Angela Mary (Mary) Stewart Interview
I’m interviewing Mary Stewart. She is the wife of Don and is the mother of Nick Stewart, [for] who[m] I’ve already had the pleasure of doing oral histories. The date today is 8th August 2017. Over to you Mary.
My name is Angela Mary Stewart. I live at Havelock North. I grew up in Norsewood, the daughter of a dairy farmer. My father’s family had been living in that area ever since his forebears walked up the railway track from Pauatahanui, where they had settled. They had arrived in New Zealand on the ‘Bengal Merchant’; landed on Petone Beach in 1840 and settled in Pauatahanui. But they got landlocked by the Maori, so the boys in the family walked up with just a shovel on their backs up the railway line and settled at Woodville in the Seventy Mile Bush area, and there they stayed, farming.
My father and my mother – when they got married they bought a farm at Norsewood, and they farmed there … they actually left there just after I got married so they farmed there for 25 years.
Have you got the dates that that would be?
Well, I was born in 1953 and they bought the farm the year before, so they probably bought it in 1951, 1952, in Gundries Road, Norsewood.
My parents were very active in the district. It was a wonderful place to grow up … a fantastic community there, and my parents were instrumental in starting the Norsewood Pioneer Museum.
Anyway, so I went to primary school there, and of course school went right up to what we called Standard 6. And then when I was twelve my parents sent me to a little Anglican Girls’ boarding school in Stratford – it was called St Mary’s Diocesan School. And I was the eldest of five children and I found it quite traumatic leaving the nest and going all the way over to Taranaki – ’cause I thought the weather was pretty grim in Norsewood, but it was something else in Stratford. I’d never seen rain quite like it.
So … no, life was good at school. We went to Chapel twice a day, morning and night, and church twice on Sunday, so … Played a lot of sport and had a wonderful education really. And then at the end of the fifth form I decided I’d had enough of trundling all that way. It took a day to get there … Mum and Dad would take me down to Palmerston North and then I’d catch the railcar up to Stratford, and I just decided I’d like to go to the local secondary school, much to my parents’ horror.
And my sister had stayed in Dannevirke because she was a very good ballet dancer and she’d gone to Jo Nirvan’s School of Dance. And she was a very promising dancer and wanted to be a ballerina, so she used to go to Wellington to Summer Schools and what-have-you. It seemed much more glamorous, much more fun to me than going off to boarding school. So I had my sixth form year at Dannevirke High and at the end of that year I applied … it wasn’t a great year scholastically I have to say; I had a lovely time … but I applied to become a school dental nurse, and they were very impressed by the fact that I could play the clarinet, ‘cause they thought I’d have good hand/eye coordination. I’d learnt that at St Mary’s – it was a very musical school – had the most amazing music teacher, and sang in the choir, and played instruments, and they thought I’d make a good dental nurse. So off I went in … 1966 I started at St Mary’s; I left in 1969, so 1971 I went off to Wellington for my two years’ dental nursing. And we lived in hostels in those days – started in Hobson Street down in Thorndon. There were two hostels there, you spent six months in one and six months in the other. And we walked all the way up to the Willis Street Dental Clinic. It was quite a hike, ‘cause it was slightly uphill, so we were reasonably fit and we wouldn’t have dreamt of getting the bus, ‘cause it cost money – even though the weather was terrible. And in those days we wore miniskirts … it was ridiculous clothing, really, for the conditions … the wind and the rain.
Did you get paid while you were training?
Yes. We did get paid. Not a lot I have to say, but it was enough … enough to live on, and they took money out for our board. But the boarding was not a lot of fun – you know, I thought I was off to Wellington and it was going to be great fun. But on Friday night … you know, we weren’t given any leave really … you couldn’t even go to a movie and get back before curfew, so yeah, it was a bit … There was a bit of a revolt after we left actually, and the nurses then went flatting – much better idea, I think.
