird areas in the bay. At the time he was working on boats at Halfmoon Bay having

been one of the staff there for a long time.

“When he retired, he offered to help finish the barge and got the job antifouling the bottom of each pontoon while they were on their sides

“Not surprisingly he also painted the bottom of the barge by crawling under it while it was propped up down by our container a few years later.

“Ted quickly became part of the team, using his vast experience as a ship’s master on large vessels, having been in charge of ships servicing oil rigs in the North Sea.

“He was meticulous about the way he stacked his bundles of mangroves and set a very high standard that none of the rest of us could match.

“One of his greatest at-

tributes was his expertise at splicing ropes and became relied on to supply us with all our strops and anchor ropes and perfected our pulley systems for hauling the bundles onto the barge.

“Ted had strong views on how the operation was run and could be a bit abrasive at times and there has been some lively debate over the years, but when you consider his lifetime experience at sea, you could understand the frustration he sometimes felt dealing with us landlubbers.

“While Ted had slowly reduced his time with the Mudlarks he was still heavily involved with bird monitoring and his work with Awhitu Coast Care.

“Ted has been a great asset to our group and we will miss him.”

1940 - 2023 Passed away 7 Jan 2023 Members of the Mudlarks on their float in the 2011 Waiuku Christmas Parade; Ted left, Ian Scobie centre and Dave Gribble left.

Fuchsias on display

The 2023 show of the Franklin Fuchsia Group was held in Waiuku on Friday 20 and Saturday 21 January.

The Franklin group is the only fuchsia growers organisation that holds an annual awards show and exhibition.

President, Mary Hull, said she was “quite pleased with the public attendance but with a lack of local publications in January, it was hard for them to advertise the show.”

The supreme winner of the show was Carol Smithlin’s hanging basket and winner of the standard fuchsia was Sylvia Galbraith.

79.5h development means new roundabout and road

The first stage of a fivepart property development project, involving a tract of land on the eastern side of Waiuku running between Cornwall, Collingwood and Kitchener Roads and including several roading improvements, is nearly complete.

Part-owner Graham Windross, who is also Executive Director of Zelandia Horticulture, said the development process began in 2018 and despite covid and weather delays, is still only three-four months behind its original schedule.

The company completing the development, Baseline 2018 Ltd, purchased nine different adjacent properties on the site which Graham said were unlikely to be de-

veloped individually.

“A lot of infrastructure was needed, including the construction of a new roundabout on Collingwood Road, the upgrade of the whole of Cornwall Road from a small rural road to one with footpaths, and creating

Dotterels do better this year

Over the summer months Awhitu Landcare have been working on a project around the peninsular bays to protect the nesting dotterel and oystercatcher birds.

These birds are very vulnerable to storm and rising tides, roaming dogs and other predators..

While it is known that at least nine nests were lost, washed away

3km of wastewater line.”

The development project is set to create 75 hectares of industrial and 2.5 hectares of new residential property; the first stage of work is due for completion by the end of March.

Of 32 total industrial lots

during the high tide/storm events in November. Most pairs try to nest again and over Christmas and into January new nests were found on beaches. Nest sites were taped off with signage to warn beach goers to be mindful of the nesting areas and to keep dogs on leads. On most local beaches dogs off leaches are not permitted by council bylaws.


available in the first stage, 29 have been pre-sold to a range of businesses and investors.

Graham said they are “getting close to consent” for the residential portion of the project, but the timing on offering these for sale will depend on the buoyancy of the property market.

Several wetland park areas with walking tracks will be created as part of the work; the first of these has been constructed during the initial phase of development.

Earthworks have begun on the north-eastern side of Cornwall Road in preparation for the second phase of the development, and the entire project is expected to take five-ten years.

Hard to see against similar coloured sands, this picture shows a new dotterel nest under way at Orua Bay. Carol Smithlin’s Supreme fuchsia in show.
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Carol Smithlin receives her award from Mary Hull, President of the Franklin Fuchsia Group.
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The story of the wreck of the HMS Orpheus

Whakatane and District Historical Society started to make progress to produce the book. The Whakatane Museum had published other books and they supported the project with some funding.

Many long weeks of work started in typesetting, scanning pictures many of which had been drawn by the author, to get the book to a printable stage. Later in 1987 what resulted was the most authoritative account of the disaster ever written.

