Archiving NZ Trucking History Media
Born in Lawrence in 1937, John grew up on the family orchard in Roxburgh and upon leaving Roxburgh District High School, the headmaster said he had been an asset to the school particularly in rugby and cricket!!
His early working days were spent as an apprentice painter and paperhanger in Roxburgh as well as helping out on the family orchard before commencing his driving career.
John was introduced into the road transport industry in 1959 when he moved to Mossburn to drive for the then Mossburn Transport which at the time was owned by Cliff and Marj Bennetts. The company later went on to merge with other local transports from Te Anau, Lumsden and Manapouri Haulage and formed the present day Northern Southland Transport Holdings Limited. The company continued to grow when joined by Wakatipu, Five Rivers and Garston Transports in the late 1960s.
In 1969, he swapped his truck for a pen when he transferred to the office in Mossburn – John was promoted to the role of Branch Manager in 1972, then appointed as a Director in 1981 which had him responsible for the control of rural cartage from then until his semi-retirement.
John and his wife, Irene, moved to Queenstown in 1999 where John helped set up the transfer stations in Queenstown, Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra and the subsequent wastecollection in Central Otago. Before finally retiring in 2009, he was responsible for the purchasing of new vehicles for NSTH including buses designed for NZ Ski in Queenstown.
He became involved in the Southland Road Transport Association in 1980, where he undertook the roles of National Councillor from 1984-88 and then the Branch President 1988-90. John remained on the Executive Committee until 1996, also becoming involved with the restructuring of the association when the Otago, Gore and Southland RTA Branches joined to become NZRTA Region 5. John was made at life member of the association in 1999. Over the years, John was very involved in the organisation of RTA conferences in Queenstown, Invercargill and Dunedin.
John represented a West Otago Rugby team in his younger days and made a name for himself in the forwards before moving to the backs – he also played for Northern Southland when he moved to Mossburn. John is still a keen rugby follower and the men in ‘blue and gold’ still do no wrong. He is also interested in harness racing and playing golf.
Finally, John was involved in the Mossburn community and was presented a Community Services award for contribution to the community, as well as made an honorary life member of the Mossburn Fire Brigade. He was also appointed as a Justice of the Peace in 1987.
John’s knowledge of the transport industry was recognised widely and he was respected by other operators throughout the industry.