Friend, Raymond Edward (Ray) Interview

I am interviewing Raymond Edward Friend and he is going to talk about his life, so over to you, Raymond. Do you like being called Ray or Raymond?

Ray. I live in Hastings; I’ve been here since 1980.

Where did you live before that, when you came out in ‘71?

We lived in a place in Southampton Street in a flat for a few years, and then we moved into a house in Townshend Street; we were there for quite a while until the landlord decided to sell the house on us, and we moved into one of the Power Board Flats for about two years.

So what year would that have been, that you bought?

Oh, I wouldn’t have a clue.

Probably ‘83 or so?

Yeah. Yeah, somewhere round about then.

So then tell us how you came to come to New Zealand, you and your wife?

[Chuckle] Well I didn’t have no [any] intentions of travelling at all when I was in England, until I met me [my] wife. She had an aunt [who] lived in the same village where I lived. And she come [came] down and we met in the local pub [chuckle] of all places. We got married two years later, and then I said to her one day, “Do you want to go back to New Zealand?” She said, “One day, when you are ready.” I said, “Well, let’s go then”, and we booked. But I could emigrate out here but she can’t emigrate back. So she already had a ticket for the ship to come back, so we paid my fare and we sailed back here. We left Southampton and ended up in Auckland … mother-in-law picked us up from Auckland and brought us down to Hawke’s Bay, and I’ve been here ever since.

How long did that take to come on the ship?

‘Bout six weeks. We stopped at the Canary Islands but we weren’t allowed to get off ‘cause it was night time; and then we stopped in South Africa at Cape Town, and then we come over to Aussie, [Australia] stopped in Adelaide, Melbourne and then Sydney, then come [came] over to Auckland. And that’s where mother-in-law picked us up in the car and brought us down here.

Had she met you before?

No. She couldn’t understand me.

[Quiet chuckles] And your wife, what was her name?

Pamela Shirley Taylor. Where I lived in England, in East Anglia, [it] was a county of Suffolk, and they’ve got what they call broken English. ‘Cause when I start talking … I don’t know, it … come[s] out in the Suffolk way.



To start with. What was your first impression of New Zealand, or particularly Hawke’s Bay?

The heat. [Chuckle] That was … you know, ‘cause in wintertime I was used to walking around in snow about a foot deep, and being cold; and break ice on the tank about [an] inch thick every morning in winter. And the ground freezes, and it goes really hard, you know; and you’ll see stones coming through the ground what [that] you don’t see in the summertime, ‘cause when it freezes it shrinks.

And the winters here, you don’t think they are winters?

Nah! I went in the sleeves in the winter when I first come out here ‘cause it felt warm. [Chuckle] I haven’t been in since.

So it would have taken you a year or two to get acclimatised probably?

Yeah. I wouldn’t put shorts on for … to start with. Mother-in-law kept saying to me, “Why don’t you put some shorts on?” “Nup! I ain’t goin’ to wear bloody shorts.” [Chuckle] But she convinced me – I did. Now when I get ‘em on I ain’t getting out of ‘em.

So can you tell us about your first job, with Furnware, I think?

Yeah – mother-in-law sort of helped me to get that job ‘cause she had two brothers worked there. And she mentioned it to her two brothers, and they got hold of the boss – whose name was Little, I think – and they said, “Oh – be down here Monday morning, please. We’ll see you then.”

And what was your job there?

I was cuttin’ up tubular steel for the school furniture. All different lengths, and then they give them [?], and that went to the presses to bend them and everything. And then they all got welded together, fixed up, and shipped out to schools and that.

Did they go all over New Zealand to schools?

Yep. Yeah, they had a rep [representative] in Furnware – used to go round to schools getting the orders, what they wanted and everything.

So where was Furnware at that stage?

It was on Heretaunga Street right opposite Southland Road, which is now where Big Save Furniture is. And Stewart Greer’s garage used to be the other side of it.

How many people would have been employed there​?

Oh – quite a few.

Twenty, or ..?

Oh, no, more than that.

Forty or so?

Yeah, probably would; they used to make caravans as well there. Yeah.

And were they good employers?

Yeah, I got on well with them, but why I left was because they were goin’ to be moved down Omahu Road, ‘cause Cyclone took them over.

