Carran, Dianne Verenice Interview

Today is the 12th June 2018.  I‘m interviewing Dianne Verenice Carran on her family, particularly the Growcott/Edgecumbe connection. Dianne, would you like to start off and tell us something about the history of your family?

Note: Recording occasionally affected by wind noise

Right – well my father was Robert Ernest Edgecumbe; my mother was Betty Marion Growcott. Their parents all came out to New Zealand in the mid-1960s. [1860s] My father’s mother was Annie McKay; she came out on a boat called the ‘Strathallan’, which landed in Napier in 1864.

The Edgecumbes all came out from England … from Cornwall … in the mid-1860s as well. My grandparents met and married in Takapau in Southern Hawke’s Bay, and were farmers. My grandmother died in childbirth when my father was only about three, and my grandfather remarried and he and his second wife went on to have three more children, and they shifted to a farm in Waimarama.

My father worked on the farm for quite a few years, but then as a result of a misunderstanding with his stepmother he stormed off the farm, came into town … Hastings … and eventually went to work at the Tomoana Freezing Works which was owned by the Nelson family.

So they arrived in the 1860s, and I’m not sure what boat they came on, but that probably doesn’t matter too much. Prior to that they’d been a well known Cornish farming family; they had come over from France with William the Conqueror in 1066, and subsequently acquired a lot of land through their support of the various monarchs right through the ages. They were granted lands, mainly in Cornwall, and were one of the largest landowners in England at one time. From the mid-1300s to the end of the 1500s they owned a very beautiful manor house in Cornwall called ‘Cotehele’. [Spells] They decided to shift from there and built another manor house on the shores of Plymouth Sound, and it’s called Mt Edgecumbe House, but that was destroyed during the war by an incendiary bomb. Fortunately all the portraits were in storage in London at the time.

But a new house was built after the war on the same site, and we have visited that several times. So being members of the Edgecumbe family, we have been given the grand tour; shown all the treasures. And the present Earl of Mt Edgecumbe is actually a New Zealander, who is a sheep farmer from the Bay of Plenty.

During the war the beach below Mt Edgecumbe House was concreted, and that was where the boats left for Dunkirk. The holder of the title at the time, the Earl of Mt Edgecumbe … Baron Edgecumbe … had a son called Piers; and because of the son being very much alive the younger brother decided to come to New Zealand too, because he thought he would never inherit the title. But unfortunately Piers, the [eldest] son of the Earl at the time, was killed at Dunkirk which was quite ironic seeing all the boats had left from the bottom of their property. So the younger brother was already in New Zealand, and his nephew is now the 8th Earl of Mt Edgecumbe … the 10th Baron Edgecumbe and he had five daughters, and the title after he dies will pass to somebody who’s in Canada, which the English family are all a bit peeved about.

But there was a wee bit of a scandal involved with the New Zealand Baron, or Earl, when he inherited the title in the mid-1980s. The family were still living in the house at that time, and they have a beautiful garden … amazing garden. And it’s visited by the public, and it’s a very large garden and is considered one of the great gardens of Cornwall. His wife, the Countess – whose name I think was Joan – after two years of obviously admiring the garden and admiring the gardener, took off with the gardener; so she and the Earl eventually divorced. I don’t know what’s happened to her in the meantime, but anyway, she’s got the gardener if she no longer has the garden.

Coming back to the New Zealand connection, was there any relationship between him and Edgecumbe in ..?

There is, but it’s quite obscure. He is another branch. It is the same family but he is a different branch.

So when the Edgecumbes did come to New Zealand most of them became sheep farmers. And my father was working on the family farm at Waimarama, and at around about 1936 or 7, he left the farm under acrimonious circumstances and came into Hastings and went to work at the freezing works.

Was his father running the farm?

His father owned the farm. His father was Ernest Edgecumbe, and his mother had been Annie McKay who had died, but his stepmother was Agnes Frame.

He then met my mother, I think at a dance. My mother at the time was about eighteen; and they had very good friends that they did everything with, and they were all married within [a] very short space of time.

My mother was Betty Marion Growcott, and her parents were Bill Growcott … William Charles Growcott … and Ruth Butcher; so we’re tied up with the Butcher family too.