And then in the second year … the first six months we went up to a lovely area in Kelburn, and that subsequently became an embassy I think – the Malaysian Foreign Embassy – and that was wonderful up there. But then they ran out of hostels, so we used to have to go out to the Hutt Nurses’ Home, and that wasn’t so good, ‘cause we had to get the train every day and that was actually quite expensive.
So I graduated from there in ‘72, and went dental nursing in Feilding. And I spent a lot of time going around the oral hygiene – I don’t know whether … the clinics used to get horribly behind, and so I spent the first six months of my career going around all the clinics helping with arrears. And one of the first jobs I did was I was sent to the Rangiwahia School to do that clinic, and we got snowed in. So that wasn’t much fun, but it was interesting.
And then I was subsequently sent to Waipukurau, and I was at the Terrace School for a couple of years, and there I met my husband, Don. He was managing a sheep farm on the Takapau Plains. And we subsequently became engaged, and we moved to Hastings and we bought some bare land at Mangateretere … I’m sure Don’s told you all this.
Yes, he’s told us about that, yes.
We developed that into orcharding. And I really supported Don – dental nurses were quite well paid in those days, and I supported Don while he developed that. When I came to Hawke’s Bay I once again did the rounds, helping with a lot of arrears. So it was nice, because I got to know Taradale – I was at Bledisloe School, and then I was at Mahora so I got to know that school. And I was at Maraekakaho. I have happy memories of going out there and doing that school. And then I was posted to Havelock Primary.
How did you travel – did you have a car?
I had a car … I had a little Mini – a little red Mini, so I travelled in and out every day. Mind you, when I was the dental nurse at the Terrace School in Waipukurau we did the Tikokino School, and you wouldn’t have dreamt of driving in and out every day. They arranged board for me with the headmaster, so I stayed there.
Monday to Friday?
Yes. Yes, well yes – turned up Monday morning, went home Friday afternoon. So I did Maraekakaho, and then I was subsequently posted as the Charge Nurse at Havelock Primary, and there we also did the Mangateretere School – that was a sub-base. And although I was the senior nurse they suggested it would be nice if I did Mangateretere, because I got to know everyone in the district where I was living. And that was wonderful, I really did get to know everyone, and it was a wonderful community and a great school.
And so I remained dental nursing until Nick was born in 1976, and I didn’t return to dental nursing – I thought I might, but I didn’t because not long after that we bought a second property, and life was very busy, really. We used to have sixty pickers, and the boysenberries were coming in and you know, life was busy. And …
Did you do most of the catering for them?
No, people brought their own lunch, but I used to do you know, cups of tea and … In the weekends we used to have high school boys who came to work for us, and I always cooked for them because they were boys from Whakatu … one boy, his mother was on her own, and some other boys had come off a farm. Their father had had a back injury and they were finding it really difficult adjusting. And we really loved these kids – they became like our family, and we had little children by then – we had three under four, and these boys were great. They were our baby sitters and our children looked on them as family, so we certainly cooked for them. And they used to come on holiday with us, and … yeah, they were great. They were great kids.
Do you still keep in touch with them?
Well actually, two of the boys – their father passed away recently. One lives in America and the other lives in the South Island. But we went to the funeral and it was just amazing to see them. And the sister is a nurse at the Hastings hospital. She works in SCBU, and our youngest daughter, Sophie, her little … both her boys have been in SCBU just for a few days, and so we’ve seen Katherine in there. So … yes.
Now, did you go skiing when you were at Ngāruawāhia, where you had to tow your skis right up the hill?
Yes … no, I couldn’t get away fast enough in the weekend.
Can you please tell us a little bit about what treatment at that stage you would give the children when they came to you … to the dental clinic?
Oh, look … and I hate to tell you we also used to give them, you know – the burrs that we drilled the teeth with came in these dear little sort of … they were a set of four in a little plastic case. And we used to put mercury in it, and it was called fairy dust, you know, and they could watch it scooting around inside the little … bevelled edges – honestly! We didn’t know any better, did we? And I used to make butterflies, and all sorts of little creatures – fairies out of the cotton … yes, and the gauze. So I always made lots of those. [The] children had stamps.