And I was in the Orphans Club and I was talking to one of the jokers who worked for the P & T. [Post & Telegraph Department] And I said, “Is [are] there any jobs goin’ at the P & T? I’m looking for another job.” He said, “No”, he said, “have a talk to that fellow.” So his name was Jack Monks. He said, “He worked for the Power Board.” [Hawke’s Bay Electric Power Board] And I was speaking to Jack, and he said, “Well, mate”, he said, “I’ll see what I can do.” Wednesday lunch time I was sittin’ at home, and a joker named Bernie Humphries turned up from the Power Board. He said, “You’re wantin’ another job?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “When can you start?” [Chuckle] “Eh? Well, I thought … well, I’ve got to give a week’s notice where I am, unlike some.” So I started there on … the Power Board … I can’t remember; I know it was August.

What year would that have been?

‘73. And then I started at the Power Board, and I was there for – started as a trainee lineman, like George.

George Kelsen?

And you know, I started … went on the underground for three years, and then went out on the lines. And I weren’t [wasn’t] too keen on heights; didn’t like goin’ up the poles and hanging out in the belt. And they put a notice on the noticeboard, ‘Is anybody interested in learning cable jointing?” I thought, ‘Oh – doesn’t mean climbing’, so I said, “Put me [my] name down.” And there’s an overseer on the lines wanted to know why I wanted to move and all this, that and the other. And I told him – I said, “Well, long as I’m there, and I ain’t too keen on the heights, so”, I said, “cable jointing would be better for me, and so it’ll give somebody else a chance that [who] wanted to climb.” And I went cable jointing as a trainee cable jointer.

How long did your training take?

Oh, a few years; [of] course everything keeps changing. And I trained and I come [became] qualified and I ended up a foreman on a truck. And a foreman and [had] a joker underneath me … working with me, underneath.

Did they provide uniforms?

Yep, everything. Overalls, tools – whatever you want[ed], yeah.

How did it work when you had a storm like Bola?

Oohooh … [Chuckles] Nightmare! I was still on lines then when that happened. And yeah, you’re goin’ from daylight to dusk … to dark, all the time, ‘cause we just kept goin’ and goin’ and goin’ ‘til everybody’s fixed up.

Pam – how did she get on, coping with you being out?

She coped. She coped. That’s me [my] job, so you know, that’s sort of why; she had to cope.

Would you go out in country areas too?

Yes, oh yeah – all over the place. Well, we went to one job – we left the yard and when we got there we had smoko. And then we finished an hour after lunch, and got to smoko time in the afternoon and had to turn round and come back again, ‘cause we were way out in the wop wops somewhere.

Can you tell us about the maps?

Oh, the maps I had were … the overseers used to have all the maps … what the jobs were and that, and they knew where they were goin’. The maps I used to have I got from the Power Board when I was runnin’, so I knew exactly where I was goin’, and how far, ‘cause it was all done to scale.

In Harriers?

Yeah. Yeah, well I was … ‘cause at the Power Board we used to start at half past seven in the morning and we used to finish at four o’clock in the afternoons. [By the] time I got home – just down Park Road – I’d head out and run ‘bout eleven miles.

Did the children join you?

No. They didn’t like running.

Or Pam?

No. They didn’t like runnin’. I was the mad one.

[Chuckle] Would you go to the pub very often?

Not here. No.

Because in England you would’ve …

Yeah, ‘cause I lived in a little country village. The only real entertainment in a country village when you’re older, was the pub.

That was your recreation, so that’s why, when you went to the Orphans Club … what did you do in the Orphans Club?

I used to just go and enjoy it to start with, and then got on stage with a group doing different skits and that.

And I believe you were Lady Gaga?

Yeah. I done [did] that ‘bout four years ago. How that come [came] about, I was working over in Napier with one of the contractors when the Power Board got rid of us. And she [Pam] went up to Auckland and seen [saw] Lady Gaga, so she filmed it on her camera, and I thought, ‘Oh! I wonder if I could do that?’ And I heard her song, ‘Bad Romance’, and I didn’t know what it was so I rang the radio station up and asked them what that was called, and they told me, “It’s ‘Bad Romance.’” So I got the disc and that, and sort of followed her after that, and I said to Pam one day, I said, “I wonder if I can do that as a skit?” And I talked to one or two of the jokers at the Orphans and [they] said, “Yeah – go on, you mad bugger – do it!” [Chuckle] So I thought … Shall I? And I started sort of doin’ it.

