Interview with David Williams

Date
12 Dec 1997
By
Williams, David Claverly, 1917-2010
Ref
OHInt-0636/7
Description

David Williams was born in Christchurch in 1917. Gives details of his family background. Mentions his father was Canon Henry Williams, a vicar and son of a minister, who was married twice and had eleven children. Recalls that when his mother Ethel Martin married his father she became mother to his existing nine children. Mentions her grandfather's role as a magistrate on the west coast during the gold strikes and a clash with Richard Seddon.

Describes his father's interest in education and involvement in starting the Church of England Primary School in Christchurch. Mentions the Open Air School Association. Recalls attending Christs College and comments on the discipline, caning, prefects, fagging and bullying. Describes beginning work at Pyne Gould and Guinness as an office boy in 1935 and then working at the Land and Income Tax Department in Wellington. Mentions joining the Wellington Regiment and during World War II going to New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands in the 36 Battalion and then to Italy with the 15th Reinforcements. Talks about marrying Elizabeth Neas and their family. Mentions working for the Forest Service after the war and doing a professional exam in public administration with the State Services Commission. Recalls applying for the job as Official Secretary at Government House, his qualifications for the job and interview with Lord Cobham. Comments on the formality and clothing. Mentions the previous Official Secretary David Fouhy. Describes the difference between the job of Official Secretary and Comptroller.

Discusses the procedures for greeting diplomats, the Executive Council, the opening of Parliament, cabinet dinners, large events at Government House, proceedings for investitures, the Honours list and the five year programme for the Governor-General. Describes the ladies in waiting as friends and relations of the Governor-General's wife. Talks about Lord Cobham as Governor-General, his strong links with New Zealand and background as the cricketer, the Honourable John Lyttelton. Comments on the relationship of Sir Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister, with Governors-General Lord Cobham and Sir Bernard Ferguson. Mentions that Sir Bernard Ferguson was the fourth member of his family to be Governor-General. Talks about his war record, personal style, knowledge of Maori, interest in church union and desire to get into the community. Discusses the 1963 Royal visit and meeting of the Privy Council in New Zealand. Describes the New Zealand background of Governor-General Sir Arthur Porritt who was a Rhodes scholar, athlete at the 1924 Olympics and top surgeon. Comments that Sir Denis Blundell was the first real New Zealander as Governor-General and comments on the difficulty of maintaining the mystique of office when the person is known. Mentions changes made to the Honours system by Norman Kirk and changes in the appointment of Governor-General. Talks about the death of Kirk. Describes being awarded a CBE. Talks about links with Buckingham Palace.

Interviewer(s) - Hugo Manson

Accompanying material - Information on Williams' family tree included in abstract

Quantity: 4 C60 cassette(s). 1 printed abstract(s). 1 interview(s). 4 Hours Duration.

Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete OHA-3401.

Additional description

Original recordings not available for playback. Surrogate copies will be provided.

Alternative form available: Listening copies OHLC-004996 - OHLC-004999

Use/Reproduction
Public use may require the permission of the copyright holder Copyright: Held by Government House
Access restrictions
Partly restricted material
Format
4 C60 cassette(s), 1 printed abstract(s), 1 interview(s), 4 Hours Duration, Oral histories
There are 5 items in total.
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There are 5 items in this group.
Date: 15 Dec 1997 From: Government House oral history project Stage I Ref: OHC-010172 Description: Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s). Physical Description: Physical Characteristics - gamma ferric oxide. Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete.
Date: 15 Dec 1997 From: Government House oral history project Stage I Ref: OHC-010173 Description: Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s). Physical Description: Physical Characteristics - gamma ferric oxide. Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete.
Date: 15 Dec 1997 From: Government House oral history project Stage I Ref: OHC-010174 Description: Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s). Physical Description: Physical Characteristics - gamma ferric oxide. Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete.
Date: 15 Dec 1997 From: Government House oral history project Stage I Ref: OHC-010175 Description: Quantity: 1 C60 cassette(s). Physical Description: Physical Characteristics - gamma ferric oxide. Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete.
From: Government House oral history project Stage I Ref: OHA-3401 Description: Quantity: 1 printed abstract(s). Finding Aids: Abstract Available - abstracting complete.