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Arthur Griffin - 1952
Arthur Griffin was born at 22 Perservance St. Bermondsey, St James, London, Surrey on 16th May 1872 (his Army records state 11th May however he altered the date to reduce his age. He told his children he was a true cockney having been born within the sound of bow Bells. He was only three when parents Ebenezer and Mary Ann Griffin immigrated in 1875 with their family to NZ on the "Mataura" ,
The family first settled in New Plymouth and then found labouring work at Huirangi near where his mother's uncle and aunt, the Rowes, lived. Schooling would have been intermittent for children of pioneers - attendance could be governed by weather, sickness, having to milk before or after or time out helping with farm work. The on-going skills acquired in the process gave independence and ability to deal with life's problems. 

In 1880, eldest sister Alice married and left home to live in Wellington.

In June 1882 Arthur's father Ebenezer's  horse fell while riding,  and he sustained a serious fracture of the leg above the ankle. He was brought into town, and his injuries were attended to at the Hospital and the following year, 1883 when Arthur was 11 years of age, his mother died

4 December 1883: DEATH. GRIFFIN: On the Ist December, at Huirangi, Mary Ann, belovel wife of Mr. G. Griffin, aged 46. � Respected by all who knew her.

The family were left devastated -  (Arthur's youngest brother, Edgar was just 3) They would have pulled together and much of the mantle of nurturing the younger family would have fallen to the shoulders of 18 year old Ada.

Arthur took on labouring jobs, bush clearing and may possibly have been employed by George Adlam in some capacity when a decade later, he met George's daughter Helena.

St Marys Church Arthur Griffin married 6th July 1896
37 Vivian St, New Plymouth,

Arthur and Helena's first two children Madge and Ernest were born at New Plymouth.

Opunake Times, 10 Sept 1897: The Land Board sanctioned the following transfer: SUB-LEASE. Margaret Hastie was granted permission to sub-let p.l. section 7, block 9, Kaupokonui to A. Griffin

No doubt, the �100 inheritance, a lot of money in those days, which each of Ebenezer's children were said to have received at age 21 (reputedly from Ebenezer's mother's family, the Trasks made from growing hops in England.) This would have assisted Arthur's purchase in 1898, of farm land on the Upper Mangawhero Road. Helena and Arthur's other nine children were born there and all attended the Riverlea School. (Life as a farmer)

(About 1900) Taranaki Times: 4 Jan 1940: Arthur Griffin - Recollections...  by Mr D J Hughes, Normanby
A long-distance foot race where men ran for a wager was made in Kaponga almost 40 years ago  "Arthur Griffin was the best all-round man for his weight in those parts 40 years ago. The following is a brief account of the Riverlea-Kaponga road race to the best of my memory. The late Oliver Robinson put up �5  that Arthur Griffin could beat a well-known 'ped.', Mr Clarke. Clarke who had to give Griffin three minutes start. The late Mr Bob Dawbin was the starter and Robinson was time-keeper.
The race started from the corner of the Opunake and Mangawhero Roads, down the Mangawhero Road and along the Eltham Road to the Kaponga Hotel, a distance of six miles, and a man on horseback paced each runner. A large crowd waited at Kaponga. Griffin came in first and changed into his everyday clothes to await his opponent. Griffin's time was 29 minutes 30 seconds and Clarkes, 32 minutes 40 seconds, the result being that Griffin could have given Clarke three minutes and still won by 10 seconds".

27 April 1903: A case of scarlet fever is reported from the Mangawhero Road, but it is satisfactory to know that the patient is progressing as well as can be expected. Whooping cough is causing great suffering amongst the children of many of the settlers.

14 August 1903: A report has just reached Eltham that the mail coach from Opunake capsized, this morning in the Mangawhero River and was washed down stream. The river was running bank high at the time. It is reported that Kidd, the coach driver, was drowned. It has been pouring here incessantly for thirty-six hours. A horse has just been seen floating past Kaupokonui.

