Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982


By Neil Climie

Many of our members will have visited the famous Pukeiti Gardens at New Plymouth and some perhaps have enjoyed viewing the equally beautiful 'Tupare', the home of Sir Russell and Lady Matthews who for years have held an 'Open Day' during Labour week-end. This year they were awarded New Year Honours in recognition of their contribution to Horticulture in New Zealand. Particularly as Founder and Patron of the Pukeiti Rhododendron Trust, though their lovely 'Tupare" is regarded as one of the best private Gardens in New Zealand.

Our special interest lies in the fact that Lady Mary Matthews is linked with Paeroa. She was the daughter of Walter Brodie (Bank of New Zealand) and his wife nee Martha Dulcibel Nicks after whom the Waihi Martha Mine was named by her Uncle William Nicholls. Her home at that time was a two-storey house near the Junction Wharf, later occupied by D. Inglis and then Ned Shaw. It may be remembered that we featured an article in Journal 9 (1968) after the late Alex Brodie (brother of Lady Matthews) brought us a painting of 'The Junction' now in our museum. Subsequently he visited us during the Martha Mine Centenary (1978). It is noteworthy that he was named after his grandfather, Alexander Brodie, the first Chairman of the Thames County Council and in 1888, Mayor of Thames. Both Alex (engineer) and his brother John (writer) were born in Paeroa. Later their father was Manager of the Bank of New Zealand at Te Aroha, Thames and New Plymouth.

Sir Russell Matthews made his mark in the business world, his success allowing him to follow horticultural interests to which Lady Matthews gave her loyal support. They have reared an outstandingly talented family and we can be proud of our links with them as we offer them our warmest congratulations.