Long-serving PGG Wrightson stock agent Robin Gamble at the
Allanton saleyards, near Dunedin. Photo by Christyine
When Robin Gamble turned up to work at National Mortgage
as a fresh-faced school-leaver, little did he know he would
still be in the stock and station industry 50 years later.
But luck and loyalty had proved to be a great combination in
half a century with the same company, he said.
There might have been a few mergers over the years, adding a
few different coloured ties to his wardrobe, but he still
considered that he had worked for the same company, now PGG
Wrightson, he said.
Mr Gamble (67) grew up on the Taieri where his parents were
dairy farming and, from a young age, he wanted to be a stock
He attributed that to two factors; his father talking about
his own stock agent who was ''a great guy'' and the fact that
stock agents ''always had better cars than farmers'', he
After leaving school, Mr Gamble joined National Mortgage as
an office boy, a job that included licking stamps and riding
a bicycle around Dunedin delivering parcels.
He spent a year in the office but was always orientated
towards livestock and he recalled being fortunate to be one
of the office boys who was taken to the Burnside sale to help
''They probably thought I wasn't going to do any good in the
office,'' he said.
Back then, the Burnside sale was ''huge'' and one of the main
sales in New Zealand.
''That was my first experience meeting I suppose [what] you
would call real men, or real people in the industry.''
There were ''huge characters'' involved with the sale and it
was an ''amazing place to be'', he recalled.
Mr Gamble then spent a season as a trainee in Balclutha or as
he put it, gate-opener and sheep chaser, working alongside
Then it was back to the office in Dunedin in the off-season
for more stamp-licking, but that gave him an appreciation and
understanding for what went on in the office and for those
who worked there, he said.
He was then appointed as a junior stock agent in Clinton and
got his first car, which was a Cortina. It was a
''brilliant'' time working in a strong farming community,
which also had a very strong sense of community.
He recalled some of his clients' wives coming into the
company house, where he lived, picking up the washing and
taking it home, returning it folded up.
After three years at Clinton, he moved to Milton which was
where he got married and had two children, before moving back
to the Taieri, which was still seeing the last of the
''glamour days'' of the Burnside sale. Taieri was always a
trading area and that suited him, he said.
Mr Gamble later took on more of a management role, becoming
livestock manager for the company's Dunedin office. He gave
up that role in his early 60s and has continued as head
auctioneer. He has always retained a client base as well.
Keeping things simple was one of Mr Gamble's philosophies.
''Live an uncomplicated life, keep it simple, be loyal and
honest to your wife and family, your company, your clients,
your workmates, your competition and yourself,'' he said.
His company and workmates had supported him and it had been,
and still remained, ''a pleasure'' to work in such an
The rural industry was a ''unique place to work in'' and the
livestock industry played a big part in that environment.
Loyalty was still part of the key mix in the business and,
over the years, client loyalty and trust had led to lifelong
friendships, he said.
Handshakes were still ''absolutely a major part'' of farming
and the rural industry.
''It's only the insistence of those outside the industry,
basically, that require documentation, otherwise we would
hardly need it.''
Mr Gamble believed it was important to accept change but the
key to that was ''to make sure you're involved in it''.
He downplayed the length of service he had given his
employer, saying he dealt with people every day who had been
involved in farming for 50 years and longer.
''I don't see myself as any one special or different from all
Outside work and family, Mr Gamble's two great loves were
rugby and fishing. Retirement was not on the cards ''at this
point'', he said.