And then another one come [came] along, and … the Pani Club was goin’ then, and Glenda Rickard, she was quite a good entertainer. And I showed her what I was doin’; she said, “Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish!” She said, “This is what you’ve got to do”, and she put me through all the different actions and that. And she said, “What’re you goin’ to dress in? No, that’s no good!” And Dave Sayner, another Orphan, he said, “Leave it with me”, he said, “I’ll get my wife, Kath, to have a look and see what we can do.” So I did.

And a wig as well?

Yep. Wig, mask … [chuckle] high heeled shoes. And I got the skirt and I went round to Dave’s, and got all this stuff. She said, “Put the skirt on”, and … everything off … she said, “No, it’s too long, cut it shorter!” So she done [did] it, and she said, “You’d better try all this on.” And she said, “Well, go through it with the Pani Club.” ‘Cause in the intervals, we’d done it for them.

What is the Pani Club, can you tell me?

That was the Orphans’ wives. They formed a club ‘cause they were not allowed in with us; ‘cause they don’t have ladies in the Orphans, and so they formed their own club and …

How is it spelt?

I can’t remember now … Pani. *Pani Club. My Suffolk accent coming out again. And when I done [did] it for ‘em, Dave come [came] up to me; I said, “Dave, how short did you make that skirt? She said she ought to take four inches off.” “Oh yes, she made a mistake – she took six.” [Chuckles] Well that was … really short, yeah, but it didn’t really matter.

Did you act as any other character that we would know about?

No – I haven’t been on stage much at all, ‘cause lots of times I was doin’ the lights for the stage. When we first went there – there’s a stairway and we used to sit up high … the lights … and I used to sit up there and look down at the stage like this. But now – have you ever been to the Orphans Club?


Well all the lights are right at the back, now.

The Hastings Orphans Club is still going strong, isn’t it?

Yeah. Yeah – just had our centennial year two or three years ago. They had all that down at Lindisfarne, because we ain’t got the room for all the people that come.

So still popular – do you still go to it?

Yeah. Oh yeah.

How often would you go?

Now it’s only through the winter months. Every other Tuesday during the winter months, so we have about thirteen meetings a year. Yeah.

What do they do with the money they raise?

Oh, well we just done [did] a concert last weekend for Enliven. We don’t know how much we made yet. And that’s … well over a hundred people there, I think.

Cause it is a fundraising thing, isn’t it?

Yeah, well they do allow all these collections and that. But on the night they had people standing out, helping them out, as well.

I’ve been to two concerts of the Orphans Club.

Yeah, well when I first joined they were well over a hundred members. But, see, a lot of them keep dying off, and you can’t get – its not what the young ones want today, and so you just can’t get new members. That’s why a lot of the clubs what [that] are still goin’ have got the wives in, and partners in. Like Taradale Savage Club now, they[‘ve] got all their partners; and half their members belong to Hastings Orphans Club.

Belong to both?

Belong to both. Because they’ll go to Taradale because they can take their partners or wife with them, but they can’t …

[Speaking together]: To the Orphans Club.

Unless there’s a special night they can take them.

And with the harriers – was that Hawke’s Bay?

Oh, Hastings Harriers.

And would you meet every Saturday?


And when you were doing marathons or half marathons or whatever, how far would you run, usually?

A marathon is forty-two k, [kilometres] and a half marathon is twenty-one. But the harriers used to have competitions amongst themselves – they had runs in cross country, road runs, and everything like that.

Did you win anything?

I won one trophy; they used to have a race from Napier to Hastings, and you had to put what time you’d do it in, and I got the closest time. So I got what they call the Eleanor Strickland Trophy.

What year would that’ve been?

Oh, it would’ve been in the late eighties or early nineties.

And the boys didn’t take any part in that?

They used to come running with me on Saturday afternoons, but the oldest one weren’t [wasn’t] very keen on it, and the youngest one won’t; but they used to come.

To go back to cable jointing, would you work Saturday morning?

Usually just Monday to Friday, but if we’d got shutdowns or something we could be working Saturdays, and Sundays as well; breakdowns …

And did you get called out at night?


And when you left the house you may not know what time you were going to be back?

