Craigie, Neil Robert Andrew & Judith Marion Interview
Today is the 18th July 2017. I’m interviewing Neil & Judith Craigie. Neil is a retired company manager, and Judith has been in school administration. They’re going to tell me about their family, and the delightful area they live in, Waipatiki. Thank you, Neil – would you like to start off?
Yeah … hi, I’m Neil Craigie. I was born in 1947, and lived in Hastings all my school life; went to Raureka School and then to Hastings Boys’ High School and Hastings Intermediate. And then when I left school I worked for Arataki Apiaries for a number of years because my dad had been a beekeeper and we have bees out here at Waipatiki. I’d always had a fascination for bees and have still got hives of my own.
So after Arataki I did a short period of time down the South Island managing a beekeeping operation down there, until we got wiped out with American foulbrood and I came back to Hawke’s Bay. It was at that point I went into the agricultural industry in the weed-spraying side of it, with Len Smith Limited. I did five years with Smithy, and learnt the ins and outs of the stock and station industry, the ins and outs of all sorts of things in the farming community in Hawke’s Bay, with a combination of weed-spraying and sheep dipping; got to know most of the farmers, from an area of Porangahau right through to Putere, and right through to the ranges including all the Lands & Survey blocks.
So after I left Len’s with chemical poisoning – which was not surprising in those days ‘cause we didn’t read labels, we just bathed in the stuff, and rolled smokes with all sorts of horrible stuff all over them. I was forced to leave the job; Mr Smith in his wisdom or otherwise, wanted me to stay for the rest of the season, and the doctor told me, if I don’t leave, I die.
So I went then with a company called Farmers’ Industries Limited. They were attached to what was in those days Hawke’s Bay Trading Society, which were the absolute black sheep of the stock and station industry; nobody wanted to know them. So I started with them and after a period of time we became East Coast Trading Society after we started a branch in Dannevirke, and latterly bought out a branch of a trading society in Masterton. So we became East Coast Trading Society, and at that point … I started working for them, not Farmers’ Industries … and became Ag Chem [Agricultural Chemicals] Manager; held this position for probably ten years until such a stage I was shifted to Masterton as branch manager – at twenty-three, twenty-four, I went to Masterton as branch manager.
I obviously had staff down there that had been there for a number of years, and this little short red-haired fellow arrived here from Hastings to sort out something that was running at a loss all the time. And obviously there was a fair bit of skin and hair flew all over the place, but we got it sorted out after having to attend two directors’ meetings to justify my removal of staff and forfeiting rebates of directors, we got it sorted out in the Wairarapa.
When they asked me to shift to Gisborne to do the same thing in Gisborne, and I’d lived in seven houses in eleven years, I said, “No”, and stayed put. Drove a frozen foods truck around Napier for twelve months, delivering pies and ice-creams, and really absolutely enjoyed it – had an absolute ball. Brain in neutral, bum in gear was the best thing that could’ve ever happened.
Halfway through this period of time, Ray Gordon from Bayer New Zealand rang me and said, “You’re working for me now.” And I went, “No, I am not.” [He] said, “Yes, you are”, so we had quite a stoush over the phone, and I started work for him on the 1st of January of the following year when he took over as Divisional Manager, Veterinary Division for New Zealand. Stayed with them for too many years; got absolutely bored out of my cotton pickin’ tree and went into business on my own, roofing. Sounds crazy, putting rooves and fascia on houses – new and old houses – re-roofing all sorts of things. Due to a certain company in Hastings called Access Homes that went broke, we also lost a lot of money so I wound the business up, and from then on I went building houses … yeah, pottered around a bit.
And then I … well, I had a back mishap, and ended up at Mitre 10 in Taradale in the days when it was Mitre 10 owned by the Ricketts. [Scott & Ricketts] Quite enjoyed that, but that was sort of dead end; and Keith Robinson of Baypak got hold of me and I went and managed Baypak for the last eight years of my working life. That was intriguing … interesting; yes, it was a good way to retire. I retired and came out to Waipatiki; we were living here at the time; we’d shifted out here in 1994 to live permanently. I came out here and spent two and a half years with Bill Perry at the camp doing all sorts of odd jobs for Bill.
Okay. Now you’ve missed out all the important things. Your parents – where they came from; where you grew up; where you went to school; did you play any sports, and all those things. How did you go to school? Did you ride a bike? It’s all the little things that we don’t think are that important.
Okay, well both my parents were immigrants. My father came from Scotland in 1926. Considering Scotland after World War I – there was very little work. His father had died on a farm where he would be classed in New Zealand as a stock manager. He died of a heart attack. The croft they live[d] in we have since been back and found, but that croft went with the job. So they shifted into a place called Laurencekirk from Durris, which was only another ten miles down the road. And Uncle Bill and Uncle Jimmy came out to New Zealand; Uncle Bill was with the Kincardine Constabulary, which was based in Banchory, and he came out and joined the New Zealand Police. Jimmy came out and worked on Olrig Station, and when Dad and his mother and his sister came out in 1926, Dad worked on Whanakino Station for a number of years. And Mum had a step-father, Davey Davis, that [who] had a farm called Riverview at Mangatahi. So that’s how my dad met my mum.
And then he actually ended up driving for Borthwick’s doing the bobby calf run around Hastings, Napier and Waipawa and taking the calves to Pakipak [Pakipaki] prior to the ’31 earthquake. But he was heading with a load down to Poukawa and he picked my mother up hitchhiking, ’cause she was teaching at Poukawa School by that stage. Yeah, so they got married in 1937, and bought a house in Pepper Street in Hastings and stayed there for the rest of their … Dad died there; Mum had moved out before she died, but only recently. So yeah, that’s where they lived.
There’s five in our family; there’s three sisters, Jennifer, Janet and Judith, then I came along; I had a spout on, so I sort of stuffed things up a bit [quiet chuckle] ’cause I was meant to be Josephine Roberta, but that didn’t work – they had to change the name. There was four and a half years between Jennifer and Janet, and then they got the formula right and we started popping out every eighteen months. [Chuckles] And as I say, I came along with a spout on, and then my little brother came along eighteen months later; and then they worked out how to stop it, so that was a bonus.
At that stage we all went to Raureka School. We walked to school. This was 811 Pepper Street; we were next to the big green house that Percy Atkins had that’s Art Deco, and all over the world … well that house is a big fake. He was a horse trainer and a jockey. Well that house is a big fake ‘cause it’s on four foot six piles – it looks like it’s a mansion, but it’s on four foot six piles. Yeah. [Chuckle] Us kids used to run round underneath it all the time.
So we went to Raureka and then I went on to Hastings Intermediate. The girls all actually stayed at Raureka ‘cause it went to Standard 6, and then went on to … Jennifer was first year at what was Hastings High School, and the second year she was at Hastings Girls’ High under Connie Miller. I only picked her name up the other day ‘cause I read something about her … Constance Miller. Janet went there; Judith went there; I went to Hastings Boys’ High School to eat my lunch. I actually hated Intermediate; I think the worst thing that ever happened to me was Intermediate, because we got totally disjointed at Intermediate and classes where you had mates got split up. And I absolutely hated it.
I went on to high school – I took a professional course because my parents said, “He’s capable of doing professional.” So I learnt ten words of French, and I learnt how to do a few crazy science things, [chuckle] and I ate my lunch. And I was very, very glad to leave school. That actually caused the biggest argument that my parents ever, ever had. My mother was born in Australia, and Father always referred to her as ‘the Great Australian Bight’.
