Back in 1990 the Auckland Branch IOQ committee at that time considered that an award should be made available to recognize those who had made an Outstanding Contribution to the Auckland Group during the years. The Award was sponsored by Paykel Engineering and the first recipient was Keith Niederer.
On November 25th 2005, at the Auckland Branch Annual Christmas function, sponsored by Komatsu, Orica and Applied Conveyor and Belting it was time again to honour a man who interestingly enough was a part of the committee that year when the idea for the Paykel shield was first mooted.
He is a colourful chap who has spent almost his entire working life in the extractives industry. His apprenticeship at Puni (a small village in the Franklin District) as a mechanic was to stand him in good stead, as one of his first tasks when he left was to build a device which is still being used today.
His progression through his working life as apprentice, plant foreman to manager is reasonably typical of our industry. What is not so typical is the passion that Murray Swain has shown not just to his work, but towards all aspects of his life.
Motor bikes were a passion – before he turned 20 he gained the NZ record over the standing-quarter-mile racing his bike along Kariotahi Beach. Later as an avid jogger he competed in several marathons. He loved hockey as well and also had a keen eye ? that of a marksman – clay bird target shooting. We understand he was introduced by his father-in-law to duck shooting, and every May he still heads off to a mai-mai set up near Port Waikato at the commencement of the duck-shooting season. Passion.
Those who have been in Auckland a while, would recall that JJ Craig was a name synonymous with the quarrying industry ? they had a quarry just off Marua Road where PlaceMakers Head office is now located. They quarried, made bricks, and were concrete specialists. Murray Swain was a part of that organisation.
The device still in use today that was built all those years ago was used to harvest small stones out of a watery environment. The device was named the Raewyn Alice. And for a number that may still not mean too much. There are two names associated with river operations – Roose was one, Henry the other. The Raewyn Alice is a dredge specially designed to suck up and sand from a river bed and it was built for Henry Sands by Murray Swain and his brother.Armed with his Dredge Master’s ticket, he stayed on the Waikato River every day for 10 years winning sand for Mr Henry. After his stint as plant foreman, he was promoted to Manager when Peter Henry retired. This was about 30 years ago in 1975. Henry Sands became part of JJ Craig, which in turn was purchased by Winstone Aggregates, and in due course became part of the Fletcher Building Group.
Murray Swain stayed with the organization for nearly 40 years. Now thats passion. And he may still have been there if it were not for management changes at that time that made his position redundant, leaving to make yet another sand plant for Ian Wedding’s operation at Te Kowhai, just north of Hamilton.
Things changed dramatically over the years and when the Puni Sand Plant (pictured at left)was modernized about 10 years ago, it was Murray’s expertise that helped Winstone Aggregates streamline the production to produce a large variety of products ? pumice products for drainage and horticulture, gravels for horse arenas and filtration, and sand used for manufacturing concrete, pipes, roofing tiles, and the like. He can indeed be proud of his passion for the sand business.
In the early days things were pretty primitive, and the toilet facilities comprised a spot under a certain willow tree overlooking the Waikato River ? a place where a bloke could sit and ponder in peace, as the water flowed by, and the leaves rustled. On one particular occasion when his brother yelled out ?You?d better hurry up, someone?s coming? he laughed, ignored the comment and to his embarrassment and was literally caught with his pants down, as some visitors came round the corner.
But that?s not the man we have come to know when we discuss things about the IOQ. He joined in 1989 and has one of the highest attendance records of any IOQ member in the Auckland Group, rarely missing either a branch meeting or a committee meeting. He has served as a committee member for nearly all that time, and was involved on both Committees for the Annual IOQ Conferences held in Auckland in 1995 and in 2001.
Many Auckland branch members will recall that when Advanced Engineering brought their woven wire screens from Christchurch to compete in the Auckland market, a local branch meeting was hosted at the Puni Sand Plant, and Murray Swain was the life and soul of that evening.
He especially supported our IOQ bus trips and we know that the trips to Soljans Wines, Waihi Gold, Huntly East Mine, McDonalds Lime and the Pirongia Pub, Matahina Dam and the Grumpy Mole, will be fondly recalled as great days out.
His input has always been valued as it has been offered as both a measured and considered opinion, rarely flippant. However for those of us who got to know him a little, he certainly does has a wicked sense of humour and memorable smile and laugh.
Maureen’s role as a wife and soulmate to Murray over the years cannot be overlooked and for her support to the IOQ we thank her warmly.Well deserved.