No … all depend[ed] what the job was. It could be a big job, it could be a little job. We got called out to a job at Havelock … oh, it must’ve been about ten or eleven o’clock at night; and we finished that job at about six o’clock in the morning. And they had a shutdown over at Napier which’d got to be done; tied up the Napier City Council, and the other jointer decided to take the day off.

So you had to go?

Well, we weren’t supposed to, because after what we’d worked, ‘til six o’clock, normally its compulsory in law to have a break. And Ian Hay who was the manager at that time said, “Well – that job has got to be done, and you’re the only ones here; will you work?” I said, “Well, we’re bloody tired, but I said, “Yeah, I’ll work.” He said, “Well, leave it with me.” He said, “What about Monty?” I said, “Well, I can’t speak for him.” He asked him; he said, yeah, he’d work. He went back to the office, and they said, No – they’ve got to go home.” And he told him he’d got to do this, that and the other, and it’s got to be done. And he come [came] back; he said, “They’ll not let you work.” He went away again; he come [came] back and he said, “Oh – they’ll let you work ‘cause that job has got to be done.” He said, “What we’ll do … you’re on double time now; you’ll stay on double time until you go home.” And that’s what we did; we got back to the yard about half past three that afternoon, and that was a Thursday. And he said, “Go home.” He said, “I don’t want to see you here ‘til Monday morning.” We had the Friday off and they were told not to call us.

How many cable jointers would there’ve been then, in the area?

When I was first started I think there was two cable jointers. And then when the underground started getting bigger and they took the lines down, it got bigger and bigger. And now there’s … I think there was about four of us at one stage, but then some of them left and we ended up with three qualified jointers, or four of us. But we [were] supposed to … be two on each truck, so if one was away the other one would carry on with somebody, and all the linesmen.

One of the linesmen would join you and you would tell them what had to be done?

Yeah. Yeah. And if we wanted some line work done, you had the linesmen there to do the pole work as well, which we couldn’t do.

Were you anywhere where there was an electrical fault where you perhaps got zapped?

Most of the times there … ‘cause we were there with eleven thousand volt cables and say thirty three volt cables, which you are not supposed to touch, ‘cause that … well, that bites you.

So you’d have boots that were rubber?

Oh, we had leather boots with rubber soles. You weren’t allowed to have screw-in soles. Covered up with overalls and that.

And your hats​?

White hats, or orange hats. Ours were white, and they were horrible.

[Chuckle] Oh, were they? Too hot in the summer? So would you take your own lunch?

No, they just give [gave] us tea. We had the thermette we used to boil the water in, you know, so make your own cups of tea and that.

Particularly out in the country area?

Even in town we had the thermettes, yeah. When we were cable jointing we used to have to use what we called pitch. And that come [came] in a tin; that was real hard, and you had to break it up and put it into a bucket, and we used to have to heat it up. So what we done [did] was we used to get a kettle and we used to put it on the gas ring … save having the kerosene thermette.

You could make your own soup, as well?

Oh, yeah. I used to get one of those toasted sandwiches things what [that] you fold up and stick them on the gas, and you’d have a hot cheese sandwich and [chuckle] … we made use of it.

Can you explain what pitch is​?

It’s like tar; when it cools off it goes hard. What they had was a big … what we called a cast-iron box … and it had a lead sleeve. And we put all your [the] wires together and then you had to fill that up with pitch, and then you had to seal it and then put the lid on the cast iron box. And you’d fill that up with it; ‘cause that was all really hot stuff – you just poured it in. And when it goes off it goes [three taps on table].

The join … would it be about a metre long?

Yeah. And they were heavy.

And how often would you have to have a join like that?

Oh, when they were running cables, if it was one that a cabler can … got to carry on and put a joint here. Or if you’d got a fault, say, if it’s a cable blown out, you’ve got to go and fix it; and you’d put one of these joints in it.

A roll of cable – how much would it weigh?

A lot, ‘cause it’s got lead in it. [You] had the three cores …

Inch diameter?

All depends, you know – all different sizes. There could be some that’s [that’re] thin like your finger, and some would be like that. [Demonstrates] And it’s thin, and it’s covered with what we call papers. And then it’s all impregnated, and that’s all wrapped in another lot of papers.

And was it shipped in from overseas?