She came to New Zealand when she was two. [Chuckle] They had an absolute … you would call it a love-hate relationship … they loved to hate and hated to love. Father was grossly oversexed and so was Mother, [quiet chuckle] but that’s another side issue. Anyway, [chuckle] at the end of the day, I came home one day from school and said, “I’ve done a school holidays out at Arataki with Percy Berry.” Percy Berry had bees; my dad at that stage had sold his. He’d got to a hundred and ten hives and was due to do a spring split, they call it now; and he would have been a commercial bee keeper, but because we had five kids and my mother was a school teacher and extremely conservative in some ways, she wouldn’t let him do it. So he stayed where he was at the freezing works for twenty-seven years. And Dad had said to me, “If you can find a full-time job, I won’t stop you”, ‘cause he knew I hated school. So I went out to Percy Berry on my push bike, had a talk to him and he said, “You can start in the morning.” So I came home and I said to Dad, “I have a full-time job.” He said, “Where?” I said, “Arataki.” He said, “I thought you’d go there.” So he says, “If I ring up Perce …” ‘cause they knew each other, along with Bill Ashcroft and all the other beekeepers – yeah; George Gordon – yeah, yeah yeah, know all those guys. He said, “If I ring Percy, he’ll confirm this?” I went, “Yeah, yeah.” He says, “’Cause you’ve been a cunning little toad all your bloody life, and you ain’t gonna change.” [Chuckles] So he rang up Percy Berry and Percy said, “I told the boy to start in the morning.” So I actually – the parents started arguing but I just went and packed me [my] bags – and I actually left home, left school and left town in one day. I left school; James Edward Tier was the headmaster – said I was wasted, I was [?]; I got a big long lecture, and I just looked him in the eye – I says, “Well, I ain’t stayin’, mate!” And I went. I left home by packing all my gear. Mother wouldn’t help: she just stood there and fumed. And I thought, ‘Well, I don’t know what I’ll do from here on in, but I’m on my way.’
And I went and lived in Golden Springs Motor Camp at Reporoa, half-way between Rotorua and Taupo, on the Waikato River, ‘cause Arataki were shifting bees from all through the Taranaki/Wanganui area, over to there. So I started over there with adult men – and I mean adult men, not sort of teenagers or anything – and I learnt a lot, very fast, no rough edges. And I came home after fourteen months with a big, full-chisel beard, and long hair down to my shoulders. I hadn’t been home and I hadn’t been in touch with home. And I knocked on the door – I thought, ‘I’d better go and see the olds’ – I knocked on the door and the mother said to me, “Who the bloody hell are you?” And I said, “Well, I’m your son.” She said, “Well, you go round to Cliff Stark round the corner and get your hair cut and washed and tidied up before you set a foot inside this house!” [Chuckles]
So yeah – parents and I sort of made up to a degree. Father by this time had been blind for a number of years. He was difficult; he was drinking extremely heavily, and was always drinking heavily as long as I can remember. He always … if I’d done something, he’d done it. So if I’d said I’d climbed Mt Everest, he’d have been there before me, you know – he just couldn’t help it. And so he and I just sort of … yeah, we just didn’t gel … never gelled.
Two weeks before he died he was in hospital. I went up to see him – dutiful son. I was married by this stage with a child, and I went up to see him. And then one night he said to me, “That you, boy?” And I went “Yep.” He said, “I want you to do something for me.” I said, “Well, what’s that?” I want you to get Le Bon.” I said, “Yeah.” (Le Bon Helleur, the solicitor). “I want you to get Le Bon.” I said, “What do you want Le Bon …?” “I’m changing me [my] will.” I said, “What are you doing this for, Dad?” “That mother of yours and that sister of yours were sitting here cackling, waiting for me to die, so they’re not getting a cracker!” All right. “Look, Dad – they will never accept your will on the condition …” “They’ll do as they’re bloody well told. Get …” Oh, jeez!
So the nurse came in and they had to give him a sedative to quieten him down. I never got Le Bon, because I went up the next night and he sort of said, “You got that solicitor organised?” And I went, ” Yes, Dad.” I knew he was on his way out. And he let out a rattle, and I sang out to Kit van Asch’s wife, “I think he’s croaked.” And she said, “Neil, cut it out; that’s not fair.” I said, “Well, he ain’t breathing no more.” So I sat there when he died.
Kip van Asch’s wife … where ..?
Kit. They were … used to [have] Craggy Range [Winery].
Where do they fit into the picture?
Oh, they were just people I knew from weed-spraying, beekeeping.
Kit would never allow a dog in the house, and whenever he came in … Margaret had a golden lab; [labrador] she used to have to shoo it outside before he …
Yeah, that sounds like Kit. I haven’t seen him for years and years and years.
So that’s when Dad died. My whole family was pretty disjointed at that stage because my eldest sister had shifted back from Christchurch with her husband and two kids, and they had sort of taken over a big part of mother’s life and the bach at Waipatiki. Prior to her coming back, I had leased our bach off mother at $1 a year, and I paid all the expenses to make sure it stayed in the family, which was always my objective. Mum knew that there was going to be grief and could see it coming so we went to Robin Bell – Bisson, Moss, Robertshaw [Solicitors] – and had a discussion with him. And he came up with the system of … because Mum was still a hundred per cent capable … doing it right there and then we went into a joint ownership. I paid the legal fees, and paid her $200 or something so money transacted, and we made it into joint ownership. So we never told the rest of the family ‘cause there was no point in telling the rest of the family; it was a private sort of a thing.
Anyway, the eldest sister found out by doing the same as I probably would’ve done if I’d smelled a rat – going to the Lands and Deeds Office and checking on the titles and – hullo! It said NRA and PW Craigie own the place. So that was sort of the stone end of that member of the family.
When Mum died, which was a number of years later – she did live after dad … she did live for quite a period of time – my younger brother, who’s now deceased, he sort of basically said, “Oh! You’ll sell the bloody thing now.” Well, I’m still sitting in it. I never sold it and never was going to.
Now, just going back, you were married?
What was the name of your first wife?
Janet … Jan. She was Jan Thompsett from Wellington. We had two children – one was born in Masterton and one was born in Hastings Hospital. Kirsten is still living in Napier; she has two kiddies. Emma lives in Wellington, in Crofton Downs I think they call the area; she’s got two kiddies. Emma was brought up by her mother. After the marriage broke up – Kirsten was only six when the marriage broke up – and we don’t need to go into the reasons for the marriage breaking up, but I wasn’t a good boy, I can tell you that for real. Man has always got reasons. Kirsten made such a mess of her mother’s life and her sister’s life; I got the phone call one night, “You can have this kid!”
Judith: You haven’t said why.
Neil: Oh, yeah, yeah – Kirsten was actually born deaf, so she was a handful, and still is a handful and will always be a handful. [Chuckle]
What age is she now?
Neil: She’s forty-five, forty-six. She … and anyhow, that’s another issue, but her deafness was a problem – I know that. She speaks very well because Dad spent a lot of … lot of hours putting words … he used to use rolls of toilet paper and split words up with a felt-tipped pen, and tear ‘em off in sections and then put ‘em together. Her diction is – not deaf, but it’s quite good; got the odd word comes out that you go, ‘Uh oh – she’s deaf.’ But she plays on it. But anyway, Kirsten’s Kirsten.
So I basically brought Kirsten up, all the way through. And the last thing a single man wanted was a six-year-old kid in his hip pocket, because the world was his oyster, and all of a sudden the shell broke and there was no oyster left. So I spent a period of time with another lady for about four or five years; and that didn’t work, mainly because her kids and Kirsten fought like hell. So at the end of the day I was on my own for some time, and I met Judith. I’d known Judith since she was thirteen when her family bought a beach bach at Waipatiki. I was the horrible little Craigie boy down the road that nobody …
Judith: He was!
Neil: … nobody wanted to know.
Judith: Nobody. Oh, the Craigie boys were shockers!
You ended up looking after him?
Neil: Dad had – many years ago – had seen an article somewhere about shooting a line gun out to sea with black blasting powder. He’d been a firewood contractor during the war, and used blasting powder for blowing logs and all sorts, so he had to have one of these. So he had it made at the freezing works, and they turned it out of whatever pipe they did. Well, the first one they blew to pieces ‘cause they overcharged it; they turned it inside out. So anyway, he had a decent one made, and we had that line gun – I don’t know where it is now, I think somebody got rid of it. But we had that line gun for years. And New Year’s Eve at Waipatiki, it was mandatory that we stoked this thing up and let it go off at midnight, right? That was cool, there was never a problem with it. It was one helluva bang. But – my little brother decided this particular year that he would get a whole heap of little stones; so he collected little stones off the beach, and when nobody was lookin’ … we’d packed her up and got her ready in the daylight; it was already just to light the fuse … he filled her up with stones. They went a hell of a long way up in the air ‘cause they were still rainin’ down for ages afterwards on the New Year’s Eve party.
