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Archive for the ‘Who they were’ Category

Ted Browne and the Browne family

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Ted and Stella Browne were the second proprietors of the Piha Boarding House. Edward “Ted” Christmas Browne was born to Simon and Gertrude Browne on 25 December 1888 at Port Albert. The family was part of the Albertland settlement and Ted attended Port Albert Public School. Ted was a grocer in Okaha, Dargaville when he enlisted for WW1  [ Read More ]

Wally Jarvis – super swimmer

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I heard a lot when I was growing up about Wally Jarvis, one of the best swimmers at the Piha Surf Life Saving Club. An exceedingly tall young man – 6 feet 6 inches – Wally (Walter James) was one of three elite Jarvis swimmers who enriched surf  clubs along the West Coast: Wally at Piha, brother  [ Read More ]

Dr and Mrs MacDiarmid

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Dr MacDiarmid, as he was known to everyone at Piha in the 1950s, was the resident doctor, whether he liked it or not. He came to Piha for the quiet life, to retire, but found himself called on to attend to ailing locals, lifesavers with bleeding heads and drowned visitors, at all times of the day or  [ Read More ]

The Erdman Family

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The Erdman family was associated with Piha for around 50 years, but the association came to an end with the death of Paula Erdman in 1995. The Erdmans originally came from Budapest, Hungary, and were one of a very few Hungarian families to arrive in New Zealand before the Second World War - the large influx of  [ Read More ]

Fred Lucas

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Frederick William Lucas has one of the most auspicious sporting records of any of the sportsmen in the Piha Surf Life Saving Club. He was born in 1902 to Sarah Ann and Arthur Lucas, and grew up in Auckland, joining the Ponsonby Rugby  Football Club. He was a star three-quarter and played in the Auckland  [ Read More ]

Merle Ussher

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Merle was born Ella Merle Mobbs to Horace and Nell Mobbs in Christchurch on 9 October 1919, but spent almost her whole life on the West Coast. The Mobbs family farmed the 2900 acre Pae O Te Rangi Farm at Anawhata. The Mobbs’ homestead had a bush camp-style chimney, a dado around the kitchen made  [ Read More ]

George Potter

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George Potter was one of Piha’s “characters” of which the community has always had not a few. George Edward Potter was born to Florence Minnie and Frank Potter on 6 March 1915 at Kekerangu which is on the South Island coast near Kaikoura. His father was a labourer and when the family moved north to Braigh, Waipu,  [ Read More ]

Categories: Who they were

Mary Dobbie

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Mary Dobbie was one of the most well-known personalities at Piha and a leader in many community developments from the 1970s till the 1990s. Born in 1913 in London to parents Lillian and William Smee, her family emigrated to New Zealand in 1919, settling in Opotiki where her father had a position as secretary/accountant for the  [ Read More ]

Ted Le Grice and the Piha Boarding House

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Ted Le Grice built the Piha Boarding House in about 1922, and it has long stood as a prominent landmark at Piha. So who was Ted le Grice and where did he come from? Charles Edward “Ted” Le Grice was born in 1881 at Colville on the Coromandel, to Jeremiah Le Grice and Leah Le Grice,  [ Read More ]

Merv and Rene “Mum” Otto

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The Ottos were at the centre of everything happening at Piha in the 1940 to the 1960s. Merv was a live-wire and Mr Fix-it man all around Piha, while Mum, or Rene, was the solid matriarch-type, not just of her Wright children and grand-children, but to a generation of young men at the Piha Surf  [ Read More ]