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Dr Newton Ernest Wickham “Wicky” 1917-2011

Posted by SC Comments Off on Dr Newton Ernest Wickham “Wicky” 1917-2011

Wicky with his CBE

The death occurred on 5 December of Dr Newton Ernest Wickham “Wicky”, a very long-standing bach owner at North Piha, and a devoted friend of Piha.

Wicky was born in 1917 at Stratford, Taranaki, but moved to Auckland with his family as a child of 11. He is a notable Albertian, having attended Mt Albert Grammar 1931-34, and, in his later years, Wicky awarded scholarships for students at his old school.

He trained in dentistry at Otago University, where he was a hockey blue, and after graduating in 1939, served in field ambulances in North Africa, Palestine, Italy and England duriing WW2. Wicky set up a dental unit on the back of a truck and that was his mobile “surgery” throughout the war.

After further dental training in Canada, he became the first periodontist in New Zealand and was one of the founders of the NZ Society of Periodontology, of which he was made an Honorary Life Member.

He married his wife Keitha in 1948 and the couple had two daughters, Charlette and Rosemary.

Wickham Bach 2010

It was Wicky’s father who introduced him to Piha. At the end of the war, Wicky and Keitha were among the first to buy a section from Les Waygood at North Piha. The small group of bach owners was tightly knit and Wicky made life-long friends with the Astleys, Hilfords, Watsons, Watkins and Lennards, and marathon runner, Bill Barker – all of whom lived at the far end of North Piha beach.

Wicky had a passion for fitness and deplored smoking, having seen the damage it did to teeth. He undertook a run a day and expected hus family to join him. Wicky was adventurous and loved the outdoors, the bush and the beach: he surfed, with a board made of a lump of wood, and body-surfed. 

 With his North Piha friends and his family, he led long walks along the coast. The wickhams thought nothing of walking to Te Henga, where they had relatives, or to Whatipu. Wicky and his daughters slept out in the caves on Anawhata Stream;  they spent the night on a tiny strip of sand at Mercer Bay, keeping warm by singing hymns’;and when Wicky’s youngest daughter was a mere four-years-old, they spent the night camping on top of Lion Rock, watching the stars, but making sure not to roll out and over the edge during the night.

Wicky retired from dentistry when he was 58, and bemoaned that people had lost their sense of service and had become too greedy. His personal motto was to make sure “money was your servant, not your master”. He made numerous donations to charities and awarded scholarships including one to Auckland University in Pacific Island Health. He gave years of service to Medical Aid Abroad that supplied medicines and equipment to developing countries and was that organisation’s first life member. He was awarded a CBE for services to dentistry in 1983.

At Piha he was a staunch supporter of the R&R, and interested in everything to do with the place. His city home was in Remuera where he was surrounded with memorabilia from his war years, his profession and Piha. His final years were spent at Edmund Hillary Retirement Village, though he retained his North Piha bach and visited whenever he could. The bach was kept in its original condition, down to kapok matresses and pillows. Recently, the Piha News published some of Wicky’s memories of  the early years of Piha.

Keitha Wickham at North Piha bach

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