Neil: So I met Judith. We had friends staying here and I needed somebody to make the fourth hand for 500. [Card game] So I went up and got her and she came down and we played 500, and we’ve been together ever since. So we’ve been together for … we’ve been married for twenty-seven years this year and we’ve probably been together close to twenty-eight years. Been through a lot of trials and tribulations with her family until …
Judith: Oh, they knew that horrible little [speaking together] Craigie down the road too. [Chuckle]
Neil: They didn’t want us … Her dad was very sick with Hodgkinson’s Disease, and he finally died; and her mother, who was so anti-me it didn’t matter, turned a switch. And Judith – when I talked about this the other day, it was just like a switch turned; one day I was … well, the smallest horriblest little red-headed Craigie kid from Waipatiki; next thing I was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Judith: The day Dad died … day Dad died.
Neil: Became the greatest thing since sliced bread, and until she died …
Judith: Shed this world of him.
Neil: It was just crazy. Well, Keith was dying for a long time so everybody was well and truly prepared, but nothing was you know … dot the “i”s, cross the “t”s? And I sort of stepped in and dotted the “i”s and crossed the “t”s, and from that day on …
So that’s how Judith and I met, and as I say, we shifted out here in ’94, permanently, after coming out Friday night and going home Monday morning moaning like hell – like, “We’ve got to go back to bloody town again.”
Neil: So we spent one wet weekend – and I can still remember it – in our place, or it was her place actually, in Morris Spence Avenue. And it was raining, and I said, “I’m sick of mowing lawns”, ‘cause I was mowing two lots of lawns at Waipatiki and two lots of lawns in town on and off, and I said, “We’ve got to get rid of something.” She said, “Well, you won’t sell the bach, will you?” I went, “Nah!” So we sold Morris Spence and we shifted out here in ’94 …
Judith: Sold his house.
Neil: … sold my house and we shifted out here in October ’94; lived next door for six or eight months until we rebuilt. And the house has still got pretty much the same footprint and uses pretty much the same materials, except modern, obviously, to try and keep the thing looking like Waipatiki. And my Waipatiki thing is to keep Waipatiki looking like Waipatiki.
Inside it’s like a modern home, isn’t it?
Neil: Yeah, it is. But outside, if you walk around outside you wouldn’t … yeah.
So there was obviously lots of other things you did as well. Did you do some building at all in your life?
Judith: Yes, he did have a stint in between jobs …
Neil: Yeah, I worked … yeah, between jobs I worked for twelve months with Alan McLean who’s a builder in Napier, and we did John Matthews’ house up on Selwyn Road. Well, John Matthews’ house was one of those houses that nobody else would touch; you couldn’t price it; you couldn’t quote it; we did it on charge up, because for the first four months we dug holes down a bank.
Judith: Pole house.
Neil: The front row of poles were three metres into hard, and there was about six hundred of soft; and they were a metre square and we dug them by hand ‘cause we couldn’t get a digger down there. We ended up employing the Napier Boys’ High School 1st XV on the weekends to dig the last ones that weren’t so big, and weren’t so hard to do. Mac was on that house for all but two years; I was on it for about fourteen or fifteen months.
So you obviously learnt some building skills …
Judith: He had a mate who was …
Neil: I had a mate – well, he’s Rex White’s son from Taradale … White’s of Taradale, old drapery shop that used to be in Taradale.
Judith: They had the house next door.
Neil: They had the next door property, and Steve had had gammy legs and that sort of thing, so he sort of … yeah, he’s had strokes since, and …
Judith: He’d had a heart operation, so it was the … [chuckle]
Neil: It was the blind leading the blind, but between us, and then with a bit of help from a few other people we got the …
Judith: Kids’d come home, or neighbours’d lend a hand …
Neil: Neighbours’d give us a hand, so we got it built.
Can I talk about Mum just a little bit? Mum came out to New Zealand when she was two years old, from Australia. She was born in Sydney for what it’s worth. Her father, her mother and her sister … to get on a boat to come, I think it was the old ‘Wanganella’ … think it was from memory … to come across to New Zealand. When they got to the wharf, her dad turned on his heel and walked the other way, and jumped on another ship and went to America.
Judith: It’s all in that book.
Neil: He left them in the lurch.
Neil: So she came to Wellington, and she stayed in Wellington with Auntie Margaret and … her family name was Sage. And there’s a Sage’s Lane in Wellington that was named after my mum’s grandfather who was a sailmaker. And that’s the Sage’s Lane in Wellington. And there’s a girl Sage that’s in Parliament, that I’m sure she’s related – Eugenie, I think.
There’s a Sage family in Havelock [North] …
That’s right, they’re related. They’re cousins.
George Sage …
George and Isobel, and Robin and Nicky and … can’t remember.
Judith: Who’s the one that made these – he was a Sage, wasn’t she?
Neil: No. No, no, no, no, he’s a Sturm.
That’s another family.
Yeah, well Audrey, one of Mum’s cousins, married Len Sturm, that had Ramage’s in Napier.
Judith: No, that was Len Gerken.
Neil: Gerken. She married Gerken, but she was married to a Sturm before that.
So yeah, Mum came out here and she went – her mother became the housekeeper for Davey Davis at Riverview at Mangatahi. There’s a little side issue – the kowhai trees that are all growing round here – the seed came from Mangatahi. When Mum was a little girl she put them in an envelope and always kept them, and when we got this place she wanted to plant them. Took a lot of finding out on how to grow kowhai trees if they don’t go through a bird. Yeah – sandpaper and also the boiling water; but it was an old Māori guy that told me how to do it. So every kowhai tree that’s on this place, and most of them are self-sown now, came from Mangatahi originally.
So Mum was at Mangatahi School, and after Davey Davis went broke, probably in about 1928, ‘29 – severe drought. Droughts that … like, don’t talk to me about global warming; when the dust was wearing the fences away and they were falling over … So global warming’s one thing; maybe I call it ‘accelerated drought conditions’, all right? Like accelerated creek destruction – yeah, that’s another set of rules.
Anyway, Davey Davis and her mother … Mum always wished he would never marry her, but they did get married. And they shifted into Mahora for a while, and Mum did her schooling at Napier Girls’ High School.
There’s a little story there; when Kirsten – I had to get Kirsten into a school. She was at van Asch College in Christchurch, for the deaf. She escaped – it wasn’t a discipline school – she had to come home; I had to get her into high school. I’ve never pulled name-dropping before, but the headmistress said, “We can’t fit her in.” And I said, “Can you check something for me? My mum was dux here in 1927.” “Oh! Oh – let’s go and have a look.” So we had a look at the board and there it is – Phyllis Robertson. “She can start tomorrow.” And I’ve never done it before, and I’ve never done it since, but I was in a jam.
Pretty good reason.
So Mum went to Training College after that. She taught at Mangatahi School for a while. She taught at Poukawa, and then she married my dad. My dad was a chauvinistic, Scottish old bastard, who did not believe in women working; women’s place was in the home, barefoot and in the kitchen or in the double bed – that was his limit. And impregnated as often as possible, yes – for sure. So Mum never worked after that, and what a wasted woman! Totally and utterly wasted. Her claim to fame … she was National President of the New Zealand Housewives Union, which was one step to the left of Genghis Khan anyway – they was [were] leftie. They were one jump ahead of Boris Yeltsin, or whatever you want to have, you know? [Chuckle] So that was her claim to fame, but she was extremely bright. I’ve got a whole book of her poems – she used to write political poems all the time about things that happened internationally … things that happened – her favourite was picking on the Hastings City Council, or Borough Council in those days. But she was just a wasted woman.