Now my grandfather, Bill, was born down in the West Coast in Rimu, and he was the eldest of eight children. His father was a gold miner with a claim down a shaft, and every fortnight he’d wash up the gold and cycle five miles into Hokitika to sell it. He also built a smithy, and he shoed horses on Saturdays. Sundays were reserved for church and family time. His mother, [chuckle] who was a nasty old [chuckle] woman, made oilskin coats for the workers at the Otira Tunnel. She made them from unbleached calico on a treadle sewing machine, and then once sewn a neighbour would oil them. She also made lambies for the men. These were long, loose flannel chemises to keep out the cold.

Granddad and his brother, Harry, were seventeen and eighteen when they decided to leave. They came to Hastings to learn butchery. They worked for a butcher in Hastings called JB Fletcher, who was well known at the time. A few years later Granddad bought his own butcher’s shop in Hastings, and he married Ruth.

Where was that butcher’s shop?

Down the far end of Heretaunga Street. D’you know where Fletcher’s butcher shop was? Further down from Tobins, so the shop was down in Heretaunga Street West.

I made a mistake before – my grandmother’s mother was Butcher. She [my grandmother] was Ruth Eldershaw.

So eventually the rest of the Growcott family left Rimu and decided to settle in Havelock North. My grandparents had seven children and my mother was the second eldest. It was quite a close family and I remember as a child going to my grandparents every Sunday for Sunday dinner. And all of us children would put on plays for the adults which was a lot of fun, especially as I was an only child; my elder cousin who I had a lot to do with was an only child; so having the chance to mix with all these cousins was a lot of fun.

Was Digby a cousin of yours?

No, Digby is a second cousin. Digby was my Uncle Walter’s grandson, so that’s sort of back on the Edgecumbe side.

Well your grandparents had the horse stud in Crosses Road, didn’t they?

Ngaroma. Well that was where we used to go on the Sunday nights. And that was built in 1937, and my mother was married from there in 1938. And not very long ago the people who bought that house were doing some relining of the garage or something like that, and they found a piece of wood tucked away inside the framework. And it had on it the date that the house was completed and the price that they had paid for it … that it had cost, and it was £1,100. And it was a big house. So yes, he owned a racehorse stud, which … I think he sort of felt himself … was quite an achievement for a boy from the …

Fast horses or slow horses?

Oh no, I think they were pretty fast. As children we weren’t allowed to go anywhere near the stallions because they were too dangerous. But my grandfather did have Shetland ponies there too, for all of us grandchildren to ride. So I sort of learnt to ride down there and loved it; and probably haven’t ridden for the last sixty-five years. [Chuckle]

So where were you living as a family at that stage?

My parents and I?


We actually lived just opposite my great grandmother in Ellison Road when I was little, and then during the war we had a property down in Ada Street, and my parents were growing potatoes. I’m not quite sure why this was considered part of the war effort, but it was. But the very first crop that they sowed they had a terrible flood; dreadful, dreadful winter; and they came out of it with absolutely no money at all – all the potatoes rotted.

But I do remember my grandfather, every Saturday would go into … was it Clarry Watson’s in Frederick Street in Hastings? They used to make their own sweets. He had a soft drink factory …

And it was CC Watson.

They also used to make their own sweets, and every Saturday my grandfather would do the rounds of all of us children with a bag of raspberry drops [chuckle] and peppermint … what were those other peppermint things?

Not blackballs?

Yeah – they did raspberry drops, blackballs and the big peppermint things too – I can’t remember their names. Anyway that was his Saturday morning ritual to just come around all of us which [chuckle] we all appreciated.

So you started school at Havelock North?

Mmm. Well, after Ada Street we shifted to a house in St Aubyn Street. I was going to Parkvale School – my very first year was at Parkvale School. By the end of that year my mother and her sister had decided to open a dress shop in Hastings – a very exclusive dress shop I might add, called Susan Brown. And they had a workshop out the back; they employed five girls out there, all on their sewing machines making all the clothes for the shop. And so if the ladies of Hawke’s Bay were off to the races, they went to Susan Brown because they knew that they would get a one-off dress, an exclusive. So they did become very popular, and they ran that shop for about, oh, ten years I suppose, and then my mother decided to take up golf; got very interested in that, and they closed the shop.

