Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

My thanks to Gavin for this interesting article about one of New Zealand’s ‘finest’.

A Fairlie good story about Sir Bill Hamilton.

I’d like to tell you about a farm boy brought up from the same locality I was, albeit 50 years earlier. Much information is in the newspaper article below (if you are able to open it).

The area down here is called South Canterbury but will have its Māori name of Aoraki used. It is in the centre of the South island and nearby our highest mountain Mt Cook and alongside multiple lakes all a turquoise colour (to do with the glacier rock flour). The night sky is a world heritage site and one of the best places to see the stars. It’s a tourist mecca. My family church is one of the most photographed in the world.

Apart from the lakes the place is a barren desert of tussock grass, rabbits and sheep. But the lakes supply hydro power down some rivers. So it must be in the water down here that such a remote place in the world in a mostly unheard of nation where world leading inventions are made. Ed Hillary trained on the mountains here (with my uncle) and Richard Pearse flew here before the Wright Bros. The ski plane was invented here too. The main town here is Fairlie, named after a town in Scotland. The district is called Mackenzie after an infamous Scottish sheep stealer that is more legend around here. The local pipe band is often heard. The rugby team is called the Rams as you could guess and the town is the butt internationally of a certain sheep joke (deserved).

Most have propellers but a few now have a jet unit that pushes water out the back at such force the boat can go faster, reverse immediately, spin around and sail in very shallow waters (like a few inches). To put it in perspective, many on the River Thames, the fast English channel ferries are jets as is the new Shannon class RNLI lifeboats.
These jet units are called ‘Hamilton jets’ named after Sir Bill Hamilton and still manufactured by his family just around the corner of my main home in Christchurch city.

But Bill did much more. During the depression he invented farm machinery and hydro electric schemes to save the farmers money and during the war munitions inventions for Britain. But as is usual, the locals in Fairlie were not overly aware of him so I thought a statue a good idea and the article if you can read it will show that project.

20 thoughts on “Guest Post: Gavin Marriott

  1. Interesting article. I checked out the links. By the way, Sir Edmund Hillary visited my elementary school in Golden, Colorado back in the early 1960’s. At the school assembly, he presented a slideshow of his climb to the summit of Mt. Everest, and provided a lot of commentary along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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