Masterton owner puts rarities on block

By Alisa Yong alisa.yong@age.co.nz -
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Auctioneer Mike Perry with four of Sir Walter Nash's walking sticks which will be auctioned next week. PHOTO/ALISA YONG
Auctioneer Mike Perry with four of Sir Walter Nash's walking sticks which will be auctioned next week. PHOTO/ALISA YONG

Items belonging to one of New Zealand's longest-serving politicians are set to go under the hammer in Featherston next week.

Four walking sticks belonging to Sir Walter Nash, New Zealand's Prime Minister between 1957 and 1960 and MP for the Hutt electorate from 1929-1968, are up for auction at the Tauherenikau Racecourse next Monday.

Mike Perry of Wakefield Auctions said the items were part of the estate of Betty Johnston, a Masterton antique dealer, who had recently moved into a rest home.

The wooden walking sticks were purchased by Mrs Johnston when Sir Walter's estate was auctioned in the late 1960s. While the history of the walking sticks was unknown, it was quite likely they had been gifted to Sir Walter, Mr Perry said.

"Today if they came on the market you would know [their history] but, because we are handing on second-hand information, we don't know. But we feel, with him owning these, they had some significance and they were probably given to him by somebody.

I would say that because he [Sir Walter] had them they would have come from somewhere quite significant."

One of the walking sticks featured Maori carving and paua shell decoration, while another was possibly of Fijian origin and could also be used as a club or staff.

Anyone who purchased the walking sticks and could trace their history could stand to make a significant profit, with all items auctioned with no reserve, Mr Perry said.

Also up for grabs is a Georgian bureau which also belonged to Sir Walter. Found inside the bureau was a letter on Windsor Castle letterhead, although it was difficult to read the name of the sender due to the handwriting, Mr Perry said.

This auction, which includes hand-painted Minton plates, Limoge porcelain, and Royal Doulton character jugs, was "well up there" in terms of the best auctions he had held during his long career as an auctioneer, Mr Perry said.

"It's a long time since I've seen stuff like this and it's become more valuable -- we used to get estates like this every two or three years, now you would be lucky to get one every 10 years.

"It's hard to imagine things coming like this."

The auction items can be viewed in the grandstand area of the racecourse on Sunday between 1pm and 5pm.

The auction starts on Monday at 10am.

Absentee bids will be accepted.

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