Matthews, Sir Russell

Sir Russell Matthews

Russell Matthews was born in New Plymouth and began his working life as an assistant engineer for the New Plymouth Borough Council. After serving in World War 1 Mathews stayed in England for three further years to study road construction.

He arrived back in New Zealand in 1922 eventually establishing Russell Matthews & Company – the firm becoming New Zealand's largest roading contractor, sealing more than 3000 kilometres of road from Whangarei to Invercargill.  Matthews was also a founding director of the New Plymouth-based chemical company, Ivon Watkins Limited, serving on its board from 1944 to 1962.

Russell was also a dedicated horticulturist. He and wife  Mary created the renowned garden “Tupare” and Russell he was a driving force behind the development of New Plymouth's famous Pukeiti.

Matthews was made an OBE in 1971 for his services to industry, horticulture and philanthropy and became a knight bachelor in 1982 for services to horticulture and the community.