But at that time my cousin, whose mother was in business with my mother, was at school in Havelock North at St Luke’s, which was a little school in behind the present church, so I was also sent to school out here in Havelock at St Luke’s. The little schoolroom that we were in is now the Op Shop which they shifted, and it’s situated at the front of the property. And we had no more than six girls in each class; it was a girls’ school, although we had boys in the Primers, and Paul von Dadelszen was one of the boys. There was another boy called Ross Bush, whose father owned the grocery shop; I know that his father used to cure all his own bacon out the back of the shop, [we] used to love it.

So for that first year I was actually sent out to Havelock North to board with a lady up the top of Busby Hill, called Mrs Doily; because my mother and aunt were both going to be so busy that my cousin, Janice, and I both came out here and were boarding. So at that point there were two rooms – there was the Standards Room which is now the Op Shop, and there was another little room called the Green Room, which was where all the Primers went. And I think the Green Room is still there Frank, isn’t it?

Yes, it is, yes.

That didn’t get shifted or anything?


So it was a super little school, really lovely little school. And every day we had twenty minutes of chapel in the church before school. On Fridays Canon Weymouth, who was the clergyman there at the time, would come and take chapel; the rest of the week Mrs Miller, Frances Miller, who was the headmistress, would … I don’t know why she was the headmistress, there were only two teachers; one for the Primers and one for the Standards. Anyway, she would take chapel for the rest of the week. Canon Weymouth, who I can still see floating down from the Vicarage which in those days was up in Campbell Street; and he would come striding down through the paddock that is now part of Havelock North School, but at that point was just an empty paddock. So there was quite a bit of rivalry between Havelock North School and St Luke’s School, and lots of yelling over the fence; but I think in general we probably all got on okay. Frank was probably one of those that I almost used to yell across …

No, we were terrified of girls – they didn’t play a part in our lives.

So after that I went to Hastings Boys’ High … [at that time co-educational]

So did you do all your primary schooling at the Green Room?

At St Luke’s.

Oh! I didn’t realise that, I thought you’d only been there for a while.

No, no, I was at St Luke’s for the whole … I had my first year at Parkvale …

You’re a proper old girl of the Green Room.

In fact I left at the end of 1952, and Frances Miller, who was the person who held the school together, left to go to Queen Margaret’s I think, down in Christchurch. She went to a Christchurch school, one of the more prestigious ones. And shortly after she left the school kind of folded up. It probably struggled on for another three years maybe, I’m not too sure about that. But yes, the whole thing folded; and later on of course, the ground where the school was became St Luke’s Close – a little … what do you call it? A wee retirement settlement.

So then you went to Akina, which was a joint boys and girls …

In those days, Hastings High School. So I was there until the Hastings Girls’ High School started up; then I left and went to work at Furnware.

Did you play any sports at all?

Yes. I was in the girls First XI cricket. I played a lot of netball, did quite a lot of swimming, but probably cricket and netball were my two … Well, we had several cricket teams actually, the girls. But I was obviously good enough to make it to the First XI, and I loved cricket and still enjoy watching it, frustrating though it can be.

So you moved on to Furnware, where you started …

As a secretary; probably started as an office junior if the truth be known. And I was there for about ten years I suppose.

And Furnware – they used to make school chairs?

Their biggest money spinner at the time that I started there was actually kitchen units. And then soon after I started there they started making tubular furniture, and the school furniture was the main thing that they were making, tables and chairs. And they relied on Government contracts and … well, Education Board contracts, but then they were all Government anyway, weren’t they? So they had quite a large factory, and it was tucked in between Queen Street and Heretaunga Street in the block between Nelson Street and Karamu Road, and it took up probably about a quarter of that whole block.

So who was the brains behind Furnware?

The people who were running it, but my boss was Bruce Cowan.

So was he the man who owned it?

