Topic: Frank Prideaux C.B.E., E.D.

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Kawerau's Town Commissioner Frank Prideaux was the person tasked with administering and developing the new community of Kawerau.

Francis Prideaux, commonly known as Frank was born on 26th July 1891 in Maungaturoto. He was the eldest son of Humphrey and Ethel Prideaux and had at least one younger brother. The stay of the Prideaux’s in this North Auckland township was of short duration and the family moved to Taranaki where Frank had all his schooling, much of it in Stratford. When World War 1 commenced Frank was one of the first to join up. In late 1914 he left New Zealand along with the main body of the first NZEF going first to Egypt and then later to London where he worked in the Pay Office N.Z.E.F. where he remained until all financial matters were settled after the close of hostilities.Frank Prideaux

Frank returned to New Zealand on Christmas Day 1919 and on the advice of a friend he settled in Whakatane, establishing an accounting business in the Bridgers Building in 1920. In the early days the practice shared the first floor with Mr Armstrong a solicitor and Mr Tippett a dentist. During the period 1920 to 1940 the business expanded slowly with Alan Bridger being admitted as a partner in 1935. It was during this time that Brian Alexander who was later to become a partner joined the business as a clerk.

One of the accounts held by the firm was that of Secretary to the Bay of Plenty Hospital Board and it was as a result of this association that Frank met his wife Florence Palmer. She was a sister at the hospital and eventually becoming acting matron. Frank and Florence married in 1933. Although they had no children of their own they did raise two nephews. When the Second World War broke out in 1939 Frank again volunteered and he went back to Egypt with the 1st Echelon leaving New Zealand on January 6th 1940. His services during the war were recognized with the award of the OBE. After the war Frank returned to the practice which had been kept going by Alan Bridger and in 1948 Brian Alexander became a full partner.

Frank retired from the practice in 1952 at the age of 61. With the establishment of the Tasman Pulp & Paper Company in Kawerau and its associated logging operation in Murupara in the early 1950’s the Local Bodies Commission recommended that a Town Commissioner be appointed to oversee the setting up of both of these towns. Frank served as Kawerau’s Town Commissioner from 1954-1959 and then Advisory Commissioner until 1968.

Francis Prideaux was appointed Town Commissioner of Kawerau on 1 April 1954. As Town Commissioner he was charged with the duty of gradually taking over the administration of the towns of Kawerau and Murupara from the Ministry of Works and establishing amenities enjoyed by these communities. As the roads, footpaths, sewerage, water and other facilities were still under construction in Kawerau, the Town Commissioner concentrated on the development of reserves and playing fields as well as inaugurating a refuse collection. Some of the amenities provided under Francis Prideaux’s regime were the Swimming Pool, Town Hall, Firmin Field, Prideaux Park, River Reserve, Tennis Courts, Fire Station and Bus Station.

On the 24th November 1955 a public meeting was held in the town site cafeteria with the purpose of appointing an Advisory Committee to assist the Town Commissioner in the administration of Kawerau. There were eleven nominations received and the 43 citizens who attended this public meeting were asked to vote for a panel of eight. Francis then appointed the following five candidates to constitute the Kawerau Advisory Committee: Clive Boyce, C. Ellis, Bill Firmin, R.C. Adams and Bruce Godfrey. In1958 there were two resignations from the original Advisory Committee. In June C. Ellis resigned and Ken Gatfield was appointed to replace him. In December R.C. Adams resigned and was replaced by A.W. Western. Bill Firmin resigned in March 1959 and Roy Stoneham was his replacement. Francis relinquished control of the Borough in November 1959 when the first Mayor and Board of Commissioners were elected. He then served as an Advisory Commissioner to the new administration until 1968 when the first Kawerau Borough Council was elected.

Frank Prideaux passed away on the 16th January 1979 aged 87. He was survived by Florence who passed away on the 6th September 1979 aged 80.

The Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum featured Frank Prideaux in the Early Resident exhibition, March - August 2013.

M.W. Bro Francis Prideaux CBE, OBE, ED, by Bro R. Dalziel PGLec JW (Article supplied by Whakatane District Museum).

Frank Prideaux C.B.E., E.D.

First Names:Francis
Last Name:Prideaux
Place of Birth:Maungaturoto