Bark, John Robert & Judith (Judy) Mary Interview

Today is 4th March 2019. I’m interviewing John and Judy Bark on their families. John, would you like to tell us something about your family? Thank you.

Where do I start?

Well you know [chuckle] where it starts, I don’t.

Well, I suppose it starts when I’m born. I go back before that perhaps, to the Bark grandparents, who came out to … firstly Australia, from … now where were they in England? And my father was actually born in Perth, because they thought they were going to settle there. They didn’t like the weather; the temperature was too tough for them, so they came on to New Zealand and initially settled in …

Judy: Place up in Auckland …

John: Yeah, that place we called in at.

Judy: Out from Pokeno; it was in Pokeno.

John: … where my grandfather was a teacher. We actually called in there [a] couple of years ago. Then he moved to Tolaga Bay, taught there for a while; and then he became well known as the first assistant at Hastings Central School – people have mentioned being taught by him. He had something on his neck that when he got annoyed with somebody it would start to pulse; so if that started to pulse …

You kept clear!

Yeah. It evidently came from a horse kick. So his family were mother and father and five girls.

Judy: Five sisters.

John: And they set up a catering shop … home cookery shop … in Hastings.

Can you remember the name of it?

Well I don’t know about the name of the one there; certainly more recently – when I say more recently – when I was in high school, they owned the Egmont Home Cookery in Tomoana Road, well known for their marvellous cooking.

Judy: Cakes. Apparently they were in Heretaunga Street, just over the railway line – somewhere about in that first block on the right going west, and …

John: It was destroyed in the …

Judy: … just can’t …

John: … earthquake.

Judy: … find … somebody thought it was called Bark’s Bakery, but we don’t know.

And was your mother the chef?

John: No, no – grandmother, and aunties. So this stage my mother’s not in the picture. My father grew up in Hastings mainly, and at one stage they consisted totally of the choir at St Matts. [St Matthew’s Church]

Did they? [Chuckle]

Yeah. There was eight of them.

Did this music follow in the family John?

No. So my father went to … which primary school? Oh, I never thought of that.

Judy: Well he might have gone to Tolaga Bay – it could’ve been in those days.

John: Yeah, it could’ve been; it could’ve been before he moved to Hastings.

Judy: I think so.

John: That’s right, he would’ve been [at] a country school.

So did you grow up in the country?

Well what happened was that my father was a teacher and he was teaching at Katunu or Kuatuna. [Kūaotunu] I don’t know how that’s pronounced, we always called it Katuna.

Judy: Coromandel.

John: He was [a] sole teacher, and I was born in Whitianga while they were there.

Judy: Just going back, I think your father went to Napier Boys’ High …

John: He did.

Judy: … and Christchurch Teachers’ College.

John: When he was [at] Napier Boys’ High, I’ve got a photo of him with a whole lot of sports … As an eighteen-year-old he played for Hawke’s Bay … cricket against an international team that came out, and he did very well, and so he went off to Teachers’ College …

Judy: Christchurch.

John: … or Training College as it was called then; and that’s where he met my mother. She was doing teaching training.

Judy: Well their first job was at Kūaotunu; they married before they went up there and you were born there, at Whitianga.

It would have been only just a country village those days?

John: Yeah.

Judy: Was.

John: Well, it’s interesting that the hospital that I was born in is still a medical centre; some sort of …

Judy: Historic building, anyway.

John: It’s on the waterfront.

Judy: Got a plaque. Half of it’s there.

John: So the Barks – I don’t know whether there’s any more – they certainly were well known for their catering. They lived in St Aubyn Street.

Judy: Mmm. West; just before Grays Road, wasn’t it?

John: Yeah.

Judy: Big old villa.

John: So then – about going back to the Wellwoods – my father then in 1943 …

Judy: Moved to New Plymouth, didn’t he?

John: Yeah – taught at …

Judy: New Plymouth.

John: Yeah.

Judy: You were three boys born.

