Edgar Neale

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Edgar Neale
Swearing in of Edgar Neale 03.jpg
Edgar Neale in 1950
Member of the New Zealand Parliament
for Nelson
In office
1946 – 1957
Preceded by Harry Atmore
Succeeded by Stanley Whitehead
18th Mayor of Nelson, New Zealand
In office
Preceded by George Page
Succeeded by Joseph Auty Harley
Personal details
Born 24 November 1889
Nelson, New Zealand
Died 25 July 1960(1960-07-25) (aged 70)
Nelson, New Zealand
Profession Accountant
Cricket information
Batting style Right-handed
Domestic team information
Years Team
1920/21 Minor Associations
1921/22 South Island
First-class debut 8 March 1921 Minor Associations v Australia
Last First-class 10 March 1922 South Island v North Island
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 2
Runs scored 74
Batting average 24.66
100s/50s 0/0
Top score 37*
Balls bowled 8
Wickets 1
Bowling average 6.00
5 wickets in innings 0
10 wickets in match 0
Best bowling 1-6
Catches/stumpings 0/0
Source: CricketArchive, 27 March 2016

Edgar Rollo (Gar) Neale OBE JP FPANZ FCIS (24 November 1889 – 25 July 1960) was Mayor and Member of Parliament for Nelson, a strong supporter of the Nelson railway, and a representative cricketer.


Gar Neale's great grandfather and family migrated to New Zealand from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England in the 1840s, settling in Auckland. In the 1850s Gar Neale's grandfather, John William Neale, moved to Nelson. Gar Neale's father, Henry Neale, was born in Nelson and worked as a carpenter. Henry married Kate Bethwaite.[1] Henry and Kate had two children; Gar (born in 1889 in Nelson) and Gladys (born in 1893).[2]


Neale was educated at Nelson Central School and Nelson College (1903–1905),[3] where he took a general academic course. He became a part-time Master at the College (1920–1932),[4] teaching Commercial Practice.[2] He was Secretary of the Nelson College Old Boys Association (1921–1935), and its President (1938–1947). He also served on the Colleges Board of Governors.

During his stay in Blenheim (1915–1919), Neale completed his accountancy diplomas.


Neale was first employed as a law clerk with Maginnity and Son (later Maginnity, Samuel and Hunter). About 1911 he transferred to Adams and Harley as an accounts clerk. From 1915 to 1919 he was employed by Griffiths Brothers Limited in Blenheim.

Returning to Nelson from Blenheim in 1920, he went into partnership with J E Milner as a public accountant, auditor, and secretary.[3] The firm later became E R Neale and Son, when his son joined him.


Neale married Florence Myrtle Parsonage CBE, the daughter of Henry Bruce Parsonage and Ellen Penn, on 26 December 1911.[5] They had four sons.

His sister, Gladys Neale, married Howard Knight.

After Florence Neale died in 1954,[6] Neale married Rata Forbes in 1957.


Neale purchased 241 Bridge Street, Nelson in the late 1920s from the Tilyard family. The two storey wooden home had been built in the early 1900s. The Neales named the home Green Gables[7] and lived there until about the time his first wife, Florence, died in 1954. In 1957 the house was sold to Presbyterian Support Services and became a rest home. Neale moved to a new home in Moana Avenue on the Port Hills overlooking Tahuna Beach where he resided until his death.


In 1902 he was reported as participating in the Nelson Athletic and Cycling Club Labour Weekend Central School 100 yard and 220 yard running races.[8] Although not placed he appears to have had an interest in sports from an early age.

He was a sportsman of reasonable skill playing representative cricket (1904–1945) for Nelson and Marlborough, hockey (1915–1926) for Marlborough, Nelson, and the South Island (1923), soccer (1905) for Nelson, and golf (1937) for Nelson. He loved horse racing and was Secretary of the Nelson Trotting Club from 1923 and the Nelson Jockey Club (1923–1949).


Neale represented Nelson in cricket from 1904 while still at college aged 16 years. He first captained Nelson in 1910 when he was only 21 years old.[9] By 1926 he had played 52 matches for Nelson including playing for the Hawke Cup. He continued to represent Nelson until 1945, with a short break (1915–1920) playing representative cricket for Marlborough when he lived in Blenheim. During this period he was noted as "giving powerful help to Marlborough".[10]

He represented Canterbury (1921), the South Island (1922), and the New Zealand Minor Associations (1921) in first class cricket. By 1928 Neale had made over 1,000 runs for his club. His statistics for representative cricket were 73 innings, 3 not outs, 201 highest score, 2,223 total runs, and 31.7 run average.[11] He also achieved his highest score of 201 runs against Wellington during this period. By 1938, having played cricket for 33 seasons, he had scored 45 centuries and eight double centuries. Altogether he had registered 25,000 runs and taken over 1000 wickets. He continued playing until circa 1951.[12] Neale encouraged up and coming new players. An example of this was in 1948 when he, along with Jack Newman and Herb McGirr, after a Newman Shield match against Nelson, encouraged Arthur Cresswell to play for a major centre causing him to become a foundation player for the Central Districts team.[13]

