Roland Henry (Roly) Hammond (July 14, 1925–June 16, 2018)

Roly Hammond was the guy who went out and got things done, and he didn't take no for an answer.

It meant he was a valuable member of any community group, sports club or political party he joined – and there were a lot of them.

Which is why his name is probably familiar to a lot of people in Tauranga.

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It may also be familiar to you, our readers, as Roly was a regular and long-time letter writer to the Bay of Plenty Times.

What you might not know is the man behind the pen had a distinctive white handlebar moustache, which he wore for more than 70 years without shaving it off.

In fact, he was a member of an exclusive international handlebar moustache club.

He was also the successful campaign chairman for Winston Peters in the 1996 general election.

Roly died in Tauranga last Saturday at the age of 92.

"He was one of those full-time committee men," his son Paul, from Christchurch, told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend this week.

"He did a hell of a lot for public service. That came through from the depression days and through the war days. That generation was different.

"They came back from the war and they were lucky to be alive and they had families and they did their thing."

Paul, 66, said community service was a huge part of his dad's life.

"Probably more community-service orientated than family-orientated in a funny way. But at the same time, he was a great provider for his family."

He said Roly had "an incredible innings" and did things a lot of other people would never think of doing.

"At the age of just about 93, he never suffered. He lived in the family home right through until last week and he had all his wits about him. The body just gave out."

Roly Hammond was a regular and long-time letter writer in the Bay of Plenty Times. Photo / Supplied
Roly Hammond was a regular and long-time letter writer in the Bay of Plenty Times. Photo / Supplied

Roland Henry Hammond was born in Timaru on July 14, 1925.

He grew up with a mum, dad, brother and sister and was educated in Christchurch at Fendalton School and Christ's College.

Roly (as everyone knew him) excelled in sport at school, especially rugby and athletics, and sport became a life-long passion of his.

He was a life member of both Old Boys Collegians Cricket Club and Valley of Peace Cricket Club in Christchurch.

Roly's community service history in the Garden City was also extensive – ex-president of Christchurch Round Table 1, ex-president of Christchurch Rotary Club, and life member of Christchurch Civic Trust (to name just a few).

He served with the Royal New Zealand Air Force from 1944-1945 and then spent a short period as a freelance journalist covering the Nuremberg trials in Germany.

When Roly returned to Christchurch, he married his soulmate Pamela Wreaks in 1947.

The couple were married for 69 years until Pam's death in 2016.

Together had four children – Robyn, Christopher, Paul and Jane.

Roly was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1983 and established and ran successful importing businesses until his retirement in 1992, when he and Pam relocated to Tauranga. They settled in Mātua.

Roly was heavily involved in politics from very early in his life.

Despite spending some time with NZ First, his loyalty was mostly with the National Party.

National Party leader Simon Bridges said this week that Roly was a dear and valued party member "who believed passionately in New Zealand and its potential".

"He was also more than this – and very involved in quite a number of community organisations and projects well into his late 80s, fundraising for great causes such as Waipuna Hospice," Bridges said.

"I got to know Roly well over the years and valued his friendship and advice."

When Roly and Pam moved to Tauranga, his sporting and community commitments did not stop.

Roly became president of Otumoetai Probus Club, chairman of Christ's College Old Boys' Association (Bay of Plenty branch), and he was an active member and executive of Mātua Bowling Club (again, naming just a few).

He was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for community service in 2003.

Roly's retirement in Tauranga, although very active, also led to a special relationship with his 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

"He spent the time with them that he couldn't with his own kids – all those years of developing businesses and public service and everything else," son Paul said.

"So after he retired, he could sit back and enjoy."

Roly's life was celebrated by family and friends in Tauranga on Thursday.

Paul said it was a life of action, not words – which was typical, he said, for a man of Roly's generation.

"There was no mucking around. They were judged by what they did, not by what they said."

However, going by the number of newspaper column inches Roly took up over the years, he had plenty of wise words to share too.

- Scott Yeoman