One day while at Oamaru sitting in my office with not a care in the world, a letter came for me from Head Office. ‘Please proceed to Kurow immediately, and manage the Branch up there for a month’. The letter went on to add, that in view of my relative inexperience, the remoteness of the posting, I should remember that help should I require it, was only a phone call away. In due course I arrived at the small country town and booked into the local Hotel and was delighted to discover that the Hotel owner was Fred Smith, an old School mate. He told me full board was twenty four dollars a week but I could invoice him for whatever, and he would give me a receipt. Said I didn’t work that way, I had no need to pad my expense account. However Kurow had been pitched poled out of it’s sleepy existence by the fact it was now the centre of an immense Public Works Scheme. Engaged in the construction of three large Hydro Dams and Canals. Plus the fact, it was the only Bank in any given direction for a 100 kilometres. It also serviced two new nearby purpose built towns. The main worry was the accumulation of sufficient money to cash the Pay Roll Cheque. No exaggeration, it was a very large cheque. The day arrived to cash the cheque, three MOW employees took the cash into a back room of the Bank to put the money into pay envelopes. Early afternoon a staff member knocked on the door of my office to inquire could he have my key to the strong room. The MOW employees were now leaving, they would call again in the morning to pick up the money again. The money was now in tidy rows of envelopes, arranged in long boxes which would no longer fit back into our safes inside the strong room. The practice was, they told me, was just to leave the money on the floor of the Strong Room. I could see with alarm that the Strong Room was constructed of only Oamaru Stone, or lime stone, a very soft material. My very pleasant relationship with the MOW employees quickly evaporated, and they threatened me with all kinds of penalties. Then swiftly called on help from their powerful hierarchy, which put me under fire from even the Minister of the Crown. Clearly it was the time to make that phone call and ask for help, I may as well not bothered, each time I explained my predicament to H/O executives, they just melted away, referring me onto someone else. I finally blurted out, Is there anyone in that establishment that’s capable of making a decision? It was the General Manager who answered, by this time I had reached the top. He said, ’What ever you do is your play, but I will back you 100%’. ‘Call me in the Morning’. My prime worry was Insurance, so decided not to close the Bank, and spoke to the male staff. I told them of my predicament and my decision. To compensation them I would pay each $30 to ‘while’ away the night. They could bring in their sleeping bags, and a couple of dozen beer. In the morning the GM rang again, I told him what I had done. When he stopped laughing, he said, ‘I will send down an Architect immediately to build you a real Strong Room, I agree fully with your actions, and in the meantime double the payment to the staff’. When the girls heard this, they too demanded to be included in the scheme, I replied Why not.


There are no secrets in a Town the size of Kurow. I could put up with their snide remarks, and tittering behind my back, but I think they all missed the point. Had thieves stolen the money while I was sleeping in Fred’s Pub up the street, I would no longer be working for the National bank. Somebody would have to take the blame, and as I saw it, I was the one who was in the Hot Seat.

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