Clyde Hamilton’s passion for family, for history and for community have been unexpectedly rewarded in the form of a Queen’s Service Medal.
Clyde, who lives in the resthome at Possum Bourne Retirement Village in Pukekohe along with his wife Jean, was announced in the New Year’s Honours list for his services to the community and heritage preservation after being put forward by an anonymous nominee.
The honour was to recognise Clyde’s decades of work on the Waiuku Museum Committee, which he became a member of in 1970 and led as President from 1995 until 2009.
The key projects during this time included the restoration of the scow Jane Gifford, and the establishment of the Manukau Lighthouse Trust which oversaw the restoration of the Manukau Heads Lighthouse at Āwhitu and has provided a popular tourist attraction for the area.
The Trust also takes responsibility for remembering the wreckage of HMS Orpheus on 7th February 1863. With 189 lives lost out of 259, it became New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster.
Clyde, 93, says it all stems from his life growing up on a farm at Waipipi and his parents recognising the value of education.
“They went without for several years so that I could go to King’s College. We were always told that you’re at school so work hard, and I was very lucky to get three years there.”
His interest in history began with his own family after noticing a fellow farmer down the road knew all his cattle’s genealogy.
“I thought I can’t see the point of knowing all your cattle’s grandfathers if you don’t know your own!” he says.
He traced his branch of the Hamilton family to Kilmarnock, where they were foundation members of the United Presbytarian Church of Scotland.
Clyde himself is an Ordained Elder of the Presbytarian Church of New Zealand.
Through marriage, they joined with the Alexander family who had married into the Craig family who originally bought the 100 acres of farmland that his son Crofton now farms.
They joined the many Irish families who settled at Waipipi via South Africa.
As well as farming, Clyde served on the School Committees of the time, and with Jean, wrote a history of Waipipi School and district.
Clyde with his wife Jean, a big supporter of his historical endeavours
He put together many booklets detailing local history and for 10 years became a bus tour guide for visiting tourists which included a short boat ride to give them the idea of leaving and coming into Waiuku from the ocean.
“I knew the history of almost every article along the roadside so I would tell people what they were looking at.
Finding out he had been nominated for a QSM was ‘overwhelming’, says Clive.
“Much voluntary work you don’t do in the public eye, you sit at home and do it.
“And you very seldom can do this all by yourself, my wife Jean in particular has been a big part of it.”
Clyde and his family, who celebrated at the village when the Honours list was published on New Year’s Day, are now looking forward to the investiture in early April.