Okay here’s a question: How many of you had a father who was a whaler?
Answer: One, Les Roberts.
That’s right, while Les was growing up first of all in Kaikoura and then Nelson, his father was among the last of New Zealand’s whalers. What’s also quite remarkable is that Les became a cowboy in Canada in later years. Les is now 85 years old. Clearly his father didn’t spend all his time whaling because Les was born into a family consisting of 20 children. Just three of them still survive. Hato Paora College in Feilding was opened in 1948 and Les was among the early intake. After leaving school Les worked at a variety of jobs, but some people in the Johnsonville areca might recall him driving a Tip Top ice-cream truck for several years.
Les’s eyes light up often in conversation, especially when mentioning his wife of 52 years, Robyn, and also when he recalls his five years in Alberta, Canada where he worked as a cowboy. All his mates had headed off on their OE, most of them targeting England, but Les and another friend wanted something different and, as Les had worked a couple of years on a cattle run near Wanaka, he decided Canada was the place to go. He loved it. If you ask him nicely he might even wear his wonderful cowboy hat to the club one Friday night!The Roberts have been in Kapiti for over 20 years now. Les started playing bowls at Paekakariki, then
Raumati South and now Raumati. There was sadness for Les and Robyn when one of their children died six years ago. They have a
daughter in Christchurch and a son in Sydney, plus 7 grandchildren and a great great grandchild