peter Hawkins NZ

July 2024

July 2024

Laurence Eyres

Peter Hawkins (1942-2024)

peter Hawkins NZ

A very sad job to report on the passing of a dear old friend Peter Hawkins.

I first met Peter Hawkins when he was the technical manager for Pfizer NZ, this might have been around 40 years ago. Apparently, he was quite nervous about meeting this grumpy old chemist who ran the laboratory at Abel’s limited in Newmarket, New Zealand and looked after the technical purchasing of chemicals. He had absolutely nothing to worry about and from the first meeting we became firm friends. Pfizer had a product called Emplex, sodium-stearoyl-2 -lactylate. At Abels we used to make this in gas heated reactors and the happy, boozed up operators in the plant often made an unattractive black product. It was a no-brainer to switch to a water-white, pure chemical compound.

My wife, Ruth used to go annually and visit her Mum in England and would take the boys, leaving the sad hubby to fend for himself. Peter and Lynley would take pity on the baching male, and he would be invited down the road for liquid and solid sustenance. One memorable occasion, Peter and I were heavily invested in the science and technology of alcoholic beverages. Approaching midnight, Peter was sent off to bed and I was dispatched down the road to sober up. Technical meetings carried on in this style for many years at conferences and branch meetings until the two veterans decided it was wise to slow down.

At one stage in the 1980’s Peter and I served on the editorial committee of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (NZIFST). Together with a few other collaborators (Chris Newey, Laurie Melton) we produced a simple couple of sheets quarterly on news about the Institute, about people and happenings. This developed over the years into The Food Technologist and then subsequently through to Food New Zealand (FNZ) in 2001. Until then, during the volunteer days, Peter’s management together with Laurie Melton, Chris Newey and Alison Oosterman led this evolution through to Food NZ in its present format. FNZ was the result of a complete change in that it the NZIFST Journal was produced by a magazine publisher, at no cost to the Institute, a significant saving.

Peter and HW have always been strong and reliable supporters of the Institute and the journal. The Publications committee meetings were usually held at Peter’s office and involved the imbibing of a couple of beers or a glass of wine for those that were interested. Peter was ever the amiable hospitable host. His company was enjoyable and worthwhile. Anne Scott took over editing and publishing FNZ in 2004 and has gone from strength to strength.

When Peter started Hawkins Watts it was just himself and his longtime assistant Judy. They covered a lot of territory and with his contacts in the food industry he quickly made new customers. Ruth joined Hawkins Watts at some stage and became their technical manager for around five years. Peter’s character was exemplified by the longevity of the staff who were there. Sandra Murray, Alan Bulmer, Stuart Jones, and others who later joined stayed with the company for a very long time. These three are still there.

Over the years of the Oils and Fats specialist group, Peter was always and enthusiastic supporter of the conferences and meetings.

Peters’ legacy to the NZ food industry is via his son Scott, the current MD, who leads a team of the veterans together with bright young entrepreneurs. How they have grown since those early days of Peter and a couple of staff.

The Hawkins family will all miss him terribly as will all his mates.

A memorial service is being held at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Tamaki Drive, in Auckland on the 5th of July.

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