Old white man of the day

We have arrived at X in our alphabetical review of old white men.? We should, therefore, talk about Mr X; possibly the first person in the world to be interviewed by himself with the interview subject being a different himself. Although he ultimately assisted in the demise of his alter ego, none of his three personas are worth a mention in the august company of old white men of the day, so we will proceed to Y.

From small and humble beginnings, great things can grow. Quote:

Arthur Yates was born in England in 1861 and migrated to New Zealand in 1879 to escape the damp weather of his native Manchester.? Arthur was a somewhat sickly asthmatic. A family conference following medical advice, resolved that Arthur should travel to a warmer climate. The smoky cold air of the industrialising British Midlands was the worst of all places for Arthur to be. An examination of the world atlas revealed large areas of the world coloured red on the map to denote the then huge British Empire. Of the “all red routes”, New Zealand was furthest away and thus offered the prospect of the longest sea voyage for Arthur’s convalescence.

Upon landing in the colony of New Zealand in Otago, the 18 year old, Arthur worked at shepherding and eventually settled in Hawke’s Bay as a shepherd. In his spare time, he scythed grass seed from the sides of the road and sent it on coastal ships to the Auckland market. Very shortly, the seed revenue was far outstripping his shepherd’s wages. Arthur followed his instincts and moved to Auckland in 1882 where he rented a small rickety wooden shop in Victoria Street West and opened as a specialist seed business

The seed business that Arthur opened in Auckland in 1883 was the beginning of what was to become one of the most recognised names in Australian and New Zealand gardening.

In 1886 after leaving school two years earlier, Arthur’s younger brother Ernest Yates (1866-1947) followed from England and joined Arthur in partnership in 1887.

After settling in New Zealand, the brothers had decided that it was time for them both to find brides and raise families. There was an acute shortage of suitable young ladies in the colony. They wrote to their parents in Manchester (letters took up to five months to arrive by sailing ship) and said that their desire was to get married. Could their parents have a look at who might be suitable and perhaps have seemly and suitable candidates appraised and await their arrival back in England. To the brothers’ surprise and delight, upon stepping ashore on arrival in Liverpool, Arthur and Ernest were confronted on the wharf with 20 lovely young ladies who just wanted to be introduced.

Some sorting out soon took place and within a few weeks, wedding bells were ready to ring. Arthur married and sailed for Auckland. Ernest Yates was not so lucky. His chosen one, Miss Mary Wright got nervous about the huge step she was about to take into the unknown world and could not make the decision to sail with Ernest for the uncertain life in New Zealand. Disconsolate, he sailed alone for Auckland via the Suez Canal. A stop off in Gibraltar was opportune. Awaiting him was a message via the newly installed telegraph system. “Please return to Manchester. I do want to marry you!” Leaving the ship, a hurried and arduous horse and coach journey through Spain, France and England reunited the couple together.

Arthur visited Sydney where he saw an opportunity to establish a similar enterprise. So he left his brother, Ernest, to manage the New Zealand seed business and opened a branch in Sussex St, Sydney. In 1906 the two brothers came to an amicable agreement to separate the two companies and run them independently either side of the Tasman. This continued until the late 1980s when the two companies joined together again.

By 1893 Arthur had launched his seed packets for home gardeners. He prided himself on always selling the best quality seeds and ?Yates Reliable Seeds? became the company?s catchcry. As time passed Yates became more and more an integral part of the garden, selling a range of products that included fertilisers, sprays, pots, potting mix and tools as well as seeds. In 1895 Arthur saw the need for a publication that answered gardeners? questions so he wrote the first Yates Garden Guide, a basic gardening book that is still published more than 110 years later.

Yates has established itself as an integral part of Australian and New Zealand gardening history, but much of the company?s success rests on its ability to adapt to changes in lifestyle and to continue meeting the needs of gardeners in each new generation. End of quote.