Basil was very proud that the resort was such a success and for many years had the highest market values in the Wairarapa for a settlement, but reading his archives and listening to his tape recordings it was at a very high cost not only to his health, but to the whole family.
Basil stated that being successful in the Wairarapa was like putting a target on your back for those who did not have the vision, imagination or being driven by jealousy.
Basil recorded many times, which cannot be ignored, that he was extremely critical of a minority of sheep farmers. Investigating the archives this opinion was driven by three main factors.
First, Basil wrote he had several bad dealings with many farmers when in business with his nation wide Tyre company Reliance Tyre & Rubber Co. He claimed that a minority of inherited wealth farmers, during his time, were a breed unto themselves, many were poor payers and ignorant of business protocols. He felt that many farmers relied solely on their solicitors and accountants to handle all their farming affairs. Basil stated that the majority of farmers never had to give service directly to the public, nor advertise or market their products, nor show loyalty like a business would.
Second Basil wrote, the Masterton County Council were mainly made up of sheep farmers and their ignorance of business acumen was evident in their decision making, especially with their double standards, decisions and resentment against the development of the resort.
And third, the "undermining cloud of jealousy " that Basil referred to with the undermining of his many achievements was accentuated by an individual farmer who Basil supported most of his life financially, but showed despicable behavior in the last few years of Basil and Phil’s lives. When I questioned Gary about this he said, “ I will not let you name this person or any members of his family at this time, they have got a lot to answer for, for their deplorable behavior towards my parents who were in their twilight years."
Later in Basil's life he made a statement about farmers, he said, "As with every type of society there are good and bad and farmers are no different." Basil praised many farmers such as George Moore, Charlie and Pat Taylor, Joe and Trish Taylor, Tony and Paulene Pilmer, Sandy and Jill Deniston local farmers who supported the Golf Club with their trucks and machinery on working bee days". Basil had a very high regard for his son-in-law Richie Griffith, also a farmer, but he showed successful prudent business acumen and became one of Basil's closest confidants. Many Wairarapa farmers later purchased property at the resort and gave much assistance to the Golf Club and Ratepayers Association such as Ron & Shirley Southey, Jack & Pam Reid , Brian & Joan Bidwell, John & Di Martin, to name a few. As for other farmers who were on the Masterton County Council and others who denigrated Riversdale Beach, Basil wrote " I envy them, in their protective cocoons they are happy in their own ignorance."
I asked Gary if he had the same opinion as Basil regarding farmers, Gary Said “I think any society there are good and Bad, enlightened and ignorant, Basil’s thinking was certainly effected by the ignorant especially those councillors in those days in the Masterton County Council. There were many local farmers who supported the beach development like Charlie & Pat Taylor, Ann & Mike Moore, Sandy & Jill Denniston, Joe & Trish Taylors, Jeff & Prue Bale, Paulene & Tony Pilmer to name a few. I only had a few altercations with the ignorant. One fellow working on my brothers farm accused me of being lazy because when he went passed my shop at Riversdale at 6am in the morning to shift sheep or whatever, my shop was closed until 9am. I pointed out to him that if he passed the real estate office a 1am in the morning he would see that I was studying for my Real Estate exams. He scoffed at me and as the heated conversation proceeded it became obvious that he considered that if I wasn’t doing farmer manual work, or getting covered in sheep manure anything else wasn’t work. This was an excellent example of farmer ignorance in those times.”
Basil came to the conclusion, later in life, that many farmers were traditionally not good swimmers and although many farms had tennis courts and community cricket grounds few had swimming pools. Hence perhaps a rejection of beach life.
The above Basil's note: I asked Gary about the relevance of this,
"The Wairarapa Electric Power Board, through their lack of foresight, ran into real problems with under supply as the beach grew and it got to the stage where bach owners had problems with low voltage, so not enough power. Electric motors used to burn out through low voltage. I had an electrician from Featherston who had a Wairarapa Electric Power Board certified voltage meter which he plugged into our home to measure the voltage. The law at the time required the Power Board to supply electricity not below about 210 volts. At times we were only getting 190 volts or less. In addition, the Chairman of the D.S.I.R. who had a house at the beach threatened to put a Government voltage tester on the line. I rang the chief engineer to complain about the low voltage, in a terse tone he told me that there was not a problem with voltage at Riversdale Beach. When I told him we had one of their voltage meters on the line and it was showing below 200 volts, he got angry and wanted to know who did it. I said to him this doesn't matter anyway because the Chairman of the D.S.I.R. was going to officially test the voltage because his wife can't even boil his potatoes. There was dead silence on the the other end of the phone and then said he would look into it. The very next week a new powerful electricity transformer was installed to boost the power".