Dad only had one eye from when he was sixteen, from an ice skating accident in Scotland; so after he left Whanakino Station he was solo killing at Tomoana Freezing Works for twenty-seven bloody years, in the same job, doing the same thing, day after day. Except, he was a pretty astute sort of a guy, my dad. He always told me when I was a young fella, “Never own a car. You can’t hide a car but you can hide a push bike.” It wasn’t until I was shouting a few of his mates a few beers in the Stortford Lodge after he died, that I found out that he never worked Mondays, all through the winter. But he went to work every morning at seven; he came home at half past five. Mmm – okay.
And then when I used to play soccer, and I was playing soccer for Hawke’s Bay; I got up to the Hawke’s Bay Under 18s, and I played right through my primary school years and that – I found out that I had a half-brother. He had the same colour hair as me and we were in the same soccer team. So that’s been a skeleton that’s rattled around in the cupboard a few times …
And that took care of Mondays …
[Chuckles] That took care of Mondays, and they did do a lot of short days. They’d finish at two, but he always got home at half past five, and lent against the fridge with his bottle of beer while Mum cooked tea. Okay … that was their life – they did that sort of thing in those days.
Dad, when we first got this place … can I touch on here a wee bit?
‘Cause it interwinds [intertwines] the whole history. When we first came out here, we came out in the 1928 Buick with wooden spoke wheels, three sisters in the back seat and me sitting in between them on the back seat. Little brother … oh, little brother … he sat in the front seat with Mum and Dad, but you did those sort of things in those days. The seats – I can still remember the seats – you got barnacles on your bum sittin’ on there, little prickles in the upholstery – they’re horrible bloody things. We left Hastings and we came out; I thought we were never, ever, ever, never going to get here. It seemed to take all day to get here. The road was pure shingle, two tracks, no passing, you tooted going around corners, you backed up if you saw someone – and it was like that for a long, long time.
So Dad had already been out here and talked to Alistair Bain who was the local cocky, [farmer] and he brought us round here. We couldn’t get up to where our house is, we had to park down the front and walk up; and he said, “Well, I’ve bought this.” But they hadn’t bought it; they’d leased it. They were twenty-one year leases with right of renewal. So he was quite happy with that and we paid Bain a lease. So that was late 1949, early 1950 round about – I couldn’t be sure on the date, but I know we stayed in this house in the May school holidays, 1951, and there was a little wooden shed down the back – there’s photos in there of that – where Dad slept. He got bitten by a katipo spider and was sort of half – as though he’d had a stroke for a long time; he came right.
He basically built it. Yeah, right – since I’ve rebuilt it, I’ll say he basically built it. The foundation is still the same foundation on the main floor, and he did a reasonable job of that. Yeah, well we won’t go into too much detail, but we first stayed here in May school holidays 1951. Prior to that we stayed over in a house over on the corner that’s since been demolished and had a new big flash-to-go one built. We stayed in Gladdie Graham’s bach, and Dad worked … ’cause he didn’t work a lot during the winter; it actually stopped him using his push bike a lot once he got to Waipatiki and he wasn’t using it as much. So we came out here every school holidays. At Christmas time we would arrive here two or three days before Christmas. Dad would stay over the statutory holidays and go back to work in town, at the freezing works; and we used to stay here for six weeks, seven weeks, what[ever] it was, for the school holidays. No hats – well, if we had hats we never wore them; T-shirt – what was that? Pair of shorts, bare feet; and we ran. We had one stipulation – we had to come home when the old man whistled for tea. The rest of it – you got your own breakfast, you got your own lunch, if you were hungry you ate … it was in the fridge. If Dad was working us boys used to have to bring home pauas and crayfish for him to have when he came home. Outside that you did whatever you liked.
Going back to school was treacherous; it was horrible. Shoes didn’t fit; sitting in clothes; [chuckles] skin’d start cracking and peeling … oh, it was revolting! Why I hated school? You’ll see why. And why I’ve still got this place? I think you can see why. ‘Cause we just lived here.
And when Judith and I decided to shift out here, my whole life changed. And we’ve been involved in the community … still involved in the community for better or worse. We’ve seen a lot come; we’ve seen a lot go. There’s still four original owners or families of owners in the valley; this is in the old part.
And in 1958 – this sort of covers my old man’s pig-headed Scotch part of it – in 1958 an Act went through Parliament that any lease over fourteen years had to have the right of purchase in it. So Father went to Bain and said, “Hey, ours is [a] twenty-one year lease – I want to buy. I want to buy the …” ‘Cause he was getting lease – and he was charging us rates as well, which the old man never paid, and I can show you all the documentation … pages of it.
Judith: Oh, there’s boxes of it!
Neil: So finally father took Bain to court, locally; didn’t work. The Court wouldn’t accept it here, so it went to the Supreme Court in Wellington. A gentleman – Hurley – was the Queen’s Counsel; he was the guy that acted for Dad. Cost thousands! Cost thousands! And Dad won. Not content with that, the pig-headed old prat, he decided he wanted it at 1950 prices – this was in 1966, ‘67! Oh yeah! Yeah. So he took him back to court, and he won!
Judith: He went to the Ombudsman … [speaking together]
Neil: MacIntyre [Duncan MacIntyre, MP] … the whole nine yards. And he won. So [speaking together, Judith inaudible] everybody else bought their section for the same price as Father got his – $400, they paid for the sections. One particular guy out here went behind Dad’s back and offered Bain $1500, which would have set a precedent. And he all but did it. The court findings came out the day before he was due to pay Bain.
The Bain you mention, is he related to the chap at the Port?
No, no. All the Bains in New Zealand are related, apparently, but no.
Judith: Donald Bain who was a champion piper from Ashburton was a cousin; and there’s a [an] Alistair Bain – he’s a teacher at Taradale High School – is a cousin.
Neil: Anyway, the old man got it for $400. He probably spent … I don’t know, I’ve never found the accounts; I’ve never added up. Three other people here backed him, which was Steve Plumley, that used to own the one in front; Rosie Dunn, that the son has still got next door; and an old guy, Bill Horne down the road here. Bill Horne’s long gone and the place is long sold. They did actually chip some dollars in to help him – my father was on a blind pension! He was working at Curly Top on the bottle wash, and the pension he had, he could earn whatever he liked; but that was only sort of three days a week, or two … so he did all this on diddly squat. Mum used to bring him out here and he’d just sit outside and drink all the time, but that’s a side …
Judith: We were here by this time, but we didn’t actually know them.
Neil: They came in ‘59 …
Judith: You know, we were right up that drive; we knew Guy Coles who was straight in front of us, and Jim Brownlie who was there; and we didn’t really have anything much to do with further down – we were latecomers, you know …
Neil: ’59; they were latecomers. Graham Wall bought that in 1968. I know that in 1968 because there’s a water easement goes through our place to that house there on that there. [Indicates] And Dad granted Steve Plumley the easement, and I said to him, “What did you do that for?” I was old enough at this stage; I was working for East Coast Trading Society. “What did you do that for? Steve’ll sell.” He said, “Nah! Steve’ll never sell.” The day after the court went through and he bought the section, it went on the market and Graham Wall and his brother bought it.
Judith: Yeah, it was the two bro[thers] …
Neil: He died, didn’t he?
Neil: So that sort of … I’ve always been a little bit tenacious [?cynical?] about people; and you could read what people do, and I always maintain people only do things if there’s something going to work.
So the Tremains were later?
Oh, hell of a lot later … hell of a lot.
The Hollands were a lot later; they’re way over the far side.
Judith: They bought one of the new sections down the front.
Neil: When they came to do the legalisation of the subdivision, and Alistair Bain had to tarseal the roads round the village, which was to his … he just … oh, he hated my old man’s guts! [Chuckles] When they came to legalise it there was meant to be twenty-six properties in the original block; they found an extra one … twenty-seven. What happened was, Gladdie Graham had a mate, Archie Clarke, in Napier. Gladdie Graham used to own the Tatapouri pub; ended up at Richter Paints in Napier. [Suppressed giggle] We always had a saying, ‘Richter Paints, Fresh and Bright, made in Napier, Looks like Shite.’ [Chuckle] That was Gladdie Graham, and his mate Archie Clarke worked there. So he said to Archie, he said, “Well, why don’t you just put your tent over there?” Well the tent grew into a house. And then when they came, they went, “Ooh! This ain’t workin’! We haven’t got room.” So they had to resurvey the place. So quite a few of us lost a bit of land to fit it all in. [Chuckle] Nobody ever shifted any fences, but I’m not going to tell anybody where the boundaries are – there’d be just a total shambles.