No, it was a publicly owned company and Bruce Cowan and Roy Skittrup were the joint Managing Directors, and people like old Barton Hobbs [and] Russell Pettigrew were directors; can’t remember the other directors at the time. But it was considered to be a good enough investment for my mother to buy shares in it at that time.

So ten years there.

Ten years there. By then I was married.

Well okay, so where did you meet your husband? His name was …

Edric Montgomery Gilmour. My parents were very keen on golf and they played at a little course way down Omahu Road, called Parkvale. I can’t think of the name of the road; anyway, it was a little nine hole course called Parkvale. And one evening they came home with this young man who was a young chemist, and he was doing a bit of locum work in the area. He was from Christchurch; and they brought Ed home for tea; they’d played golf with him that day. And he was just sort of new to the area and he was doing a locum for the chemist down the road from us, called Ron Wilson. So Ed came to our place with my parents for tea that night, and he never carried on to anywhere else. [Chuckles] [He] stayed in Hastings and got a permanent job with Mate Richardson, who owned a chemist shop in Heretaunga Street, up the King Street end.

Was he Graham’s father?

Graham’s father.


Máté actually. [Pronounces Matty] Also, Máté is really a Croatian name, so he was always known as Mate, but he probably was Croatian. I must ask Graham some time actually. ‘Cause he was Máté. So he’d worked for Mate for about four years, and then he got a job out here in Havelock North with Donald Syme. Don was wanting to retire from pharmacy and … run his orchard, was it?

Yes, he had a peach orchard.

Anyway, he was a bit sick of pharmacy so he employed Ed as a manager. And we got married; and the first time I ever went to Taupo was in a little Morris 8 car that Ed had bought, and we went to Rotorua for our honeymoon. So that was my first ever trip on the Taupo road, which at that stage was half pumice, all corrugations; so the little Morris 8 car – by the time we got to the other end we were pretty full of dust. [Chuckles]

And so Ed carried on with the pharmacy in the village?

Mm-hm. I was still working for Furnware at that time – or it was called Furniture & Woodware in those days.

And then children?

We were married six years before our first son, Peter, was born. Two years later came Jo … Joanne, and then three and a half years after that was Simon. And Simon fulfilled all Ed’s dreams. He was the child who was keen on golf and very good at it, he was the fisherman of the family which was a passion of Ed’s and became a passion of Simon’s and still is to this day. We had lots of family holidays that involved fishing, and Simon and Ed would go off together with their rods while the other children and I lay around the beach [chuckle] and did all kinds of things like that. Family holidays were always a lot of fun; we did lots of camping. I have one particular memory of camping right on the beach at Opotiki in an old – what do you call those tents with the frames? The old framed tent anyway. And we were camped under a pohutukawa tree, and – lots of electrical storms in the Bay of Plenty – and we’d only just arrived, and Ed and Peter had pitched the tent. There was a storm and the tree above the tent was struck by lightning and caught fire, which caused a lot of amusement with the children. [Chuckle] So there were lots of holidays like that; many holidays over in Taupo with two other families; and Christmases were spent a lot of the time with two other families.

It was really very much a family time; there was [were] three other families that came.

Yes, there were.

You know, those mainly were the Coopers and the Carrans.

Yes, exactly. So there were lots of boating holidays in those days ‘cause the Carrans owned a fizz boat; so all the children learned to waterski and became very proficient, Simon in particular, [chuckle] once again. He’s always been pretty sporty.

And during this period of time you still maintained your golf interest and became pretty good at it, didn’t you? Those days you were playing for Bridge Pa?

Bridge Pa. I took up golf when Simon, my youngest child, went to school in 1977. And I loved it; played lots of days a week, probably at least three days a week, and did become reasonably proficient; managed to struggle to single figures for a short time, but played on a ten handicap for a long, long time which on worldwide standards is considered pretty good. Eventually I became the paid Secretary of the golf club, and that was really when my golf started going downhill, because I was too much in the office and not enough on the golf course.

Later on you were secretary for our local MP [Member of Parliament] … namely, Mr Jeff Whittaker.

