‘The boss’ remembered

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Book highlights exploits of leading Southland farmer

A book celebrating the exploits of “The Boss” – Nithdale Station’s previous owner Major Charles Tripp – is soon to be launched.

The Hero From Nithdale Station is written by son Dick Tripp and is a collection of stories about the major, who served as leader of a commando unit in World War2.

Maj Tripp was always referred to as “The Boss” by the workers on Nithdale Station and when he joined the army the soldiers under his command also gave him this title.

Mr Tripp said his father, who farmed at Nithdale from 1924 and lived there until his death in 1991, was a leading Southland farmer of his generation.

“He would be one of the best known farmers in Southland, probably.

“He was bit of a legend really,” Mr Tripp said.

When his father bought the 1478ha Nithdale Station in 1924 it was run-down.

“It was all gorse and rabbits when he went there.

“He used to pop rabbits out his bedroom window at 5.30 in the morning, but he made a great farm out of it.”

However, it was his father’s contribution in the war that prompted Mr Tripp to write the book.

“I think it’s such a great story and I feel I owe it to my father.”

While his father was away his mother did not mention what he was doing and it was not until later that Mr Tripp learned about his father’s war exploits.

“I had no idea of how much he had achieved, but as I grew up and learned more about the commandos and what they had done, I really started to appreciate it.

“I was always disappointed after the war they got so little publicity.”

His father did not talk much about the war but every so often would share a story.

“Because of my regard for Dad I always remembered them all in detail.”

At school Mr Tripp had never enjoyed English and had never done much writing.

“The idea that I would ever write anything – I’d never dreamed of doing.”

However, when Mr Tripp retired as an Anglican minister, his wife Sally taught him how to use a computer.

“I found it so much easier writing and the fact I had learned to type made it so much easier.”
About three years ago, Mr Tripp told a cousin some stories about Major Tripp, and his cousin encouraged him to write them down.

“Three years I started pottering away at it, off and on.”

Once the book was finished, he published 100 copies for family members.

“During that time I kept wondering if it would sell in bookshops.”

Eventually Mr Tripp sent the book to Ray Curle, of Wildside Publishing.

“He was so taken with it.

“He said the combination of pioneering farming down in Southland really appealed to him and then the war stories at the end is a wonderful combination.

“From then it’s just been all go.”

At present Nithdale Station is farmed by grandson Andrew Tripp.

Andrew said he worked on the station with his grandfather for a year before he died.

“He was out grubbing thistles five days before he died.

“He still had a very much keen interest in the farm,” Mr Tripp said.

The book had many interesting stories in it.

“It’s good having them all in one place.”

Gore District Memorial RSA padre the Rev Bruce Cavanagh remembered meeting Maj Tripp.

Mr Cavangah said Maj Tripp had been the first and only patron of the Gore RSA.

“He was a person to be looked up to. He sort of commanded that respect.

“[He] would not ask anyone to do something he would not or could not do himself.”

The book launch for The Hero From Nithdale Station will be held on Saturday March 2 at the Gore RSA rooms from 7pm to 9.30pm. All are welcome to attend.