Topic: B.O.P. Times 13 August 1982 article on Bert Goulding (1886-1987)

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Text from BOP Times 13 August 1982 (a series or articles as part of the "Add life to years" project by the community health department of the Tauranga Public Hospital).

THOUGH Mr R. T. (Bert) Goulding was born in Napier in 1886 you would hardly guess his age while sharing afternoon tea, with sliced lemon, on a sunny balcony overlooking the Waikareao Estuary. From an active life-time spanning almost a century Mr Goulding can recall many interesting events of both national and local interest. For example, he was present when the then foreman of the Tauranga Borough Council fired the guns at the Redoubt to mark the extension of the railway to the borough in 1919.

The guns were packed with waste and Mr Goulding was amused as this flew down the Strand to add to the spectacle of what was an important occasion.

Trip to town

Mrs Goulding was present in 1911 when the first sod was turned for the formation of the railway in the Tauranga area. She can remember things well before that. Born in 1894, she used to ride untamed horses to Otumoetai School from Gardenhurst in Moffats Road. When the ponies were trained they were handed over to other children. In those days a short cut to town was via the Judea hill and across the Waikareao Estuary into the city. Mrs Goulding was the first lady captain of the Mount Maunganui Golf Club in the days when the club house was a converted cow bail.

Mr Goulding*s first job when he joined the surveying firm of Kennedy Bros, and Morgan in Napier, was to collect a matchbox full of spiders. This rather mystified him, but he later found that the thread from the spiders was fitted in the middle of the theodolite telescope to give accurate centre lines for fixing positions.

Landed on beach

He can still recall stories of his journey to the Middle East with the main body during the first world war, with 500 horses in the hold, but not in stables. He said the rough weather was quite an experience. When they reached North Cape two German cruisers were reported and they had to turn tail and head back for Auckland. Finally they left via Wellington.

When they reached Gallipoli, the navy had not allowed for the set of the tide and, instead of landing on a reasonable beach with a low cliff, they were swept about a mile down the coast and had to land on a beach only a few feet wide, under a vertical cliff, overlooked by the Turks. This error was catastrophic as far as the losses of the New Zealand soldiers were concerned, as they were mowed down attempting to scale the sheer cliffs.

Mr Goulding, being a surveyor, spent some of his time in no-man's land, with the shells from both sides passing overhead as, with a cameraman, he worked out by trigonometry the position of the enemy trenches to enable accurate fire to be made.

Two world trips

He also mentioned another of their wartime tricks. After they had retreated, they left water dripping into bully-beef tins, attached by lines to the triggers of the rifles. When the weight was sufficient the rifles fired — the Turks believing the troops were still in the trenches. In those days they had no hospitals and no hospital ships, and the wounded were taken away on barges.

Mr Goulding said that, at one stage, he was captured by the French who could not understand the English on his pass from General Hamilton. After this was sorted out they celebrated and the wine flowed. He was awarded a meritorious medal for his work on Gallipoli and was part of the Royal Engineers.


Since retiring Mr and Mrs Goulding have enjoyed a bach at Lake Rotoiti for many years, and have made two world trips. They particularly enjoyed the Continent, where they travelled on the Euro-Rail. Mr Goulding was still able to do gardening and painting till well over 90, when he had a fall, but this has not deterred him too much, as he renewed his driver's licence this month. Both are looking forward to taking part in the centennial luncheon for the octogenarians.

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B.O.P. Times 13 August 1982 article on Bert Goulding (1886-1987)


First Names:Robert Thomson (Bert)
Last Name:Goulding
Date of Birth:1886
Place of Birth:Napier
Country of birth:New Zealand
Date of death:1987
Occupation:Surveyor
Spouses name:Margaret Wallis
Spouses date of birth:1894
Date of marriage:1947
Place of marriage:Tauranga
Military Service:WWI
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
B.O.P. Times 13 August 1982 article on Bert Goulding (1886-1987) by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License