Topic: Geoff Tombleson

Topic type:

Geoff Tombleson was an early resident of Kawerau, making a significant contribution, not just as the town pharmacist, but also to the community.

Geoff TomblesonGeoff Tombleson was born in New Plymouth, the second son of Edith and Frank Tombleson who immigrated to New Zealand in 1920. Geoff had one older brother and five younger siblings. He was educated at Otakeo, Turuturu and Tokora schools in Taranaki, leaving school at 13 years of age and not going to High School. Working as a delivery boy for Wilton’s Cash Groceries in Hawera until at 16 Geoff joined the Merchant Navy. When World War II commenced in 1939, Geoff served on the ‘Niagara’, ‘Hauraki’, ‘Maunganui’ and ‘Kairanga’.

After the war Geoff took up medicine through the rehabilitation training scheme provided to ex-servicemen. Commencing an adult apprenticeship with Marriages Pharmacy in Queen Street, Auckland, he worked in hospital pharmacies at National Women’s and Green Lane as part of his apprenticeship, qualifying as a Pharmacist in 1952.

Geoff met Beryl Todd in 1945 and they were married in 1946 at the Mariners Chapel of St Peter in Auckland. In 1950 the Tombleson family increased in numbers with the arrival of twins, Rodney and Linda.

The Tombleson family moved to Paeroa in 1952 where Geoff worked as a pharmacist before moving to Kawerau at Labour Weekend in 1954. Geoff managed Kawerau Pharmacy for Gordon McClelland in the original wooden temporary shops in Plunket Steet and then in Jellicoe Court when the permanent shopping centre was built in 1957. After the death of Gordon McClelland, Geoff purchased Kawerau Pharmacy from Gordon’s estate in 1963.

The family first lived temporarily at 53 Domett Street, later moving to 30 Domett Street when the construction of this house was completed. With accommodation hard to find in the early days of Kawerau, the Tombleson’s often had other early retailers Reg Boss and Andy Burnett board with them during the week.

Outside pharmacy hours, Geoff was a very community minded person helping establish the Kawerau Boxing Club and was a member of Rotary, St John Ambulance Association. Red Cross, I.H.C., Masonic Lodge, the original board of Kawerau College and patron of the SPCA. Geoff was elected to the Kawerau Board of Commissioners in 1965 and then was one of the first Kawerau Borough Councillors elected in 1968. Geoff was deputy Chairman of the Finance and Town Planning Committee from 1971-1980 and Chairman from 1980 until he retired from local body politics in 1989.

To mark his contribution to the community the Kawerau District Council named the street off Onslow Street and opposite Fenton Street, Tombleson Way, in his honour. Geoff Tombleson passed away in December 1990.

The Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum featured Geoff Tombleson in the Early Resident exhibition, September 2012 - March 2013.