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A ‘glance back’ at 91 years of life

George and Shirley Groombridge with his new book, The Town of Many Streams – Masterton my Home. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

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Sure, there was a cake and candles, but George Groombridge decided to do something extra special for his 91st birthday.

On Saturday the Masterton identity celebrated his birthday with the launch of his new book, The Town of Many Streams – Masterton my Home, detailing his life growing up in Wairarapa.

“[It’s] a glance back over the years that have been and a chance to recall all the events and the people that have helped me on my life’s journey,” he said.

Born in 1928, Groombridge has lived in Masterton his entire life, serving the community in a variety of roles.

A social worker for many years, he also led the ‘Hands around the Hospital’ campaign with Garry Daniell in 1991, which saved the Masterton Hospital from closing.

He was elected president of the New Zealand First Party in 2006, stepping down in 2010.

For many children in the region though, George and Shirley are best known as Mr and Mrs Claus.

The pair dressed up as the Christmas couple for close to 20 years before giving up the mantle in December.

It took him just three months to write the initial book in 2002 but increasing obligations as a member of NZ First meant the project was put on the backburner.

“My reason for writing this book was simply to be a memoir for my family. I was thinking of my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren reading it.”

He decided to revisit the project in time for his 90th birthday and include more information about the region’s history.

“In recent times I have been encouraged to share my life story with our wider family and friends. I trust this is a good mix of family and events over the years here in Masterton.

“[It’s] good for the community to have a history of what they have achieved. I hope it will be of interest.”

Masterton Paper Plus owner Warwick Delmonte said it was a wonderful book but also a valuable account of the area’s history.

“It’s a book but it’s also an important document.

“George’s life is an extraordinary one – there’s not a greater role model.”

The book is exclusively available at Paper Plus Masterton for $30.


  1. Should have been knighted,greatest family,our family have known over the decades. Acknowledgements will never do justice.

  2. Hello Shirley and George, congratulations on your many achievements and milestones. I look forward to reading your book about Masterton. I remember you and Archie Campbell at Champion Bakeries. Also have fond memories of Masterton Boys Brigade and your kind words at my Mother’s Funeral Service.
    Kindest Regards, Harry Wong.

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