And you know, a lot of the children didn’t have good oral hygiene really. You could tell the children who had had fluoride tablets and those who hadn’t. It was patently obvious by the state of their teeth. And you know, I thought that I would get used to having to do a lot of work on children but actually as I got a older I found it more distressing, especially at Mangateretere – you might have a lovely elderly Māori grandmother present a child on a Friday afternoon … beautiful looking child with no teeth at all – just brown stubs. And you would discover that the child had been pacified with a dummy that had honey on it. And I would have to take … often the lady didn’t have a car; she was looking after children. So I would take them over to this wonderful dentist in Taradale, called Harold Howard. He was an amazing dentist, and he did all the government work for the children in hospital when they had multiple extractions. And he was a very interesting gentleman; he was a burns victim in the war, and in the Kelvin Chambers in Taradale, he had his rooms. And he had adapted his instruments so that he could hold them because his hands had been burnt. Wonderful man – yes, I would take the children over and Harold would deal to [with] them.
Was there a cost?
No, no. Not when you went to Harold, it was all on … it was all on the government … free care. But if people chose to go to a dentist then it would be their care financially, but if I referred them – say there was something difficult I could refer to a dentist, and that would then be paid for.
So when Don and I bought our land we went out in the weekends shearing and crutching, to earn enough money to … ‘cause Don wasn’t very well paid as a farm manager. And so we did a lot of work, and Don did fencing in his time off to get our deposit together. And at that time it was really hard to get land, and inflation was rampant, and we just began to wonder if we were ever going to …
This is in the 1970s?
1970s … early 1970s. And we … you know, it just felt …you know, nowadays I read about young people feeling they’re never going to get on the ladder and that’s how we felt a bit.
But anyway, we finally found this piece of land at Mangateretere; and Alan Wedd was selling land … they were buying a farm – they were buying Tui Glen at Tikokino, Highway 50, and he was selling off all the land in Mangateretere Straight. And they live in the house on the triangle opposite the golf course. And he was fantastic to us, and told Don that he’d like to see young people get a start. And he had people there trying to say, “We’ll buy the land” – it was ridiculous. When Don went to meet him on the property, and he said, “No, no – I’ll give you a few days to get your finance together,” and he did, so he really gave us our start.
So we bought the land and it was just a muddy paddock. And a family friend at our wedding … this is just before we got married, April 1973, on the 28th we got married in Dannevirke … very wet day. And a family friend at the wedding owned land behind us, and he said to my parents at the time, “Ooh, I’m a bit concerned about Mary and Don buying that land because it floods badly.” But we were very, very lucky because just after we bought it the Regional Council announced the Muddy Creek Drainage Scheme which drained all that area. And we did flood twice – badly … very badly – frightening. And they put this scheme in which pumped all the water away, and it was the most beautiful fertile land. I come from a long line of gardeners … very keen gardeners, so we were keen to have a garden, and we planted lots of trees with the help of Dene Thomas from Dene’s Gardenware, ‘cause we wanted to get it just right, ‘cause we had about an acre of trees we planted around the house … this was ornamentals. And they just grew – they got their feet down into that wonderful, wonderful soil that was metres deep, and then eventually into the water table and everything just … I thought gardening was a breeze because everything just grew beautifully. And all the fruit trees … Don planted three acres of boysenberries which was a lot in those days, and we planted early. It was just when a lot of fruit was coming on line … early fruit. And Don did quite a lot of research talking to friends who were orchardists, and they suggested that we try these early varieties.
