Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 9, May 1968


Last year Kopurahi and the Hauraki Plains lost one of their earliest pioneers, with the death of Sir William Hale, whose forthrightness won him the greatest respect, not only of New Zealanders but also of the numerous people he had come in contact with overseas.

During his life span of 84 years. Sir William, who was born in Thames in 1883 not only took a prominent part in local affairs, but rose to lead the dairy industry of New Zealand for 19 years. It was for his devoted service to this essential industry that Sir William first received the C.B.E. [Commander of (the Order of) the British Empire - E] in 1950 and then, in the 1958 New Year honours, he was one of three New Zealanders to have a Knighthood conferred on them.

Sir William received his early schooling at Parawai, Thames. On leaving at an early age, among other work he took up farming at Puriri. In 1910 he drew a property at Kopuarahi in the first land ballot. He lived on the same farm practically ever since then, being the only person of the first ballot to be still living on his property at the time of his death.

His long associations with Hauraki Plains local body affairs commenced in 1914 and he served for 18 years as a member of the Thames Hospital Board, 13 of these being chairman. In 1916 he became a director of the Thames Valley Co-operative Dairy Company. A few years later this company amalgamated with the New Zealand Dairy Company and in 1921 Sir William became a director, holding this office until he retired in August, 1958 - a term of 37 years.

With the constitution of the New Zealand Dairy Board in 1935, he became a member of the body, assuming the office of chairman in 1938. He held this position until he retired in 1957. During this period as chairman he made several trips to the United Kingdom to negotiate the price for bulk purchasing of New Zealand dairy produce, and many tributes have been paid to him for his drive and hard bargaining powers.

Sir William spent 10 years on the Hauraki Plains County Council, and during his term of office water supply for the eastern area of the Plains was undertaken. He was respected for his forcefulness and frankness in proposing schemes for the benefit of the early Settlers and he worked extremely hard to implement them.

This busy man held the position of chairman of the Auckland Farmers Freezing Company for many years and also served on the New Zealand Meat Board for a period of years from 1941. During the early days of the Kopuarahi School, he was the second chairman of the committee, a position he held from 1921 to 1929. On the local scene he took active interest in the development of the district and for five years was a member of the Horahia Drainage Board.

Sir William is survived by his widow and five of his seven children. New (Mrs. Horrox); Jim, Grace (Mrs E. Arbury), (Thames); Gladys (Mrs. R. Blair), (Paeroa); and Bob.