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Myrtle Gardiner 1915-2011

Posted by SC Comments Off on Myrtle Gardiner 1915-2011

Myrtle at North Piha Campers Club, January 2008

Myrtle Gardiner, a very long-term bach owner and lover of Piha, died on Saturday 22 October, in her 97th year, peacefully at her home on Great Barrier Island. She had enjoyed watching the Friday night rugby with her friend Coral Broadhead, but never got to the bottle of French champagne she had waiting in the fridge for when New Zealand won the Rugby World Cup.

Myrtle was born Myrtle Blanche Krutz, the family being of Prussian descent, and she grew up on a farm in Taranaki. She always referred to herself as “a farm girl at heart”. In New Plymouth she met and married Noel “Wig” Gardiner, and the young couple originally farmed in the shadow of Mt Egmont before coming to Auckland.

Noel joined the Piha Surf Life Saving Club about 1936, and during the 1930s was the club instructor. The Gardiners had a series of rented baches then bought a bach in Garden Road (last on the right)  and hosted many legendary parties. During WW2 Noel was a Captain and won the DSO and later wrote popular books about his wartime experiences.

A pioneering businesswoman at a time when married women with children did not run businesses, Myrtle ran Gard’ner Garments, a stylish shop in High Street, specialising in glamourous lingerie. Tall, slim and blonde, Myrtle was  the best dressed and most immaculately groomed woman in Piha – by far - a style she kept up in advanced old age. She had a manner to match her elegant appearance, being charming and gracious.

The Gardiners had two sons, Michael and Richard, and a daughter, Maryanne. The boys were active members of the North Piha Surf Club and Michael was one of the early Piha/North Piha group who took up surfing in the early 1960s.

Later in her life, aged 82, Myrtle moved to Great Barrier Island where Michael lived, where she built a lovely home and developed a garden which she loved. A religious woman, she read the Bible and prayed every day.

Myrtle continued to visit Piha from time to time, staying with Maryanne and Alan Mummery at the North Piha Campers Club.

Myrtle had three grand-children and four great-grandchildren.

 

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