So you’ve seen a lot of changes here in Waipatiki?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Judith: I’ve tried over the years to keep a list of who built and who has, you know …
Neil: Pretty much got that.
Judith: So we’ve got a list of all those.
Neil: Tremain did the subdivision down the front, which has always been a bone of contention with a lot of us originals. It did do one thing for us – it put a sewerage system in place; but, because they had a sewerage system they could take the size of their sections down the front from seven hundred and eighty squares down to five hundred, which has created … I haven’t seen it yet; they’re not all built on yet. Wait ‘til they’re all built on – they’ve got nowhere to park cars, it’s just a shambles down there. Nowhere for the kids to play – it’s just the stupidity! Everybody’s “No, you don’t need any big sections … not going to live in them, you know … going to be a holiday home.” No, you don’t, but you’ve got to have somewhere to put your car and all your friends who come out and visit. So Tremains’ name at Waipatiki … well …
Judith: Did a bit of a dive for a while.
Neil: They did a dive for a long time. I am still not anti, anti, anti, ‘cause I used Mark Tremain to do a water situation for me the other day; but I still do not respect Tremains for how they operate. If it wasn’t for Kel playing rugby …
Judith: Kel was always nice.
Neil: Oh yeah, no, no – we always got on. He wanted to buy this place …
Judith: They used to stay in it.
Neil: He offered me $42,000 for it, I don’t know how many years ago.
Judith: But they bought one down in … there, Huck Berry’s.
Neil: No, he had that before. It’s after he sold that one, before he bought Jack Agnew’s he wanted to buy this one. [Speaking together]
Judith: Yes, I know, but Huck bought it off him? You’d know Huck Berry wouldn’t you? From school?
He was Phillip Berry.
Yes, I knew him as Phillip, I didn’t know his …
Neil: Well we know him as Huck now.
So yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people come, and as I said before, a lot of people go. And there’s some really, really nice people out here. The Hudsons over in the corner, from Gwavas Station. You know, we have a lot to do with Caro and Mike.
Judith: Caro is just such a hard case; she’s lovely.
Neil: But Mike is now eighty-five, eighty-six, and starting to show it.
Judith: Still pretty sharp, but he’s …
Neil: He’s still sharp, but the body’s not so good. Caro, well she’s eighty-two or eighty-three.
So would he be a grandson of the original owner?
Judith: His mother was a Carlyon.
Neil: So he’s the son of the previous owner’s wife.
Judith: And now Phillida and her husband have got the big house. The Gibsons.
Neil: So yeah, as I say, there’s been a hell of a lot of nice people. In the original subdivision – when they were originally building – it was the hugest cooperative you could ever get. If somebody was pouring concrete there were ten people there, right? There was a lot of booze … but there was ten people.
Judith: [Speaking together] So it was just food, and they …
It was a social occasion, wasn’t it?
It was, yeah.
Neil: When that house was built on the corner – Jimmy West built it for Doc Lucas that used to be in Taradale – the one on the corner, Hudsons’. He had a concrete mixer with a motor on [chuckle] … not one of these ones that somebody cranked. So he had a concrete mixer – jeez! Did it mix some concrete on the weekends! Every weekend there’d be somebody, already planned paths, house foundations, whatever; all cleaned up and put back there for Monday morning when he came back up
Judith: [Chuckle] It’s always a bit of a laugh, but I’ve got a concrete mixer; and it does the same thing now … “Who had it last time? Oh yeah, we’ll go and get it from there and you can have a lend of it.”
But see concrete mixers were like that …
Somebody borrowed it and said, “Oh – can we pay you the hireage for it?” I said, “What d’you mean? We don’t hire it.” “But it’s got Winstones on it.” I said, “Yeah, I know.” [Chuckle]
Neil: It was Winstone Cranby’s hire concrete mixer. [Speaking together]
Judith: Yeah, Winstones sold it to my first husband; he bought it off Winstones because he used to do a bit of …
Neil: We’ve put wheels on it now so it can be towed by a quad bike round the place, [chuckle] so it’s known as Waipatiki Readymix when it goes past. [Laughter]
Right, Judith – coming back to you then … your family.
Judith: My family … well, my family also originates in Scotland. My grandmother on my mother’s side came from Dundee, and my grandfather on my father’s side came from Aberdeen. When Neil’s family was in Durris, it was half way between the two, so there was sort of a strange little … thing that happened.
Neil: Her grandparents worked in the jute mills as weavers and wefters, and the Craigies owned them.
Judith: [Chuckle] But Granny and Grandad, Mum’s grandparents, went to the South Island. They went to Owaka – do you know where Owaka is?
I can’t tell you exactly where it was.
Little … funny little place; it’s near Balclutha – yeah, in the Catlins. And they went to work in the dairy factory there, Granny and Grandad. And Nana was born in Scotland – she came out with them, she was only a toddler. And there was also a family of Kerrs in Owaka. Yeah, I’m still going through their stuff to get all that organised. Any rate, Nana and Pop Kerr – he’s Richard Kerr – he was a sawmiller, and the Kerrs had a place at Ahuriri Flat – they had a farm. And I think there were seven brothers; I’m very hazy on that side of the family, but they were all from down in that South Otago area.
And any rate, Pop Kerr came up. He became more involved in the mechanical side of the sawmilling; beautiful native bush all through there. I mean Granny and Grandad – I knew my great-grandparents, and they were really little Scots people; they were gorgeous. But Pop came up to Hawke’s Bay and he managed the machinery for the old Westshore bridge – the one with the … you know, the bend in the middle – because he got involved with the traction engines. He used to deal with traction engines and all that sort of thing, and he had a business in Napier, Kerr Engineering; and his son took it over … Jim Kerr. He might’ve been at school with you; he was a friend of Alan Goss, who was the Minister? No, he would’ve been older than you. Any rate, he had that ‘til he died and Jim took it over.
So that’s how Mum came to be up here. She went to Tech [Napier Technical School] and she left in 1930, so that was her last year; so of course she was in all that earthquake stuff. She trained as a hairdresser actually, and she used to work in the same building as Huck Berry’s father. He was a men’s hairdresser and they had the business behind it. And she’d also worked at the tobacco factory at the Port, because they lived in the Port, in Campbell Street. And everybody who lived over there at some stage worked in the tobacco factory; knew the Husheers, and it was with the old man Husheer.
Dad’s family – his father came out from Scotland, and there’s all sorts of skeletal bits and pieces I’ve found. I’m great at digging around on Google, and I found where his father had been bankrupt. I’m really not sure why, but it was the dissolution of the bankruptcy, any rate – I found the notice for that. And they were in Wanganui. And just as a side thing – I’ve been doing all of the Boys’ High School First World War soldiers; looking them up, getting the records – so I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll look up … I don’t think any of our family went to World War One.’ No – two cousins from Wanganui went; one was killed, and the other became a doctor in Wanganui; he was quite well known. And also several of Pop Kerr’s brothers went to World War One. Just never knew. So that made me feel a bit better, I felt we were part of it then.
Yes – so Dad’s father was a shop-front builder. Remember Blythe’s in Napier where you used to walk round the back? All that sort of stuff – I mean he …
The false fronts on them.
Yes. And he did a lot of … I had an order book of his which I gave to the museum, and it was orders on [from] Blythe’s to make cabinets for inside the shop; and you know, building things.
