Pioneering family’s final farewell
Les Henderson passes away
The last member of a pioneering Maniototo family was laid to rest just a few hundred metres from the property he had called home for many years. There were no offspring from any of the six children born into this branch of the Henderson family who had arrived to break in some very raw country more than 100 years ago. ‘‘Young’’ Les Henderson was a man not given to public accolade, he preferred to work behind the scenes and help people in the Maniototo in whichever way he could. It was something he had done all his life in the area he had been part of all his life. One of his last tasks was on April 21 to unveil the plaques at the former Blackstone School which closed in 1949, the plaques marking the contribution he and Chubby Clark had played a part in keeping the historic school for the community, the school where Les and his brothers and sisters had attended all those years ago. Les, sister Margaret and brother Norman had formed a tight knit unit in breaking in their property, adapting any machinery at hand to carry out the work. Neighbour Brian McSkimming was most grateful for his help, saying Les had completed almost three quarters of the common fence line, telling him to ‘‘finish the rest when you can’’. ‘‘That meant a lot to us just starting out.’’ Ranfurly businesspeople could set their watches on a Friday morning by the Hendersons coming to town to do their messages. A cup of tea at the Centennial Milkbar was always part of it and let nothing disturb it, including a fire in the chip vat which the firemen put out while the threesome finished their refreshments. ‘‘The last call was always the chemist and anyone knew they could arrange to have parcels left there for Les to drop off on the way home and they would always be there before midday’’ said friend Ken Gillespie. His love of all things astrological and weather watching was well known, with many a prediction being more accurate than the official ones. With just annual trips to the Tekapo sale to buy replacement stock, and to Dunedin when the wool clip was sold, Mr Henderson had never travelled north of the Waitaki before he turned 60, but had enjoyed a new lease of life when he married Gaynor in 2006, leaving the Maniototo to settle in Mosgiel. Celebrant Helen Wallis summed up Mr Henderson with the words, farmer, faith, frankness, fortitude and family; each striking a chord in those who came to say farewell.
Pioneer: Les Henderson, farmer, faith, frankness, fortitude and family.