Vale Tony Grayburn – A forestry stalwart

Thursday 6 Apr 2023

Tony Grayburn certainly left his mark on the South Waikato and the wider forestry industry, both in New Zealand and overseas.

Anthony (Tony) Watson Grayburn NZOM, JP (1924 - 2023). After a long and distinguished career in the New Zealand Forest Service, a short stint in the army and many years of community service in the South Waikato, Anthony (Tony) Watson Grayburn has passed on. Grayburn died at Bob Owens Retirement Village in Bethlehem, Tauranga on 10 March, in his 99th year.

A funeral service was held at St Columba Church in Cherrywood and his ashes will be interred, with those of his wife Audrey, in the RSA section of the Tokoroa Cemetery.

Grayburn grew up in Geraldine, South Canterbury during the Depression, one of six children to Fred and Vera Grayburn. He was educated at Geraldine High School where he was head boy, Victoria University in Wellington where he read science, and the Australian Forestry School in Canberra.

In 1941, he joined the New Zealand Forest Service, and shortly after that, between 1946 and 1948, he was a member of J Force, a New Zealand Army group sent to occupy and demobilise Japan at the end of World War II.

Grayburn rose to the rank of Staff Sergeant and was based in Youda, near Yamagouchi, in Southern Japan where he also taught agriculture and forestry. He married Audrey Webster from Wellington and continued a long and illustrious career with the forest service in Kaingaroa, Invercargill, and with the Selwyn Plantation Board in Canterbury.

Grayburn brought his wife and young family to Tokoroa in 1963 where he joined New Zealand Forest Products (NZFP) at Kinleith. He was based in Tokoroa for the rest of his career, retiring at the end of 1989, after rising to manager of NZFP Forests in the central North Island. He was also involved with forestry development around the Pacific basin, western USA, British Colombia in Canada, Japan, Australia, Chile and the Pacific Islands.

He lectured at the University of Canterbury Forestry School and the Forest Research Institute in Rotorua. Later in his career, he received the New Zealand Order of Merit and the New Zealand Institute of Forestry Kirk Medal for service to the forestry industry.

This was for work and leadership in various forestry organisations including the Institute of Foresters, Loggers Association, NZ Forest Owners, Forestry Research Advisory Committee, New Zealand Forestry Council, Tauranga Harbour Board, and the Pacific Logging Congress.

Grayburn and his wife Audrey commemorated 70 years of marriage in 2019, and are survived by three children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Our thoughts go out to his wider family, friends and his work colleagues.

Source & Photo: Stuff, supplied by Mike Grayburn

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