Jeff Whittaker. That was at the time that Ed and I divorced. It then became necessary for me to earn a living so Jeff Whittaker offered me a job; he was newly elected MP for Hastings, as the electorate was known at the time. And he offered me the job of Electorate Secretary, which was a lot of fun and very enlightening; and man oh man! Could I tell you a few stories about Winston Peters, who’s now going to be running our country for the next six weeks. Oh! Yes, boy oh boy! Jeff used to ring me at times at eleven in the morning with some hair-raising tales about sharing the lift with Winston.

Now coming back to the children, what are they doing when they left school?

When Peter left school he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. He went to work for you, Frank, on the orchard; then he actually went to Australia. Actually he enjoyed his time with you, and what was the boy Scott?


Adam Scott – he became very friendly with him. But he was still only eighteen … not quite nineteen … when he decided to go to Australia. So off he went with a friend; the two of them went off to Australia and were doing all kinds of jobs. When he came back about five years later, he set up his own horticultural business, pruning and picking, and all that kind of thing. But he’d always been friendly through his school years with a young boy called Thad Lawrence, who was Bruno Lawrence’s son, and through the connections with Bruno, Peter shifted up to Auckland and became a gaffer on a TV programme at the time, called … what was that … the Warrior Princess … what was her name? Zena, Warrior Princess. So he became a gaffer on that. And after a while he started buying his own lighting trucks, and he now owns seven lighting trucks that work for him rather than him working for them these days. So he’s now married and has five boys, the last of whom were twins that were supposed to be one girl, but turned out to be two more boys.

All their names?

The eldest boy is Thad, and he was born while Peter was in Australia. He lives in Nelson; he’s now twenty-nine years old, and he has an adopted son with his wife Angela, from her first relationship; he has this boy called Hayden who takes after Peter in so many ways … in his work ethic; in everything he does … he’s a very hard working young man. And the three children that he had with Angela are Toby, who is now in seventh form at school, he’s seventeen; and the twins have just started high school. They’ve just turned fourteen in April, and their names are Felix and Jasper.

Then Jo?

So Jo, after she left school, also did secretarial work and has worked for accountants all her life. She worked for Coopers & Lybrand in Hastings for quite a few years, and then she worked for Brown Webb & Co. And it was while she was there that she decided to go to England. She was in a relationship that she wasn’t happy about, and neither was I. Simon by that stage had already gone to England so she went to England to join him. Once again went to work in London for accountancy firms, and ended up marrying Simon’s friend, James, who was in London also, with Simon. And they have two boys, Henry who is now twenty, and Max who is still at school, is coming up to eighteen – he’s seventeen at the moment. And Jo is still working for a firm of accountants in Newmarket in Auckland. James, unfortunately twelve years ago, had a major car accident; so he at the time was working for Peter in the lighting industry, but he now works for a firm who [which] does lighting for events; he’s restricted in what he can do, so he works installing … doing all the lighting.

Simon also went to work for Frank after he left school, and I think then he also worked for Pete when he formed his horticultural gang. But he didn’t enjoy that very much, and at the time he had a dear little girlfriend called Belinda, who was very strict with Simon. They had decided they would go to England – she had the ambition to go; Simon had to be prodded and jolted – and Belinda controlled the purse strings until they finally had enough money to go England. Simon was allowed six cans of beer a week – he could either drink them all at once on the one day, or he could make them last the week. [Chuckle] I don’t know which he chose to do most of the time, but anyway, that was all thanks to Belinda.

And James Bruce, who later became Jo’s husband, was Simon’s very close friend, and he went with Simon and Belinda to England. And Simon worked at various things; he worked for a firm called the Chelsea Gardener, and they had lots of interesting jobs. At one stage they were doing garden construction work for Sean Connery; they had lots of [cough] interesting clients, because the Chelsea Gardener was sort of very much an upmarket gardening company. He then started working for a builder, but the building industry took a bit of a downturn in the UK [United Kingdom] some years ago, probably ‘bout the time of the sharemarket crash; so for the last ‘bout eight years he’s been working for a firm … he does construction-type work … for a firm that sets up exhibitions all round Europe; and at the moment he’s down in Farnborough, setting up for the Farnborough Air Show. So that will take three weeks. He’s just come back from doing something in Amsterdam, and he sets up for things like the Paris Air Show and all those sort of things, so he’s got an interesting job at the moment. But he works hard; he works very long hours; but you know, it’s proving to be quite lucrative for him.