And he built a house in Kennedy Road which got shifted when the Service Station went in on the corner; and it’s still in Latham Street. So it’s still there. I’ve been in it; it had a ‘For Sale’ sign outside it one day. I said to Mum – this is a long time ago – “Mum, we’re going in to have a look.” Told them why, and they were most intrigued as to why, and where, and all of that. Yes, he built there but he died … before the earthquake I think … he had cancer. Yeah. And Nana and Dad lived there; Nana died in 1959 and I was in the middle of sitting School Cert. [Certificate]
And any rate, the war years, and Dad went into the Air Force. And he was shifted around New Zealand; he was at Hobsonville, and he was with the early party that went to [?] in Hamilton to set up … he was a mechanic … an aircraft mechanic. He was an automotive electrician; he worked for Bissell’s in Napier and he was a partner in business with Jim Bissell. So he was working on the aircraft, and he set up the hangars and things there, with an advance party.
In 1940 Mum and Dad got married and Mum followed him all round New Zealand; he was in Wellington for a time, and Christchurch and Hobsonville. In fact I’ve got a letter there from Mrs Bolt, whose husband was the Commander at Hobsonville at one stage; and you know, a really nice personal letter that I’ve just found. So I’m going through that side of the family at the moment.
Yes – they were married in 1940, and I was [born] in 1944. Dad never forgave me ‘cause I couldn’t remember living on the Air Force station. We were in a cottage next to it, on [in] a farm cottage. And he said, “But you must’ve remembered all the …” ‘Cause they rammed all the motors up and they went all day and night. “You must remember that!” “No, I can’t remember that.” [Chuckle]
Yes. So we came back to Napier after the war. I was just a little tot, and we sort of shifted between Mum’s family and Dad’s family; and it doesn’t work, but there were no houses; there were no sections …
Neil: Housing crisis.
Judith: … you couldn’t buy houses; couldn’t build. So we went into Kennedy Park Motor Camp, in the transit camp there. In fact our transit camp … we were at the other end from Newton Angove. He was a bit of a … I think he ended up on the City Council.
He used to write letters to the paper. I remember his name.
Judith: Yes, yeah. There were all sorts. So we went into Rutherford Road, and as a house came up a family went out of transit and we all ended up in the same road. So we’d all been in transit camp, and some of them were real hairy people; it was amazing.
And so Dad was one of those people … you know, as soon as you could buy them, he bought it. He extended the house out, and it’s still probably one of the biggest houses down Rutherford Road.
Just an aside – next door to us after a number of years there was a Smith family lived in; and behind them over the back fence were Larsens. Now, Trevor Smith ended up CEO of Rothmans – probably one of the highest paid. And the one over the back fence was Warren Larsen who was the Dairy Board, and also one of the highest paid people; both State houses, so it was a real mixture of people.
So you went to school from there?
I went to school at Marewa School, which was quite new; it’s got its 75th …
Neil: 75th, I think.
Judith: Yes – no, Boys’ High School is 150th coming up.
So I went to Marewa School … right through Marewa School. We had people who were ex-war, you know; we had an Air Force … Mr Finchley being ex-RAF, and Bob Holmes had been in the army, and …
Neil: Boys’ High was the same.
Judith: Yeah. So then I went to Napier Intermediate, and from Napier Intermediate I went to Girls’ High School, so I was there just for the three years; did a commercial course. Always had said I would’ve quite liked to be a school teacher, but that sort of happens later on.
But during this time my best mate along the road was in transit camp, and we went into the same road. And her dad was in the Napier Pipe Band and Penny and I both learned to play the pipes. And then there was a family of Mansfields in Napier and …
Yes, went to school …
… there was Ian and … well, Ian was my first husband.
Judith: Mans has just turned eighty, so you must be …
Yep – I’m eighty-one.
Yeah, he’s just – in March. There were his three sisters, and oh – a group of us who’d done Highland dancing. So we formed the Napier Ladies’ Pipe Band, and so that sort of took over our lives a bit, from high school. So his sisters and … I was never really a sporty person.
Well that’s a sport, though.
Yes – oh, we marched! I mean …
And Highland dancing was a sport.
And Highland dancing, yes. But even the Pipe Bands then – we used to do a lot of marching for competitions and things, and every Sunday morning we were in Nelson Park doing marching. So yes, poor old Mans …
As an aside to that, Murray, my youngest son, has become probably one of the top pipers in the country. He played at Gallipoli for the hundredth anniversary; he was in the Air Force … he joined the Air Force. I’ll get to that with my boys. So anyway, I married Ian.
And I was at Girls’ High School for three years. And the teacher we had there at the time, Mrs Brunt, said to me, “Have you thought about going into a bank, Judith?” Well, funnily enough, I had – I’d been going through things – and she said, “Oh well, I’ll give you an interview for the National Bank in Napier.” So I was in the National Bank in Napier for ten years. I loved it; I loved the bank; I loved the people; I loved the customers. And I was always dealing, you know … old Andrew Paxie. And whatever people tell you about Andrew Paxie and his glass eye, it is dead right, ‘cause he dropped it out in his [chuckle] hand in front of me one day and I thought [chuckle] …
Well the Paxies were at school when I was there. I used to go down and always have a meal at the Paxies; once a year I’d go down.
Yeah, that was old Andrew …
And they used the old butter papers under the fish and chips. And look, I had some lovely fish meals there. They always remembered me. I did this for probably … oh, fifteen, twenty years.
They lived down in Hastings Street because it was just along the road from the bank – we had all the banks on the corner. But yeah, I loved the bank; I was there for the changeover on [to] decimal currency, and that was interesting. You’d have known Isobel McLean, would you, in Hastings? She worked in the National Bank in Hastings for years and years and years – friend of the Wards. We used to go over and we’d have ping pong nights and things.
So I loved that, but I’d got married and I was having … and you didn’t stay on once you got [pregnant]. So yeah, Andrew was born in 1969. And I was just talking with someone the other day – Shearers in Napier, the grocer’s shop – they used to come to the house, and they’d take my order and they’d bring it back the next day.
Well, we had the Hawke’s Bay Farmers in Hastings used to do that too.
Well – see Bissell’s in Napier – after Jim Bissell died, the Hawke’s Bay Farmers bought out … they bought out Dad, and Dad still worked for them, so he became a long-term employee of Hawke’s Bay Farmers. Yes, so we’ve still got the watch … Neil’s got the watch, I think. [Chuckle]
Neil: I never stayed anywhere long enough to get one.
Judith: Yeah. He was there forever at Bissell’s.
Yes, so I worked in the bank as I say, ‘til Andrew was born, and then had Murray. Not that long after, Ian and I sort of parted company. And I had to have a job which I could have, you know, school time off. Fortunately, Mum and Dad lived close by and the kids could go to them after school or when I needed to.
But I got a job at Tamatea Intermediate School, which was just opened. And the lady who lived next door to my mother was Ron Hicks’ secretary from … Pirimai School I think he was at, and he was going to Tamatea Intermediate. So I was there for just a year – I set up the library and things, but then they chopped the hours all over the place. So they said, “Oh look, there’s a job going up the road at Tamatea Primary School.” So they sent me along there and I stayed there for thirteen years ‘til Graham retired … Graham Cass was … We went to see Graham earlier this year; he’s got Parkinson’s, and he’s just a little … little wee … But Graham – he sort of became family, he and Nola.
And then when the new principal came – and I won’t say any names because he was just awful … just a disaster – from people being, you know, really happy, it all just closed in, you know. “You will teach this at this time and you will write a report, and you’ll …” You know? And it didn’t have to happen that way – it was his way.
So at this time the boys were at Boys’ High School. And I had been … while they were at Onekawa School I was on the School Committee. And because I was working in the days I wanted to do something at their school, so it was things that could … do at night; so I was on the School Committee. And Murray was at intermediate and Andrew was at high school, so I went and joined Parents’ League, and the first night I was there they made me secretary. Ridiculous! So for all the years I worked at the high school – I think it was seven years – and I was still at Tamatea at that stage, I was secretary of Parents’ League, so I mean I knew it pretty well.
