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Famous footprints

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Lloyd Mandeno and Harvey White

Stunning stories behind three Te Awamutu Walk of Fame inductees

The three newest inductees to the Te Awamutu Walk of Fame bring elements of inventiveness, bravery, athleticism and compassion to the celebration of Te Awamutu successes.

Engineer and inventor Lloyd Mandeno, All Black and soldier Jim Wynyard and innovative heart specialist Harvey White are the latest additions to be inducted.

Lloyd Mandeno was born at Rangioawhia in 1888, the son of local farmers William and Mary Mandeno. Educated at the local primary school and then St John’s Collegiate in Auckland, he completed his Electrical Engineering degree at Canterbury College in 1905.

A passionate advocate of hydro electricity, he worked for 11 years promoting the use of electricity from the Omanawa Falls power station.
As gas was the current ‘in’ method of cooking, he set up a shop to demonstrate the advantages of electricity. He built the first home in New Zealand, to have all its energy requirements from public supply electricity.

In 1925, Tauranga was the first electric power supplier in the world to use the ‘single wire’ earth return system which he invented, and which made it economical to supply power to sparsely populated areas, a system later used by many other countries.

His inventive skills were not confined to electrical work. He invented portable moulds to cast concrete poles on site. Mr Mandeno also laid a submarine cable, one of the first in the country. He set up the first electrically powered sawmill and milking shed in the North island. At the snowfields, Mr Mandeno provided the power for the Chateau Tongariro and the ski lifts.

He was awarded an OBE in 1965. An unorthodox figure, he made an enormous contribution to the generation of electric power in New Zealand.

He once said, “I am by nature, too prone to seek out a path, not regularly trodden by others.”

Graham MandenoHe passed away on December 30, 1973. Members of his family accepted the award, including his son Graham who is in his 90’s. The family added their own tribute to a great man, saying he never got around to patenting any of his inventions, because once a job was completed he was too busy helping the next person.

Jim Wynyard was born on August 17,1914 and was educated at Kihikihi Primary School and Te Awamutu District High School, before completing his last two years at New Plymouth Boys High. He then attended Ruakura Farm School.

It was while there in 1933 that his talent came to the attention of the Waikato rugby selectors, because of his speed and lineout work. He made his debut for Waikato in 1934. In 1935, at aged 20, he was selected for the All Blacks team to tour Britain. He played in eight matches on that tour. Overcoming a knee injury he regained his position in the Waikato team in 1936. In 1938 he won selection for both Waikato and the All Blacks. By the time he left to serve overseas in World War II, he had played 21 games for Waikato. Rugby observers of the day had high praise for his ability stating, ‘the bigger the occasion, the better he played.’

As an officer he distinguished himself in that hopeless battle for Crete. In the face of enemy fire he several times went back to rescue wounded men. Another local man said, “if only there’d been another officer present to verify that bravery, Jim would have won the V.C.”

In North Africa he was involved in the famous break out from Minga Calm. In 1942 during a lull, a group of Te Awamutu men had an impromptu reunion. Mr Wynyard arrived in a tank. After a few beers with the boys he returned to his unit. His tank had only travelled a few hundred metres when two shells exploded beside it, killing both Wynyard and his driver.

It has been said if he had returned home, he may well have been one of the greatest All Blacks of the post war years.

Former mates George Mandeno and Peter Brown, who knew Mr Wynyard as a sportsman and soldier, added their own tributes on behalf of the Wynyard family.

Harvey White was born in Te Awamutu on November 19, 1947, the second son of Phil and Estelle White. He attended Te Awamutu Primary and was a first day pupil at Te Awamutu Intermediate, before going on to attend Te Awamutu College.

In 1966 he was an American Field Scholar in New Jersey. He then studied at Otago Medical school always returning in holidays to work at the dairy factory. After five years as a junior doctor at Invercargill, he began training as a heart specialist at Greenlane hospital. In 1981 he went to Harvard Medical School, returning to Greenlane as the inaugural Heart Foundation Senior Fellow in 1984.

Ten years later he was awarded a doctorate of science which is the highest award of the University, by the University Of Otago for his field breaking work, work which has led to new treatments that have saved thousands of lives world wide. That same year he was made a Matai (High Chief) in Samoa for his work in preventing and treatment of heart disease. In 1997 he was made Honorary Clinical professor of medicine at the University of Auckland.

Mr White has also had considerable recognition for his speaking out for patients rights. He is a fellow of many societies throughout the world. He is man who believes strongly in the Public Health approach to the preventions of heart disease, and has been advisor to the World health Organisation.

He is currently Director of Coronary care and cardiovascular research at Green lane cardiovascular Service at Auckland City Hospital. Mr White accepted his induction and said it was a pleasure to be home and to be honoured and recognised by his hometown.