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Jack Maybury, John Maybury, John Maybury Jnr, New Zealand show business, entertainers, entertainment, Rotorua Soundshell, Sydney Radio 2SM, Melbourne Radio 3KZ, Auckland Royal Easter Show, Auckland Newstalk 1ZB, Christchurch Radio 3ZB, Colgate Palmolive, Woolworths Supermarket Miracle Story
 

Return to Radio

By 1972 we reviewed our position in regard to work opportunities and came to the conclusion that Auckland was a better home base given the fact that four major Shows were in their territory - the Easter Show, the Waikato Winter Show, the Whangarei Winter Show and the Boat Show.

Just as importantly new Shopping Malls were opening up all over Auckland at a steady rate and offering consistent bookings.  So while we had loved our time at Paraparaumu for about nine years, logic said you had to move. So it’s bye bye to the Kapiti Squash Club, the Paraparaumu Golf Club, the Paraparaumu Tennis Club and a whole bundle of people we’d mingled with merrily for so long.  Our move seemed to trigger others to head north as well.  Tony and Kath Holloway, Bill and Robyn Wills, Alan and Sue Archer, Frank and Rosa McGuckian, Merv and Marie Howell all headed North about that time for business advancement. Because we were all church goers was that a Mass migration?


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For our part, having made family trips to the Auckland Easter Show over ten years we knew the lay-out pretty well and decided early to live on the North Shore. Within six months the ideal spot was found at Castor Bay close to the Hauraki Gulf and only 20 minutes from Auckland City.    The regular work remained, Tauranga Xmas Carnival spread over 9 years the Rotorua Lakeside Carnival for 16 years making it 25 years in the Bay of Plenty. That kind of permanency accepted, no engagement is going to be forever.

 
NewstalkZB - A return to radio

As I’ve always said “ when one door closes  another one  slams  in your face”  Well another bonus opportunity came from nowhere when 1ZB Auckland in 1987 switched to the Talk-back format as NewstalkZB. There major coup was to hire Paul Holmes for the breakfast slot and Leighton Smith for mornings 8.30 to noon.  Both these pros had won Mobil awards for their broadcasting skills in Wellington and elsewhere. In this process of switching to talk radio I was given a spot with the Games Hour, Monday to Thursday at 7 pm.  There was a mixture of quizzes and a musical insert or two and the response was excellent. This was a real tonic for me out of the blue and because it was well paid I could give away the out-of-town commitments and actually stay at home for months on end. In fact the Games Hour lasted about two years and then after a welcome holiday in Australia I came back to the sad news that it was to be replaced with a new show compered by Peter Montgomery.  Powerhouse Pete had filled in while I was away and made enough impact obviously to lift ratings and that’s the key in this business. I couldn’t complain at all, I’d had a good trot and loved the time back on radio.

For the next few years my main focus was on Shopping Mall promotions, the Waikato Show, the Whangarei Winter Show and more and more commitment to the Easter Show.  In fact by 1991 I was engaged for nine months of the year as their Entertainment Manager at the Auckland Showground’s. Over that period you’d plan the entire entertainment package to fit in with regular A&P features involving live-stock, show-jumping, wood-chopping and development of Art Hall activities as well. Along with Show Manager Kevin Cholmondeley Smith and A and P Secretary Robin Hill we were always on the look-out for new angles to lift the image of a Show that faced increasing competition from other events all over Auckland.


Miscellaneous Promotions

Then along came one of these out-of-the-blue situations with another radio station, a brand new one this time in Radio Liberty.  Son John had been signed on as a breakfast newsreader but just as they were about to go to air it was decided I would be included to do a weekly two-hour stint with him, Sporting Life with the Maybury’s - the first father/son talkback in NZ radio history. This looked like a beauty to me because it fitted in with my Easter Show commitments and offered almost a passport to paradise for a guy my age.  Earn good extra money doing something you love and with your own son running the whole show. Wasn’t that a gorgeous twist?  In the past, from the time John was about 8 or 9, he’d helped me on stage at the Rotorua Xmas Carnival and the Wellington Show plus a dozen Easter Shows in a row but always me the main man on mike. Now he was the boss on the operating side of the studio desk telling me when to deliver my Sports Pars of the day or a particular piece of music. This demanded great paternal patience and I had to work at it consistently. One gimmick back-fired in a segment where we’d phone a local Sports Club and chat with an executive about their history and have them introduce any name players who might be on hand.  Well I gave John a phone number out of my shirt pocket for him to dial over the air and it turned out to be our local fish and chip shop whose number I’d put aside to phone for a pick-up order on the way home. Got a big laugh out of that but there was no humour within the next month when my second pay cheque bounced.

