Monday, September 19, 2011

Thames Characters - Alexander BRODIE

Another article that appeared in the Thames Star Newspaper accompanied by a sketch; featuring ALEXANDER BRODIE 
Alexander BRODIE
Thames Star 29/7/1886

Transcript: "Our Portrait Gallery.
The sketch I purpose presenting your readers with this week is that of one of the best known figures in the whole Thames district —Alex. Brodie, familiarly styled "King of the Waiotahi," and whose pretty cottage residence is known to all whose calling or inclination takes them up the Creek bearing that name. His whole time for many years past has been devoted to the public service. On the introduction of the Counties Act, Mr Brodie was chosen one of the representatives of the Riding in which his residence is situated, and
immediately afterwards was elected Chairman of the County, which position he has continued to fill up to the present time, all attempts to oust him therefrom reuniting in failure. Being well conversant with the laws of the Colony, especially those relating to Counties, Finance, and Public Works, he is by many considered the beau ideal of a County Chairman. His burly and genial figure is perhaps better known in Wellington than that of most Honorable Members, as for some five years it was the custom of the Council over which he presides to send him down to the Empire City during the session to look after their interests; and it is generally believed that he netted more spoil for his County by these periodical trips than any ordinary member of the House. Of late, however, the finances of the County have not been in a sufficiently flourishing condition to allow of the trip, and special votes and grants have necessarily, therefore, not been as plentiful as of yore.

Mr Brodie is endowed with a good share of common sense, also a fair amount of ability, and possesses the comparatively rare merit in a public man of being able to keep silent when circumstances require it. In the pursuit of an object for the benefit of the County, or for his friends, the means adopted by him may sometimes be considered as open to adverse criticism by the censorious and strait-laced, but to all such opinions he is supremely indifferent to long as the end in his opinion justifies the means. He possesses qualities which fit him for a much higher position than County Chairman; as a party man he would be invaluable both to his party and to his constituents. On two occasions he unsuccessfully contested the Coromandel Electorate, his candidature being damaged by the idea which was abroad that he was the nominee of a party— hence (to the undoubted loss of this district) the electors would have none of him. A lack of that quality which makes a public man lo be depended on has always stood in the way of his advancement, as he bears the reputation of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. He is a peculiar mixture—being most susceptible to public opinion, yet often doing that which the public condemns. He likes to be on the winning side, and therefore is often reticent when his friends are spoken ill of, lest by taking their part he should peradventure be on the unpopular side. He can dissemble, and therefore be apparently friendly with the man he despises. Undoubtedly a first class interviewer—so good indeed as to have earned the soubriquet of the " Sturdy Beggar "—he is exceedingly tenacious; not easily refused, and consequently generally makes the best of any case be may have with Ministers. He it the terror of Under-Secretaries. He has undoubtedly done good work for the County, of which he is the head; and if they did not make a better use of the money obtained by his skilful management, he certainly:should not be blamed for it —any more than the maladministration of funds by Government should be laid upon Vogel, whom he in some respect resembles. Mr Brodie's ingenuity and pertinacity were well exemplified in his efforts put forth to prevent the dismemberment of the Thames County by the secession of the Ohinemuri portion of it. The inhabitants fought hard for separation, and many a time victory seemed almost within their grasp, but only to be wrested from them by some little error or legal technicality, while all the time Mr Brodie never appeared in the matter save than as County Chairman, and as always willing to comply with the wishes of the people.

Mr Brodie is essentially a social individual; sometimes even convivial; is always polite, always attentive, but not always sincere. A useful member of society, taking a prominent part in all matters affecting the public welfare, and ever on the alert to secure benefit for the community, as a whole. In the pursuit of material wealth, careless and indifferent; unselfish by nature, and liberal to a fault. Altogether a man, who if not as successful in the race of life as his friends believe with his abilities be might have been, yet one who possesses many of the virtues neutralised by some of the weaknesses of humanity, but still one who would be greatly missed upon the Thames. May his shadow never grow less!
Waiotahi Creek, Thames c1920s

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