So we planted apricots, nectarines, peaches, apples – we had some of everything. And we also grew some potatoes … early potatoes … we had some hothouses for tomatoes, lettuces – it was going to be a one-stop shop, and we were going to open for the six weeks of my school holidays. And we built a lovely … [a] friend of Don’s who was a builder, he helped us build a shed for a gate-sales shop. And we had to do everything ourselves. You know, when we went there we lived in a little flat in St George’s Road, and we shifted a house out. And when Don had been doing his sheep diploma at Massey University, he had to work on a number of farms, and one of the farms he worked on was the Connors’ farm … Tony Connor … at Omapere. And Tony was wonderful to us, and he and Jenny helped us find this house and we moved it out there. We got this house from the corner of Grays Road and Eaton Road … a weatherboard house … and we moved it out there, put in a drive, put in the power and the telephone, got it all going – all the plumbing, septic tank – the lot, for $4,000. It was pretty amazing – it was. Did everything ourselves. It was pretty basic, we couldn’t afford baseboards, you know. And it had to be on quite high piles – the Council insisted it had to be on high piles …
‘Cause of the flooding.
Yes. And thank heavens they did, ‘cause the flooding never came into the house.
So there we were. We couldn’t afford to put a lawn in; we couldn’t afford a lawnmower; we just did everything step by step by step. And I kept working and Don kept working. Oh, and I don’t know if Don told you – he got a job … he wanted to learn about building a bit. And they were building the Pacific Freezing Works for Graham Lowe across from Whakatu, and so Don got a job there. The Linnell Builders were building it, and Don got a job as a labourer working for them to learn about building. And he would go off to work – they still laugh, when we see the Linnell boys – Don would go off to work on his little tractor with his lunch box, and park his little tractor in amongst all the cars. They thought he was hilarious. But anyway, that’s how we did it.
So yes, we planted all these trees and just gradually got going and you know, we just sold everything. Oh – the boysenberries went to Wattie’s, but everything we sold at the gate. And it was before supermarkets had anything. And we just … the cars would be parked out on the road; they’d be … ‘cause we were sort of first stop coming from Napier. And the fruit was beautiful. We were very particular, and we’d do up packs of fruit with little handles … little cardboard boxes with sort of [a] couple of rows of apricots, and peaches and nectarines and some apples, and we just couldn’t keep up. It was amazing.
So you would do up the boxes at night and then sell it the next day?
Yep. Pack them all up – we had all these pickers there, and we always used to have a couple of people running the gate sales shop, and they were sort of hand-picked.
And Don also had bees. He’d rung the police to establish our bees whenever anyone rings up with a swarm. And so he would then go out and collect it. And of course there wasn’t the disease in those days, so the bees didn’t die like they do nowadays. So we had about forty hives, so we sold the honey as well in the gate sales shop.
And we also … in the gate sales shop Don had done a glass hive in the wall, and people used to come and look at the bees working in this glass hive. And that worked really well for a number of years until one winter … ‘cause we used to shut the gate sales shop … some little rascals came across the road and smashed it.
I know. Little rascals. Children that were my patients at the dental clinic, too. [Chuckle]
Yeah. So it was happy days at Prickle Patch, we called it. And we called it Prickle Patch because most of our friends were farmers and they had thousands of acres. So we’d called our farm … we’d say we’ve got a little patch of dirt. And so then of course the boysenberries are covered in prickles, so it just became ‘The Prickle Patch’. And it’s still called The Prickle Patch even though there are no prickles there any more – it’s all fruit trees.
So yes – we had fun doing up the house, it was a lovely old house and …
How many bedrooms did it have?
Well it only had two, so eventually we built on another bedroom and a decent bathroom. But we used to have to go to the loo on the back porch [chuckle] – not quite a long drop, but out on the back porch. But you know … we were so happy, it just didn’t matter. Yes.
After nine years at …
Prickle Patch …
… and we had bought a property around the corner too, which we’d put into kiwifruit, life was very busy, and Don was working in town, you know – he’d started selling insurance. And our idea had been to do this to go farming, but by then we’d established ourselves, and people had said to us when we moved to Clive … our farming friends said, “Oh, you might find there’s not a lot of community spirit there ‘cause you’re so close to town.” Well, they were quite wrong – it was fantastic. We had really lovely neighbours and it was fun … it was fun times at Clive and we loved it. But we just decided that life was very busy, our children were little and growing up, and Don wanted to concentrate more – we didn’t want to go farming any more – he wanted to concentrate more on his job in town.
