Life Hacks of Tribal Elders

Part 2. Ron Hollis - What matters is what you have done in your lifetime. Ron Collis, our featured Probus Elder for this month is a Ponsonby local who moved here six years ago in his retirement, having lived and worked in both the South Island and the UK. He moved to be with Raywin, his new wife whom he had first met as a teenager. But it all began in Reefton, the West Coast’s historic centre of mining, right in the middle of the spectacular Paparoa and Victoria Ranges on the Lewis Pass. Ron asserts that his philosophy for a good life goes back to that special place where he was born and raised.

It is a philosophy that underpins all his actions now. He takes particular pride in voluntary work he has done over the years, on behalf of associations and sports clubs, for his family and his community. For example, during his recent term as president of the Ponsonby Probus Club, he applied to the Community Organisation Grants Scheme (COGS), Te Tahua Ma Nga Whakahaere i Ng-a Hapori, and was successful in getting grants for the club to be able to provide coaches for our retirees’ to have social outings, to foster friendships and new experiences.

Ron’s story started on the rugged West Coast of the South Island where his father owned the local taxi company – all four cars! His background as a youth was a classic Kiwi mix of traditional schooling (St Bedes in Christchurch) with a focus on sporting achievement (rugby and rowing) all the while being exposed to the values inherent in a supportive, small community where generosity, team work and sportsmanship were valued. His youthful ambition was to row at the Henley Royal Regatta and he did just that as a member of a British Bank Eight. While on that classic OE trip in the late 1960s, he also married - on Hampsted Heath of course - the romantic site beloved of artists and poets. Visualise those long haired colonial hippies adorned in beads, feathers and flowers.

Ron’s early career with the National Bank in Reefton prepared him for work with a finance company in London. Later he met and worked with the famous London car dealer Raymond Way and he can regale you with fascinating stories from this period, but above all he recalls how important it was to his employer that business should be conducted with high moral and ethical standards. Ron’s personal sense of what is important in life, which began on the West Coast was being further honed a long way from New Zealand. Life lessons intersect and deepen over time, in very different places.

Returning to Christchurch in the nineteen seventies, Ron continued working in the car business for over twenty years with the BMW franchise. To this day he has clients who keep in touch and remind him of their respect for the way he dealt with them. His way of doing business, helpful, honest and kind, had the characteristics of village life, in a manner of speaking. So it is not surprising to find that what Ron loves about Ponsonby now, his choice for retirement, is the village atmosphere. While others may be distracted by the trendy, bohemian vibe of Ponsonby, Ron appreciates the village feeling that underpins everything loved by locals – the shops and eateries that have stood the test of time and the familiar faces of genuine locals who live, work and play here. Ron loves Ponsonby!

If you think you would enjoy getting together with other like-minded retirees for new experiences and friendships, come and join us. You can meet Ron and all the other local ‘tribal elders’, hear interesting invited speakers and go on outings to places of interest. (ALEXA LAWRENCE)

For information about joining, contact Rosie Armstrong onT: 09 486 5181, or email

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