Brief mention has been previously made on the roles played by Maisie’s trustees, particularly Alf Hodgson and Colin Sturrock but a new name is being thrown into the mixture of deceit and drama . . .
When Alf Hodgson died in 1961 few had known of Colin Sturrock’s active involvement in Maisie’s affairs.
Sturrock was not only a trustee to Alf’s estate but had been the legal brain behind all the investments Alf had made on the behalf of Maisie Demler for the previous 20 or so years.
The money from Section 4 (formerly owned by Newman Chennells) came through the deaths of Maisie’s mother Nellie and her brother Howard. Finally the death of Alf Hodgson left only a single beneficiary alive for Sturrock to either contend with or to assist towards a conclusion that might not suit everyone.
There are no prizes for coming up with the “beneficiary” as being Maisie Demler then later her daughter Jeannette Crewe.
At this time, trustees Colin Sturrock and his nominated trustee, Len Demler would have seen what was at stake and operated accordingly. A wild card is that Alf’s wife, Rose Amy (who had succeeded him as a trustee “notwithstanding the trust for sale hereinbefore contained”) will become a debatable thorn in their side.
The heat was starting to come on and to find out why one has to first click into 1965, the year that Jeannette turned 25 and was eligible for her share of her inheritance from her uncle Howard Chennells. It might be viewed as a coincidence, but a transfer of Sections 6 & 7 (and other small parcels) in Block XIV Opuatia was made the same year to Honetana Farms Ltd.
This is a completely new name to be thrown into the mix of this saga and up to this stage I was not sure when and where it should be introduced. I can say that there are compelling reasons for mentioning this as a connection to the ultimate fate of the Crewes.
First some background on Honetana Farms Ltd, its location and its former owner, Gordon Hamilton Jones, and more importantly, why I think the link is so important.
In 1965, Gordon Hamilton Jones (as vendor) sold the farm he had owned since 1945 to Colin Rankin Sturrock as trustee for a company to be incorporated under the name of Honetana Farms Ltd. This link with Sturrock is worthy of attention as it may show an association with the Chennells Family Trust, something that happened often.
The Honetana property was in the Opuatia Block XIV Sections 6 & 7 of 765 acres (more or less) plus another adjoining block of 67 acres (Opuatia 6a) and Allotment 192 of 34 acres, totalling 866 acres. Its location is off Wairamarama Rd and not far as the crow flies west from the Crewe farm at Opuatia.
Honetana Farms Ltd was registered as a company on 27 September 1965 with Gordon Hamilton Jones as Governing Director to manage the farm (it was eventually struck off the Companies Register on 30 June 1986).
Jumping ahead a bit I found the link to Honetana Farms to be critically important as Gordon Hamilton Jones and his relatives were caught up in the fallout with the Chennells Family Trust. Now, first some more background.
WHAT WAS REALLY GOING ON?
For me it was the human involvement along with the wheeling and dealing these people did that led me to some unexplained events and loss of sleep.
I was in a dark place because of a series of co-incidences that jumped out at me while adding further information to my ever so important timeline. There were events happening in the Demler and Crewe families that were in tune with transactions from Honetana Farms Ltd.
This alerted me to look a little wider and while I was questioning myself whether more was going on than met the eye. I became convinced there were cover-ups as some things were not adding up. All those involved in hiding the truth would have benefited somewhere and in my opinion the ones who have kept their mouths shut over this affair have not done this without return.
It is very complicated and it’s only through the lack of hard facts that some of the dots are still failing to connect up. I may get it partially wrong but the proper authorities who have access to files that have been put beyond my reach would be able to tidy up the loose ends if they ever wanted to.
CHANGE OF LAND
Around the early 20th century, after the land had changed from Maori to European, the Jones forefathers and other relatives that had an interest in what later became Honetana Farms also had vast interests in other surrounding land through ruling family ties.
The titles that specifically interested me, apart from Sections 6&7 and its small attachments, was the neighbouring property of 530 acres on the southern boundary which carried the legal title of Allotment 105 in the Parish of Whangape.
DOVETAILING OF LAND TRANSFERS
At times I didn’t know where I was coming from or where I was even going. To make it easier for the reader to get their head around what was originally a jumble of dead ends that didn’t make sense, I now want to start from what appeared to be a dovetailing of land transfers that joined some dots.
In studying the Certificate of Titles for the leases of Sections 6 & 7 and Allotment 105 together, I found transactions that were carried out using the same transfer numbers and lease numbers on entries occurring on the same day and at same time for these neighbouring sections.
Of all the land transactions I have studied, these combined properties of around 1400 acres, did not appear to be connected until the names of various lessees were matched with each other.
The first occasion was on 20 June 1920 when Morgan Hamerton Cox transferred the leases and mortgages to Lionel Marmaduke Dixon then two years later the process was repeated but this time to Richard Orme Dixon.
The conclusion to this is that the collective acreage was being farmed by one lessee, Lionel Marmaduke Dixon then later by Gordon Hamilton Jones and to a point, briefly by Honetana Farms.
