Duncan Currie (Don) Waterson, DCM, the founder of Waterson’s home furnishing and funeral directing business in Matamata was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1889. He was educated there and was a member of the Boy’s Brigade. On leaving school he joined his father’s firm of “Waterson’s the Practical Shopfitters” founded about 1897 and served his full apprenticeship for five years as a cabinet maker and first class tradesman.
This shop specialised in supplying Forsyth’s and other shops in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Perth with shop and window fittings, shop fronts and showcases.
The fittings were all of mahogany inside and along the foot of the windows outside were copper fitments.
In 1909 at the age of twenty “Don” Waterson decided to go to New Zealand to look for some Waterson relatives.
With 20 golden sovereigns given to him by his father, an excellent testimonial from the firm and an inscribed silver watch from his fellow employees he sailed for New Zealand to look for employment.
When World War I broke out in 1914 D. C. Waterson joined the Auckland Infantry Regiment of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He took part in the landing at Gallipoli and later served in France where he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
He returned to New Zealand with the staff rank of sergeant and discharged in Wellington in 1919.
The Governor General, Lord Jellicoe, employed Mr Waterson at Government House in Auckland as a cabinet maker. He married Miss F. Taylor and a son Ken was born in Auckland. After the death of his mother, Ken Waterson was cared for by his mother’s sister one of whom married Mr Joe Price, the first chairman of the Matamata Town Board.
In 1922 Mr D. C. Waterson came to Matamata to found the firm of Lamb and Waterson, a furniture and cabinet making business in Tui Street. With the purchase of a motor hearse in 1923 this firm entered the funeral directing business.
When Mr M. Lamb left Matamata in 1927, Mr Waterson continued on his own and developed and expanded the business, moving the retail premises several times before erecting his own building on its previous site in Broadway several years before his death in 1956.
Mr Waterson married Miss Rose Erlbeck in 1934 and built the family home in Tamihana Street.
He took a full part in the community activities in Matamata. He attended inaugural meetings of the Matamata Boxing and Wrestling School, the Matamata Returned Services Association and the Caledonian Society and served on their committees often in an executive capacity.
He was a local supporter of the Matamata Association Football Club and was elected as patron.
Mr Waterson was also a loyal follower and supporter of the Matamata Rugby Football Club, where his sons played and he was honoured as a life member.
Other interests included the Masonic Lodge, the Matamata Chamber of Commerce and the Matamata Swimming Club.
Miss Margaret Waterson of Glasgow, a sister of the late Mr Waterson, was quoted at the age of 82 (30 years ago) that their father believed in advertising.
“His catalogue was pale green with an insert at the top left corner with father’s photograph wearing a square hat,” she wrote to the family.
A story is told of how his son, Mr D. C. Waterson, would suddenly stop his car in the outlying districts of Matamata and erect a brightly painted board on the roadside.
A slogan painted on one of these was recently remembered and quoted by a former resident.
“Furnish at Waterson’s and Bank the Balance.”
Mr D.C.Waterson DCM – Founder of Waterson’s