Apparently the venture was in jeopardy with many staffers not being paid, top people like Max Cryer, Eion Scarrow, the gardening guru, and Grahame Thorne in Sport.  Don’t know how manager Lindsay Perigo or Deborah Coddington at the editorial level fared but the whole business did the belly-up bit little by little. I’d have worked without pay for as long as it took to make headway but all CEO David Henderson could offer was a chance to sell my own airtime over what was a pre-Xmas period. Now that was one hell of a task given you had no ratings chart to show prospective clients coupled with a radio station spiraling downwards at a rate of knots. So what had seemed a golden chance turned into a fiasco and the David Henderson cheque became the only rubber one in my entire career. Luck of the bounce you might say!  And the other galling feature is that so many other stations have opened in Auckland since and survived.

Another activity I hooked into about that time was a promotional venture with John Whatnall an outstanding administrator with the Auckland Manufacturers Assn, Easter Show Board member for years and Wally Fletcher, ex Easter Show sales manager and general sales guru.  Both these live-wires had helped run the NZ Boat Show for yonks and along with PR personality Robin Bailey achieved brilliant results. One absolute positive with the Boat Show is the quality of the customers it attracts - they’re people with a purpose - boatees, fishermen, water skiers true blue hobbyists who know what they’re after. Give them what they want and you’re home and hosed. 

One of their greatest innovations involved the Royal Arena’s conversion to a mammoth pool.  The first year it was about a quarter size - then half size - and finally one fabulous full stretch of water to accommodate all kinds of aquatic activity.  For kids attractions there was a Pirate Ship, then Paddle Steamers and all the while Ski-jumping displays that had the crowds enthralled.  Enormous work went on in between times as plastic liners succumbed to the frenzied turmoil overhead and in one instance a complete cave-in saw a team of volunteers labour through a whole night to rectify the problem. The wind-up nights at the Auckland Showground’s were always a riot - extrovert exhibitors letting their hair down, the committee boys John Weller with Whatnall, Fletcher and Bailey in free-flow mode celebrating another success. I’m no boatee at all, though my sons-in-law love it, but the Boat Show was always an exhilarating experience - for work and pleasure.

Another demanding challenge for our Promotional trio was the Air Show at Mangere in 1983. This was an exciting assignment organised by a top-class Committee headed by Airport CEO John Goulter.  Planning was meticulous and its success was assured.   In fact I was due back from a holiday in Bali on the opening day of the Show and had picked up a chest infection over my last three days there.  I couldn’t sleep one wink on the 12 hour flight home and had to front up for two give-away shows on the first afternoon.  To complicate matters I was working on an outdoor stage adjacent to the main runway and the noise of aircraft coming and going was bloody deafening.  At full health I probably would have laughed it all off. But I was that crook I couldn’t even face a cool beer in between shows.   It took me a full two weeks to shake off the ill effects and stoke up the energy levels again. 

Another promotion with John and Wally involved handling a NZ conference for a group of business people from China - one of my chores to sort out the bus that would meet them at Auckland Airport and deliver them to their Hotel.  I checked several major companies for their quotes and settled on one with a well known name.  When the visitors poured from the terminal en queue you can imagine my horror at seeing this bus roll up to the kerbside labeled ‘The Yellow Bus Company’.  Wally and John gave me heaps for that gaffe but how was I to know the outfit I spoke to would ring-in another operator?  Then again - I’d started the whole exercise through the Yellow Pages.

