The Mad Butcher

Dad had a lot of friends and we learned this as we went through our teens. we knew there were friends who came around and visited and there were his work friends and football club friends and friends from his other clubs and interests.

Dad asked all of them, all of them, to keep an eye out for his sons and let them know if that needed a talking to and he would do it. I’ve said before Dad was shit scared of his kids ending up 1/. dead in a crash or 2/. in jail.


My brother Edward once borrowed Dad’s Triumph 2000. These were a high revving 6-cylinder 2 liter for an engine and robust mechanicals down the drive chain. It could do awesome burnouts. Edward was lighting it up one night in a quiet cull de sac when a friend of Dad’s lived. He learned that was pretty dumb.

And we took note.

You couldn’t get away with much around South Auckland without someone Dad knew spotting you doing it.

But his friends weren’t just his eyes, they were all good jokers. They were always nice to us kids and some of them we became friends with as we grew into adults.

Sir Peter Leitch at The Comm, 5th April, 2022

Peter Lietch is one of them.

The Mad Butcher is how he became famous and now’s he’s Sir Peter Leitch.

I’m not much on Queen’s Honours but I really have no problem calling someone like Peter Leitch, Sir.

Dad got to know him through the Mangere East Hawks Rugby League Club. Dad was a founding committeeman of the Mangere East club and it was established in 1963 as part of league’s expansion into South Auckland. Dad reckoned if kids played rugby league, and other sports, but he loved rugby league, they wouldn’t get in trouble being dickheads on the streets.

Mangere East’s logo is a man playing the ball, and that’s so perfect in a number of ways.

Dad was one of those people who hustled up players sponsorship before there was players sponsorship. So good players got material rewards. And The Mad Butcher was the most generous sponsor of the Mangere East Rugby League Club ever.

As he grew his business he just became more generous, and the more generous he was the more people flocked to his shops. And he loved it.

And he’s still going today in different, but similar ways.

But in the late 1970s he had his shop on Massey Road in Mangere Easta couple of doors down from David Lange’s house. And on the way home from my job at The Otahuhu Railway Workshops every second Thursday I’d call in and buy meat for myself, my partner and our kids.

Peter would always come out and say hello when I went there, and he’d ask me how Mum and Dad were every time I saw him. I used to see him a fair bit at the races and even 30 years later he’d still ask after them.

Colette and I were broke all the time back then. We had a tight budget, and every cent was already spent. So, when Peter would always tell the guy serving me to take a couple of dollars off and he’d often throw in extras, it really helped us at the time we needed it most.

Like when we bought lamb shanks. They were called dog bones back then and cost 50 cents each. They were out the back in those days so he’d go and get them. No matter how many he bought back we’d only ever pay for two. We used to roast them. And we’d roast potatoes and pumpkin and have peas and some gravy and that was our lamb roast. For years.

Anyone who knows Peter will tell you he is a genuinely nice guy, and he is. To this day.

He’s a phenomenon on Facebook. Spreading the gospel of positivity and appreciation.

And The Warriors.

One day when I saw Peter he asked again how Mum and Dad were. I told him Dad wasn’t so good and was in hospital. That night when we were up visiting Dad Peter Leitch walked in in full Warriors Ambassador kit and owned the room for a while. Dad was thrilled. When Peter left Dad said to the nurse “you never knew I had famous friends did you?”. That was a pretty grim time but we left that night knowing Dad had had a really good day.

I saw Peter recently in Whakatane at a pub n grub restaurant and I introduced him to Kathy and reminded him of the lamb shanks. He reckoned I had a few too many.

I think he’s right.  Kathy had a chat with Peter’s partner Janice and she told Kathy ‘His Dad was a lovely man’.

That made my night hearing that.

We had lamb shanks tonight Peter, slow cooker job this time and they’re 8 bucks each now.

Travel well Sir and stay safe during this awful weather.

lamb shanks

Lamb Shanks in a slow cooker

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