And so we moved around the corner to the other property and lived there for a while, and we bought our house in Durham Drive, which we have only just sold. It was a lifestyle block; we only just sold that last year after nearly forty years. It was a wonderful place for the children to grow up. The children had ponies, and it was before they’d developed hill country, so the children could go over all the hills in the holidays, and just roam … they roamed. It was great.
While we lived at Durham Drive I used to be involved in projects at our family company. They built new offices, and I’d help them with project managing that. We had client entertaining, and I also … before he got a PA I used to go in and do his books for him. But it had grown so much that I wasn’t so involved in that. And our children were growing up and I’d been involved in their … you know, on the kindergarten committee, and involved in various things at their schools and in the church. But the girls were both at Woodford, and we decided to have a fundraiser. And I thought perhaps … I’d been to visit a girlfriend in Masterton who had been involved in the St Matthew’s Garden Weekend. And she said to me – she was a dental nursing friend; lived at Tinui. And she said to me, “You know, you could do this in Hawke’s Bay – this’d be amazing in Hawke’s Bay,” and so we did. We did the Woodford Garden Weekend, and we had lectures, and … it was a huge thing to organise. I had a fantastic committee, but I chaired that, and it was a great success and it was great fun, and it was really good for the school community. And it brought a lot of Old Girls back from out of the area, too, who came to visit – it was a really nice thing to be involved in. So that was just a one-off.
And then in about … oh, maybe 1998 … Dinah Williams was the Hastings Councillor representing Havelock North, and she said to Debbie Nott and I that she was going to organise a Village Festival to promote Havelock North and would we organise an event for it? And so we put our heads together, and Don’s brother had been involved in a primary school in Auckland, and they had had a very successful fundraiser by opening houses to the public, for kitchens only. And he said, “Honestly, we just can’t sell enough tickets.” So he said, “It’s just huge, Mary – you know, you could do that in Hawke’s Bay.” [Chuckle] So – Debbie and I decided we would start this thing and that we would raise funds for the Hospice, and so we started the Hospice Holly Trail. So we got together in about 1998 and started, ‘cause it took a while to get the ball rolling and get the committee. So we had the first Hospice Holly Trail in the year 2000. And I chaired … coordinated the first three, so I was sort of involved for eight years there. And then the next year I was still on the committee but I’d stepped aside as co-ordinator, and our home was in the next one and then after that I was out. And of course it’s still going.
And I couldn’t get tickets for it.
Oh, no, you’ve got to be quick! You’ve got to be quick.
And then I decided that I’d given the Holly Trail all I had really – you know, it was quite a big undertaking, although it was a lovely thing, ‘cause it’s only every two years. And so you have one year where you’re really very busy, and then you have a year that’s not so busy, so it ebbed and flowed a bit. It was quite nice. I thought, no, it was time to let someone else take over and bring new … although it’s interesting, it’s still sort of the same bond it runs on.
But towards the end of that, I had been following an organisation that was being started by Graeme Dingle. And my sister – when she was at Woodford she was a very quiet girl – she’s now married to a farmer out at Fernhill. She’s my little sister – Mum had us in two … she had three of us very close together, and then she had a five year gap and then she had my sister, Cindy, and my brother Nigel. And Cindy … so she’s about eight years younger than I am, and when she went to Woodford she was a very quiet girl. And they’d moved from Norsewood to Napier and she was kind of struggling with the change. And in the Fourth Form … Year 10 … they went out to the Outdoor Pursuits Centre as part of their Outdoor Education. And she went off to this, and came back a different person. And she told me she’d met this most amazing human being, and it was Graeme Dingle. And she told me all about him, and she was just inspired by him. So I always remembered that, ‘cause she wasn’t someone who would normally wax lyrical.
