Posted by James Wheeler on Mar 20, 2019
I thought I might share my recollections of my Grandfather Mr Henry Dargaville Bennett (HD to everyone).
 
Born at Maketu, Bay of Plenty in 1876, my Grandfather was a brother of the first Bishop of Aotearoa, Fred Bennett.
Dr John Boyle Bennett their grandfather, was an Irishman, who held degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Divinity.  He (John) was also New Zealand's first Registrar General.  On his mother's side, HD was of Te Arawa descent.
 
HD was educated at Te Aute College and became the first chairman of the Wellington War Memorial Carillion Society, President of the North Island Bands Association, the Women's Hockey Association and the New Zealand Wrestling Association, In 1923/24 he was President of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
 
There is a picture in one of my books of HD with the Chamber members. He is the only Māori in the group of about 40.

Along with his wife Wiki Bennett, they helped to found the Wellington Crippled Children’s Society as his daughter June (my mother) and his nephew Manu Bennett (ONZ), were inflicted with Polio and they wanted to help all those other children as well who had this disease.
 
While a Wellington City Councillor, Mr Bennett was chairman of the Works Committee. He was a foundation member of the Wellington City and Suburban Highways Board, the Fire Board and the Wellington City and Suburban Water Supply Board.  Whew!
 
HD and his wife Wikitoria were foundation members of Ngati Pōneke Maori Club in Wellington and my sister Jule and I learned our Kapa Haka there.  Until he settled in the Nelson district Mr Bennett had achieved a position of status in the Wellington business and civic life that had never previously been occupied by a Maori.
 
HD and Wiki settled for some time on Wiki's inherited Whanau land in what is now the Pamariki Block (and part of our Wakatū holdings) in Motueka.  This was some of the surviving land outside of the tenths land that, at that time was being looked after for them by the Government.  They grew tobacco, one of the stable crops of the day for Motueka and did very well too.
I grew up with them on the farm until I was five and went back to Wellington to go to school at Scots College.  I always returned at holiday time though and I remember being one of the first unaccompanied children to fly by NAC Heron from Rongotai field, Henry Dargaville Bennett is survived by his widow (my Grandmother) Wikitoria te Amoho Bennett (nee Park).  His four nephews all received Knighthoods for different achievements.  I go to the letterbox every day.  Nothing yet!
 
James Dargaville Wheeler
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