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Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.


NOLAN, Sir Robert Howard, K.B.E.


Auctioneer, racing administrator, and patriotic worker.

Robert Howard Nolan was born at Bathurst, New South Wales, in 1855, the second son of David McCool Nolan (1828–1901) of the firm of Hunter and Nolan, Auctioneers, Auckland. He came to New Zealand with his parents in 1863 and was educated at Wesley College, Auckland, and at Auckland College and Grammar School. After a period on the Thames goldfields, Nolan set up an auctioneering business at Hawera, which he and his brother-in-law, A. S. Tonks, ran from 1880 to 1914. He entered local public life, becoming a lieutenant in the Volunteers, chairman of the Mokoia Domain Board, a director of the Hawera Permanent Building Society, and chairman of the Hawera Gas Co. He devoted much of his energy to horse racing, being president of the Egmont, Opunake, and Eltham Racing Clubs, a judge for the Patea, Waverley, and Waitotara Racing Clubs, and secretary of the Egmont Hunt Club. Nolan was also a freemason, and a past master of the Hawera Lodge.

On 10 June 1882 he married Octavia Jane, daughter of David Starke Durie, a former Resident Magistrate, at Wanganui. He had one son and three daughters. Nolan visited England in 1914, and remained in London throughout the war, organising a New Zealand Soldiers' Club, of which he became honorary secretary. He was also a member of the New Zealand War Contingents Association's Executive Committee. Nolan returned to New Zealand in 1920 and lived in retirement at 21 St. George's Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland, until his death on 13 July 1923. Nolan, who received the C.B.E. in 1918, was nominated K.B.E. in the 1923 Birthday Honours but died before his investiture. Lady Nolan, however, was raised to the rank and style of a knight's widow in 1924.

by Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.

  • New Zealand Herald, 14 Jul 1923 (Obit)
  • New Zealanders in Mufti, Raymond, I. W. (port.) (n.d.).


Bernard John Foster, M.A., Research Officer, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington.