Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001
Member of the Paeroa & District Historical Society and well-known historian, Alistair Isdale died suddenly at Thames on Sunday 7 January 2001.
Mr Isdale was born on 16 June 1911 at Waipukarau. His family moved to Raumati and he started school there, later gaining a scholarship to help get through high school. At the age of 16 he began probationary teaching at Hastings Street School in Napier and then spent two years at Christchurch Teachers' College before returning to Napier, shortly before the earthquake, to teach. He later taught in Whanganui and again in Hawkes Bay.
In 1943 Mr Isdale and his wife, Joyce, bought a property in Thames and began New Zealand's first herb nursery, with postal orders going all over the country. Mr Isdale later worked as a typist for a Thames lawyer, then moved into printing before becoming an accountant, prospector and registered mining agent. After the mining company left, Mr Isdale continued as a freelance mining agent and curator of the mineralogical museum (1956).Writing was a passion to Alistair Isdale and sharing his knowledge was a joy to him. He amassed huge amounts of information and compiled histories of the Thames and Hawkes Bay areas. His book, The History of the River Thames was reprinted in 1990 - nearly 20 years after the last copy of the original print run of 5000 was sold. He has also written songs and poems. While in his 60s, he passed the Mensa Society's intelligence test.
From 1985 Mr Isdale worked as a volunteer at the Thames School of Mines and he used his in-depth knowledge to guide visitors around the facility.
His 80th Birthday, in 1991, was marked by a tree planting ceremony at the Hauraki Prospectors' Association grounds. Members recognised Mr Isdale's contribution to Thames and particularly his efforts to preserve the written and physical history of mining in the area.
In November 2000, the 44 years that Mr Isdale had given to the Thames School of Mines was recognised when Dame Catherine Tizard, Chairwoman of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, presented him with a Certificate, honouring his contribution. She referred to him as an ambassador for history and heritage.