Richmond resident and well known personality
Huia Wiremu Beaumont was born at home in Ashburton on 7 February 1901, the fifth child of Yorkshireman William David Beaumont and his wife Emma Jane Tregonning.
His early schooling was in Ashburton where he answered to the names Boa, Boadicea, or Boa-constrictor. He gained his degree from Christchurch where he was known as Beauie. Teaching was his chosen career and in 1919 he started at Woolston School as a pupil teacher. He spent several years there before attending Teachers College. Having qualified and taught in several more Canterbury schools, he then transferred to Shirley Primary School in 1932.
By this time he had met and married his wife Rosa, had four children, and moved into Petrie Street. For three and a half years they lived there, before moving to McLeod Street where they bought a house for £850.
Teacher and Methodist lay preacher
Mr Beaumont spent six and a half years at Shirley Primary School and was acting headmaster for a time. The only Intermediate School in Christchurch at that time was Shirley and it was 1939 when Huia took up the position of Art and Music teacher there. After five years he moved to South Christchurch Intermediate, then he became Education Officer at the Canterbury Museum, where he spent ten years teaching using three-dimensional materials to help with learning.
For 70 years he had been a Methodist lay-preacher and had been a Vice-President of the New Zealand Methodist Church. He had been a member of the Richmond Methodist Church since 1935. In 1950 the New Zealand Council of Churches sent him to represent this country at the World Conference on Christian Education in Toronto.
Boating on the Avon
The Avon River fascinated Mr Beaumont and in his spare time he built a seventeen and a half foot runabout and launched it by the Medway Street weir. The runabout was named Rondino, which is a musical term for a little journey. The Rondino became a familiar sight on the river. Frequent trips were had through the beautiful stretches of Avonside and Dallington, along the swift running waters at Kerrs Reach, and ending up with a picnic under the willows at the end of McBratneys Road. Lots of children from the Shirley area and Richmond Sunday School enjoyed leisurely trips on the river. The Rondino had special reconnaissance duties during the Home Guard period of the war, and kept watch on all craft using the Avon River.
Down to earth
On museum and teaching matters, Mr Beaumont was a popular and entertaining speaker, also reaching a much wider audience with his Star newspaper column Down to Earth, and his 3YA radio sessions. 'Down to Earth' ran for 27 years. Retiring from active teaching in 1959, he continued to write and was a busy speaker at Service Clubs and Parent Teacher Associations.
A New Years Honours list publicly recognised his achievements by awarding him an MBE.
Huia Beaumont died in 1997 at the grand age of 96 years.
- Beaumont, H W. Long time passing: the life story of "Down to Earth" Beauie. Richmond Village Bookshop, Christchurch 1992
- Lamb, Robert C. From the banks of the Avon: the story of a river. Reed, Wellington 1981
- Star’s "Down to earth" columnist laid to rest. Community News, 26 May 1997, pg 5