John: Two of us were born while we were at Kūaotunu, ‘cause Peter was born back here in the holidays; Brian was born in New Plymouth so I don’t know how long we were there. But from there – so Brian was born in ‘41; in 1943 my father joined the Army and was a Lieutenant, and went to Tonga and had a year there. And these are the things that annoy you that you didn’t follow up when [your] parents were alive. But I don’t know whether he ever came back to New Zealand during that twelve months he was there; so quite something he was away all that time. And then he … oh, this is according to his mother, my grandmother … he became so frustrated at being so far away from what was happening in the war that he resigned his commission and came back to New Zealand, trained and went away as a Sergeant to firstly, Egypt, where he got trained and then he was posted to Italy. And I’ve done quite a bit of research on that, on his life was like there; made a talk at church one time when they were doing a series on ‘What did Anzac Day mean to you?’ And he was plagued then with diarrhoea, so he kept getting transferred back to hospital. But he was actually not too far from Cassino when it …

Blew up, yes.

… and on from there. So he was over at Cattelino, which is near Rimini.

Judy: The other coast; he was up the east coast, not the west coast.

John: And that’s where he was killed. So he was away from – January, he was posted; he was killed in October, so he was away all that time, so really for two years. And in that time we as a family moved to York Road to live with my grandmother.

On the Wellwood pocket … Now that answers another question I was going to ask you, ‘cause I could never understand why your mother always came from that end of the road.

Right, okay. No exit road.

That’s right.

Judy: Grandma’s house.

And most of the people that were down that road …

John: Bradshaws?

The Bradshaw brothers …

Yeah, well the Bradshaws were next to us. Between the Reeds and the Bradshaws there was the Pinleys. So Ivan Bradshaw ran that property, and his brother had a more orchard-type property closer to Maraekakaho Road.

Yes, I always remember Ivan, he taught me to rifle shoot at the Hastings Small Bore Rifle Club.

Oh yeah, ‘cause the Reeds were right into that.

That’s right – well they’d grown up with it, hadn’t they?

I used to go out to … right out to Roys Hill …

Okawa …

… and do the marking.

Those would have been sad days for you as a family?

Yeah, well I mean life just went on. See I was only five when he went away; Brian was only one; Peter was in between us, so thinking back, it wasn’t something we’d miss, as it were. One of the things which was mentioned subsequently – I read somewhere where more often than not if a male child loses their male parent, there’s usually someone else that becomes a pseudo … and when I think back, that was Lindsay Wellwood. He was my mother’s brother, and the reason that he was always there was that he was managing the property up at Ngatarawa – two hundred-odd acres – and running it in conjunction with the fifty acres at York Road. So most days, he was around. And then I would after school … oh, I don’t know from when, I think I was still at primary school, but certainly high school, early high school … on Ivan Bradshaw’s milking cows …

So you’re a cowboy, too?

Yeah, I was; I was always going to be a farmer ‘cause [I] used to go over every night and then the weekends as well. And then he was also doing contracting work, so I did a lot of tractor work; worked in with Jim Reed with his big …

Harvester …

… combine harvester, that we used drive as kids. Yeah, so it was a life without my father, but really, when I think back … [speaking together]

There were other people who became your mentors?

Yeah, whether it was Ivan Bradshaw or Lindsay Wellwood.

So I’ve interviewed Ivan’s brother …

Oh … Fred. Actually I’d love to catch up with him; he’s a neighbour of … Judy’s got a cousin here …

Judy: Oh, Dean … Dean Graham.

John: He’s a neighbour.

He’s a most interesting man, and you know, his experiences during the war as a radio operator … fascinating.

Never knew him so well because he was running a separate property; Ivan and Jean were the ones that I had so much to do with.

You know, Ivan had an Allis Chalmers, a little Allis Chalmers, in fact we ended up with a very similar one up at Lake Taupo. And then Lindsay had the big model of it; Ivan I remember going off to the machinery sale of a Chinese gardener, and there was this grey Fergie there that he came home with. And I just thought I was made driving that, [chuckle] compared with the rowdy Allis Chalmers.

So at some stage or other, John, you decided you weren’t going to be a farmer; you were going to be a chartered accountant.

No, I didn’t really – what happened was that I was always going to go farming; my mother talked me into going into an office for a year to get … And then during that year [I] realised that there were several cousins, so there would’ve been more than a dozen who were all part of the family, so it wasn’t going to be passed down to one of us and it wasn’t big enough to share. So, and the last thing I was ever going to do was work in an office, but having been in the office for a year I took to it – I think mainly because I was working with Noel Fippard; he was my boss, the partner that I was working for; and he was basically farm accounting, so that sort of got me the interest in farming, but I had my interest of farming as well.