I rang up Bruce Davy, and I said, “Bruce, have you got any jobs there? Is there a, you know, a teacher aide type thing?” And he said, “Yes!” [Chuckle] “Come along” … Well he employed me as his lab assistant, which was an absolute disaster! I wasn’t anything to do with science – “No, I can’t.” But there was another small job that went along with it; part Community Education and part that. So I said to the science teacher, “Look, this isn’t going to work.” I said, “I can’t do this – Bruce should never have put me in.” He was always my best friend after that ‘cause at least I was up front with him, so [chuckle] … that was Tom [?].
Any rate, I sort of took over the Community Education, and I was there for twenty years doing the Community Education at Boys’ High School. So I employed all sorts of people … amazing people who did amazing things.
Neil: Still run into them half the time …
Judith: Oh, yeah!
Then everything got very political, and the Tertiary Education Commission took it all over, and we had to do all this jolly reporting and stuff. So then we got put onto the ERO [Education Review Office] circuit. So I had it absolutely spot on; everything was up to date; it was all done. So I said to Ross, I said, “Okay. I think it’s time I retired from the Community Education; somebody else can take it over. It’s all ready to go, it’s all perfect; it’s all just had an ERO” … when they came in and did the report, the report said, “This, this and this needs doing.” And I said to Ross – this was when the draft came in – I said, “But those are the things that I’ve put down that will be done; they’re those things to be done in the future”, which was the way it was working – you did those next year and the following year. So they got the ERO team in and said, “This is rubbish; that is already accounted for – that comes out of it.” So I just got a blank, you know. And I was really pleased, ‘cause I was the only one in the whole of the lower North Island that didn’t have a revisit. So I was quite chuffed about that, so you know, I felt good; that was it – time to move on. I was about sixty by this time, so I spent another five years back at the school. I dropped that out, and I’d always done two or three other little jobs in the school so I used to go three days a week and do library and things. So – yeah, and that was my Boys’ High School. And I’m still Secretary of the Old Boys’ Association …
Are you really? [Speaking together]
… have been for twenty-five years. So hence this jolly reunion; and I said, “I’m not doing another one after the last one.” But I’m just doing the registrations.
And do you still play 500?
Neil: We haven’t played cards for a long, long, long time. I suppose TV’s killed cards a lot.
It was just the fact that you needed that extra hand …
Oh, yeah …
… and invited Judith down.
Yeah, we shouldn’t’ve gone walkin’ down to the beach that day – that was just bloody stupid …
Judith: Oh, [chuckle] … Well, we knew he was on his own, so he come [came] up and had dinner with us actually, the night before.
Neil: Yeah, yeah. Oh, things happen and …
And so you really retired to here.
Neil: Yeah, we basically both …
And do you’re off duty places like your school committee …
Judith: Yeah, Old Boys – and Old Girls! I’ve been President of the Old Girls as well since leaving, so I think, ‘Is it Old Boys or Old Girls this week?’ [Chuckle]
Are you on fast ..?
Yes, we are.
Neil: Well, it’s not that fast. We’re on telemetry from Napier – Bluff Hill; we’re on what we call Taylor broadband. And Ray Taylor – he set it up for us. Three of us funded it, just a seeding fund so he could get the equipment; and now Bluff Hill to the top of the hill over there, or halfway up the hill, and then it’s around the village.
Judith: And Ray’s an Old Boy, and his mum still works – she’s the tea lady at Boys’ High School, so … you have networks, you see. [Chuckle]
Neil: And there’s about … I think there’s eighteen houses are connected to the broadband circuit here. We’re on his telephone system, which is telemetry also; so our phone works perfectly ninety-nine per cent of the time except if we have a power cut …
Judith: [Speaking together] But not in a power cut, so …
Neil: … have a power cut we’ve got nothing.
Judith: But we can use cell phones on the beach.
Neil: There’s no cell phone coverage.
So, the future of Waipatiki?
Future? It can’t have a future in the sense that there’s no more land available, right?
This is it?
Neil: What you see is what you’ve got. There may be the odd section maybe split in half and sort of in-fill, but I very much doubt it because they’re all eight-forty, eight-seventy square metres …
Judith: This is probably one of the bigger ones, isn’t it?
Neil: No, it’s not, but there’s two big sections out the back, but they go straight up the hill.
Judith: Our one that was up at the top there …
Neil: That was twelve hundred and forty-eight squares.
Judith: It goes over the hill, so there’s only a small area that’s just … yeah.
Neil: Got a footprint on the bottom. Bill Perry, over the creek, has sold the motor camp to a consortium of the three councils, Hastings, Napier and Regional, so whatever happens to that, that’s either a camp; if it fails as a camp, which is always a possibility, it becomes a reserve. The rest of [speaking together] his farm runs …
Judith: He’s set in concrete.
Neil: … right around the bottom of the pine trees to the top of the quarry. What Billy does with that I don’t know. He owns it all, apart from one big section up the top his sister owns.
How much land does he still have?
There’s still eighty-odd acres … eighty, ninety acres. But he could’ve sold it for $6mill [million] to … Andy Lowe offered him $6mill for it, and he turned it down. In Bill’s lifetime I don’t think anything’ll change, but then Bill’s seventy-five, seventy-six and his health’s sort of … yeah. But at the end of the day, that’s the only way anything can happen in this valley, as far as extra houses are concerned. This side of the valley is had it. There’s two sections – as you come across the bridge there’s a piece of land in there.
Judith: The Bains’ one …
Neil: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, Bains – three or four sections. So I think what you see’s what you’ve got. The water supply – well, we’re not going to go down that track of the water supply, because it’s just been a disaster because of the Hastings District Council’s ineptitude. They’ve done to us what they did to Havelock … could sum it up a little bit like that …
Judith: We’ve got our own filter on it now.
Neil: We’ve put in our own screening system, completely carbon … just got fed up with chlorine. All they can think of is throw some chlorine in, it’ll fix it. But it doesn’t fix it.
Judith: Chlorine’s the most awful thing.
Neil: It’s a shocking thing. So anyway, that’s with the water.
We’ve got our own sewerage system which is a waste-water system. There’s a lot of problems with that, because again of the Hastings District Council’s ineptitude. And I’m not sort of short [shy] of saying it because we had a meeting there the other day and I told them straight to their face what I thought of them. We’ve got huge water intrusions getting into it, and high rainfall areas. This is a high rainfall area; we’ve had 1040mls so far this year, and that’s no rain in January and stuff all in February so you can see what we suffer from.
The future of Waipatiki is, as I say, I think what you see, what you’ve got. Chris Tremain is trying to build an eco-lodge up on the hill over there, but it’s a defended pa site and the Māoris have stepped in, and once they’re in it – well, you can forget it. He might win, but it’s going to cost him two arms and seven legs for nothing and they’ll still win in the long run.
It’ll keep him busy, won’t it?
Judith: He got into the press when he first put the road up to it.
Neil: Again, going back to the whole valley, it’s pretty much what you see, what you’ve got. There are some funny ideas. One guy up the top here, he’s a hell of a nice guy – he would like to see the bush fenced with a predator-free fence. I agreed with him on that score; but who’s going to pay for it? It’s the old, old story. The Council – every time you ask them something they’ve never got any money, but when you see them waste that much money, you sort of wonder what the hell they’re there for. We had what we call a creek restoration committee; I call it the creek destruction committee. And you know enough about herbicides. They blanket-sprayed the banks with glysophate.
Judith: It all fell in.
Neil: And okay – in the old days when you sprayed areas with Paraquat it just ruined the grass; [all speaking together] … it might’ve killed a bit more. But pretty much it carried on – well, they used glysophate, didn’t they? Blanket-sprayed it, and if you have a look all the way from the bridge up – which I am totally opposed to their lollipop planting – we all but lost the road; we’ve all but lost the bridge, and they’re sittin’ back saying, “Oh – but the experts said we could do it.”
Judith: And the experts didn’t know anything about it; they’d just done it themselves.
Neil: So we had what I call rapid erosion … glyosphate rapid erosion, I call it. Anybody who gets loose with glysophate is going to be …
Judith: [We’ve] been here for fifty years.