That pretty well covers the family, Dianne. Now we’ll start on your next adventure …

Right, well, in 1992 I married Keith.

Keith who?

[Chuckle] Keith Carran; and my whole life changed. My whole life changed. And I changed; I went from being a quiet little mouse – Keith kind of … taught me how to fly.


And it turned into a life of lots of travel, lots of adventure, just doing stuff all the time. And we really haven’t looked back since.

I know you’ve done a lot of travelling ..?

I had to learn how to ski when I was fifty-two years old, because Keith was a mad keen skier; and so I learnt to ski also, which at fifty-two took some doing. But we’ve skied all over the world; we’ve golfed all over the world.

You have driven the campervan between fishing spots ..?

Yes, so that Keith …

So that Keith didn’t haven’t to walk back to recover it.

[Chuckles] And so that he can spot fish along the way. One time I drove along the canals down in Tekapo, and Keith was hanging off the side so that he could spot the fish and I could screech to a halt.

So you never know – until you turn the page in the book, you don’t know how the story’s going to unfold.

No, you don’t.

It’s wonderful. And so all those other activities, the golfing trips and Croatia … you went to Croatia, didn’t you?

We did.

And your visits over to see Susan, Keith’s daughter.

And Simon; Keith’s daughter, Susan, and Simon, both in London.

And still maintained your golfing interests. And then you played another game …

Mahjong. So …

That’s become a habit, or a fun thing?

It’s a fun thing to do once a week, and we’ve got a group of eleven in our mahjong group, and it’s just become a nice thing to do. And more contacts, too.

There were a few other things we used to do going back and that was the Food & Wine Society …

I’ve got a photo there, Frank, of that. Yes …

We all belonged to that, and that was a lot of fun, except it was never about the quality of the wine; [chuckle] it always seemed to be about the …

Quantity …

quantity of wine. The functions we had under the willows out at Tim’s Bend, and …


Happy times …

There was one dress up dinner we did, didn’t we? With the white table cloths and everything all under the trees down at the river.

Then there was the golfing tours ..?


… in New Zealand. They were a lot of fun.

But we all appreciated the fact that you came along, Frank.

[Chuckle] So, came the time when you sold Simla Avenue; where did you move to?

I moved into … Jo, my daughter Jo and I … moved into a little place in Joll Road that a man called Jack Hickson … in the back there. He built about half a dozen little houses in the back in Joll Road, and Jo and I shifted in to one of those. And then I shifted up into Hikanui Drive; Keith had built this house that we’re still in, and he’d been here about six months and I shifted up here as well.

And you’ve been here for …?

Well, Keith’s been here for twenty-seven years, we’ve been married twenty-six.

When I was selling real estate I ran into the name Edgecumbe down Murdoch Road there was a farm down there that used to be owned by …

By Walter Edgecumbe. He was my grandfather’s brother. He’s Digby’s grandfather. So Uncle Walter owned racehorses, as well as … I don’t know what else he did. He drank a lot, I know that. But the Edgecumbe family have always owned … right through the ages, way way back … have always named one of their racehorses Cotehele, after the original manor house in Cornwall. So there’s always been a Cotehele owned by the Edgecumbe family. And Uncle Water had one of them, which Digby just reminded me of at Doug’s funeral.

Well then Bill Growcott … was he your mother’s brother?

One of them …

Young Bill.

Yes. Young Bill Growcott was … there was Joyce, my mother’s eldest sister; then my mother; then there was Bill Growcott; then there was Bruce; then there was another brother Douglas, always called Tiny; and then there were two girls who brought up the rear, called Shirley and Ruth … young Ruth, who was always called Bub.

One lovely thing I always remember about my grandfather is that I used to go and stay with them a lot, because my parents would go away on holiday and leave me with my grandparents. Every morning at six-thirty my grandfather would come in to the bedroom with a cup of tea and a slice of thin brown bread and butter. Now, people don’t know about thin brown bread and butter any more because you buy your bread sliced, but in those days you would butter the bread and then thinly, thinly, thinly cut a slice off. And he always brought me that every morning when I was staying there. That and the fact that we used to sit around the radio and listen to all those wonderful English comedy radio programmes … Much-Binding-in-the-Marsh, and … oh, I forget now, but I will always remember my grandmother’s cackle of a laugh as we sat around.