So you went from high school straight to ..?

McCulloch Butler & Spence. I had five years at McCulloch Butler & Spence, and then went as senior Clerk to … well, one year … looking ahead during those five years, anyone who became a partner had to do a turn in … not Tolaga Bay – Ruatoria, was it? Way out in the wop-wops. [Chuckle] And that was all right for people that weren’t married, but I was married, and no way was I wanting to take family out to Ruatoria or wherever. Waipawa was another one they went to. So I was looking around for somewhere else and went to Brown Webb; but of course in the end those two firms merged, and it was strange ending up … during the period of time that we were renovating our office, Brown Webb office, we all went and worked in [chuckle] the McCulloch building, and it was strange going back there.

So when you were a young man were you playing sport? Cricket or rugby?

No, no. At high school, it was rugby, very much rugby, and tennis ‘cause my mother was in the Hawke’s Bay tennis team. So always tennis; and then I was introduced to squash, and that became a life long passion. I worked on playing two and a half times a week; three times one week, two times the next, so …

Judy: Well probably more than that, when you were initially playing a lot in teams and things like that.

John: Yeah – it was probably never much more than that. On top of the weekends.

Probably seemed a lot.

[Chuckle] So, did reasonably well at that.

And so then as [a] young man, you met Judy; Judy do you want to tell me where he met you, or shall we leave it to John?

We met because she was one side of the classroom …

Judy: We were at school.

John: … and I was the other side.


Judy: High school … sixth form. At the high school – Hastings High.

John: Whereas most classes were segregated, you know, we’ve always said it’s really a mixed school rather than a co-ed; although when I was in the fourth form we had Commercial Practice, and there were some girls in the class. But basically it was sixth form that we became … and I forget who it was now … pointed out to me there was this girl on the other side of the room [chuckle] who was showing a bit of interest. [Chuckle] So Judy sat with Noleen Black, and then Judy went off to Teachers’ College, and I stayed home; I stayed in Hastings.

Well Judy, would you like to tell me something about your family … where they came from to Hawke’s Bay?

Judy: Yes, well my father …

John: I suppose I should really get back to the Wellwood side, as well.

Judy: All right.

Deal with the Wellwood side; right.

John: ‘Cause they came out to New Zealand from Kilkenny, Ireland and the first mayor of Hastings was a Wellwood. And his brother – he’d come out as a single person, Robert Wellwood. His brother who he’d talked into coming out with his family, he’s the one who [was] our parent …

Judy: Grandparent. They came out in about 1865 or something like that; one came out then, and then he wrote and encouraged his brother to come out; got a letter somewhere that says …

John: Yeah, I’ve got quite a bit of stuff on that, ‘cause we did a reunion at one stage. So going back to the Wellwood that was the mayor, that goes down the chain with Dennis Holden – you know that name?


So … what’s her name that was down the end of Hikanui Drive?

Judy: Williams? Peter Williams; Maryanne Holden.

John: She was Maryanne Holden, yeah. So they bought property in York Road and in Ngatarawa, and so it was my grandfather that bought that property. And my grandmother was – I don’t want to go into that one in too much detail, but she was a …

Judy: Tilson.

John: Tilson. The Tilsons were a quite big farming family at Cape Palliser … Palliser Bay.


And just as an aside, that comes down with cousins that I’ve got, who are John Kershaw … you know John Kershaw, the doctor? So I think that’s all on the Wellwoods.

Most of us knew an uncle of yours, Ossie Wellwood, because he was a drover, and he was very well known.

So sort of two branches, and Ossie was very much … I mean we never really …

Judy: The other side. [Chuckle]

Understood. [Chuckle]

John: Okay.

Judy: Well my father was John Howard Paynter, known as Howard. His descendants [ancestors] came to New Zealand from Plymouth in England on the first ships in 1841. They came from Cornwall and they arrived in New Plymouth. And that family … he had a son, William, and there was another son born when they arrived in New Zealand, John, and that’s who my father’s family came from – the John side. They moved to Nelson during the land wars, and that was where my grandfather grew up. And he became involved in the fruit industry down there then, so that was the first of the fruitgrowers in Nelson. The family moved around a little bit, and there were eight children in that family – three boys and five girls – and my father was the eldest of that family. So he was a first, second generation New Zealander – is that right? And I’m third generation. So they’ve been out here since 1841.

