Turn­ing 100 no big deal for Les

CHB Mail - - News -

De­spite turn­ing 100 this month, Les Morice says he doesn’t think he is a celebrity.

“It’s the 100 years that’s the celebrity. I’m just an or­di­nary per­son,” he says.

He claims that turn­ing 100 is down to a lit­tle bit of good man­age­ment and “a lot of luck”.

“I’ve been lucky with my fam­ily — eight kids and no prob­lems like peo­ple seem to have now — and lucky with a lot of other things in life. No ma­jor ac­ci­dents or ill­nesses, a lit­tle bit of can­cer but again I’m lucky be­cause it hasn’t been too bad.”

Les has spent his life­time in the farm­ing sec­tor, be­gin­ning as a shep­herd on the East Coast where he met his Nga¯ ti Porou wife Kuini, nee Poutu, then farm man­ag­ing in the Wairarapa, South­ern Hawke’s Bay and farm­ing in CHB.

Les re­tired just two years ago, leas­ing out his prop­erty, Hinerua Farm, but he still lives in­de­pen­dently on the land he farmed for 20 years, driv­ing him­self into town when nec­es­sary.

That’s where West­pac Waipuku­rau branch man­ager Ja­cob Kennedy met Les, and on learn­ing he had been a loyal bank cus­tomer since 1941, de­cided West­pac would make a pre­sen­ta­tion to Les to mark his 100 years.

“Our head of­fice was de­lighted with the idea,” Ja­cob says, “So we were able to make two pre­sen­ta­tions — one from the Waipuku­rau branch and one from our na­tional of­fice. We couldn’t let this oc­ca­sion go by without ac­knowl­edg­ing it. Les has a strong re­la­tion­ship with our team — he’s a top guy and a great char­ac­ter.”

Les was joined at West­pac Waipuku­rau by fam­ily in­clud­ing three of his sons and one daugh­ter.

Youngest daugh­ter Margie Morice says Les and Kuini were “amaz­ing par­ents”.

“He taught ev­ery one of us how to drive, and many of his grand­chil­dren. You don’t just get a driv­ing les­son you get a les­son on life and re­spon­si­bil­ity. He has al­ways been staunch, no non­sense but very kind. He has al­ways led by ex­am­ple.

“As a fam­ily I feel we got the best of the best, a Ma¯ ori Mum and a Pa¯ keha¯ fa­ther, with strong fam­ily val­ues and a strong work ethic.”

Along with farm­ing, Les had an ac­tive in­ter­est in train­ing and work­ing sheep dogs and en­joyed par­tic­i­pat­ing in dog tri­alling for many decades. Hav­ing grown up with horses as the main form of trans­porta­tion, he formed an affin­ity for horses and of­ten found him­self the mas­ter of those no one else could ride. He also trained and men­tored many young shep­herds.

Les re­gards him­self as a cus­to­dian of the land prac­tic­ing pas­ture man­age­ment, soil re­ten­tion, wa­ter con­ser­va­tion and tree plant­ing for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

In the week­end Les hosted 250 of his fam­ily and friends to a 100th birth­day cel­e­bra­tion . . . some­thing he had been plan­ning and sav­ing for since he turned 90, says Margie.

“His mother lived to 105, his aunts to 100. When Dad turned 90 he de­cided he was go­ing to make it to 100 so he would start sav­ing for a party.”

Les Morice was guest of hon­our at a pre­sen­ta­tion led by West­pac’s Waipuku­rau branch man­ager Ja­cob Kennedy .

From left: Great Grand­daugh­ter Te Ahi Cum­ming held by her mother, Les’ grand­daugh­ter Anna; grand­son Tom Morice; el­dest son Rusty Morice; Les Morice; fourth son Barry Morice; youngest daugh­ter Margie Morice; Lianne Turner Morice and hus­band, Les’ youngest son Ivan Morice.

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