Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Memorial to a boxer

In October 2009, I did a post on the Greer Twiss sculpture at Pigeon Park, corner of Symonds Street and Karangahape Road -- and somehow completely overlooked this table with seats. I chose to sit there last week, while waiting for the crew to turn up for Thomas Henderson's birthday.

I was thinking, "Hey, these are a couple of chequerboards," and thought how neat it was that this was a table inlaid for folks to have games. Then, I noticed the plaque.

And at that point, I knew that this would be a Timespanner post. Who was Don Armishaw?

Well, he was Donald James Armishaw, who died on 1 September 1954 at Rotorua Hospital, aged 47. At the time, according to the Waikumete Cemetery database, where he was cremated, he had been a commercial traveller by occupation. But according to his obituary (NZ Herald, 3 September 1954):

[Donald Armishaw was] a former director of Foodstuffs Ltd, and a member of the executive of the Auckland Master Grocers' Association. Mr Armishaw was known in the trade throughout the country. Always interested in the "private" grocer, he made many improvements in stores, and helped to introduce the self-service system. [He] was keenly interested in the Labour Party and for some time he was on the Auckland Labour Representation Committee. He was a candidate for Auckland City Council in 1950.

A talented boxer in his youth, Mr Armishaw maintained his interest in the sport and was a member of the Auckland Boxing Council. He was a brother of Mr E Armishaw, the referee.

It would appear Don Armishaw wasn't just "talented" as a boxer, he was a champion.
Mike Flynn writes from Auckland about his school: — "A little about my school. My bunch of pupils are showing some promise. My feather crack, Louie London, is going along finely and is matched with Don Armishaw, the Auckland featherweight champion.

(NZ Truth, 21 March 1925)

Slattery's footwork is immense; it suits his style ... His right, straight as a die, is a peach, and almost a sure winner when it connects. The fact that he missed quite a lot against Don Armishaw must be set down to the latter's skilful back moving ...

(Evening Post, 13 August 1927)

Has this table been there all this time? If so, I must say it has stood the test of time rather well.

Update 4 August 2011: A comment below by Kevin Ferguson gives us the date the table was erected:
"The table was erected as memorial to Don in 1956, two years after his death. Don was a legend in Foodstuffs."

Thanks, Kevin.


  1. Just received a comment from my friend Gail:

    "While I remember seeing groups of homeless people playing chequers here, I can't recall whether it was as I whizzed past in the bus on my way to work each day (1965), or around 1975 when I used to walk my (then baby) son in his buggy around that area. I'm not sure if these are the original tables or not...if they are, then they are very well preserved."

  2. What a lovely story behind this memorial, Lisa.
    Thanks for going to the effort of satisfying your curiosity and sharing Don Armishaw's life with us :)

  3. Cheers, Jayne. I'm still surprised there's no other readily available info on the table -- but at least, now there's something.

  4. The table was erected as memorial to Don in 1956, two years after his death. Don was a legend in Foodstuffs.

  5. Thanks, Kevin -- I really appreciate the information. Cheers!

  6. We are sitting at at the table today and a still impressed it stands today nearly 70 years later. BUNSRTLW.