It is the 160th anniversary of the worst maritime disaster in New Zealand’s history on 7 February, and it happened right on our doorstep.

The book The Orpheus Disaster had a very interesting gestation. Author Thayer Fairburn had spent his whole life researching and writing the history of the shipwreck. He had approached various publishers, and when they wanted to edit parts out of the book Thayer would have nothing to do with that, resulting in the manuscript laying on his table.

In 1987, the now Sir Bob Harvey former Mayor of Waitakerie City Council, spoke

to Thayer about his book. Being a devoted West Aucklander, Sir Bob had the vision to help Thayer with his quest to have the book put into print.

Coinciding with Sir Bob’s interest Bill Deed from Deed Printing approached Thayer about the possibility of being involved to have his book published. Bill had also a strong interest in the subject. In 1963 at the time of the 100year commemoration of the shipwreck, Bill wrote a story about the disaster for the Waiuku News newspaper. He was just 12 years old. Soon Sir Bob and Bill in conjunction with Thayer and the

In 2013, the Manukau Heads Lighthouse Trust, on the occasion of the sesquicentennial of the disaster helped to fund a second edition with a new cover illustration, so copies perfect bound and some collector edition copies case-bound were produced.

Ten years later, these books are being made available. The perfect bound book with the blue cover is $45.00 per copy and the case-bound copy with the black cover which was originally sold for $125.00 is now available for $90.00. These are available at Action Office Products Depot, 16 Bowen Street, Waiuku, and profits from sale of books go to the Manukau Heads Lighthouse Trust maintenance account.

of 160 years ago
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Did you know that Waiuku Lions supports Camp Quality Auckland Northland?


volunteer participating in numerous fun activities throughout the week. Some of the amazing activities saw the children braving the rapids at Vector Wero White Water Park, climbing high on the Rocket Ropes or getting pulled behind a jet ski at Clarks Beach. Each day saw more activities which kept the children and companions entertained.

Keeping the herd happy in Glenbrook

Paula Levett has been breeding dairy goats at her Glenbrook property for around 25 years.

Camp Quality is a national charity that runs camps for children living with cancer between the ages of 5-16. The Auckland/Northland branch of Camp Quality recently held their week long summer camp at Wesley College in Pukekohe from the 8 January to 13 January.

This summer they hosted 55 children each paired with an adult

Camp Quality is well supported by a lot of the local businesses. A big supporter of Camp Quality is the Lions Clubs NZ with many local clubs like Waiuku, Pukekohe and Tuakau attending. “Regional clubs from all over Auckland support Camp Quality by fundraising, providing all our baking throughout the week and coming to camp to prepare and serve meals and then cleaning up afterwards.

Lions Club of Waiuku

“Lions Clubs are one of the many organisations that support us and we would not be able to run such amazing camps and touch so many children’s lives without their support.

“A big thank you to the Lions and all the companies and organisations that support us each year. We look forward to our next Summer Camp in January 2024 when we will be at Wesley College once again.”Said Kevin.

She currently has about 50 goats on her property, of which she milks a dozen in the morning and about eight in the afternoon. The remaining animals comprise what she jokingly refers to as her ‘retirement community’.

An average goat lives around ten to 12 years, and they can be milked continuously for about two or three of those years.

Paula’s current herd comprises a larger dairy breed called the ‘Saanen’, a standard industrial milking goat with a relaxed nature, and a newer herd she imported from Australia called ‘Nigerian Dwarf’. The latter breed is miniature, and were the first of their kind in New Zealand. Paula said the new arrivals are a bit of a novelty, but also a challenging temperament to manage, compared to the Saanen goats.

“They may be small but they’re a bundle of trouble, and ten times as naughty!”

The smaller goats are also very difficult to fence. “You have to think it’s like fencing a cat. They can tunnel, jump, climb, they don’t get big and heavy but stay athletic. They’re just full on.” Paula thinks the Nigerian Dwarf breed is much closer to its original genetic state than the bigger farm goats.

On the flip side, the miniature goats have better feet than their larger counterparts, and seem to be more worm-resistant.

“Goats,” said Paula, “are not the easiest animals to look after. They are designed to browse, not graze, and unlike sheep, they don’t develop immunity as they age. Goat

husbandry is quite an art. A goat keeper has to constantly look out for worms, as the parasites can make a goat very sick, very quickly.” Goats also need good shelter, as they hate windy, wet weather.