Other flutters with the same two guys involved a Hot Air Balloon Company we formed after acquiring one Balloon that was imported from the USA for an Easter Show. Six of us altogether kicked in $1000 each to buy the Balloon and then sold it off to various venues for display purposes. I’d had enough scary moments through the whole Easter Show season going up with novice pilots while the owner George Stokes stayed put on the ground, directing things.  These were tethered ascents high over the Main grandstand most times in strong winds when the pressure of guy ropes lashing around the basket could take your arm off. I got flung out on one landing and did some deep bruising to one shoulder as I rolled clear of the cart wheeling basket. The other fellas enjoyed several outings with it but the whole thing turned sour when a second balloon we’d ordered and paid for never arrived from the USA.  Kind of deflating!

Another campaign took our eager trio of entrepreneurs to Sydney to look at the possibilities of importing holus bolus a Show comprising a troupe of Spanish Riding School horses - the marvelous white Lippizaners.  We met the head honcho at his superb headquarters just out of Sydney and loved the show he put on for us and the gracious hospitality that followed. After calculating the cost all-up to bring the horses and the riders across the Tasman - then including the money needed to tour then through the country - we were getting into the million dollar territory and neither the Easter Show or  Horse Clubs we checked around New Zealand would take on the gamble involved.  Fletcher, Whatnall and Maybury had a super sojourn in Sydney including a great meal at the Tattersall’s Club with my second sister Sonya.

Another contract I took on as solo compere with the old Ehrenfried Hotel group involved a ten week season with a Talent Quest run Monday to Thursday each night at Hotels in Matamata, Mount Maunganui, Putaruru, Tokoroa and Mangakino. I’d fronted many Talent Quests over the years including Have a Shot on Television from Auckland but there was very little glamour on this tour.  The localities varied for quality of talent and quite often there were minor incidents with some pub patrons who’d fuelled up to their eyeballs. It’s a compere’s job to handle these hiccups and keep things rolling but there’s a good deal of strain involved and the drive back home to Auckland first thing on a Friday morning was always satisfying. We certainly didn’t unearth a John Rowles, a John Grenell or a Rusty Greaves.

While my basic network of fairs at; Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, Wellington, New Plymouth and Christchurch, one very smooth operator by the name of Russell Longley got me into new territories at a time when it was most opportune.  He’d first been involved as Show Manager at the Wellington Show but took off as an independent into new venues like Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson Lower Hutt and Dunedin. He attracted a good collection of exhibitors, advertised well and engaged me to present the major stage entertainment.   (What an astute judge he was!)  So my sponsors now got exposure to a greatly enlarged audience and we all got to have lots of pleasure on the side. Russell was an ex-Navy man and while savvy on the business side was a total rogue on the loose.  He’d drive up in his Jag behind a vehicle loaded with overhanging timber till the red flag hovered over his windscreen.  He’d head up someone’s driveway - give a hoot on the horn and back out just as fast.  Unintentional tricks included going through a roundabout in the heart of Dunedin on the way home after a rowdy session with exhibitors. He lifted his bonnet next morning to flaunt an appealing floral display over the big motor.  That repair job he had done at the other end of the Island so it wouldn’t impinge on the cars’ record locally.  His wife Jill was a great secretary-coordinator and showed amazing patience with this rowdy rascal. But I loved his company. At each farewell he’d say “see you shortly”, I’d respond “OK Longley”.

Apart from the Jackpot Quiz on Wellington TV and Have a Shot on Network Television won by Robin Ruakere, I had one other major engagement fronting on the box.  This was Personality Squares which had originally been the property of the inimitable Les Andrews. He was out of the country when this new series was planned and I was the lucky one to get the nod. Once again the demands made upon a compere to anchor himself in one specific spot for the camera I found a restraint after the hundreds of live situations I’d been used to in everyday work.

But I did my best and while the money was nothing marvelous, Cambridge Clothing supplied a couple of very smart suits that well and truly out-lived the length of my television career.  One negative side effect was constant carping by TV Critic - Shaw his name I think, who didn’t like the way I handled things. A man in his role should have known we recorded at least four shows at one time - so you couldn’t rectify any mannerisms or whatever until the next recording date came around.   If he didn’t like me he could have at least given my suits a credit.

 

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John Maybury 2006
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