My father was brought up from Nelson; moved to Hamilton where my grandfather was involved in horticulture there with the government, and my father grew up there; went to Hamilton Boys’ High. And then he went to Christchurch to visit an uncle, and he had an accident there which changed his life – in fact he’s lucky he survived. It was a Sunday, and they were at church as you did; he went back to a friend’s … in those days the banks had people living above the bank … and they had a gun and they were for security. And they went back to this person’s flat to have a look at it … young lads, eighteen-year-old probably … and the guy said, you know, “Have the gun.” And he was giving it to my father; pressed it – it had a bullet in it. It hit my father’s chest; and he had a propelling pencil in the top of his pocket and it ricocheted off and went through his shoulder, otherwise it would have got his heart.

So in the process of recovering from that he came to stay with his uncle here, his father’s brother, Horace … Uncle Horace Paynter … and he and Aunty Tottie didn’t have any family. So he started living with them and was to go back and possibly do school teaching; he didn’t know, but he decided he liked the orcharding life, so he bought some more property. ‘Cause they lived on the corner of St George’s and Havelock Road in that bungalow that’s there still. And he bought property down the road, which was twelve acres, and he planted that and built a shed, then built a house. And he met my mother … she was a Nicholls, Dulcie Mary Nicholls. And her family – I’m not sure when they came out but her father came out from England, and her mother separately. Her father was an Evangelist, and he became a Baptist minister and they lived here … The Manse was in Heretaunga Street where now there is a skin specialist – is it a skin specialist? Vein doctor there – that was the Baptist Manse. My mother grew up there. They were here during the earthquake, and my father was the minister; he went out to all the … you know, injured and sick and all the rest of it in the tents over that time, so they were very involved in the earthquake.

My mother met my father during those days, but the family then moved over to Wanganui – her family, ‘cause being a minister they were always moving. And they were married in Wanganui and came back and lived in St George’s Road where the property is still now, to this day; built their original house and have altered it a few times since then, and it’s now the office of Johnny Appleseed.

So that’s where I was born, and grew up and went to school; first of all St Luke’s School – I went to St Luke’s until Standard 1 and then I went to Parkvale – possibly because my brother started school then. I’m not sure why I changed schools, but maybe he was going and they decided not to send him to St Luke’s and he went to Parkvale, and we were both there that … maybe that … But in those days you went ‘til Standard 6, and then I went to high school where, you know, we did lovely things like Gilbert & Sullivan and all those that I was in; they were lovely days, they were fun. So four years there, and then I had Teachers’ College. And I was trained as a Home Economics teacher, and then was married and had a family; and between that I’ve done lots of other things.

So it was at that period of time that you had an interest in kitchen design?

Well, I don’t know that I had an interest in it; it was part of a course, and we taught it to fourth formers; and it had come from University of Otago, ‘cause we were associated with the University [of] Otago Home Science Department. And I was always interested in it so I had that training at that stage. But I was a Home Economics teacher until 1979 when I went into kitchens in 1980. So …

So during that period you had your children?


Their names, and what they do these days?

Well some of them I’m not really too sure about. Joanne’s the oldest – she does accountancy; she’s got a position at a firm in Auckland. Christine’s the next, she’s at Palmerston North at Massey University trying to complete a PhD in Literacy … Children’s Literacy.

John: Working for Massey.

Judy: Working at Massey, yeah. Steven’s in Bunbury, over in … well, it’s quite interesting – back there to where John’s father was born, in Perth.

Yes – I know Bunbury.

Well that’s where he is.

John: He went there in 1984, and he’s still there.

Judy: Yeah. Not such a happy life really now, but he’s busy doing some new things with his life like kinesiology; he’s studying, and he’s doing a few other things as well. And … it’s an American practice, sort of a combination of things like yoga and pilates and energies; things like that, and it’s very popular in Australia. So he’s doing that, ‘cause he’s had a change in life with his marital situation. So he’s on his own so he’s now doing what he wants to do with his life.

And then our youngest, Nicola – she’s in Wellington and she’s with ACC … got a position at ACC. So they’re all scattered. Yeah, she’s supposed to be in the Accident Prevention Department; yeah, yeah. So that’s very quickly my story.

