Generous couple 'pass it on'

18:30, Dec 14 2012
GENEROUS GIFT: Waikato farming couple Bill and Joan Flower have given $500,000 to the Waikato Medical Research Foundation.
GENEROUS GIFT: Waikato farming couple Bill and Joan Flower have given $500,000 to the Waikato Medical Research Foundation.

Former Piako farmer Bill Flower had no hesitation in handing over half a million dollars to the Waikato Medical Research Foundation.

"It was no trouble," the humble 93-year-old told the Waikato Times.

"For many years I've always wanted to help other people, that's been my philosophy, because I got help when I was very young."

Born in Australia, Mr Flower was forced to leave school at 12 when the depression hit.

In 1939, at the age of 20, he arrived in New Zealand to have a look around.

During his travels he got pneumonia and was laid up in Waikato Hospital for two months. "They'd tie me up to a rack and tip me up and over. It was fatal in those days."


Destitute and stranded in New Zealand, a "little old lady" took him in upon his release and looked after him until he was well enough to find a job.

"They wouldn't accept board. Her husband told me ‘you don't owe us anything - pass it on'. That was the message I got. I've been very fortunate that things have turned out right as far as making a living goes and I'm proud to be able to pass it on."

After joining the New Zealand Air Force and flying Halifax bombers during World War II, Mr Flower returned to New Zealand to marry Joan. They've been married 67 years.

They farmed Longacres in Morrinsville for 15 years and during that time Mr Flower bought commercial property.

Then sold their then highly developed dairy farm to invest in two developing farms, another Morrinsville dairy farm and the main long-term objective, to develop 650 hectares in Piopio into sheep and cattle station Shalimar. He also made other investments, including a dairy farm near Hamilton so his four children could go to high school in town.

Mr Flower said he and his wife had helped many people "back on the road of prosperity" in the past.

"And they've done very well . . . but I wanted to give to something that everyone would benefit from - so I gave to Waikato Medical Research.

"If they can have a breakthrough with one simple thing - like childhood leukaemia - wouldn't that be a wonderful thing.

"They've got the setup there, but they need the capital to be more effective. It may be a shot in the dark, but at least it sows a seed."

Waikato Times