Obituary – David Lowe

In News4 MinutesBy Ed MansellDecember 24, 2021

I first met Dave in 1980, just after he produced the first two books in his series, New Zealand’s Cavalcade of Trucks, through his company, Lodestar Press. After that, I spent many an hour at Dave’s house in Henderson, either collaborating on the next book or playing with the always-changing model railway layouts in his basement. We would spend hours going over our photo albums, selecting the photos to be used in the next two books, making sure each truck complied with the traffic regulations of the time, no logs over bolster height, no tarps flapping. We always attempted to show the trucking industry in a positive light.

We enjoyed many trips away in his Datsun wagon, or latterly, in the yellow banana van. Taihape, Napier, Waipukurau, Rotorua, Tauranga, Taumaranui, and Taupo were the obvious locations to snap away. In the good old days, photography was an expensive hobby – with the cost of film, then the outrageous developing fees – but we still mostly came away on the positive side when the films were developed. Dave taught me that to relax while taking photos was to carry a thermos flask of English breakfast tea, and we had a laugh or two after spilling the odd cup as we tossed them down to catch the next truck coming our way. As we were both on the road a lot – Dave selling books for his employer and my business in the toy and hobby wholesale trade – we would meet and produce our latest set of snaps.

After a while, it was decided that the small format of the books needed to change with the times, and Wheels on the Run came along. This was a disaster to start with, as the manufacturer didn’t crease-seal the book’s spine, and many editions fell apart after first use, but they came to the party and redid the spines on the remaining books, a lesson learnt for future editions. Great New Zealand Trucks and More Great New Zealand Trucks followed in an even larger format, and our partnership ended with our final edition, New Zealand’s Cavalcade of Trucks: A New Generation. Dave retired and moved to Whanganui with his wife June to be closer to their daughter, Tracey, but we stayed in touch regularly by phone.


I was deeply saddened when I heard of Dave’s passing. Ironically, two significant influences in my own truck-photography life have both been David’s. David Jacobs in the US with his two books American Trucks and American Trucks 2, and David Lowe here in New Zealand. Both were hugely talented cameramen.

The impact that Dave’s decision to publish the Cavalcade series in 1980 would have on the truck enthusiast scene in New Zealand, will always be difficult to convey to those who weren’t there. My own dear friend, now passed, Guy Spurr, and I called into the Lowe residence in Whanganui several times during our travels and were always welcomed with a couple of hours’ worth of chat and, of course, that cuppa Ed spoke of.

It’s always grand when your heroes turn out to be wonderful people.