All right; and now coming back, John, to your business and how it developed over time. Can you tell me something about that?

John: In accountancy; well it started up in an office, saw potential in one down the road so joined what was then RD Brown Webb & Co; caused a bit of a stir because Len Webb was a brother-in-law of Noel Fippard … [chuckle]

Noel Fippard was very … you know, looking back it was a bit of a snub I suppose, because he really treated me well. We used to go off to – when the British Lions were here in the fifties we’d go off and watch the match at Wairarapa, and another one at Gisborne, I suppose – so he was very good. But I just saw this … happy to move away, so I became Senior Clerk at RD Brown Webb & Co. And look, I was starting to get a bit bored with accounting; certainly didn’t enjoy auditing and we had some rather large audits like Leopard Brewery, Eastern & Central … well, [it] wasn’t Eastern & Central then … Hawke’s Bay & Gisborne Savings Bank, Nelsons Freezing Works; but computers started to come into the picture and I got quite involved with those and did a lot of designing of … not so much programmes, but formats of what the computer could do to take that drudgery away, so I worked in a lot with Napier Computer Systems. So that really kept my interest in accountancy, plus of course a lot of farm accounts, accounting for regular farmers.

Now during this period you had some children, too?

Judy: Yes. You mean our own children? We also had extra children. Yes – we had four children. So I was teaching at Karamu High School part-time round young children, and then a fourth baby came so I gave up teaching then, but went back afterwards, and when we shifted out to Havelock here soon after – that was 1975 – I’d given up being at Karamu; I’d resigned from there, and I taught at Havelock High until 1979. In 1980 I went into … did Carlson Kitchen Showroom down here in the village.

That seems a long time ago …

Yes, well it was quite an interesting time with the fire there. And we also had extra children living with us for eighteen months – John’s brother who died, Brian, his children lived with us over that time. And then I went to Stylewood Kitchens for … Carlson for four years, Stylewood for four years; that took me through to 1987, and then I started up on my own and I went into training kitchen designers. There were [was] no training in New Zealand, so I set up courses, wrote the manuals, worked with Gordon Dryden … Well I worked with him. There were several other people that I worked with who helped me set up the course through the NKBA – National Kitchen & Bath Association – which came from the States; and I became involved in it through a woman I’d met from the States in courses I’d done with her. And I’d become very involved in that, and so I realised there was [were] no education programmes for kitchen designers, so I set up courses.

Wonderful. And having a background in teaching …

Well, I couldn’t have done it without that; that was the thing that made the difference, that I could combine the teaching and the kitchen design. ‘Cause I’d had the eight years’ experience with Hortops in the factory; that was all invaluable learning how that industry worked so I could combine them. It was just a nice … just worked; it was a nice combination. And I loved it; twenty-five years I was involved in that, and think I’d do it all again.

John: Well, achieved a lot and you know, ended up being in the Hall of Fame in the States, which is quite something.

Your sisters and brothers ..?

Judy: I’ve only got one brother, John. He’s Maxwell John, known as John. My family had a funny thing about calling you by your second name. He gets very upset because – he’ll probably tell you when you talk to him – that when he goes to airports they keep asking for Maxwell Paynter. Maxwell was my father’s brother, and that was actually my mother’s second husband, he was her brother[-in-law] when my dad died. So Maxwell was my uncle’s name, and then my brother was Maxwell John, called John; my father was John Howard, called Howard, so it was very strange. So that’s all – I’ve only got the one brother.

Now Brian left early, didn’t he?

John: Left early – left home or left the planet?

Left the planet. Your other brother, Peter …

So Brian died in ’97 …

Judy: ’77.

John: ’77. We were in England.

Judy: With Christmas with our family over there.

John: Peter was over there. And Peter died the year before the earthquake.

Judy: 2010, Peter died. On the anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake. And Peter was very fond of Christchurch ‘cause he went to university there and played for Christchurch-Canterbury rugby, didn’t he? And to think that the earthquake was …

John: He was one of the loose trio with Kel Tremain and John Graham.

Judy: So they’ve both gone.

So – now what have you forgotten to tell me that’s important?

Judy: [Chuckle] Probably loads

John: Couple of things came in my mind; now they’ve gone.

