“A true gentleman and role model who will be sadly missed” – words used to describe Gordonton’s Arthur Riddell, who passed away peacefully on 20 July. Rod Wise and Kate Wilson share their memories and thoughts.
“Every one is well aware of Arthur’s wonderful nature and willingness to quietly help others, whether family or community.
I would like to briefly acknowledge his outstanding service to the community.
Arthur was by far the longest serving member of the Gordonton Hall Committee which, under his guidance became the Gordon District Committee. This Committee achieved considerable improvements and additions in the district, the major one being the new Hall. He was always thinking of Gordonton in a very positive and supportive way.
Woodlands of course, with his family ties, was very special to him and as soon as a Trust was formed to administer and develop the property vested in Council, Arthur became fully involved in the project.
In the beginning the Trust was given an almost derelict property and for many years Arthur acted as Clerk of Works which, with the help of his band of volunteers, finally became the special place it is today. His quiet manner and determination played a major role in the transformation. This valuable asset will be here for many years to come protecting and showcasing our heritage of which we can all be proud.
Hopefully Arthur’s achievements will be recorded in a history of Gordonton/Hukanui District as it has been an important part of NZ’s history both European and Maori for over 150 years.”
“My first meeting with Arthur and Muriel was prompted by a whisper from our café manager just after we took over the new Woodlands café in 2016. “We have a couple of regulars here, they are Gordonton royalty. You should meet them…”
Arthur and Muriel were indeed regulars, bringing friends and family to Prof’s, often with Judy Cole and Rod Wise, also significant contributors to Woodlands.
As is apparent from tributes at his service, Arthur was synonymous with Woodlands. It was Arthur (who was on the Trust Appointments Panel) along with Rod Wise who encouraged me to join the Gordonton Woodlands Trust. The café was the perfect environment to meet up with Arthur and update him on the progress we were making as a new Trust Board. His interest was unflagging.
Recently there has been significant progress around the future development of Woodlands Estate with the ratification of the Reserves Management Plan, adoption of the Waikato District Council Long Term Plan and the short term projects such as the children’s playground and new parking areas about to have timelines and funding assigned to them. I wish Arthur could still be here to see these and other developments (particularly the archives room with interactive historical exhibits) as I think he would have approved.
On the personal front, I enjoyed our conversations, his gentle nature and beautiful smile. He was a perfect foil to Muriel’s beautifully forthright nature.
Arthur and Muriel ‘s circumstances meant they could not visit as regularly over the last year and I have missed seeing them. I will continue to miss him, but as evidenced by the Community turnout at his funeral, I will not be alone in doing so.
Rest in peace Arthur.”