Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 11 (February 1, 1935)

An Impression of Lord Bledisloe

page 10

An Impression of Lord Bledisloe

(Rly Publicity photo.) Lord Bledisloe (centre) examining the pasture at Flock House, North Island, New Zealand.

(Rly Publicity photo.)
Lord Bledisloe (centre) examining the pasture at Flock House, North Island, New Zealand.

“A friendly soul—helpful,” somebody said about Lord Bledisloe, recently. Can you have anything better than intelligent, constructive, friendly helpfulness to a country? Well, that is the record of His Excellency during his five years of splendid inspirational leadership in this Dominion. Of course, the last thing a Governor is expected to do is to govern in a democratic country such as New Zealand. Lord Bledisloe has not gone an inch beyond constitutional bounds, but within those bounds he has been something far greater than a formal official Governor-General. He has been a warm active friend of the people, all the people, all the time. Well and truly has he earned the right to be regarded as more New Zealander than the folk born in New Zealand. Who else in the Dominion has shown a wider range of insight and foresight in matters of material, national and social welfare? Lord Bledisloe has given some mind-stirring lessons on New Zealand, past, present and prospective, lessons which should live and not lie dead in the files of newspapers and other publications.

Much of the speechifying on an average ceremonial occasion is superficial, mere tedious play with platitudes, irritating iteration of the trite. Never does Lord Bledisloe lapse into dreary verbiage and abstract jargon; not for him the vague generalisation full of “question” and “consideration”; not for him the fluff of flat phrase nor the flummery of “wordy-gurdies.” Whenever he speaks he says something well worth remembering. His words have body and soul. Every verb, adverb, noun and adjective seems to be carefully chosen, yet without effort, so that they fit together as smoothly as the individual touches of colour in a masterful artist's painting. He has a pleasant voice, modulated, expressive, but the speaker's face (on a platform) does not usually reflect the vitality of the eloquence. He generally has a serious mien, necessarily, when facing an audience in a hall, but how different it is in personal chats, in or out of doors!

Going through the fields of Flock House recently Lord Bledisloe had a radiant personality. He looked as happy as a school-boy enjoying his first holiday.

“Schoolboy!” That word is a reminder that there is an element of “Peter Pan” in Lord Bledisloe. “Elderliness” is the last thing anybody would have in mind when chatting with his Excellency. His active interests are innumerable; he is up to the minute in his survey of the world at large. He is younger than the great majority of young men in the sense that his mind is ever open and alert. He keeps keen watch on the world and all its works, evasions and waitings. He is tireless, too. The more he does, the more he seems able to do. One task appears to give him a fillip for the next. He feeds on energy and energy feeds him. “He wears well, yes,” you say—but he doesn't wear.

He has an insatiable appetite for knowledge; he is ever digging and delving, and enjoys the exertion.

Helped by a remarkable memory he is constantly increasing the fixed deposits of knowledge in his intellectual bank, but he also gives it currency. He is eager to share anything that he gains in his researches.

“Well, my friend, let's have a look at you” remarked His Excellency to a big Berkshire boar on the Flock House farm. The pig seemed to be aware that it was under observation by an expert on swine husbandry, for its little eyes had a look of nervousness. The vice-regal gaze ran over the porcine points, and finally paused at the scruff of the neck. It was evident that he regarded the animal as rather fat-headed. He made a movement with his hands as if he would like to roll some of that scruff rearwards. “Go for a wedge-shaped head,” he said. “Get the weight well behind. The latter half of a pig is worth one and a half times the front half.” However, he gave the Berkshire some good marks for length of body and curly tail.

On his way to inspect a dairy herd Lord Bledisloe was gazing intently at the pasture. Suddenly he was down on one knee scanning a tuft that reminded him of a drought-resisting grass which he had seen in Australia. Quickly he asked questions. Was the plant there by chance or design? This incident gave his escort a reminder that he was a keen student of grassland farming, on which he has spoken helpfully at various times and places.

Presently the party reached a stand of milk-cans which caused a halt, for the type of vessel drew some newsy comment from Lord Bledisloe. He remarked that the design was practically the same as one which he had invented in England many years ago.

He abhorred the old kind of can, with its projecting handles and internal unevenness, under which impurities could lurk and rust could begin its destructive work. Therefore he set himself to the task of producing a can which would not have the old faults and he succeeded, but he did not bother to take out patent rights. He gave the idea to the world.

Lord Bledisloe is supposed to be going away from New Zealand in March, but really he is not wholly departing. He will live here strongly in his wonderful service to this country.