The Founder

Matamata Chronicle - - Celebrating 90 Years Of Service To The Matamata Di -

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

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