25 July 1906: DAIRYING NOTES. The Eltham Dairy Company is expecting that the milk supply will necessitate some of its creameries being opened early next month. The Mangawhero creamery will probably be the first to re-open. Others will be re-started as soon as there is a sufficient supply

Hawera & Normanby Star,25 April 1907: School Committee Elections: RIVERLEA. At the householders meeting Messrs A. Voullaire, C. Waite, W. and J. Gardner, W. O'Neill, A. Griffin, and J. Valentine were elected a school committee for the ensuing year. Subsequenttly Mr A. Voullaire was re-elected chairman and secretary and Mr W. O'Neill treasurer. The balance-sheet showed �5 10s 4d in hand after an expenditure of �15 Is 11d: As the total income is only �15 13s 11d the late committee must have worked very carefully. They had �4 18s 4d ballance in hand on Ist April, 1906, so they have not much to come and go by.

15 May 1907, The Mangawhero and Rotokare Road farmers generally in a contented mind with the general farming work being at a low ebb, the followers of the plough have now a little more time to inquire into matters a little beyond the cow-bail and the turnip padlock. This season there have been some extraordinary growths in carrots, turnips, and mangles, The several milking machines introduced this season appear to be doing the work required in a satisfactory manner.

1908 February 11. Bush fires, from which the greater part of this district has happily been free, broke out on the Auroa and Mangawhero Roads and Stratford-Opunake Road on Sunday. The grass and bush burnt fiercely, the flames travelling at a terrific rate. Geary's new house, and some sheds belonging to Campbell, Satcholl, and Searle were burnt. Other places were saved with the utmost difficulty, the bands of workers being blinded and exhausted by the smoke and heat. A territory two miles wide and 10x15 miles long has been devastated. (In book "Stumps and Stainer"P37- photo settlers cutting firewood for the dairy factory after the fire)

29 October 1909: Magistrate's Court; Opunake Times: BOXING FOR FUN. G. Ward (a darkie) and A. Griffin were charged by the police with being engaged in a boxing exhibition at Awatuna, at which a collection was taken up, the same being contrary to law, as no permit was granted. The accused both pleaded guilty. The Magistrate said it was not a very serious offence, but unless the law were obeyed disturbances might be. created. He would convict them both and fine them 5s without costs. A batch of men were charged with being present at the boxing exhibition, and were convioted and fined 2s and costs. The Magistrate said he had the power to fine them �20, but as no barm was done he would let them off lightly.

Arthur, Helena Griffin and nine children 1910c, Riverlea: Back row - Ernest, Madge; Middle Row: Eva, Alfred, Arthur holding Vera, Helena holding Elsie, Harold; Sittin in font: Clarrie and Eric. Click Here

1 May 1913: RIVERLEA - Hawera & Normanby Star:RIVERLEA.
The newly-formed Sports and Pastimes Club held its opening night on Monday evening, when some thirty enthusiasts were present, including several boys. Things were very well managed, and the club is decidedly lucky in having secured the services of Mr A. Griffin as coach. Mr Griffin took much trouble with his pupils and kept them well in hand, insisting on being obeyed and allowing no nonsense. He was ably, supported by the committee, and all present expressed themselves as well pleased by the evening's lessons. The subscription has been fixed at the very low figure of 7s 6d, and for youths under 18, at half that figure. The club intends meeting every Monday evening in the hall, and all intending members should put in an appearance as soon as possible, so as to get the most benefit from Mr Griffin's tuition. It is intended by the committee to run a tournament at the conclusion of the season if possible, for the purpose of finding out the best improved boxers among its members.

Arthur did contracting work for the Eltham Council to supplement his farm income, and the milking was done by his family.


Hawera & Normanby Star, 1 May 1913 RIVERLEA. The newly-formed Sports and Pastimes Club held its opening night on Monday evening, when some thirty enthusiasts were present, including several boys,. Things were very well managed, and the club is decidedly lucky in having secured the services of Mr A. Griffin as coach. Mr Griffin took much, trouble with his pupils and kept them' well in hand, insisting on being obeyed and allowing no nonsense. He was ably, supported by the committee, and ail present expressed themselves as well pleased by the evening's lessons. The subscription has been fixed at the very low figure of 7s 6d, and for youths undier 18, at half that figure. intends meeting every Monday evening in the hall, and all intending members should put in an appearance as soon as possible, so as to get the most benefit from Mr Griffin's tuition. It is intended by the committee to run a tournament at the conclusion of the season if possible, for the purpose of finding but the best improved boxers among its members.

