Our People: Long-serving committee man

VOLUNTEER: Tawera Memorial Hall Committee chairman Dave Topp has served on the committee for nearly 20 years.

How long have you lived in Springfield for and what brought you out here?

I have been here for more than 20 years. What brought me here was I married my second wife. She was from Springfield.

Has the township changed a lot?

It has changed a lot. Probably more in the last few years. There have been quite a few things done around the place. We have got a very active township committee and they do a great job. There have been quite a few new houses in the last few years. After the railway moved out, the town was cut in half. It slowly built back up. There are new people who moved into the area. A cross-section of people – some old and some younger.

How long have you been on the Tawera Memorial Hall Committee for and why have you stayed there?

I have been on there for 19 years this year. I think a lot has changed there in that time. Back in those days, it was pretty relaxed, we had meetings every month. Now there is a bit more to it. You do a bit more paper work. I have enjoyed it, this is my third term as chairman. It has been a learning curve for me. Most importantly, dealing with other people. I do a lot of dealings with the district council and the people I have dealt with from the council have been very good and very helpful. I’ve been lucky, they have always helped me in the things I needed to do right from the start. We had a lot of help and support from the Malvern Community Board.

Is there any reason why this hall is so special to you?

It is a great hall. We have had a lot of comments over the years from people who come to Springfield. We have had people say it is probably one of the best halls in Selwyn.

What was your biggest achievement on the hall committee?

We have achieved quite a bit, especially in the last few years. We have upgraded the kitchen, we put up a new boundary fence, we have done quite a few things inside. Just recently, we did internal painting – we have still got some more to do but we are pretty good. I have got a great committee – all great people willing to help.

Does the hall have any historical significance?

When the hall was first built, the money was raised by the committee. That was a pretty big thing. It is over 60-years-old. It didn’t cost as much as it would cost today but it was a great achievement.

Has anyone significant visited the hall?

No, but years ago they used to have films once a week every Saturday night. They had dances on a regular basis. They used to have interesting people. They have got a local artist Mel Parsons, she has had two concerts here. We have got local groups here who do dancing several nights a week. Some of the locals have a ball once a year.

You have supported the Malvern A & P Show for a long time and you do well in their veggie competition. Tell me about that?

They have a great competition every year in the vegetable section of the Malvern show. I have been growing vegetables for about 50 years. I have actually won the trophy for the last nine years. Nineteen years I have been an exhibitor at the Malvern show.

What has made you support the Malvern show for so long?

It is a local show and I like to support the locals. It is well-organised and a great family day out. Very seldom the weather packs a sad. Last year, it was a bit damp but it is a great country show. The next show is March 24.

Are you passionate about gardening and vegetables?

Yes I am.

Do you have any top gardening tips?

I think the most important thing is getting the ground preparation right. Get fertiliser and water and watch them grow. Get the weeds down.

The trouble up here in Springfield is we are at a higher altitude so you have got to be a bit careful, especially in the spring because the frost gets the plants. You have got to be prepared to cover them.

This year has been pretty good but some years we get frost right up until December. Every year is a bit different.

What is your favourite vegetable to grow?

I like most things really. Carrots and parsnips. Parsnips can be tricky to grow. It was a wee bit trickier last year because it was a bit drier.

In the last few years, I have been growing pumpkins. I think this year, I have got one quite
big and they usually get up to 50kg.

You often give your vegetables away at the Malvern show?

We have got a pretty big garden and I like to give stuff away at times. Sometimes you get too many cauliflowers and can’t eat them all at the same time. You can freeze some of that stuff of course.

What else are you passionate about?

I play indoor bowls at winter time. I have been playing bowls for more than 50 years. We have still got a club functioning – Springfield Indoor Bowls. We have been pretty good in the Malvern competitions.

We have our ups and downs. The main thing is you enjoy yourself and that is what it is all about. You meet a lot of other people.

We have got about 12 members I think, which is not too bad. We had less for a while. We were struggling. Some of the members travel from Darfield every week to play here.

Have you had many successes?

I’ve had quite a few wins. I won the men’s singles champions of champions competition in Malvern. I have won it twice. That was a pretty good achievement for me. There were five different clubs in the Malvern area. I was pretty wrapped with that. Probably don’t play as well now as I used to.

I hear your wife Judith does a lot of work for the community and has a gift for cooking?

She is passionate about cooking. She takes suppers to the meetings, she has got a great passion for cooking. People comment on it. She does as much work at the hall as I do.

Do you have a favourite dish she makes?

I like them all really. She makes a really good egg and bacon pie. Her fruit cake is pretty good and also her chocolate cake – people rave over that.

How long have you been married for?

We are 21 years this year. We met years ago – 50 odd years ago. I worked in Springfield in those days. We met up then and went out for a while then we sort of drifted apart and went our separate ways. Then Judith lost her husband 22 years ago and we met up again.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Rotherham, North Canterbury. Born at the local hospital there – there is no hospital any longer. That is where I was born and bred. I went to primary school there and secondary at Rangiora High School. I worked at Springfield- that was my first job and then Ashburton. I mainly did farm work.

Are there any projects you are excited about that are happening in Springfield?

They are putting a walkway in between the Springfield Domain and the township. Just about completed actually. They have done a great job. People can walk from the camp or anywhere they want. They can walk on the side of the road – they have got their own separate walkway and that has been a great project.

You are pretty busy, is there anything else you are passionate about that we missed?

I am pretty passionate about vintage machinery. I have got my own vintage tractor. I am quite involved in that. I go to vintage meetings around Malvern. I have also been up to North Canterbury and Waipara. I am passionate about vintage machinery, it is a good hobby. I am in the process of restoring a tractor plough at the moment. Haven’t had time to finish it yet but I am working on it. My vintage tractor is a David Brown cropmaster, 1951. It does use a bit of fuel but I don’t use it that much. It is great to see people restoring and preserving vintage machinery because a lot of it has been lost over the years.

We have got our big vintage event at Kirwee on the 23rd,
24th, 25th of this month. It is the 20th anniversary of the New Zealand Vintage Machinery Club. That is a big weekend. It is the same weekend as the Malvern show. I will take my tractor there.

TALENTED: Springfield resid