Forestry mem­o­ries about to be spilled

South Waikato News - - ENTERTAINMENT - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

What hap­pened in the bush will no longer stay there as forestry work­ers are be­ing called for a re­union.

Three old friends de­cided it was time to bring out the black and white pho­tos and delve into the sto­ries.

Toko­roa’s Gerry Port­e­gys worked for NZ For­est Prod­ucts for al­most 50 years and is help­ing to or­gan­ise the three-day event.

Al­most 150 have reg­is­tered, but Port­e­gys hopes more work­ers of NZ forestry com­pa­nies will come for­ward.

‘‘It’s to give peo­ple a chance to talk . . . a lot of them are still liv­ing in Toko­roa,’’ he said.

Port­e­gys said some were even com­ing from as far as Aus­tralia, Canada and Switzer­land for the ‘‘nos­tal­gia’’.

His ca­reer in the in­dus­try started when he re­fused to stay on the fam­ily farm and milk cows.

It was that or a job at Kin­leith, an easy de­ci­sion, ac­cord­ing to Port­e­gys.

Though he had his eyes set on a role at the Toko­roa pulp and pa­per mill, he man­aged to score a job as a labourer in­stead.

‘‘I loved it . . . it was out in the open, the money was good,’’ he said.

There will be no awk­ward si­lences at the event as Port­e­gys alone can drum up al­most half a cen­tury of mem­o­ries.

Though there have been plenty of good times, they can never over­ride the time he broke his back and spent seven weeks stuck in hos­pi­tal.

Co-re­union planner and ex-NZ for­est prod­ucts em­ployee Graeme Hall was also keen to get stuck in.

A few mem­o­ries re­vealed the mis­chievous char­ac­ter he was.

‘‘ Us young devils played a rather mean trick on poor old Arthur Way, the Rahui look­out man,’’ he said.

The stunt made the look­out man be­lieve the tree he cut down was reg­is­tered.

Hall said they later sent a let­ter to him ad­dressed from the ‘‘Tree Regis­tra­tion Of­fi­cer’’.

Plenty more is left to be shared and Hall looks for­ward to the re­union, where other sto­ries will be re­vealed.

To be el­i­gi­ble you have to have been or still be an em­ployee of New Zealand forestry suc­ces­sors.

Pic­tur­ing mem­o­ries: Graeme Hall and Gerry Port­e­gys hope to see many mem­o­ries flood through at the re­union this Oc­to­ber

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