Apparently, Basil often used the analogy that Masterton was like a long ladder with many rungs. At the top of the ladder was a huge bowl of fruit and everyone was trying their best to reach the top. At the bottom of the ladder were the unemployed, first rung the laborers, second rung the foremen, third rung managers, fifth rung directors and self employed, sixth rung managing directors, seventh rung successful entrepreneurs. And in every case all those below have the shirttails of those on rungs above them trying to pull them down to their level. Others would call it the " tall poppy syndrome".
I asked Gary to comment about the letter:
'" On two occasions this questionaire was sent the latest house and section buyers was to establish why buyers purchased at the Resort. It was sent out for two reasons - first, to ascertain where advertising money should be spent. Second, once and for all to silence some glory seekers or "credit thieves as Basil called them". As previously mentioned some Golf Club Committee members would state to Basil that if it wasn't for their efforts in the Club, Basil would not be selling any sections. Not only was this annoying when one views this history but it was ignorant especially when many of those who said this were "johnny come lately's " who had no idea of the resort's history. Worse, it was promoted by a long time member, stirring in the background. Ironically this same person also a long time Surf Club committee member also a local farmer stated that the surf club was the hub of the beach and implied the main success of the resort was because of the Surf Club. Basil stated that the survey made a nonsense of those trying to take credit where it wasn't warranted."
The Wairarapa public relations office and later Tourism Wairarapa would not recognise Riversdale Beach in their promotion or advertising for many years. Evidence of this comes from a newsletter/tourist guide below. Hence the great expense of producing own post cards, advertising and marketing. One manager of the public relations office in Masterton admitted to Gary that Riversdale Beach was considered private enterprise where as Castlepoint and Lake Ferry were more "the people beaches" . As the beach grew to be the largest resort in the Wairarapa with Basil and Gary's marketing in the newspapers, radio and television, it became an embarrassment to the Masterton promoters of how successful private enterprise was, they could no longer ignore this very successful resort.
Through Tourism Wairarapa and the Masterton Information Centre Gary got permission to join them in Wellington at the Winter Show building where Gary made a display of resort features which proved a hit amongst viewers.
Battle over buffer zone on the beach .
Two letters above: Basil had ongoing battles with councils and this another example of ignorance of the beach's history and an example of what Basil had to put up with. Basil's aforementioned writings mention how he protected the beach front with logs and branches of trees by placing them between sand hills. After a southerly storm these would be covered with sand and began the formation of a new sand dune. He organised planting of marram grass in these new dunes and within little time a new sandhill had been established. Basil knew that many beaches suffering from erosion, for example, Surfers Paradise in Queensland, were establishing what they called buffer zones. These buffer zones in some places were up to 200 meters wide between houses and the beach.The idea being when the coast got struck by a huge damaging storm taking sand off the beach there was a time delay as the seas ate into the buffer zone.
The Photo above shows sea erosion at Surfers Paradise in October 1967 where the main beach road and five houses fell into the sea and as the photo shows a hotel swimming pool too. The Local Council set up huge buffer zones between the road and dwellings. Basil successfully implemented the same at Riversdale using logs and branches. The Wairarapa Catchment Board probably through ignorance of what was happening overseas tried to stop Basil. Just another organisation trying to justify their existence as Basil would say.
Blocking valuable views.
Photos above: I asked Gary for comment of these photos significance :
"Basil was very particular where he planted trees and shrubs as not to interfere with views . He obtained three main agencies with Nurseries as he was responsible for organising the planting of thousands of trees, shrubs and flowers. In every new subdivision, he instructed that a Norfolk pine, pohutokawa phoenix palm be planted on every section. As each section sold the purchasers were told that if they had to remove any planted trees to maintain views that was okay."
"These photos show Pohutokawas planted by the Ratepayers' Association obstructing the view of Basil's house. The Ratepayers' Association previously carried out the same type of planting in the beaches southern reserve once again threatening properties views in that area. At no time did they communicate with the property owners to seek objections, it was almost like they were a law unto themselves as they went ahead and planted. The individuals involved did not have beach front properties nor had good sea views so were not personally effected. However, one of these individuals later cut many trees away from his own view which potentially created added value to his property when he sold. It was difficult for anyone to challenge them, as of course their public motive was to beautify and create shelter for day trippers. In Basil's time this sort of inconsiderate behavior would not have been tolerated, and proper consultation would have taken place between parties".
"Basil was a man of foresight and he anticipated the day when people would inevitably cut down most of the sheltering pine trees that he planted to create a wind barrier. He warned that, "When they cut them down there are going to be many complaining about wind unless they plant new ones strategically and there are going to be many views threatened unless they show consideration to others."
The two photos above show a railway iron fence at the Northern rocks at the end of the beach. Basil took this as an affront along with a history of other confrontations. Orui Station had riparian rights and were in their legal rights to erect this fence, but there was a period of antagonism which lasted for many years.