Paula’s foray into the Nigerian Dwarf is her attempt to produce a top-quality milking goat for New Zealand. “These goats produce a fraction of the amount of milk, but the solids are double. You can stand your spoon up in it.” Less volume but similar solids makes a desirable goat’s milk for the home cheesemaker.

Paula first decided to try breeding goats after living overseas and being exposed to products like goat’s cheese. On her return home she found goat products hard to come by, and thought she would try her hand at producing her own goat’s milk.

Goats are prolific milk producers. Healthy animals can produce around nine litres of milk a day—about a third of what a cow produces, despite being a fraction of the size—with average milk production around four to five litres a day.

While Paula’s toyed with the idea of raising her dairy herds commercially over the years, the compliance and regulation costs on the dairy industry tend to be prohibitive for a small operator.

There are about 150 people registered as dairy goat breeders in the NZ Dairy Goat Breeders Association, for which Paula holds the office of Registrar.

Paula said it’s the goats’ attractive personalities that keep her committed to her boutique craft. “They’re inquisitive, intelligent, independent yet quite affectionate animals. They’re not really needy, but they’re interested in you.”

Goat intelligence can be a double-edged sword, and Paula said you need a multiplanned approach to get things done; if the goats decide they don’t want to perform, you need to come back with another idea. “You have to get up very early in the morning to outsmart a goat.”

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Paula (far left) and miniature goat Zenzero Desert Goddess, along with fellow breeders with the best in show entries at Te Kauwhata in 2022
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Storm Chaser –Graeme MacDonald

You might have 200 people in 100 vehicles converging in on the same area. There can be heavy rain, intense straight-line winds blowing vehicles o the road, and the always-present risk of a direct or indirect lightning strike.

Born and bred in the Franklin area, Waipipi to be exact, Graeme MacDonald moved away when he turned 18. Having attended Waiuku College, he had to make a decision between doing an apprenticeship or leaving for Auckland City. The latter won out.

After completing papers in Political Science at the University of Auckland Graeme went on to become a licensed auctioneer for Turners Auctions and continued in this career for approximately six years.

“I used to love school speech competitions so this fed nicely into being an auctioneer. The job took me all over the North Island specialising in plant and general heavy equipment,” said Graeme.

As well as being a keen public speaker, Graeme admitted that he’d always had a fascination with the weather, particularly storms, waterspouts and lightning. Also, Graeme’s dad had always kept a weather almanac to monitor and record various weather patterns.

In 1994 Graeme travelled overseas to the United States (US), then Europe and the United Kingdom before settling in Los Angeles and that’s where Graeme’s love for storm chasing began.

Living in Los Angeles, Graeme spent a lot of time in the Southwestern US, particularly the Mojave Desert, shooting videos and taking photos of the severe thunderstorms associated with the monsoon season.

During this time, he read of an Oklahoma City based storm chaser Marty Feely, who pioneered the concept of taking paying clients storm chasing across Tornado Alley. “This was 1995/1996 and the Internet had not yet come into its own, so my research comprised letter writing,

phone calls and watching any available media, which wasn’t a lot! The release in 1996 of the movie Twister only served to reinforce my determination to chase storms one day.

“I returned to New Zealand at the end of 1996 and started saving up for a storm chasing trip. By 1997 I had researched and connected with a fledgling storm chasing tour company Silver Lining Tours (SLT), based in Houston, Texas, with operator David Gold, now a lifelong friend.

“During May 1998, I embarked on my first professional chase with SLT, going through such hurdles as the wiring of a considerable amount of money, a lengthy legal contract with SLT absolving the company of any legal liability should I come to harm, a very expensive travel insurance policy, and three flights to get to Oklahoma City for the start of the tour.

“Before leaving New Zealand, my friends held a ‘farewell party’ for me, at which they made it clear they were not sure if I would make it back again!

“That was the start of storm chasing for me; I was finally in the right place with the right people and the right equipment, though the technology used nowadays is much more advanced compared to what we used back then.”

Graeme went on a ten day trip where he travelled 5000 miles across the Central Great Plains of America, from the south of Texas to Iowa in the north, and the eastern Colorado to Missouri. Weather data was accessed via the Internet at truck stops and local libraries.

