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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 7, Issue 4, 2012

Eulogy — Max Dessiou Lash

page 32


Max Dessiou Lash

Max Dessiou Lash – 1927 - 2012. Photo courtesy Nelson Mail.

Max Dessiou Lash – 1927 - 2012. Photo courtesy Nelson Mail.

page 33

This eulogy was delivered by Ian Lash, a nephew of Max, who was also brought up on the Lash family farm at Rockville.

“He was a member of the Nelson Historical Society for many years, serving as its President, Secretary, Treasurer and Patron.”

Max was part of a family of seven children which was often described as being two families. There was a gap, coinciding with the First World War, between Allan, Jeff and Doris, the older trio, and Trevor, Jack, Max and Gwen.

Max was born on February 13, 1927 at Granny Wigzel’s in Collingwood, the sixth child of W. D. and M. O. Lash, who ran the farm and caves in Rockville.

A sister, Gwen, came on the scene in 1929 and they were special friends for the next 13 years, being the youngest and at home together. They have been close ever since. During their childhood years together they roamed the farm, collecting cones, blue gum bark for the copper, passion fruit and walnuts. They swam at the Junction or down at the Rocks. They went visiting with their mother in the district and up on to the goldfields. A three mile walk to have afternoon tea with Nanny Flowers was not uncommon. They also enjoyed playing duets together at the piano. Max went to Rockville Primary School and then on to Collingwood District High School. After three years there he went to Nelson College for two years, gaining his School Certificate and Matric.

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In 1945, having left College, he worked on the family farm and for neighbours. He spent two weeks on a coastal scow, the Pearl Kasper, in the hope of joining the merchant navy. This did not go well, so back on shore he assisted my father, when he took over the farm, digging in a watering system for the stock, cave guiding and anything else going, except hay making, as he got very bad asthma.

During this time Max applied for Teachers’ Training College in Christchurch, and was accepted. He spent 1946 and 1947 there, before doing his probationary year at Takaka District High School. He was a handsome man and many of the senior female pupils there at the time still vouch for that today, as does Jill.

An extra course was always needed at Training College, so Max completed a NZAAA coaches’ course which helped him greatly in the schools where he taught. He also used it in the wider Hawkes Bay community while there, and was instrumental, with his father, in starting an athletics club in Richmond.

Max always wanted to complete a BA, so his first full teaching job, in 1949, was at Wilford School in Petone, from where he attended Victoria University – with limited success he says in his autobiographical notes.

In 1951 he married Audrey and moved to a sole charge position at Sherenden Primary in Hawkes Bay, and Graeme, Anne, Alistair and Patti were born there. They moved into their own home in Havelock North in 1960 and he became an assistant teacher at Havelock School. In 1967 he moved to Hastings High School for two years.

Max moved on his own to Marlborough Boys’ College as a teacher and Senior

Supervisor of Innes House, the Colleges’ co-ed hostel, in 1969.

In 1971 he married Judy, a fellow staff member, and they moved to Seddon, commuting daily with Max behind the wheel of a school bus. William was born while they were there. The need to complete his BA took them to Christchurch in 1977, and he graduated in 1978.

Their next move was to Motueka, where Judy had a Head of Department position. Max was house husband and a relief teacher in the area during the next few years.

A change of direction in line with his interest in history came in 1984, when he became the Nelson Convenor for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography project. The information gathered for that publication provided a basis for his writing of Nelson Notables, a book celebrating 150 years of Nelson history.

After 19 years together he and Judy parted, and four years later he married Jill, their common interest in things historical, especially relating to Nelson, and good page 35 literature, being a bond. Over recent years she has looked after him and been his major transport provider – something he needed.

One of the skills that he did not develop very well was his driving, and stories about his 4WD trips in the Ute are testimony to this. His attempt to make the garage in Milton Street a drive-through did not stop his exploits though, as he tried to reorganise a shop window with his mobility scooter. His driving was well summed up by his great niece Rachel: “a trip over the Takaka Hill with Max was something to survive”.

There is, however, more to Max than the statistics above and, with the help of others, I have managed to offer a snap shot of some of these:
  • The child who, with sister Gwen, liked nothing better than to be allowed to slide in the puddles in the old house paddock after a good rain.
  • The student who returned to the farm and helped my father during the holidays.
  • The researcher who scoured tomes for family information and backpacked round southern England in search of documentation relative to his ancestry.
  • The grandfather who took great pride in the sporting achievements of his grandsons.
  • The citizen who was a Meals on Wheels driver, yet again causing havoc!!
  • The Cathedral parishioner who was a welcomer here, being on duty a week before going into hospital.
  • Max took a lot of pleasure from attending monthly Trafalgar Probus meetings, and being involved with Probus activities when he could.
  • He enjoyed being a part of the Founders family and was a welcomer there for many years.
  • For years he sang in the Civic choir.
  • Never being one to back away from involvement he took the role of Vice
  • President of the Nelson Institute.
  • He was also a member of the Nelson Historical Society for many years, serving as its President, Secretary, Treasurer and Patron.

Max it has been a long and eventful journey. A lot of it happy, and some not so.

You endured it well. May your spirit fly free.