Neil: I’ve been here sixty-seven or sixty-eight years this year. I’ve seen Cyclone Bola; I’ve seen the damage the ’63 flood that took out the whole of the bottom of the valley, and a couple of houses. They’ve done more damage with a drum of glysophate than they ever did.
Is there anything else? Do you fish?
Yeah, I fished out of here for years in a boat, until my mate across the road had a brain aneurysm and I lost my crew. In four hours he died. The boat went out I think once more after that but I just couldn’t … I went out to sea with … my mate wasn’t there, you know? For twenty-odd years we’d gone. We’d get up at four in the morning; three in the morning; [tea making noise in background] we wouldn’t speak. The boat’d be on the trailer; the motor’d be warm; we’d be gone, we’re down the beach, we’re out to sea; he’d say, “Oh, not a bad day, eh?”
Judith: This silly clot … how long ago was it? Was over at the camp helping cut down trees. He fell out of a tree …
Neil: Jumped out of a tree … [noise is kettle boiling]
Judith: Yeah, jumped out of the tree; he spent three weeks in intensive care in an induced coma because he’d punctured his lung; two years ago he’s had the last knee put in. So he’s got two metal knees; apart from that he’s also got screws in his back and wires in his chest – he’s had a triple by-pass, so he’s not fit to go out in a boat.
Neil: Not now, but we fished, and we caught fish. And … my dad and mum are both round there. Their ashes are both round there; that’s where I go.
The fishing now is … if somebody says they’ve got some paua, you know they’re undersized. If they say they’ve caught a heap of fish off the beach, they’re telling porkies. The modern thing with the motorised kon-tikis – there’s a few people have tried them out. I’ve tried one out; we ended up catching the floor of the Pacific Ocean two or three times and had nothing but grief. There are fish out there, but the fishing’s not better. The crayfish are there in the summer when the crayfish are taken, but always north, not south – always north towards Ridgemount, Aropaoanui, and that’s a breeding area. When they get on the march … I brought a net in here one morning at break of daylight; we pulled the net in hand over hand – just bloody crayfish. Have you ever tried discharging a net at sea?
So we brought it back in; I don’t know, we gave away crayfish …
Judith: Had the whole back lawn … [speaking together]
Neil: Back lawn was covered; we never counted ‘em. I don’t know … two or three hundred.
Judith: We had flatfish one day, wasn’t it?
Neil: Oh yeah, flounders – we had …
Judith: Big fish box, and they sent the kids off – this was just sort of breakfast time – you know, everybody in the whole valley had flatties for breakfast. [Chuckle]
You were talking about the gun you used to shoot off …
Neil: Oh, the line gun, yeah.
We decided we would use a gun; we set it off and it really was exhilarating in some ways because it took off, and it went at such a velocity that it left nearly every bit of bait on the beach!
Yeah, yeah – we did that.
And the thing kept going and never stopped!
We did one down there like that. The first one the old man and Gladdie Graham did it. My old man had big hands, right? And the old man says to Gladdie, “How much powder [do we] put in, Gladdie?” His real name was Gladstone Graham. Everybody thinks he’s a woman; it’s Gladdie. “Oh, just give her a handful, Craigie.” ‘Cause they always called my dad ‘Craigie’, it was never Bob or Robert. So he poured a handful in, and the thing went Kaboom! And the sinker went Nyeehh! Splat! About twenty metres down the beach. And nothing happened, you see, ‘cause he blew the side out of the gun completely. [Chuckle]
The next one he put in … she was all tickety-boo; the thing took off that bloody fast it left all the line behind broke, and the last thing we saw was a splash so far out to sea it wouldn’t matter. So they decided … they’d had a few beers, and they decided they had to modify their system. So they modified it – ’cause we used a piece of pipe about that long with a lead in it with an eye screwed into the top, and that was the weight. So the next one went fine; did exactly what you said – every bit of bait was on the beach and the bloody line went way out to sea – [chuckle] but we got it back again.
So Mother came down to the beach. She said, “You guys are nuts.” She said, “Here’s a pair of nylon stockings. Put your bait on; tie all your baits on with nylon stocking … bit of nylon stocking.” So they did. [Muttering] “Oh, bloody Phyl Craigie doesn’t know what she’s talkin’ about. Bloody stupid doin’ this; don’t need to do that if we put a lot of baits on …” All mutter, mutter, mutter, and five beers later. They got one snapper, and there’s a photo in there of my dad with his one snapper. He never went fishing again after that; he’d got the fish.
Yes. So anyway, I think that’s probably given us a picture of the Craigies of Waipatiki.
Pretty much, I would think.
But thank you very, very much for sharing this with us. You know, a lot of people don’t even know Waipatiki …
You’d be surprised how many people you meet at Napier, and you say you live at Waipatiki … “Where’s that?”
Judith: “Oh, we’ve never been out there.”
Neil: “Where’s that?” “How long [have] you lived in Napier?” “Oh, all my life; I’ve never been there.” Hell of a lot. The road stopped everybody for a long, long time.
Judith: Yeah. Oh, people still say, “Is it still that terrible road?”
Neil: We’re fully tarsealed …
I only ever used to come in off the top road.
Judith: That’s the terrible bit!
Well in 1950 this other road wasn’t very good, either.
Neil: Oh, coming up from the bottom? It was still the shortest.
Judith: Yeah, well it’s just a stock road now.
Neil: Yeah – we always came up the bottom; very seldom went out the top road – only if there was [were] slips and floods.
Judith: We still had … a little bit that we haven’t said anything about … you probably noticed that there’s a few sort of Eastern-y bits around; we had two boys who were overseas students from Napier Boys’ High School; lived with us on and off; not at the same time. And from that we’ve been back to Thailand, you know, four or five times; lived with Thais, not with Europeans. That one’s from Vietnam. [Discussing object] He’s the Vietnamese one – they’re very round, fat, happy …
Neil: Happy Buddhas. And that’s the Green Man …
Judith: Oh, it’s the Green Man from Bath.
Neil: We have travelled quite extensively since we retired. We’ll probably do another trip to Thailand, but you know …
Judith: We’re getting homesick for Thailand.
Neil: Yeah, but we’re getting older and it’s a lot harder, and the temperature changes and all the rest, and the two boys in Thailand – last time we went we sent them an email; said, “Look – we don’t want to do much. We’re coming to see” – two families; we spent a week with each family. They’ve got kiddies and this sort of thing. “We want to spend some time with you guys.” [Chuckle] They can’t read English, can they?
These little girls here, are they your granddaughters?
Judith: They’re Murray’s, the one who’s the piper.
Neil: They’re from Palmy; [Palmerston North] we’re taking them back there this afternoon – they’ve been here for a week.
So where did you send them to?
We’ve got a sleep-out down there. When we sold the top bach, part of the trade-off was to build something down there that the family could stay in, so we built a two bedroom plus a shower apartment down there. It’s just the same as … They’ve got a heat pump down there and they’ve got a DVD; they’ve been watching a DVD.
Judith: Murray got a QSM [Queen’s Service Medal] in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last year.
Piping. Involvement in pipe bands … yeah.
Neil: He’s pretty well up there.
Judith: He was the official piper for the Defence Force, and in fact when he retired from … He’s selling real estate, for goodness’ sake, he and his wife.
Neil: For Harcourts in Palmy. They’re doin’ all right – it’s good times at the moment.
Well, I worked for twenty-four years for Tremain’s, and ‘course, we saw another side. They were the most generous family.
Judith: The boys were at school with my boys. Yeah.
Neil: Never forget Kel saying to me – this applies to Waipatiki – he sold the one that Huck Berry’s got now; said, “I see you’ve sold.” “Oh, yeah – bloody stupid owning a bach at Waipatiki; you’re better off renting one, saves you a lot of money.” Da da, de da, de da, de da … Anyway, he looked at buying this place; he used to rent next door at Dunns’, every Christmas for I don’t know how many years. Anyway, he bought Jack Agnew’s house.
Okay, well look, on that note I’ll terminate this, and just say thanks very much for sharing this with me.
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper
- Neil Robert Andrew Craigie
- Judith Marion Craigie