Events were coming to a head between Chennells Estate trustees during the early 1960s with the risk of shady deals being exposed by others involved . . .
The death of Alf Hodgson, on 6 October 1961, may have removed one of the three wise monkeys (Hodgson, Sturrock & Demler) from the ring of deceit, but his passing was to cause a chain reaction of bitterness, distrust and vengeance within family circles.
These may be strong words and while their significance will become clear as the story progresses, there are a lot of dealings that have not been easy to untangle.
Hodgson’s name has been mentioned on previous pages and mentioning his death seems a good time to enlarge further on his involvement.
He was a key player as a trustee and was fully aware of all trust dealings from the very start. It will be remembered that Alf was appointed a special trustee from the 1936 will of Newman Chennells and as a consequence, played a major role in the running of the Chennells family estates for decades.
Special trustees are sometimes used as trustees for a particular asset that will not be passed on to a beneficiary for a considerable time.
In a nutshell, Alf held a trusted position and would most probably have had access to all accounts, investments, shares and knowledge of a certain Deed of Family Arrangement and Mortgage plus returns from all ventures including compound interest plus other possible perks gained from the sale of Section 4 in 1944.
This was the section originally purchased by Newman Chennells in 1924 and on his death was left to his son Howard and daughter Maisie. The proceeds from the sale amounted to £5,600 and was basically held in trust by Alf Hodgson and Howard Chennells.
This money was soon invested so it seems prudent to mention here that Maisie Demler was one of many who obtained a 21 year lease on a beach section at Port Waikato that was contained in a large block under the name of Cole-Baker. These documents were dated November 1948.
There had also been numerous land purchases “up north”. The name of Maisie Demler was mentioned in an Auckland Star news report dated 30 December 1937 (above) as the owner of a house in Swanson that a family had escaped from after a house fire.
The neighbour’s house, belonging to Rowland Wood, narrowly escaped destruction from the same fire but by a ‘strange coincidence’ Rowland’s wife, Eileen, later owned a section at Port Waikato two doors away from Maisie Demler.
The plot thickens but at this stage I do not want be involved unless necessary. Needless to say, Alf Hodgson was involved along with fellow trustee Colin Sturrock and later Len Demler. We have named these men the three wise monkeys.
ALF HODGSON NOT WELL KNOWN
The names of Sturrock and Demler are well known but strangely Alf’s name has never been mentioned anywhere. The fact is, and it is worth repeating again, he was deeply involved with the business affairs of the Chennells family (Newman, Nellie, Howard and Maisie) and also with Len Demler as a co-trustee.
I am sure Alf took many family secrets with him to the grave as he knew intimately or had prior knowledge of most, if not all, of the ins and outs their affairs.
Alf is believed to have had family connections with Newman Chennells in the UK and there are indications of him being related somewhere within the clan.
His birth certificate does not give his father’s name although his mother’s name is recorded as Ann Jane Hodgson. Alf’s death certificate has Arthur Hodgson as his father but more confusion shows up on his marriage certificate with Arthur Hodgson being crossed out and the words “Fth unknown” inserted.
Alfred must have arrived in New Zealand when he was aged around 25 as his name last appears in UK in 1911 and next appears on the NZ Army WW1 nominated rolls 1914-18.
He eventually ended up farming at Opuatia and as a bachelor (at the age of 46) became the third husband of Rose Amy Brocas (who will feature later as this saga unfolds).
After the death of Alf Hodgson, fellow trustee and solicitor Colin Sturrock, suddenly became the sole surviving trustee of the Chennells Estate (previously Section 7, now Section 13). Land records show a transmission was entered for Section 13 on 20 February 1962 and at the same time Len Demler was surprisingly named as the replacement trustee. This was probably a logical move in the interests of Jeannette and particularly Heather who, at the time, had not legally reached the age of consent.
All these events of 1961 and almost all of 1962 occurred while Jeannette was absent in Europe and North America.
She was probably not aware of all the drama happening at home and when she did return around mid November, she ended up spending a short time relief teaching before moving to Wanganui to be with her OE friends, Dianne Ambler and Beverly Crewe (who later married Tony Willis).
It was at Beverly’s wedding that Jeannette met Harvey Crewe. She was bridesmaid and Harvey was groomsman. According to Yallop their meeting “quickly blossomed into full romance” and by June 1966 the couple were married in Auckland.