Anyway, Graeme and his partner, Joanne Wilkinson … still his partner … they were kayaking around New Zealand with their little dog. And the person who was doing the National Programme – you know, the morning, you know – Nine to Noon – would ring them and interview them about what they were doing, and where they were, and their adventures. And they were raising funds and awareness for Project K. They’d come back from overseas and they were shocked at the mess they thought New Zealand youth was in. And so I donated some money – like, not much, just a little bit of money, and Graeme rang to say thank you, which I thought was amazing. And so I obviously receive their newsletters. Well one of the newsletters that came said that Hawke’s Bay was a target area, so I rang and said “Ooh, is someone starting it in Hawke’s Bay?” And they said, “Well, actually no, but you might like to?” And I thought, ‘Oh, gosh … don’t know about that.’ But anyway, it sort of sat on my shoulder I have to admit, and I met Graeme and Joanne, and you know, I thought more and more about it and then finally I decided I would, because it was such an amazing thing.
And so we started Project K – I probably started …
The name was for kids, wasn’t it?
Well yes, yes – and koru, for new beginnings. It’s now called The Foundation for Youth Development, because it’s got several other programmes for primary school age, right down now. I chaired that Trust for six years, and we ran programmes, and it was an amazing thing to be involved in.
Are they mostly in Hastings?
No – Taradale, Havelock North, Hastings. Any school that was interested, we would go there, ‘cause the school have to put a lot into it. It’s a big thing to do the actual Project K, it’s a fourteen-month programme and you have twelve students on it. And it’s very, very involved; you have to train mentors, and … I mentored two students myself, and one of them, Kara – she was at Taradale High and I still have a lot to do with her – she’s become a life-long friend. She’s about twenty-four now.
So I did that, and that was huge because it involved a lot of fundraising, and it was never over – you know, it was just never over. And you know, some of the students we had on there, they were quite challenged, you know …
Their backgrounds were challenging?
Oh yeah … yes. And so it was quite challenging, but very rewarding.
Anyway, in 2008 … April of 2008 … I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And it was an aggressive form of breast cancer, and so I had to have surgery, six months of chemotherapy and then [a] few weeks of radiation, so it was sort of going to be a year out. You know, they said to me, “This is … it’s not a good one,” and it’d already moved into my lymph glands. So I realised I had to do things differently and the treatment was going to be pretty taxing, so I took a year out from Project K and just got on with the treatment. And it was an incredible year – I did things like – every morning when I woke up I would meditate, and I just had a very clean diet, and … anyway, I’m still here.
D’you think the diet helped you?
Yes, I do. Attitude – and just everything. And I had the luxury of not having to work … very fortunate … and had a very loving and supportive family and friends. Yeah, I was very fortunate, so … yeah. Well I’m vigilant, obviously, but I don’t worry about it any more, because I think that that is done – it’s over, and I don’t need to go back there to learn those lessons again – to slow down, and learn to say “No”, and listen to my body, and … yeah. So I’m not quite as driven as I was.
Also, at the time, just as I was finishing treatment, our first grandchild, Monty … Nick’s Monty … was born, and … you know, so you enter another phase in your life. And we’ve now got six grandchildren. So they are very important to us. Two of the families live here, so we do a lot with our grandchildren.
That’s fabulous, yes.
I’m going tonight to look after Monty and Bea after school for Jenny, ‘cause Nick’s wife is an optometrist and she owns Grant & Douglas, so she’s very busy with that.
And my mother is also still alive – she lives in St Luke’s Close, and sadly Mum has macular degeneration so she needs care. I have two other sisters here; my sister who’s just a bit younger than I am – she’s a teacher at Te Mata, so she’s in Havelock, and then this other sister lives out at Okawa.
But I also want to tell you that I helped start an organisation in Hawke’s Bay called the Decorative and Fine Arts Society, and we have lectures. It’s an English society. We now have eight branches in New Zealand. Lecturers come out from England, and they’re the sort of people who are on the Antiques Roadshow, and they come and speak on their various subjects. And we have eight lectures a year.
