Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974


When I came to N.Z. as a youngster in 1905, my people were with a very well organised entertainment called "West's Pictures and the Brescians", a combination of high class concert and orchestra and the first motion pictures to be shown by means of the electric arc lamp. Altogether it was a very top line combination.

The Brecians consisted of two closely-knit families from Wolverhampton in England. (Three brothers had married three sisters). They were all highly trained artists, singers and musicians. Other members of both families were also married to accomplished artists and comedians not related by blood, but neighbours from Wolverhampton. Among the Haywards was Charles Flavell Hayward, a composer who wrote all the music, and my own father, Rudall Hayward (Sen.) who was the Stage-Manager as well as being a fine actor-singer, remembered for his character songs. He also played the cello. My Mother, (nee Martiningo) a very fine violinist, was the star of the combination. They toured very successfully three times round Australasia, and having made money decided to disband, some wanting to return to England.

My parents decided to settle in Waihi which was then the second largest town in the Auckland Province. Around 1909 they bought a house on Riverbank Terrace and called it "Brecia". It was a fine type of gentleman's residence and the grounds were laid out in lawns, shrubs and an extensive flower garden, including a greenhouse. A long winding path led to our front gate Riverbank Terrace, then a good clear roadway with footpaths.

My father also bought the "Academy of Music" in Rosemont Road, an old hall which he rebuilt and called the "Academy Theatre". (My brother and I still own it). He spread his interests and at one time had theatres in Thames and Tauranga and a travelling show that played Paeroa, Te Aroha and Hamilton. His brother, Henry Hayward founded the circuit of 'Hayward's Enterprises', later, to become 'Fuller - Hayward Theatres Ltd.' with theatres all over New Zealand.

The Academy Theatre at Waihi was visited by many theatrical shows in my Dad's day. I remember particularly Hugard the Magician, who had men bring their own rifles and ammunition and standing on seats in the back of the theatre, fire at a piece of cloth he held over his heart! There is nothing like it today. It was a tremendous sensation. Then there was Shima the Japanese "catch-as-catch-can" wrestler, who would take on anyone and beat them in one minute. The first version of Alfred Hill's famous "Hinemoa" Operetta came through with a Maori cast from Rotorua. There was also a Hungarian Family who arrived with a child prodigy violinist. My Mother, who took violin pupils, knew that he was clever but objected to his family exploiting him. (However he became one of the world's leading violinists).

Our parents were continually holding rehearsals at our home and many overseas artists came there, as did judges travelling in circuit, scientists, politicians and cranks of every colour and creed. The billiard room used to be a very lively rowdy centre and the yard would be full of traps and buggies. My Dad had an elegant Italian vehicle drawn by two roan mares, and also a three-horse brake that was used to convey projectors and equipment to Tauranga and to the "Paeroa - Karangahake" showing. These were One night stands operated from Waihi. Hamilton was also a 'One night' stand operated by a portable plant conveyed by rail.

We had a wonderful old bearded character named Newton, who looked after the horses, (which incidentally Harry Armour shod). My father brought him out from England with his wife. He was a self-taught intellectual of fine character - a lover of the Classics from which he would quote at length. A remarkable chap, he had a great influence on the lives of my brother and me because he was a practical man, bred in the poverty of the English industrial area but had battled to improve himself. He died in the Waihi hospital mourned by many friends.

Life in Waihi in that period, looking back, seems to me a more liberal existence than we live today. There was less grubbing for money and more creative activity. But the old Waihi died when the strike split the town with bitter political strife. In this contest everyone lost, and my father suffered heavily. In the early twenties he decided to leave and I had taken up Film-making. The organisation, "Hayward Film Productions" was established in Auckland in 1920 and produced many documentaries including "Inside Red China", "The Amazing Dolphin of Opononi" and New Zealand's first full length film, "Riwi's [Rewi ? – E] Last Stand".

OUR CONTRIBUTOR: MR. RUDALL HAYWARD, M.B.E. a pioneer film producer, in 1971 was listed among the "Makers of Auckland" and we have pleasure in quoting from his press record:- "In 1921 (at the age of 21) he was assistant director of the feature "The Bloke from Freeman's Bay". Then followed other silent films. "My Lady of the Cave" (1922), Rewi's Last Stand (1925), The Te Kooti Trail (1927) and "Bush Cenderella" [Cinderella ? – E] (1928).

In 1926 he completed his first sound film, "On the Friendly Road" and in 1939 the second version of "Rewi's Last Stand". Together with his wife Ramai (who was a leading player) he has more recently specialised in the production of 16mm. educational programmes for world-wide T.V. screening. His latest film "To Love a Maori" is a remarkably moving picture of race relationships in N.Z. in spite of the fact that, in his own words, it was produced on "half a shoe-string".

A modest, self-effacing man, Rudall Hayward is an artist with a lively social conscience and is an advocate of the establishment of a course at University level to give creative film makers both training and encouragement. It is noteworthy that during his brief attendance in Wanganui College, an entry in the 1916 suggestion book reads "Buy projection equipment and show educational films". (We regret Mr. Hayward died 29-5-74). ED.