Hawera & Normanby Star,  20 August 1913
RIVERLEA Another old settler has disposed ot his property in the person of Mr Arthur Griffin, who has sold out to Mr Leon Baigent, of Kaponga. I understand Mr Griffin intends settling in the Inaha district

Hawera & Normanby Star, 15 September 1913
RIVERLEA. VALEDICTORY. The farewell social to Mr and Mrs Griffin and family took place in the local hall on Thursday evening, and was a very successful function, visitors coming from as far as Mangatoki. The hall was well filled, there being just sufficient dancing room. During the evening songs were given by Messrs Shallue and Felton (comic), whilst Mr J. Webby gave a selection of gramaphone items. The music was provided by Mrs Taylor and extras were played by Mesdames Knight and Solley and Miss Wills, Mr G. Smith accompanying occasionally on the violin. About 10.30 Mr O'Niel, on behalf of the residents of Riverlea and surrounding districts, presented Mr and Mrs Griffin with a silver afternoon tea service and silver tray In making the presentation Mr O'Niel referred to the excellent qualities of Mr and Mrs Griffin as neighbors, and expressed regret at their departure from the district. On behalf of those present he wished them all success and happiness in their new home at Inaha. Messrs Hammersley and Dawbia also spoke. Mr Griffin suitably responded, and the company then sang "For He's a Jolly good Fellow." After another dance an excellent supper was handed round to which everyone did full justice. MrsTO'Niel was in charge of the supper department and was assisted by Mesdames Solley and Gargan. After supper dancing was resumed and continued till about 2 a.m., when the party broke up after singing "Auld Lang Syne." Mr and Mrs Griffin, who have resided here for about 15 years, will be much missed, and "your own" wishes them the best of good luck in their new venture.

1 May 1916 - WW1; Arthur Griffin:  ENLISTED FOR ACTIVE SERVICE :

Taranaki Daily News: Written by Mr D J Hughes  - 4 Jan 1940

Arthur has had a hectic career since his race at Kaponga. For two and a half years he was a German prisoner of war, he was ill-used and made to work in a half-starved state. He was spat upon by school-children and was called an English dog every morning he went to work. When he lagged behind through weakness he was prodded with a bayonet.
"When arrested he and his mate were put against a wall be shot. The first fusillade ended his mate's life and the firing squad lifted their rifles to end his when an officer ran out and stopped them. Griffin was then taken before the head men and asked some questions. His papers had been examined and among then was a photograph of his wife, and 11 children.
"Why did you come to the war from New Zealand?" he was asked.
"Because I was told that if the Germans won they would come and take my farm," he replied. He was reprieved, although he begged them to shoot him.. Many weary days and nights he suffered before the Armistice came.
Today he is still going strong and he has the tidiest vegetable garden around Normanby. He has also played his part domestically in starting his sons on farms. As an old neighbour and fellow-bushman of Arthur Griffin, I take off my hat to him."
Helena Griffin and her 11 children - Photo taken before May 1916 Back row: Ernest, Madge, Alf, Harold; Third row (standing)  Eric, Eva, Clarrie; Second Row: Vera, Helena, Elsie, Rupert;  Front: Clyde (This was likely the photo Arthur had in his pocket when captured as a POW in 1917) Click Here

Hawera & Normanby Star, 10 March 1919: HOME AGAIN - RETURNED MEN WELCOMED
A large draft of Taranaki returned soldiers reached home on .Saturday's express train. The Hawera and district men were given a warm welcome by tne local citizens, who turned up at the station in strong foire. The platform, as usual, was decorated with bunting. Welcome home addresses were given by Crs. L. A. Bone, E. C. Hayton, and the Rev. C. H. Grant Qoweu, after which cheers were given the returned soldiers. Among those who returned were Corporal Linn M.M. of Normanby, and Rifleman Griffin M.M. of Inaha.

Arthur's departure had profoundly impacted their family left behind who were forced to live through his lengthy separation where delays in receiving correspondence were lengthy and the daily agony of the newspaper casualty lists realised their worst fears - Arthur's whereabouts unknown then located as a prisoner of war and the death of Ernest.
By war's end, 18,000 men, or eight percent of the country’s men aged between nineteen and forty-five years, had died. Still more men succumbed to their injuries or war-related illnesses in the decades that followed. Arthur's war-acquired disabilities, both mental and physical, were to fracture the famiiy in the years that followed.