Judy: Well, we’ve lived in different houses. We started off in Norton Road … was our first home where we lived for eighteen years, and then we built in Muritai Crescent. 108 was Norton Road [speaking together] … 27 was …

John: Norton Road we added … we did alterations, twice …

Judy: Three or four times – three, I think. And 27 Muritai Crescent was a Peter Holland house that we built there, and we were there twenty-five years; and then we built in Hikanui Drive, that was 47, and we were there sixteen years and now we’re in Busby Hill. [Chuckle]

It’s fascinating when you look at life’s path and how things change.

Mmm. Mmm. So we’ve had overseas trips, and you know, done things like most people do over the years. We’ve had various dramas with health things and whatnot, that people get. Some how or other we’ve managed to survive those. We’re in the Presbyterian Church down here at St Columba; John’s been quite involved there over the years so … yeah, think we’re pretty ordinary sort of people.

John: Tennis club …

Judy: Tennis, yeah. [Speaking together] Tennis and squash.

John: Eight years as secretary, and then six years with a year in between – six years as president.

Judy: And the Boys’ High …

John: Boys’ High Chairman.

Judy: Chairman for a long time, with Graham Thomas. So you know we’ve been involved in community …

John: Well – Boys’ High, we struck the Tomorrow’s Schools which was quite something. A lot happened. And then the Flaxmere School – they were applying to be up for the Fourth Form, and government suddenly decided that they could have their full school. [Of] course that could really affect the existing schools, but they put it through, so …

Everyone forgets something, and if something comes up that’s quite important, we just say, “Well look, we’ll do an addendum.”

Judy: ‘Amelia Thompson’ – that was the name of the ship – the ‘Amelia Thompson’ was the ship that my family came out to New Zealand in 1841 from Plymouth to New Plymouth. What a trip that must have been!

I don’t know how those people …

No. It’s made us really strong women from those pioneer women, I think, don’t you? [Chuckle]

John: It was in the 1860s with [when] the Barks came out.

And quite often women travelled on their own with the children, ‘cause their husbands were already out here.

Judy: Or they were pregnant or something. I think on the ship they came out on seven people died and seven babies were born, so … can you imagine?! Horrendous! And arriving out here in your long skirt, and standing on the beach and … where am I going to live? [Chuckle]

Yes, there was no houses; there was nothing to live in …

The Māoris coming onto the beach to welcome them, and … it’d be just unbelievably hard!

John: Yeah – might be worth telling what his mother … what to bring out with them. It’s quite interesting – this letter …

Judy: And the bible.



But we didn’t have any roads or tracks or anything; when people came New Zealand was serviced by coastal shipping.

John: People had a lot of use of lighters, sailing [?]. ‘Cause they stopped at each settlement.

I didn’t realise until I interviewed several people from Ahuriri that Ahuriri originally was just a fishing port, and the lighters used to take the wool and all the produce out to the roadstead and load it out there.

Judy: Well it wouldn’t be a bad way to do it now, actually – we’d get them off the roads. [Chuckle]

John: You’re going to get from Napier to say Haumoana, you know – the crossings they had to do were horrendous!

Oh! Well when my people came to the village in 1862 you couldn’t go across Waitangi; you had to go by barge and join up with the waterway.

Judy: I suppose I should add [their] birth dates I guess – my father’s was 1904 and my mother’s was 1914. What was yours?

John: 1912 and 1914.

Judy: No ’12 was your mum. She was two years older than my mum. They were both 1912, maybe.

John: Maybe they were the same age.

Judy: I think they might have been because they went to Teachers’ College the same year.

Back in those dark ages a family by the name of Crisps used to live in St George’s Road I think.


They were the granddaughters … they were in my class.

Yeah. And then there were the triplets, Anderson triplets … I went to school with them, and I was just talking to two of them yesterday, actually.


They’re nearly eighty-two; it’s amazing.

Everyone’s eighty-two.

[Chuckle] Are they?

John: No, I’ve changed. I’m doing what the TV does … plus one.

Judy: It only goes up to three. [Chuckle]

Well I think we’ve probably pretty well skirted most of your history, but if anything comes in – some of the areas will be covered by memorabilia or photos that are attached to this.


So if you’re happy with that ..?

John: Yeah.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper


  • John Robert Bark
  • Judith Mary Bark

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