“The trick was to forecast and target significant weather in time to be able to witness it up close, but sheer distances and atmospheric unpredictability meant we were often too late or in the wrong location, a downside played out even today in modern storm chasing. I saw some fantastic severe weather on that trip but not a tornado.

“People often think of storm chasing as just chasing tornados, but it isn’t just that; the severe storms across Tornado Alley are very different to New Zealand and quite unparalleled in intensity and size, including baseball sized hail, frequent cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, severe straight line winds, and the ominous majesty of a supercell: a rotating thunderstorm overpowering the skies.”

In 1999 Graeme returned to the US to storm chase, this time taking his girlfriend Vanessa (Ness), who is now his wife. “It was pretty intense! We had a couple of significant moments on that trip.

“We were in Imperial, South West Texas, which is oil well country and the flat endless plains that gave Roy Orbison his sorrowful inspiration for songs, chasing a tornadic supercell at night. Night chasing is one of the most dangerous situations you can do, with no visual clues apart from lightning, reliant upon radar updates, and on this night, a limited roading network for escape paths.

“We knew there was a tornado on the ground very close by; we could hear incredible winds, but couldn’t tell exactly where it was or where to find safety. For a minute there we feared there was little escape from an oncoming tornado - a very scary situation to be in!

“Then a few days later near Meade, Kansas, we targeted and chased a rapidly growing and rotating supercell thunderstorm that looked to have imminent tornadic potential. We had driven through supersized hail, somehow managing not lose our windscreen, and found ourselves almost underneath the core of rotation.

“Our only chase option was to drive underneath to the south and get ahead of the developing tornado, down a Kansas red dirt road. About a mile later we stopped to get out and observe the storm, only to see a massive dustfilled tornado on the ground moving rapidly towards us, less than a quarter-mile away.

“We panicked as we had miscalculated how quickly the storm had developed and the direction the now-formed tornado might head; we were clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. After throwing ourselves back into the van we eventually made it to safety down the road.”

Graeme admitted that storm chasing can be extremely dangerous and can result in fatali-


ties. “It’s especially dangerous nowadays when you get a lot of people on the road chasing the same storm, which is more likely now that storm chasing has become a lot more popular compared to when I first started.

“You might have 200 people in 100 vehicles converging in on the same area. There can be heavy rain, intense straight-line winds blowing vehicles off the road, and the always-present risk of a direct or indirect lightning strike.

“One of the most experienced chasers in the world, Tim Samaras, lost his life in 2013 while filming for National Geographic when he was overtaken by a record-setting tornado which was over one and a half miles wide.

“The tornado suddenly shifted direction giving him no route for escape and killed him, his son and a family friend. Their deaths rocked the storm chasing community to the core and caused a re-think by many about safety concerns when chasing. Even the best people can get caught as weather can change at a moment’s notice.”

Despite the dangerous nature of storm chasing, Graeme continued to follow his passion and has returned to the US at least eight more times since 1999. The thrill of the chase over the last few years has been dampened by effects of COVID travel restrictions. However, Graeme’s love for all things weather remains.

Drag racing is another adrenaline boosting driving-related pastime in which Graeme was keenly involved. Given that he currently works in and has been involved at a political level in the motor vehicle industry, having a hobby involving vehicles comes as no surprise.

“I’ve had a reasonably successful career in drag racing and both managed a drag racing team competing in New Zealand and Australia, plus raced my own Pro Street Import Toyota Supra from 2002-2008.”

Graeme recently retired as Board Chairman of the Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association in New Zealand, but is currently active in Australia as Board Meeting Chairman for the Australian Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association (AIMVIA)..

When asked whether there will be any more storm chasing trips, Graeme said, “perhaps not for the next year or two, but the lure of severe weather is a strong pull indeed, so I certainly won’t say never. My son, Hunter, is now 16 and you never know, he might want to take up the passion of his slightly mad father! Of course, he’d need someone to accompany him.”

AUGUST 2022 PAGE 12 WESTFRANKLINBREEZE.NZ FEBRUARY Everyone, please enjoy our online CLOSING DOWN SALE! www.wild-daisies.co.nz Frog Pond Tuition is continuing Phone 021 161 0490
Graeme MacDonald