History: Maire Nelson

 Kevin Swanson the Chief Warden of Bookfield Campsite, came and told the life story of Maire Nelson below, an explained how St. Augustine’s Scout troop was the first ever troop to camp at the Brookfield’s Campsite. 

Here are Kevin’s words below:

“Maire Nelson was born in Autota St. Petone.

He lived in a family of fourteen.

He and his brother Harold love the outdoors, fishing, hunting, and tramping.

He joined the Te Puni Scout Troop in 1912 but unfortunately this group folded.

He wanted a Scout Uniform so badly he got his School teacher to measure him up and sent away for it. He loved his uniform so much he wanted to wear it all the time.

He became the first Lone Scout in the Wellington Area.

When Maire came back from the first world war where he served as a medical ordely, he and two other leaders formed the St. Augustin’s Scout Troop.

Also at this time he and his brother decided 14 people in the family home was very crowded so he and his brother built another house on the section next door.

On Maire’s death this house was moved to Brookfield and I believe you have all seen this House.

About this time Maire started taking his Scouts to Brookfields and this is a record of St. Augustins Scouts being the first Scouts to camp at Brookfields.

Brookfield was the property owned by Mary Crowther at the end of Moores Valley Rd.

Mary Crowther lived on her own and supported herself by selling apples from the orchard. Despite Scouts and Possums these trees are still producing Apples to-day.

She lived in a house where the camp fire circle is to-day. If you look in the little green book you will see a photo of her in front of the house on page 15.

The house had no electricity or running water and she used to listen to the weather on her crystal set.

Maire Nelson used to walk over the Waninui Hill to the camp with his SCouts carrying their gear on a trek cart. At the end of the camp the Scouts made sure Mary Crowther had an adequate supply of firewood.

Mary Crowther wanted to leave her property to Maire but he said that it would be better if she left it to the Scouts, so that young people could enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment.

Because of his involvement with Scouting he also became president of N.Z Forest & Bird, this appointment he held for 20 years.

We have a picture here of a St. Augusin Cub presenting Maire with an Award on his 90th Birthday.

Maire served more than 50 years as a Scout and became Chief Warden of Brookfield.

He was awarded N.Z.  Highest Scouting award – the Silver Tui.

So now you can see how St. Augustine’s and Brookfield came to have close ties.”


Maire was also award the Silver Acorn from the Scout movement in England.

(there has only ever been two Chief Wardens of Brookfield in 50 years of Brookfields Maire and Kevin).