By David Pine
Posted; 3 July 2014
One of Plimmerton Rotary’s longer serving members, Angus Langbein, joined Rotary in the late 1960’s. At the Club meeting on 1st July he recounted his fascinating life history.
Angus was always destined to be an engineer, as 8 of his relatives, including his father, were members of the profession. Angus started school in the small settlement of Wharenui, which is located south of Kaikoura. He spoke of attending a one teacher school, gravel roads in all directions, and lighting provided by candles or kerosene lamps. Later the family moved to Kaikoura, but when Angus’s Dad was called up during World War two, Angus and his mother moved to his Mum’s parents’ remote farm in Hawkes Bay. During this time he began to develop what turned out to be two lifelong interests, in botany and in tramping. When his Dad returned from overseas the family moved to Dunedin, and Angus boarded at Timaru Boys High School. He spoke of various “unofficial activities” while there, including orchard raiding, homebrew, rockets, and midnight feasts.
After attaining his engineering degree Angus joined the Ministry of Works, initially at the Roxburgh Hydro project in Central Otago, then transferred to Tauranga to work on highway projects. From there he spent time in Wellington before being transferred to Fiji to work on the upgrade of Nadi Airport. One highlight while in Fiji was that there was an attempt to blow up the airport’s reservoir. “My boss got his shotgun and made it known to the blower-uppers that unless they went away it would be his duty to shoot them. They went away.”
From Fiji Angus was transferred to Taihape where he was responsible for many major roading projects including the new section of State Highway One from Mangaweka to Taihape. “We were responsible for snow clearing on the Desert Road and we had a grader permanently stationed at Waiouru for the period between Easter and Labour Weekend every year.” From Taihape he transferred to Palmerston North, where he worked on projects at Linton Camp, Ohakea Airforce Base and Massey University; then to Porirua and finally to Wellington.
Besides his involvement in Rotary, Angus has served on the Boards of both Mana College and Aotea College, as well as being an executive member of Keep Porirua Beautiful.
Angus spoke fondly of his wife and family. He met his wife Ruth while working in Fiji, where she was a teacher at a school for children of ex-pats. Ruth sadly passed away in 2010. Angus these days resides in Plimmerton. He remains an active and very popular member of Plimmerton Rotary.