So that would be in and around Hawke’s Bay?
Oh, it’s always in Havelock North at the Function Centre, and people come to the lecture – always on a Monday night. Yeah – eight of them a year, and we have an hour-long lecture on the most incredible topics – they’re just amazing. And then we have a glass of wine afterwards, and then we all go home – you’re home by nine o’clock. It’s good. And so we have, you know, a couple of hundred members and we’ve maintained that since we started. And that’s a lovely little thing to go along to, that keeps your mind interested in things you didn’t know you were interested in. And so I’ve just stepped down – I chaired that for a few years; last year I just stepped down as chairman, and this year I’ve just stepped down off the committee. And it’s in very good hands.
And then we decided after I was unwell … quite a long time after that, Don and I decided that perhaps it was time for a change, ‘cause Durham Drive was a large property and it was a large garden – people used to come and visit the garden – and we decided that perhaps we’d do something different. So we … took us a long time to decide, I have to say, it wasn’t an overnight decision. And so we’ve put the house on the market and obviously sold, and we’ve been renting a dear little cottage in Clive in an orchard and vineyard, overlooking the river, deciding what we’re going to do. And we’ve bought this dear little 1950s cottage in Busby Hill, and we’re going to do it up and … yeah, we’re going to do it up – and we’re ready to go. And that’s where we’ll be … very happy there; it’s got beautiful views, all day sun, right in the middle [?], we can walk everywhere. But before we start, we’re off to Africa on Sunday for a month. Aren’t we lucky?
So … yes, so Hawke’s Bay’s been good to us … really good to us. We love living here. People say to us – we’ve got a house at Hatepe … a cottage at Hatepe at Taupō – d’you know that?
Yes, Nick told us about that.
Oh yes, and we’ve always gone there and Don and I are looking forward to spending more time there. But we’re funny old things – we kind of miss the children – we miss them. And Annabel, our middle daughter – she lives in Auckland with her husband and Florence and Rose, the two little dots, so I try to go up to Auckland a bit and visit them.
You’ve had good, rounded family, and productive lives.
My grandfather, Wallace Galloway, back in Dannevirke – he was a great community man – he was a very good example to us all. He was awarded the OBE for services to community. He was the Chairman of the local Hospital Board, and my mother had come up from Timaru to Dannevirke – it was a wonderful training hospital for nurses, and that’s how she met Dad. And Grandad was on the Dairy Board, and the local factory Board. And he was one of the people responsible for getting all the … you know how each district had a little dairy … cheese factory above the factory? Well, he was responsible for getting them all to amalgamate.
And this is in Dannevirke?
In Dannevirke. And so he was a wonderful community person, and had great foresight.
Last year I took Mum and my sisters, and we went to visit – when we were at Hatepe, we went inland from Raurimu into the King Country where Grandad had gone as a fourteen year old when his brothers went to the First World War, and they were breaking in the land – right in where the Retaruke River meets the … the confluence of the Retaruke River and the Wanganui River. And you can’t go any further. And apparently there used to be a floating hotel there, and wonderful for tourism. You wouldn’t get the big paddle steamers up there now.
But the Retaruke River – a lot of people have heard of it – it’s absolutely beautiful, and people fly in from everywhere to do trout fishing. So we went in there to see this land that Grandad and his brothers broke in. And of course they had to walk off because there was no selenium in the soil. Well! The joke of it was that here we are a hundred years after Grandad left, and we heard that the land he had had … they all had [a] tiny little bit each … had been all conglomerated. It’s the most terrible farmland I’ve ever seen – wet, terrible grass. It had just sold for nearly $4.5million, to bee keepers because it’s all reverting to manuka, so it’s very valuable. So he left too soon. [Chuckle] So there you go.
Thank you. We might have to do an interview again in five years time.
Oh … no life’s been good to us.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Erica Tenquist