More than 200 people from many walks of life gathered at the Warkworth Town Hall on October 23 to farewell retired architect and community volunteer Warwick Massey. Tributes flowed from family and friends, former colleagues, Forest & Bird Warkworth, Warkworth Liaison Group and Kowhai Festival representatives for a man who was described as a loving husband, father and grandfather, a respected colleague and a tireless volunteer.
Warwick was an only child who spent his formative years in Morrinsville, where his father was a teacher. He later attended New Plymouth Boys High School before embarking on a career in architecture, despite admitting that at the time he had little idea of what architects did. He started with the Ministry of Works and completed his degree at the School of Architecture in Auckland.
It was then off to London and Europe in 1961, where he found employment with leading Scottish architect Sir Robert Matthew, who was designing New Zealand House in the Haymarket. Upon his return to NZ in 1966, he joined one of the leading firms in the country, Kingston Reynolds, and eventually became an Associate, and a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Architects.
A colleague, Denys Oldham, remembered Kingston Reynolds as a multi-disciplinary practice with “gold-plated” clientele, including Auckland and Victoria universities, Air NZ, BNZ, the Auckland Harbour Board and Foreign Affairs. One of the most notable projects Warwick was involved in was building the Khon Kaen teaching hospital, in the north-eastern wilds of Thailand, where he was the supervising architect. The family spent three years in Thailand to see the project to fruition.
Warwick was also a recognised authority on the architectural features of earthquakes, and eventually published a textbook on the subject.
It was during his time at Kingston Reynolds that he met a young draughtswoman, Hueline Mellsop.
What started as a workplace romance blossomed into a marriage that lasted 52 years, producing two children and many grandchildren. The family lived in Auckland for many years, before moving to Perry Road, Warkworth in 1996.
Forest & Bird Warkworth Area Branch secretary Raewyn Morrison said Warwick was an enormously respected member of the branch who, along with Hueline, established a plant nursery at their home in Perry Road, raising native plants for sale to support the branch. He regularly volunteered at weeding and planting days, and was involved with Parry Kauri Park, Dunn’s Bush in Puhoi, Kowhai Park in Warkworth and the Cement Works walkway project.
His more than 30-year membership of Forest & Bird was recognised last year when he received the national Ti Kouka Award, acknowledging his sustained contribution to the organisation over such a long period.
Warwick’s other community interests included co-chairing the Warkworth Area Liaison Group for many years, membership of Kowhai Singers and Warkworth Music, and Kowhai Festival volunteer. He was also an active supporter of the New Zealand Labour Party in Rodney.
The memorial service was officiated by Dave Parker, with music by pianist Brian Becroft.
Warwick is survived by his wife Hueline, son Edward and six grandchildren.