82623 Private Robert Christopher Callender – Special Pioneer Company

Robert Christopher Callender was born in Hasting on the 23rd April 1889 the youngest son of John Mason and Gertrude Callender. John’s younger sister Nora Winifred Callender was born in 1893.[i] John also had an older brother William
Gavin Callender was born in Yorkshire, England. possibly not born in New Zealand.

John Mason Callender was employed by the NZ Government, Accident, Insurance and National Fire and Marine Insurance Company as a commissioned agent based in Ormondville.[ii] The family remained in Ormondville area through to the early 1910’s but John Mason, Gertrude and Nora moving across to Plimmerton. In 1916 J M Callender is listed in the NZ Post Officer Directory as a farmer, Plimmerton.

Nora Winifred Callender, is listed as employed by the NZ State Insurance Company 1917 – 1919 possibly assited by her father’s connections to the insurance business.

Robert Christopher Callender married in Palmerston North on the 11th August 1914, Dora Marguerite Perrett.
In 1916 Robert and his family were farming at Manakau as Robert is listed as being a member of the Horowhenua
Farmers Union.[iii] 
The couple had two children Phillip Gabbin  (1916) and Joan Maruerite 1917.[iv]

On the 30th April 1918 the Horowhenua Chronicle advertised a clearance sale of stock and implements of behalf of
R C Callender noting the farm had been sold previously.[v] Robert was finalising his affairs, he also moved his family
down to his parents home ‘Moorcroft; in Plimmerton as this was the address that he gave when he enlisted in the

On the 25th May 1918 82623 Private Robert Christopher Callender entered military camp with other members of the
42nd Reinforcements. Private Callender was transferred to the 43rd Reinforcements a month later and then to the 44th Reinforcements in October before transferring to the Special Pioneers in November 1918.

On the 16th December 1918 Private Callender was demobilised from the NZEF and returned to his family in Plimmerton.

Robert returned to farming firstly at Matamau, Danevrike, Manawatu,  then at Manakau, Horewhenua.

The Callender family did return to Plimmerton with Phillip G and Joan M Callender recorded as enrolling at the Plimmerton School in 1923[vii]. This was the year their father died aged 33, at this time he was employed as a manager of the Makamako Diary Factory.  

10/2885 2nd Lieutenant William Gavin Callender served with the Wellington Infantry Regiment
80862 Sapper Colin Drake Truebridge married Nora Winifred Callender in 1920 in St Andrew's Church, Plimmerton. 

Paperspast Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files
Seventy-Five Years – 1904 – 1979: Plimmerton School and its Environment

[i] NZ BDM
[ii] Items of Interest, 24th October 1902, Bush Advocate
[iii] Farmers Union, 25th October 1916, Horowhenua Chronicle 
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 82623 Sapper Robert Christopher Callender
[v] Unreserved Clearing Sale, 30th April 1918, Horowhenua
[vi] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Files: 82623 Sapper Robert Christopher Callender
[vii] Class Lists, Plimmerton School and its Environment

Trentham Military Camp