He was also noted for his memory of cricket history and statistics.[14]

Public service[edit]

Neale assisted on a number of organisations: Nelson Provincial Chamber of Commerce Secretary (1920–1955),[15] Nelson Automobile Association (Secretary 1923–?), Nelson Progress League (1923–?), Municipal Association of New Zealand (President 1947–1948), Cawthorn Institute (Board member representing the Nelson City Council 1943–?,[16] Secretary 1946), National Patriotic Fund (1941–?), the New Zealand Road Safety Council (1947–?), and the Nelson Fire Board (13 years).[2]

In 1930 Neale was appointed as a Justice of the Peace (JP).

In 1932 he, along with Arthur Rutland Edwards of Motueka and George E Manson of Stoke, was appointed to the Nelson Mortgagors' Liabilities Adjustment Commission under the Morgagors' Relief Amendment Act 1931 by the Minister of Justice, John Cobbe.[17] With a change of Government and legislation all three were reappointed under the Mortgagees and Lessees Rehabilitation Act 1936 by the Attorney-General Rex Mason.[18] The purpose of the commissions was to assist the Supreme Court in the adjustment of mortgages, a relief measure because of the Great Depression.

In 1942, in his capacity as Mayor of Nelson, he was appointed a District Controller of Civil Defence for Nelson Marlborough under the Emergency Reserve Corp Regulations by the 1st Labour Government's Minister of National Service, Bob Semple.[19]

He was awarded an OBE in 1946 and the Coronation Medal in 1953 for service to the community.[20][21]

Neale, his son, and his grandson were all Secretaries of the Nelson Provincial Chamber of Commerce from 1920 to 1981. By 2008 the family had at least four generations of association with the Chamber of Commerce with his great granddaughter, Angela Hunter of Hunter Tourism Consultancy being a member.[22] In recognition of this long association the Chamber made a special presentation to the family.[23]

Nelson City Council[edit]

Neale was voted onto the Nelson City Council in 1925 and remained a councillor until 1947. For two periods, from 1933 to 1941, and from 1947 to 1950, he was Deputy Mayor of Nelson. In the intervening years (1941–1947), he was Mayor of Nelson.[2]

Member of Parliament[edit]

Parliament of New Zealand
Years Term Electorate Party
1946–1949 28th Nelson National
1949–1951 29th Nelson National
1951–1954 30th Nelson National
1954–1957 31st Nelson National

In 1946 he stood as the National Party candidate for Nelson and was elected,[20] replacing the legendary and recently deceased Harry Atmore, an MP who had held the electorate for 30 years.[24]

In his maiden speech on 9 July 1947,[25] Neale stated that he had entered Parliament with "a deep sense of responsibility and with some humility". He went on to say: "I will try to remember that the other fellow has a right to his own opinion" and quoted from Rudyard Kiplings poem If.

Under Sidney Holland, he was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary from 1950 to 1954 to the Minister of Industries and Commerce (Charles Bowden, followed by Jack Watts),[26] but stepped down from this position due a prolonged periods of illness. Neale was apparently so ill that he was unable to campaign during the 1951 election and yet increased his majority. This prompted a telegram from Sir Clifton Webb, Attorney-General that stated that "apparently it was better to lie in bed than lie on the platform".[27]

For a number of years he was the Chairman of Parliament's Public Accounts Committee.

In 1956 he together with Hon Sir Thomas Macdonald, Minister of External Affairs, and the member of Parliament for Ponsonby, Ritchie Macdonald, represented the New Zealand government at General Committee meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Jamaica.

Results for the Nelson Electorate by Election[edit]

Election National Labour Majority
1946 52.10% 47.90% 585
1949 54.40% 45.60% 1,373
1951 58.80% 41.20% 2,831
1954 45.70% 41.00% 717

He represented the Nelson electorate from 1946 to 1957, when he retired.[20]

Battle to save the Nelson Railway[edit]

Neale was a strong supporter of the Nelson railway line, and extending it to link with the South Island system.[28][29] However this was against National policy, and in 1954 Minister of Railways William Goosman announced the suspension of the Nelson-Glenhope line, and a five-year programme of accelerated road development.

As a result of submissions from Neale, who was supported by the Nelson Progress League, the closure was deferred to allow time for the League to attempt to increase rail use. The League made some progress but insufficient to reach the levels required. The Government announced that the line would therefore be closed.

