Not many people realise that the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield is named for the man who donated it for the domestic women’s cricket competition in 1935. Those who are aware of Hallyburton, understandably, mistake him for the National MP who represented Raglan and then Waipa from 1946 until 1954. In fact, the uncle after whom the politician was named and the original Hallyburton Johnstone, is the man who openly gave his support for women’s cricket in a time where men were often wary of women playing sport.
Hallyburton, generally known as “Hally”, came from a pioneering Raglan farming family. Hally and his brothers eventually owned multiple farming ventures together, with Hally travelling between his properties in the Raglan area, in Ngatea, and to his home in Howick where his second wife, Margaret resided. Hally was a “giant of a man, who went everywhere on a huge horse with his faithful cattle dog running along behind.” His large stature and labour-intensive jobs meant that Hally had a physique suitable for the sports endeavours he enjoyed competing in. An exceptional horseman, Johnstone would ride long distances to participate in competitions. He was an expert rifleman and a respected wrestler. He was also notable for rowing, yachting, swimming, Indian wrestling, and tug-of-war; these being his favourite in compete in. On occasion, Hally was known to compete in multiple competitions in one day and win them all. In March 1882, at the age of 20, Johnstone’s athletic talents were recognised by the Humane Society of England when his strong swimming enabled to him to prevent a drowning in the Waikato Harbour.
Hally was a sociable man who loved people and sport. As a result, he was involved in many community organisations in the Ngatea region. He used his community role to actively encourage sports competitions in the area. He often held horse events and running races at his farm. These were hosted in Johnstone’s Paddock, which is still locally known by this name today. In later years, when Hally permanently resided in Auckland, he donated silver cups to the Hauraki Plains Agricultural and Pastoral Association, the Hauraki Football Club, and the Territorial Unit for the area.
In 1926, Hally sold his farms and retired to the Dignan property at Point Chevalier which he had purchased five-years prior. He referred to himself as a retired farmer and spent his time indulging in his love for sport. He played tennis, lawn bowls, and croquet. In 1927, he placed the Dignan property on sale. At this time, a location for a bowling club in the area was being sought and the four-and-a-half acre property was perfectly suited. Messrs MJ Coyle and FG Rose approached Hally with their plans which resulted in the donation of the land for a sports club. It was named the Hallyburton Johnstone Sports Club and Johnstone earned £208 per annum from the club. Hally left the running of the club to the committee; choosing to support the association financially by attending fundraisers and social events. Johnstone’s agreement with the club was very specific as to the use and care of the property. As per the Deed of Trust, the sports club was strictly to be used by bowls, tennis, and croquet clubs. The land was to be kept free of thistles or gorse, thus insuring the properties ability to be returned to farmland should the club cease to exist. Most importantly, the land so long as it was operated as a sports club, was not to be sold or mortgaged. In 1920, Johnstone had gifted property in Waiuku to the community for a sports club. Poor management caused an inability to pay the mortgage and this property was lost. Hally did not want the Point Chevalier club to be lost in the same manner. In 1929, Johnstone moved out of the Dignan homestead, allowing the bowling club to use the house for their clubrooms. Upon Hallyburton’s death, the property was gifted to the club. Today, the sports club is run as three separate organisations, a bowls club, tennis club, and croquet club. The conditions of Johnstone’s donation continue to be adhered to and the cups he donated to the organisation remain in play. Sightings of Hally in his customary white suit wandering the grounds have been reported and members of the club believe that, in the afterlife, “he still lives here.”
Hallyburton Johnstone watching an eight-oar rowing regatta.
In 1930, Hallyburton travelled onboard the SS Aorangi to Vancouver. On this trip, Hally attended the first Empire Games held in Hamilton Ontario between 16-23 August 1930. Ten countries competed at the first Empire Games, today know as the Commonwealth Games. The games consisted of six events, all of which Hallyburton had been a life time supporter of; rowing, swimming, athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, and wrestling.
In the early 1930s, when he had returned to New Zealand, Hally happened upon a bargain price cache of silver trophies, bowls, and shields for sale. It is believed that the collection was either purchased from an estate sale or from a Queen Street antique store. Numerous sporting institutions in Auckland have benefited from this purchase and Hally’s love of sport. He donated an award to the Dominion Wrestling Championship for the Most Improved Wrestler, to the Auckland Military Rifle Shooting Competition, the Waitemata Swimming Club, to the Auckland Women’s Rowing Club and to the Primary School’s Cricket Association Western Springs Group, which stated “Mr Hallyburton Johnstone who is prominently identified with other Auckland sports, takes a very keen interest in the school cricket.” He was the patron to the Hallyburton Johnstone Sports Club and had Life Membership. Additionally, he was the Patron of the Comrades Association Football Club and the Suburbs Rugby Football Club. Hally claimed he had donated over 30 cups, bowls, and shields to men’s and women’s sporting organisations. Many are still competed for today. He was patron to several other clubs and named around twenty clubs to where he was actively involved as vice president.
There have been at least four Hallyburton Johnstone Shields for different sporting achievements; the Hallyburton Johnstone shield for the Auckland Rifle Shooting Championship, the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for the Waitemata Swimming Club Harbour Swim Competition, the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for the Auckland Soccer Minor Associations tournament, and the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for Domestic Women’s Cricket. Interestingly, the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for New Zealand Women’s Cricket is one of only three awards donated by Johnstone for a national sports tournament. The other two were donated for the men and women’s interprovincial four-oar rowing regatta competition.
In 2018, the Hallyburton Johnstone Shield for New Zealand domestic women’s cricket has been reinstated. We at the Cricket Museum ponder whether this is the only Hallyburton Shield still in play. Have you ever played for a Hallyburton Shield? You may have played for a Hallyburton Johnstone trophy, cup or bowl. Perhaps you are among those who have seen Hally in his white suit wandering the grounds of the Hallyburton Johnstone Club in Pt Chevalier. If you are aware of any Hallyburton Johnstone awards still being played for in 2018, we would love to hear about it.