ADJUSTMENT OF LIABILITIES
A Court of Review hearing, held in October 1937, under the Mortgagors and Lessees Rehabilitation Act 1936, saw Lionel Marmaduke Dixon applying for an adjustment of liabilities with State Advances Corp (1st Mortgagee) and Richard Orme Dixon (2nd Mortgagee). This action only applied to Sections 6 & 7 (and other bits) and as far as I could determine, not to Allotment 105.
Dixon was facing hard times and like the rest of New Zealand everyone was fighting their way out of the black cloud of Depression and to survive meant taking every opportunity to reduce expenses, a grave situation that was adequately covered in an earlier chapter.
The outcome of the hearing was pleasing for Dixon as many concessions were made to enable him to continue trading. The report of the hearing is of interest but has too much detail to repeat here. However, an example from the court order was a reduction in arrears of interest, the term of the mortgage was extended to 45 years and no principal repayments demanded for the first five years.
An extract (below) shows Dixon had money advanced by an appointed trustee to carry out improvements (d) that included a woolshed, dip, fencing and 30 head of cattle.
ASSESSING THE FARM
I had a personal look at the land in 1998 and read it from quite a few angles. It is very deceiving as to contour with many hidden valleys giving shelter from the wind. What looked to be steep country from the road turned out to be different from another angle–the ground would be more workable than one would think.
If I am to believe what I have been told, the farm had only been broken in partially up to the period around the early 1940s with only about 400 acres in production. The rest was in heavy tea tree and punga.
Recovery would have been slow for Dixon and in August 1945 he realised he was losing the battle and managed to find a buyer for all his leases and mortgages on Sections 6 & 7 (and other bits) plus Allotment 105 (again using matching numbers, dates and time) to Gordon Hamilton Jones (see above).
The following year, on 12 December, a mortgage with State Advances was taken out on Allotment 105 by Hector Douglas Jones, a brother to Gordon Hamilton Jones. This connection with the Jones name is very significant as these men were uncles to Leslee.
JONES AND STURROCK
Right now I need to continue with the involvement of Gordon Jones who farmed the properties until 1965 when it was taken over by Honetana Farms Ltd.
The next stage of this journey is to delve deeper into the role played by Colin Sturrock who was intimately involved in the purchase of the Jones property on behalf of Honetana Farms Ltd to the value of £25,000.
Sturrock, as readers know, was also the solicitor for Newman Chennells, solicitor and trustee of Chennells Family Trust and also governed Maisie Demler’s investment money along with Len Demler as trustee. It shouldn’t take very long for readers to work out where the money came from. Maisie, ‘the banker’ of course!
On purchasing Sections 6 & 7, Honetana Farms made an intelligent move by hiring a front man to handle the shovel as Managing Director. The best man for the job was the previous owner, Gordon Hamilton Jones. His job was to basically answer any awkward questions, an old ploy used to throw a spanner in the works, that is, to prevent an activity from succeeding.
In addition, it would to be wise to keep in mind that Honetana Farms Ltd was sold in August 1968 (three years later) to Lester Murray Kershaw for the inflated price of $62,250 (up from £25,000 remembering that decimal currency had arrived in the meantime). Keep in mind also that the money received by Honetana would still be held by the trustees “for as long as the law will allow”, a legal phrase that I have struggled with.
Although Lester Kershaw was director from 1968 onwards, one would gather he did not have the final say in business matters although a previous trustee with past agreements could have been brought to his attention in 1969 about the time that May Demler had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
At this stage, I can only guess at the extended bitterness caused by any Deed of Arrangement (or Arrangements) held on any land, farms or leases held by Maisie Demler which very soon were to be handed on to Jeannette after Maisie’s death in February 1970.
The worry for me, and it stands to reason, that in the span of years gone by there could have been many Deeds of Arrangements that had reached or passed their date of maturity. Has the cat finally been put amongst the pigeons with a revelation from an insider?
A SHOCKING REVELATION
The activities of Gordon Hamilton Jones are a long way from being hidden in the shadows. When Gordon Jones sold his estate and all his interests in 1965 to Honetana Farms Ltd and when they sold on to Kershaw in 1968 all traces of Honetana should have disappeared but no, a reaction over 10 years later in 1979 revealed a shocking revelation.
In May 1979 after the death of Gordon Hamilton Jones on 20 April, his will was read and I imagine after a lively debate and possibly a brief conflict or ‘set-to’ by the brother-in-law over the settlement and governing of company shares, the sh*t was well and truly hitting the fan as some of the beneficiaries started to get wise.
Trevor Leonard Flexman, executor of the will, was so incensed that he made a sworn statement before the Supreme Court renouncing all his rights and title to probate and execution of said will by making an extremely eye opening explanation that he would “not thereafter intermeddle therein with intent to defraud creditors.” Just what is Flexman covering his butt against?
There’s more to come and it’s possible there will be chaos when this saga has ultimately been told. There will be winners and losers. I cannot help that, as that is how the legal system, and hopefully the justice system, is meant to work in New Zealand.