On 17 September 1955 the Nelson Progress League held a protest rally.[30] Neale, as MP for Nelson, was one of the speakers. Also speaking at the protest were Jerry Skinner, MP for Buller, and Walter Nash, then Leader of the Labour Party. As a protest on 20 September 1955, Neale crossed the floor at Parliament on one occasion and voted with the opposition.[31]

It may have been through this turbulent time that he forged a friendship with Mabel Howard, a famous Labour MP. Her bibliographer noted that he was one of a few gentlemanly National MPs who were close friends with her.[32]

Neale gave his valedictory speech on 25 October 1957.[27] His obituary later stated that Neale was "noted for his sincerity of address" (in Parliament).

He died after a period of illness in Nelson on 25 July 1960. On that same day the Nelson Progressive League was pressing the then Labour government to reinstate the Nelson Railway.[33] That same day Neale died, the National Party was holding its conference. Members of the party passed a resolution of sympathy and condolence by standing in silence.[34]


  1. ^ Three Generations of Neale Family History from 1842 by June E Neale (1974 Nelson)
  2. ^ a b c d Gustafson 1986, p. 335.
  3. ^ a b Nelson College Old Boys Register 1925
  4. ^ Nelson College Old Boys Register 1856-1956
  5. ^ Marriages, pg1, Evening Post, Wellington, 4 January 1912
  6. ^ Death Certificate 1954/35133, Registrar of Births Death and Marriages, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand
  7. ^ Green Gables History by Barbara Hodgson (The Nelson Mail, Nelson 18 May 2007, pg 13)
  8. ^ Nelson Athletic and Cycling Club - Labour Day (Nelson Evening Mail Vol XXXVI 9 Oct 1902 pg 2)
  9. ^ Nelson Correspondent of the "New Zealand Free Lance" 1939
  10. ^ pg 53 New Zealand Cricket Vol II by T W Reese (1936, Whitcombe and Tombs Limited)
  11. ^ pg 179
  12. ^ Nelson Correspondent of the "New Zealand Free Lance" 1939 and Neale Family Archives
  13. ^ Marlborough identity Arthur Cresswell dies by Lynn McConnell, ESPN circinfo.com, 6 August 2002
  14. ^ Neale's Figures pg 6, New Zealand Truth, Issue 1179, 5 July 1928
  15. ^ A historic look... p23, 2008 Annual Report, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce
  16. ^ Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society, Vol 74 1944-45, XXIV, The Nelson Institute
  17. ^ Mortgage relief to assist Courts - District Commissions - personnel announced pg 9, Evening Post, 16 February 1932
  18. ^ Debt Adjustment - more commissions appointed - clearing up work pg 12, Evening Post, 18 May 1937
  19. ^ Civil Defence - new control system - appointments made pg 3, Evening Post, 19 May 1942
  20. ^ a b c Wilson 1985, p. 223.
  21. ^ The New Zealand Roll of Honour 1845-1991 by Alistair Taylor, p785, Roll of Honour Publications Limited 1998
  22. ^ Nelson Escapes Tourism p9, Commerce Comment, Oct/Nov 2008
  23. ^ Business Awards 2008 p18, 2008 Annual Report, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce
  24. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 181.
  25. ^ p 352, New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Vol 276 24 June - 29 July 1947
  26. ^ Wilson 1985, p. 86.
  27. ^ a b p3330, New Zealand Parliamentary Debates, Vol 314, 19 Sept - 24 Oct 1957
  28. ^ page 159 Rails to Nowhere - History of the Nelson Railway by Lois Voller (1991 Nikau Press)
  29. ^ p197 When Nelson Had a Railway by Barry O'Donnell (2005 Schematics Limited, Wellington)
  30. ^ p238 When Nelson Had a Railway
  31. ^ p99 Bread and Roses, Sonja Davies, 1984
  32. ^ McAloon, Jim. "Howard, Mabel Bowden 1894 - 1972". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  33. ^ Expedition on Nelson Railway Bill wanted p19, Evening Post, Wellington, Tuesday 26 July 1960
  34. ^ Obituary: Mr E R Neale p14, Evening Post, Wellington, Monday 25 July 1960


  • Gustafson, Barry (1986). The First 50 Years : A History of the New Zealand National Party. Auckland: Reed Methuen. ISBN 0-474-00177-6. 
  • Wilson, James Oakley (1985) [First ed. published 1913]. New Zealand Parliamentary Record, 1840–1984 (4th ed.). Wellington: V.R. Ward, Govt. Printer. OCLC 154283103. 
New Zealand Parliament
Preceded by
Harry Atmore
Member of Parliament for Nelson
Succeeded by
Stanley Whitehead
Political offices
Preceded by
George Page
Mayor of Nelson
Succeeded by
Joseph Harley