The Plimmer Legacy

A family story from early Wellington to modern farming in the Rangitikei

By Bee Dawson. Photographs by Chris Coad. Published by Penguin Random House New Zealand, 2019. 

$50 RRP

Social historian Bee Dawson tells the story of John Plimmer - our great-great-great-grandfather – who arrived in Wellington in 1841. In 1851 he purchased the stranded sailing ship Inconstant and converted the hull into a warehouse. It became known as ‘Plimmer’s Ark’, a centre of business in early Wellington. With his many business interests, and a very long life (he died aged 93), John Plimmer became known as the ‘Father of Wellington.’ 

John Plimmer is commemorated with a bronze statue, with his dog Fritz, at the foot of Wellington’s Plimmer Steps. Plimmer House (in Boulcott Street) and Plimmerton (just north of Porirua) are also named after John Plimmer.

One of our key family members was our grandfather, Clifford Plimmer who, aged 30 years old, was appointed managing director of the Wright Stephenson Farmer Finance & Investment Company. Cliff took the company from strength to strength. In 1967 he was knighted for his services to business, industry and public affairs. In 1946 Cliff began buying farms and, today, our family owns 5,000 hectares of farmland in the northern Rangitikei where we farm sheep and beef.

Our parents, Warren and Anne Plimmer, worked on Motukawa after their wedding in 1964 and became owners some years later. They undertook a major development programme – thousands of acres were broken in to become productive grassland and forestry blocks were established. Black Hill, Kellys and Northview were purchased and further developed. You can read more about our farms here.

With Warren’s retirement, all three of us (Sally, Hamish and Simon) – and Anne – are involved in the running of the farms. We work closely with our farm managers, and our business partners, to ensure Motukawa, Kellys/Black Hill and Northview are a wonderful legacy for our children. 

The Plimmer Legacy reinforces our family’s strong ties to the Taihape area. We have such an emotional connection with the area; it’s a very important part of who we are and what we will be in the future.

The Plimmer Legacy is available to buy in any good bookshop.

Warren Plimmer and Rogue, a huntaway, at Warreann, 1983.

Warren Plimmer and Rogue, a huntaway, at Warreann, 1983.

Sir Clifford Plimmer, 1988. Photo: Plimmer Collection

Sir Clifford Plimmer, 1988.
Photo: Plimmer Collection