Sawdust – Part 1

“I’m known all over New Zealand as Sawdust.”

“When we left the mill we were all covered in sawdust. We used to go to the pub – four guys and me, had our little corner. By the time we left there was about half a metre of sawdust on the floor. I was called Chuck for a start, and it evolved to Sawdust.

I was not a particularly bright child at school; I was good at woodwork, geography, and things like that. I came here to Akaroa High School. When I was 18, I went into my compulsory military training. That was very successful. I stayed a wee bit long which took us on big trips to Fiji and whatever areas needed peacekeeping overseas.

I did firewood from the age of 15. I built my own saw bench in those days. I bought an Austin Seven, I jacked this Austin Seven up in the air, put the belt on the back wheel and built a sawbench.

My father saw an opening after all the sawmills in Banks Peninsula closed down after 1890. They planted macrocarpa and pine trees to get shelter, and because the trees were big enough to mill he started milling over there in 1945 then we shifted from Okains Bay to Duvauchelle Bay.

I got pretty well involved with it, you know. Dealing with builders all the time and cutting timber for their houses or whatever they were doing. Timber was cut at the sawmill at Duvauchelle – some of it went to the Chatham Islands. The first chainsaws arrived in about 1950 – sometimes it took longer to get the chainsaw going and than if you cut it with a hand saw!

It took me four years to build my house, all made of macrocarpa. I had to keep my business going as well. That’s a real thing of self-satisfaction. Going to the bays, cutting down the tree, carting it, sawing it up, bringing it here and building a house out of that – not many people get that opportunity.”

– Don (Sawdust)

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