But also my grandfather never forgot his roots. I think he actually was one of those that formed the West Coasters Club in Hastings. And they met regularly down in a hall in St Aubyn Street, and my cousin Janice and I would often be taken along and that was where we learned to dance the Veleta and the …

Destiny Waltz …

… yeah, all those things.

Two-step …

We all learnt how to dance there.

Gypsy Tap, and Foxtrot, and Quickstep …

My grandfather was a great family man; he was devoted to my grandmother, and he used to always say, “We’ve been sweethearts for sixty-seven years.” She died in her mid-eighties, but he kept on going ‘til he was ninety-seven. He had also worked at the freezing works for some of his time, and my father was put in charge of the beef house part-way through his time there. Prior to that my grandfather had been in charge of the beef house. Yes – I’ve already said that he was born in Rimu, but yeah, he just never forgot that that was where he’d originated.

It’s surprising how many people migrated from the coast to …

To Hawke’s Bay, Hastings in particular.

The Longleys; the headmaster of the high school – he was from the West; they all were from the West Coast.

The Barhams you mean?

Yes. He grew up on the coast.

Well, he was sort of connected to Ed in a way, ‘cause Ed’s aunt was the sister to David Barham’s grandmother. And wasn’t there something tied up about Rhodesia there too?

There could’ve been, actually. Families either came to the West Coast when they landed and stayed there, and there was work in the mines or in the forest; or you landed at Lyttelton or Wellington or Auckland …

Or a few in Napier; not very many came to Napier, but the McKays did.

All right. Well, I think probably, Dianne, unless you can think of something else … what are you smiling about?

I’m just smiling about something that my cousin had written to me. She said Gran … my grandmother … never got her licence, but she used to drive from Havelock to Hastings every Wednesday morning to buy the week’s groceries, in a Humber Super Snipe. [Chuckle] She had no licence. Apparently she thought it wasn’t necessary in those days – if you lived only a certain distance from town you were allowed to drive. I don’t think she got that right, but anyway …

She was never caught!

She was never caught, no, [chuckle] so she must’ve driven fairly cautiously.

Oh yes – all those years that I came out to Havelock – I used to bike from St Aubyn Street out here, apart from that year that I boarded in Havelock – I used to bike out from St Aubyn Street. And while my cousin Janice was still going – she’s five years older than me – but while she was still going to St Luke’s School, sometimes we would get the bus. And she had a little dog, a little black and white cocker spaniel called Buster. Oh no – it was the year that we were boarding with Mrs Doily – we used to go out on a bus on a Monday morning and come back on the bus on a Friday afternoon, and every Friday afternoon Buster would be there at the bus waiting for us.

Is that right?

He never used to go down any other day but he was always waiting on Fridays. Amazing what dogs know.

You were talking about Canon Weymouth – what a straight up man he was with his little moustache …

And I can remember him striding down through that paddock, and on a Friday afternoon he would come down to teach us Scripture; always taught scripture on a Friday afternoon, so for that he would be dressed in his cassock and the thing with the skirt would be swinging away [chuckle] as he strode down through the paddock.

All right – well I think that’s probably covered it, so thank you, Dianne, thank you.

Thank you, Frank.


Dianne’s going to tell us some of the things she forgot to tell me. Thank you.

I forgot to mention that when Simon was in London he met Natalie Sprott, a girl from Plymouth who was familiar with our family through the Mt Edgecumbe House being on Plymouth Sound. But they married in Plymouth and they live in London. Natalie went to work for the Metropolitan Police on the front line; but however, she found that that was not quite what she was suited to and she now works in HR [Human Resources] … still with the Metropolitan Police. But she and Simon have now been married for twenty-one years. They live near Wembley … in between Wembley and Harrow in London; they have a nice house, and a very nice marriage.

Well that’s lovely. Thank you, Dianne.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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