Meat leader’s golden years

One of Queenstown’s most interesting retirees died last month, aged 90.

Enlightened and highly intelligent, Peter Blomfield settled in Queenstown in 1990 with his wife, Cleone, after 16 years as high-profile CEO of the Meat Industry Association.

An agricultural scientist, by training, he achieved a world-first in 1953, while studying at Lincoln College, near Christchurch.

Through experiments in his home province of Nelson, he found molybdenum, on peas, markedly increased their yield.

Peter’s wife, Cleone, says when he went on to work in Europe for the potash industry, ‘‘they said, ‘Oh, you’re in the literature’’’.

The couple married in a registry office in Sydney in July, 1969, on the same day man first walked on the moon.

During five years in Australia, Peter undertook several assignments involving social and economic planning for the Aboriginal communities.

He became head of the New Zealand meat industry in Wellington in 1974.

During Robert Muldoon’s prime ministership, particularly, he was often on the TV news when there was industrial unrest.

Cleone says Peter made big strides in improving industrial relations, involving the unions in decision-making to the consternation of others in the industry.

She recalls him even taking unionists to Canada to ‘‘show them different ways of doing things’’.

He was also enlightened for his time, taking on a female lawyer despite Muldoon saying this was an affront to the unions.

When he retired, Dunedin-raised Cleone says they didn’t want to stay in Wellington.

While on a skiing holiday in Queenstown — she’d taught him to ski — ‘‘suddenly Peter said, ‘it’s here, we should come here, it’s obvious’’’.

When they told Wellington friends where they were going, ‘‘they said, ‘everybody’s going to Queensland after the sharemarket crash’’’.

‘‘We said, ‘it’s Queenstown’.

‘‘They said, ‘Oh, you’ll never get any directorships, you’ll be cut off forever’.’’

The couple had local architect Michael Wyatt design a quake-resistant house on Queenstown Hill.

In his early Queenstown days, Cleone says he created an industry from meat works separating out lamb meal and shipping it off to the United States for pet food for sick dogs.

‘‘We did it all by fax, and faxes used to come at 2am — it was fun because we were working with people on the other side of the world.’’

In the ’90s, Peter was a founding member of a Friday lunch group who, after they were early patrons of SkyCity Casino’s Wild Thyme restaurant, became known as the ‘Wild Thymers’.

Fellow Wild Thymer Jules Tapper says Peter was always good company.

‘‘He was an extremely good listener and a very intelligent man, he had a wide range of interests and a wide range of knowledge.’’

In 2012, amongst their extensive book collection, he and Cleone found a 1629 edition of the King James Bible, which originally belonged to the Dean of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, John Worth.

It had possibly been brought to NZ by Peter’s great-grandfather, early surveyor John Rochfort, or his wife, Amelia.

After contacting the Dublin library named after Worth’s son, Edward, Peter and Cleone flew there to donate it to that institution.

For many years, the keen tramper, who enjoyed golf, wine, food, art and travel, volunteered for Company Rebuilders, giving advice to new businesses or those in strife.

Family gathered in town yesterday to honour him.

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