WATTIE -- JAMES - GISBORNE - NZ- 1971-- 1974
edmondsallan - Hello > The three merged companies formed Wattie Industries in 1971, with Sir James as chairman and managing director; Gordon and Ray were joint managing directors of J. Wattie Canneries. Wattie was genuinely upset to be regarded as a monopolist and did not want to be a millionaire. He prided himself on being a salaried man, and saw himself as only one of nearly 24,000 shareholders, over 85 per cent of whom were men and women with relatively small holdings.
Wattie had always taken his business problems home and talked them over with his wife who, he acknowledged, was 'a tremendous inspiration to him'. At Haumoana and Mangapapa, an old homestead at Mangateretere into which they moved in 1950, they enjoyed gardening and growing roses. His main interest was horse-breeding and racing; his horse, Even Stevens, won the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in 1962. He also got a lot of pleasure out of cars, holidaying and fishing at Taupo, stamp collecting and reading. He was a member and president of the Trades Promotion Council and belonged to numerous clubs and organisations.
Wattie preferred not to talk about the many people and worthy public causes he helped. Best known were medical research and education through the funding of annual visits of overseas medical specialists to lecture in centres where Watties operated, and later in all main centres. The company sponsored an annual book award to encourage New Zealand writing. Other beneficiaries included the Plunket Society, hospitals, the Hastings Aquatic Centre and the Bridge Pa golf tournament.
In later life Wattie made few concessions to the coronary disease from which he suffered after a heart attack in London in June 1962. He retired as managing director of Wattie Industries in 1972 and talked about retiring from active management of the company. His fellow directors were proposing to create a new office of founder president for him when he died following a heart attack at Mangateretere on 8 June 1974. He was survived by his wife and sons. A measure of the affection and respect felt towards him was shown in the tributes paid to him by political and community leaders and his employees at his funeral, attended by some 2,000 people. A Maori farewell oration and lament and singing of 'E pare ra' expressed the grief and gratitude felt by local Ngati Kahungunu.
Although Wattie Industries was a thriving memorial to him, the directors decided that a more tangible one would be a permanent annual grant to the Sir James Wattie Memorial Visiting Professorship for the Advancement of Medical Science. 'Perhaps his greatest attribute', they reflected, 'was his ability to weld together the strengths of the individuals about him into a team striving for the same goal'. In Hastings he was later honoured by the registration of a Sir James Wattie Memorial Youth Trust funded by public donation to provide help for people under 26, in education, trade or technical training, welfare, character-building pursuits and cultural activities. Although it was only a business acquaintence I really liked the way he made you feel so wanted & comfortable . Till we meet again - Regards - edmondsallan
Reference >Mary Boyd. 'Wattie, James - Biography', from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Sep-10