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Obituary of T. Blake HUFFAM

As reported in the Nelson Evening Mail, 1939

The death of Mr. T. Blake Huffam at the age of 90 which occurred at Richmond yesterday removes a well-known and highly respected resident of the Nelson district.

In may ways the late Mr. Huffam was a law unto himself, both in his mode of living and in the choice of his hobbies. As he always said, he was a believer in the “simple life”, but in his case this had reference to his diet mainly, and his worldly needs. His mind was always receptive and the arts, particularly music and painting, claimed much of his attention.

For a long number of years, Mr. Huffam was a consistent supporter of the Nelson Harmonic Society Orchestra in various capacities, in more recent years with the drums, and he was a frequent exhibitor at the Suter Art Gallery exhibitions. For many years he was secretary of the Nelson School of Music.

Hi advent to New Zealand which was as far back as 1869 meant a great change in the lives for the Huffam family for they left Cowes and all the activity of that famous yachting and fashionable centre, in which the family took no unimportant part, for seclusion and primitive habitation of Bark Bay near Astrolabe. There the family settled for sixteen years and old settlers of Motueka have recalled the visits of the Huffam long-boat to that port, with the four Huffam boys at the oars, and the father in the stern sheets, rowing as if in procession at a Cowes regatta.

Mr. Huffam often said it was those boyhood years at Bark Bay that gave him his love of nature and laid the foundation of that robust constitution which enabled him to take long journeys over adjacent mountains when well over eighty years of age.

The late Mr. Huffam was a great lover of Charles Dickens, and there was an interesting family tie with the great author for an uncle of his was godfather to Dickens who had the Huffam name incorporated in his own – Charles John Huffam Dickens.

For many years Mr. Huffam was in business in Nelson as a music and piano seller until some twenty years ago when he sold out to Messrs Chas. Begg and Co. Mr Huffam then went to live at Richmond and he took a keen interest in the Jersey breed of cattle and was the first secretary of the Nelson Jersey Cattle Breeders’ Club. His genial personality – Mr. Huffam was friendly to all – enabled him to extend interest in the club in many ways.

Mr. Huffam’s wife predeceased him by some years as did also a son, Mr. Jule Huffam who died in the Great War, and a daughter Miss Dorothy Huffam. Mr. Huffam leaves two daughters, Miss Runa Huffam, of Richmond, and Mrs. Whiteside of Colville, Coromandel and one son Mr. Blake Huffam of Ikamatua (West Coast).

Messrs Gerard and Fred Huffam, of Motueka, are surviving brothers. His other brother, Mr. Richard Huffam, of Wellington, died some years ago.

In the course of some interesting reminiscences contributed to “The Mail” in 1932, Mr. Huffam said:-

On the 19th of April, having been 130 days on the voyage, we entered Blind Bay at the same time as H. M. S. Galatea which we easily recognised, having often seen her in the Cowes roads. Her commander was the Duke of Edinburgh, a son of Queen Victoria. He landed at 10:30am under a salute of 21 guns from the Galatea. Nelson city was having a lively holiday, all shops being closed. Most of the citizens were about the wharves to welcome the Prince. The Lady Barkly, then a paddle-wheel, with other coasters, was busy conveying passengers to and from the Galatea.

Next day the races were held adjoining the old Turf Hotel at Stoke, so no business could be done. The Prince left in the morning. The Lady Barkly towed our barque to the wharf. Next day was the second day of the races. On 23rd April we hired a cottage near the Raglan brewery at 8s a week.

On Sunday, 9th May, we walked to the Stoke Wesleyan Church, and were much amused to see a man with a basin coming from the Turf Inn to the church. This was for the Sacrament of Christening. Mr Crump was the minister and preached a very interesting sermon.

We saw and were all much impressed by the mighty mountains, as neither my brothers or myself had ever seen anything like them in the Old Country, and the tree ferns near the Brook Street reservoir about 20ft high were a complete revelation, as we had never seen anything so beautiful.

We heard a gun fired one day, and were told that on the arrival of an English mail in Nelson the citizens were notified in this way.

Outwardly we boys did not notice much difference between the Nelson population and that of the old English town we had just left, but when one was able to enter into their lives we observed great differences, the good feeling between all class; the absence of conventionality; the hospitality everywhere, the bright sunshine which seemed to have pervaded everybody and everything was a revelation to us, and we enjoyed everything immensely.

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