Event: NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame

NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame
NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame
NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame
NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame
NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame Ex-Richardson truck museum curator, Ian Riddick NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame
NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame

Almost anyone could be forgiven for thinking a New Zealand road transport hall of fame event held in New Zealand’s southern-most city would only be of interest to Kiwis. However, this prestigious event, held yearly, is proving to be popular with the trucking fraternity from across the Tasman, too.

The event is the brainchild of Scott and Joc O'Donnell, directors of the HW Richardson Group, after attending a similar event in Australia a couple of years back.

Both were so impressed by how the Aussies honoured their country's captains of road transport, they immediately set about organising a New Zealand version of the event.

Deals on Wheels had the privilege of attending the inaugural New Zealand Road Transport Hall of Fame event, held at the Bill Richardson Truck Museum in Invercargill in September 2012, when eight movers and shakers of the trucking game were given the honour of being inducted.

It was originally intended there be up to six inductees each year. However, due to the large amount of people worthy of induction, they decided to get a head start, so to speak by nominating eight individuals at the inaugural event.

Two inductions at the inaugural gala dinner ceremony were made posthumously.

It was befitting that the late Bill Richardson, founder of the HW Richardson Group and the world-famous truck museum, in which the event was held, be the one of first inductees.

Also inducted posthumously was Sir Robert (Bob) Owens, founder of the giant freight and logistic company that bears his name.

The 2013 event

At this year's event, six more names have been placed on the wall of the Hall of Fame. Three more inductions were made posthumously — they were Cyril Mahon, George Tyler (whose award was accepted on behalf of Tyler's family by Tim Reddish) and Bert Godfrey, founder of NZ Lumber.

Award winners

Jim Ramsay

In accepting his award, Ramsay told the audience he had only met Bill Richardson on one occasion and very briefly at that.
He said that during this short encounter, he could tell he was in the presence of a man of much substance and he'll forever regret having not spent more time in the company of this great man.

Ramsay was born at Eltham, Taranaki in 1948 and left school at the age of 15. In 1968, he scored a job at Hookers as a shipping clerk. He worked his way up through the ranks and in 1983 he became the general manager.

He is currently the chairman and CEO of TIL Group, which operates 600 trucks, 1000 trailers and employs 1100 staff in 40 depots from Whangarei to Invercargill.

Sir Russell Pettigrew

Now 93, Sir Russell was unable to be present at his induction. However, he was represented on the night by his wife Lady Glennis and daughter Lorraine Wolfe.

Sir Russell is the founder of the Pettigrew Group, which later became Freightways, New Zealand's largest road, air and sea transport company.

Incorporated in the Freightways group of companies are NZ Couriers, Armourguard and Bandag, to name just a few.

George Wallis

Wallis was born in Greymouth in 1935 and was a forerunner in transportation in the Haast area. He formed Haast Transport in 1965.

Wallis and his team played a major role in making roads in the Haast area accessible to larger vehicles by placing logs across the likes of the Haast River, which previously had to be forded.

Posthumous Awards

George Tyler

Once described as being 'a man with a giant intellect', Tyler made his mark on the transport scene in New Zealand, not only in the trucking sector but in the taxi industry, as well.

A sailor during his early life, Tyler jumped ship in New Zealand and settled in Wellington in the early 1950s, quickly setting himself up as a painter, painting lighthouses. However, a nasty fall forced him to take up a career in the taxi business.

Tyler was awarded the Norman Spencer Memorial medal, presented to him by HRH Princess Anne at a ceremony held in 1995.
He lobbied hard with the Road Transport Forum, The Bus and Coach Association, The Taxi Federation, the Federation of Labour and the Heavy Haulage Association and eventually convinced all of them to establish the Road Transport and Logistics Industry Training Organisation (later to become Tranzqual, which, later still, merged with the NZ Motor Industry Training Organisation (MITO).

Cyril Mahon

Not known to have any living relatives, Mahon was nominated by National Road Carriers (NRC), which felt his achievements from the 1930s through to the 1960s were worthy of his induction to the Hall of Fame.

Mahon rose to be president of the NZ Carriers Federation and was held in high esteem by Fred Andrew of the long-standing South Auckland carrying firm, Andrew & Andrew Ltd.

Mahon led the Carriers Association through the 1951 watersiders strike and was instrumental in defining the title 'owner-driver' back in 1940.

Bert Godfrey

Registering the company NZ Lumber in 1949, Godfrey was instrumental in convincing the authorities that it was more economical to export timber through the Port of Tauranga than through Auckland, as had been the norm.

Godfrey was an innovator and designed a B-Train fitted with sub-mounted tanks, designed for carrying resin that had previously been transported in 'bladders' that were prone to puncturing. The rig won Truck of the Year Award in 1995 for its dual-purpose ability to carry the tanks full of resin at the same time as back-loading particle board on the deck.

The Bert Godfrey Award was accepted by his son Des.

The dinner

The Gala Dinner and Charity Auction was attended by some 500 guests and was presided over by master of ceremonies, Queenstown radio personality Ferg, providing an interesting commentary throughout the evening and ably assisted by fellow Queestowner Brendan (Turbo-tonsils) Quill, auctioneering travel vouchers, a signed 2013 All Blacks jersey and other useful trinkets.

Other guest speakers were Invercargill Deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow, who was standing in for Mayor Tim Shadbolt and Associate Minister of Transport, Hon Michael Woodhouse, List MP for Dunedin.

The events benefitting charity ProActive Drive, who provide free driver training to secondary school children, were thrilled to also be netting the better part of $8000 from the charity auction, held during the course of the evening.

Currently only available to South Island schools, the charity intends to use the proceeds to provide this training throughout the North Island.

On the plane trip back to Auckland I sat beside one of the inaugural inductees and chatted about the event. Both of us agreed the NZ Road Transport Hall of Fame is an event not to be missed, a feather in the cap of the HW Richardson Group and a credit to Sally McDonald and her team, who work tirelessly throughout the year to bring the event together.

If you have a connection to the transport industry, then make your booking now for the 2014 event which is to be held on Friday 26 September.

I can assure you, the scrumptious gourmet dinner provided by on-site caterers, MASH is well-worth waiting the better part of a year for!

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