Riddell reunion all go

Historic photo Woodlands Homestead
Woodlands in 1905


Descendants of the Riddell family are having a reunion at Woodlands Estate this month.

A highlight will be catching up, seeing and meeting all the relations connected to the family, known and unknown, says Jacquie Haselden, one of the organisers.

The event will include placing a memorial plaque in the garden for Corporal John Riddell, who died at Gallipoli in 1915, aged 24.

John Riddell
Corporal John Riddell

A family album will be displayed, and photographs taken of family groups connected to the children of James and Mary Riddell. There will be a sales table with items connected to Woodlands and a splendid afternoon tea.

“Sally-Ann Riddell is making and decorating a layered cake, which will be iced in red, white and blue with a family tree along one side. She’s very talented, it will be beautiful.”

Feedback to the reunion has been positive, she says.

“Events like this are important, bringing together new and old family connections. It helps develop a sense of place and connection to Woodlands and ensures stories are passed on to other generations.”

One question often asked by visitors to Woodlands is how the name Riddle became changed to Riddell.

“We can thank Lex Riddell for collecting stories from the past and writing them down. This came about when the name was misspelled in the drawing of a bill through the House of Representatives as Maori repudiated purchase of a Waitotara farm near New Plymouth. They were told it would be easier for them to accept the name change rather than change the bill. They left that farm and brought another called Annani, near Waverley.”


Riddell Family


Other stories include a range of inventions thought up over the years by family members.

“The physically demanding life of a pioneering farmer meant inventions to make life easier were important. The Riddell family has inventions and engineering in their DNA—the Riddell Haylift, by Don Riddell in the 1930s, the Herringbone cowshed by Ronald Sharp in 1952, and the combined bale loader and stacker invented by A Riddell and C Clough in 1969.”


Historic Hay stacker
The hay stacker in 1972


To register or find out more, contact Jacquie here, or visit the Facebook page.

  • The reunion takes place at Woodlands Estate, Saturday 29 September, from 1.30 – 5pm. Other organisers are Kirstie Alley, Stacey Senior and Sally-Ann Riddell.
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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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