Introductory article for the column ‘Turning the Clock Back’
Introducing Len Riggir. He is a 5th Generation Cromwellian whose ancestor James Ritchie (Snr) arrived in Cromwell in 1863. Len is the eldest of 4 children. They grew up on an orchard in the Lowburn Valley near the Junction of Lowburn Valley, Heaney, and Swann Roads. Len attended Cromwell District High School and left in 1964.
He started work in the motor trade serving a Diesel Mechanics apprenticeship in Cromwell at Cromwell Farm Machinery leaving in 1969. During the next 20 years he worked for different companies in South Canterbury eventually becoming a Service Manager in Timaru and later Whakatane. A career change in 1986 when he attended Hamilton Teachers Training College to become a High School Technical Teacher. For the next 20 years he taught at Waihi College in the Bay of Plenty before another change of circumstances and direction, when he became self-employed Home Handy man.
Len has always had an interest in local and people’s personal histories, their stories and reads widely on these topics. In his early life a highlight of visiting any “olds” was when they started reminiscing about times past. High School History in the 1960’s bored the pants off him – no discussion about why or how, just copying copious meaningless notes from the blackboard, to be learned, and regurgitated upon request.
Photography has been a hobby for many, many years starting with a “point and shoot” and hope for the best Box Brownie film camera, progressing to 35mm SLR’s, and dabbling in the darkroom processing photos finally progressing to digital DSLR’s and computer editing of photos.
Another interest is Brass Music. Len joined the learner’s group of the Cromwell Brass Band in the in the early 1960’s and learned to play the Cornet. Over the next 60 years has played in various bands in the parts of the country where he lived. Two highlights are playing the Last Post at the first Anzac Day parade in held Lowburn in 2018, and several occasions playing the Last Post the War Memorial in Wellington during the WW 1 commemorations.
In this column he will be bring you snippets of history of the district, introducing various families that have helped make the wider Cromwell district what it is today. Many of the photos used will be from his collection unless otherwise acknowledged.
Len now lives in semi-retirement in Omokoroa in the Bay of Plenty.