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She was born Elaine Warren Hamill in Hamilton on 30 October 1911, the second daughter of Ruth Myrtle (Smith) Hamill 1881–1953 and John Edward Hamill 1878–1956 who had married in Wellington on 15 December 1908.1 Her elder sister was Jocelyn Ruth Warren Hamill (b.1909) and her younger brother John Warren Hamill (b.1916).
Her father JE Hamill was a prominent athlete and cyclist in Otago in the late 1890s and in 1904 he sang two bass solos at a recital in St Luke’s church, Manchester St, Christchurch, singing “with excellent declamatory effect.” 2 He sang at the Christchurch Musical Union concerts in June 19043 and often thereafter.
He performed at the Savage Club in August (along with Willy Densem, Sydney Lough Thomson and other notables)4 and over the next few years sang in Christchurch, Ashburton and Akaroa.
He had been a land agent for the NZ Farmers’ Co-op Association of Canterbury, Ltd in Christchurch5 when he was married and represented the same firm in Hamilton after August 1911. 6 He took the affirmative, arguing “That a system of profit sharing is the only satisfactory solution of the Labour problem” at the Hamilton Literary and Debating Society on 8 August, 7 was runner-up in the bass solo (sacred) in the Waikato Musical and Elocutionary Competitions in September 19128 and third in the “gentlemen” and “lady and gentleman” duets.