During the 1914-18 War, the repatriated sick and wounded came under the control of the Health Department and wards or annexes were provided at the larger hospitals to meet the need of the large numbers of military patients. In March 1918  the Cabinet decided that the Defence Department should  have the sole responsibility for the after-care and treatment of both discharged and undischarged disabled soldiers. Special military orthopaedic teams trained in England became available and special military hospitals and annexes were set up in all the main centres. Arthur was sent for therapeutic treatment at the Defence Department Convalescent hospital at Rotorua - his wife  Helena accompanied him.

Grand-daughter Myra wrote on the photo back: "Arthur and Helena Maria Griffin at Rotorua with Guide Rangi just after 1st World War, 1919".

Helena second from left, Arthur in uniform, centre.

Hawera & Normanby Star,  19 February 1921: LUCERNE -- HAWERA FARMERS VISIT LOCAL CROPS
Mr. Griffin (Main South Road). The first area of three acres was sown, in November, 1913, with Marlborough seed, 10 lbs per acre in drills 10 inches apart. Lime was used at the rate of 5 cwt. per acre, and this with 3 cwt. super, 3 cwt. slag, and 2 cwt. bone was worked into the ground before sowing. Having been cropped for years previously, the ground was very foul, and intensive cultivation was resorted to kill as much weed as possible before sowing and when the crop came up, inter-cultivation by hand was necessary to save it from being choked by rank growth of weeds. As soon as the lucerne was sufficiently rooted, a light scarifier was used. After the second year very little trouble was experienced, but the scarifier and tine harrows are systematically used after each cutting and the ground kept clean and an good condition. During the last six years this paddock has done well, and. as many as five crops in the year have been taken off. This season it was grazed in September and October; cut December 4, and again on January 3, and was again (February 7) thirty inches high. The second area of two acres was put in at the same time and under similar conditions to the above. It was fed off in September, cut on November 4, December 18, and January 24, and was again 18 inches high. The ground was splendidly cultivated.
Mr Deem remarked that these crops showed that the first were not just flukes. A man who put in his crop properly and on suitable land, and who gave it proper treatment and systematic cultivation, went on getting good and improving crops year after year.

Electoral Rolls: Beween 1919 and 1925  Arthur is listed  at  Inaha; Settler

Hawera & Normanby Star, 19 Sep 1922: HAWERA ENLISTMENTS.
NINETY-SIX NAMES NANED IN Enlistments for the Turkish war are coming in fast, and up till 10 am today 96 men were enrolled at the Hawera Defence Office (Among them listed - A Griffin)

Hawera & Normanby Star, 14 Nov 1923:  SPRING CART. Milk cart horse, exhibited by supplier to factory. Shown in harness and driven. A. Griffin's (Inaha) Major (1) J V French's (Hawera) Bloss (2) A. Lankow's (Manaia) Captain (3) 

It was about this time that Arthur and Helena separated and continued to live apart until their death.

Arthur lost the regard of his family. At the declaration of war, patriotism drove him to immediately respond and enlist to fight in support of his land of birth. He reduced his age to gain service acceptance. His wife and family were left to hold the forte at home and at war's end, the deaths of the two children, Eva and Ernest, broke the family apart.
Arthur left a fit athletic man. In those first years away, his heroism was acknowledged and then followed degradation and cruelty as a German war prisoner. A shell-shocked skeleton, he returned to New Zealand,to learn his daughter Eva had been lost to flu, that his wife also had been very ill in hospital, his oldest son Ernest was dead overseas leaving the family with no body to mourn - and likely credited this was his fault. To try and come to terms with his return and still in uniform, Helena and Arther made a reconcileration trip to Rotorua, but separation was to follow. Newspapers record how he turned to alcohol to avoid night-time horrors - no post-war psychological was available help then, and companionship of friends. In the years following, his contact became restricted to odd appearances to visit various family - he was ostrasized and when he died, his lawyer who wrote his will, atated he did not know Arthur had children. Helena held her family together helped by her Christian faith.

Normanby Rates Book: 



The photographer who photographed 1914, Arthur and the family, was Walter George Billows, b: 1867 Nelson son of Michael Billows (mariner) and Mary Ann Devenport; he d: 26 December 1938 at the New Plymouth Hospital; bur: Te Henui Cem: