A lost wallet has been returned to its gobsmacked original owner more than half a century after it went missing.

Levin man Don Page, 89, said he couldn't believe someone had found it - on a construction site in the middle of Wellington - let alone taken the time to track him down after all this time.

"I had honestly forgotten that I had lost it. I really was amazed," he said.

The year was 1967, the same year New Zealand changed to decimal currency. Keith Holyoake was Prime Minister. It was also the year that saw the end of the "six o'clock swill", and man had yet to land on the moon.

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The building in Cuba St where the wallet was found.
The building in Cuba St where the wallet was found.

Page had just begun working as a buyer at Farmers Trading and Co in Cuba St. He was soon promoted to store manager and continued working there until 1981.

Fast forward to Wellington, 2020. The building was closed for repair work and an upgrade that included restoring its impressive facade to the original 1916 design.

Three employees of the construction company L.T. McGuinness - Sam Boult, Aaron Stephens and Amby Talamaivao - found an old wallet during the course of their day and handed it to office manager Georgia Robinson.

Robinson said the trio found the wallet behind an old filing cabinet. Inside it was a drivers licence with the name Donald Cannon Page, born in Westminster, 1931.

"It was in such good condition considering it had been there for more than 50 years," she said.

L.T.McGuinness office manager Georgia Robinson, 27, and her dog Lucille.
L.T.McGuinness office manager Georgia Robinson, 27, and her dog Lucille.

Robinson, 27, had lost her grandparents when she was young, so understood it could be of sentimental value to somebody and set about trying to track him down.

"I didn't know whether Mr Page was still with us, but thought he might have a wife or kids or grandkids. I was just trying to do the right thing," she said.

"I couldn't just sit it on my desk and stare at it ... if it was my grandfather, what would I like someone else to do?"

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Several lines of inquiry went cold, until Robinson put a post the Facebook page "Missing Pieces New Zealand", which drew a response from genealogy specialist Elizabeth Parkes.

Parkes, who was also curious and offered her services free of charge, searched electoral rolls and found Page alive and well and living with his wife Marion in Levin.

Levin man Don Page, 89, was even given an L.T. McGuinness company cap.
Levin man Don Page, 89, was even given an L.T. McGuinness company cap.

So, on April 1 this year, Robinson rang Page, and had to assure him it was no joke.

The office staff at the retirement village were initially skeptical of the story, and for obvious security reasons wanted more information.

They eventually put the call through to Page, but only once a copy of his old drivers licence was produced and they were confident of Robinson's integrity.

"Call me Don," he said.

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As he listened to Robinson tell the story, Page said he was gobsmacked at her effort and of those involved in his wallet's safe return.

"They had spent time trying to trace me. Not only does that mean they took the time to track me down, but also that the company they work for allowed them to, and paid for it to be returned," he said.

"It is a fantastic effort. You have to remember, this is in a day where the world is full of bad news. It's just marvellous."

But as the wallet was found before the outbreak of Covid-19, he had almost forgotten all about it, until there was a ring at the door early last week.

Levin man Don Page, 89, has been reunited with a wallet that went missing in 1967.
Levin man Don Page, 89, has been reunited with a wallet that went missing in 1967.

It was a courier driver, holding a large box that not only had his old wallet with all its contents inside, but it was full of chocolates, magazines, laminated photos of the restored building, pens, a key ring, and an L.T. McGuinness cap.

"I saw this box and wondered what the hell it was ... I couldn't believe what was inside," he said.

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"What a wonderful thing to have done."

The old leather wallet itself was more than 80 years old. While there was no money inside, it held his old UK drivers licence, his New Zealand drivers licence, payslips and bank deposit slips among other curio.

The payslip showed he had worked a 40 hour week, for which he received 50 pounds.

There was also a letter from his old boss in 1967, informing staff of the upcoming change to decimal currency, which he appreciated reading again all these years later.

It provides a snap-shot of the time.

"DEAR STAFF,

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"You and I are to participate in a change from one currency to another on July 10 and this is an experience that may never happen again in a thousand years," it said.

"We may think the change just extra work, but on reflection, we will probably be inwardly pleased that we are to play a part in this important event.

"Thousands of people will depend on us to guide them on the first few days and newspaper reporters will probably be very interested to see how efficiently we handle the introduction of the new currency.

"I am sure it will be very interesting to put to the test, the training that you have willingly undertaken.

"Thank you for the thought you have already given to this matter - thank you for your patience and help you will give on July 10."

Page said he really appreciated seeing the photos of his old workplace, sent to him by staff at L.T. McGuinness.
Page said he really appreciated seeing the photos of his old workplace, sent to him by staff at L.T. McGuinness.

Page also appreciated being given laminated photos of the building where he had worked for so many years, and marvelled at its restoration.

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"They have brought it back to what is was in 1916. That's fantastic ... absolutely magnificent," he said.