Oh, no, I think it was all made in New Zealand. Yeah. It was heavy; it was all lead. I think it was about quarter of an inch thick, all wrapped round it.

How long would an average cable last in the ground?

Quite a long time. Well this place’d be all underground. There’s no potholes in it, so it’s all underground.

And how would you check where the …

Fault? The test run used to come out and … what we used to call a thumper. They’d put this [?hardware?] into one end of the cable, then send this pulse through it. And you could walk along the footpath like this, over the cable route, and you could feel it going bumph, bumph. But they had a thing they used to go along with properly, to make sure it was in the right place. They’d have … like, their earphones on so they could hear the pulse.

What were they called?

The test run. Yeah, they test the ca[ble].

How many testers would they have at the same time?

Oh … oh, there’s quite a few; they had all different jobs in the test room doin’ other jobs as well. It was just a job they done [did] amongst all the other ones they used to do.

Would you always have a person in charge, and a cable layer?

Usually the foreman on the job would be in charge. Well, it could be the cable jointer who was in charge. If you were the foreman on the truck, you could be the one that was in charge.

And then there was the test run, and then ordinary linesmen?

Yeah, well with the cables there’d be just mainly the jointers there, because it was a [an] underground cable, so you wouldn’t want linesmen there unless you want something done up the pole.

Did you have problems with people ploughing up a cable?

Diggers? They’d be the main culprits, but you know, really most of them are pretty careful ‘cause they used to send somebody round and mark – if there was somebody doin’ the diggin’ and that, they would send somebody out to mark the cable was, and so they’d know exactly where it is.

When you are laying this cable do you try and go as much in a straight line as possible?

Yeah, they do.

Or curved round? Did it have many faults where it was curved?

You can only bend it a certain degree, you can’t bend it like a horseshoe.

Ray’s holding up his hands – that’s the size of some cables?

Oh, yeah.

Did they have other cables in with the cable?

Yes. They’d usually put the … when you’re laying cables, when you’re doin’ big runs like a subdivision or something and they want thirty-three, they had thirty-three on the bottom; then they had so much soil; then they’d put eleven; then so much soil; then they’d put the two-forty; then on top of that Telecom would come along – or P & T, it was then.

So you were working for the …

Hawke’s Bay Electric …

Power Board for about twenty-six years and then the company was … diversified?

Yeah, something like that. They decided to put a lot of the work out to contract, and so they kept … I think there was about seventeen lines and that. Then they took them down and they become [became] Unison, and then I went with one of the contractors over in Napier. I had to travel to Napier every day, but after a while – I was a cable jointer for them – and they had a little old truck I used to go round and had a little old car to go over there. And they got me a brand new van and rigged it out, and said, “You can take the van home.” I used to have the van at home and just travel backwards and forwards, so it cost me nothing to travel. So yeah.

And when did you actually retire?

I don’t know what the year was when the Power Board went out. I must’ve been with United … well, it started off as Gooder’s first and then United Gooder’s  and then that went United Group. Well that’s what we ended up as; they changed the name. That was an Australian company. And then Unison started taking all the work back in off the contractors, and we were one of them that got put off to start with; and that’s when I retired.

And what year would that have been?

Ooh, I don’t … must’ve been getting towards seventy when I retired. Yeah, ‘cause they’d given me a party over there when I was sixty-five.

So they did look after you?

Yeah – oh yeah. Oh, yeah, that was quite good, ‘cause we were workin’ out at the port, and two of the other jokers who were lying [laying] the cables and that, well they [??] “Oh, we’ve got to go back to the yard.” [I] said, “What for?” He said, “Oh, we’ve all got to go back; you’ll have to come back later on, when you’re finished.” [I] said, “Why? All right, well … I’ll come back.” Well, I walked in there and everything just went ‘bwer..’!

Cause you had a party put on especially for you when you were sixty-five …


… so that’s eleven years ago?


And you still worked for them ‘til nearly seventy?

Yeah, yeah. Must’ve been. That’s when me [my] wife started getting worse with the Parkinsons.

Pam died in 2013?

‘13, yeah.

Did you have to look after her quite a bit?

Yes. She ended up in a wheelchair. They even put a lift at the back door so she could lower herself down and go out and come back again. But she couldn’t walk, that was the biggest problem. She could walk, but not very well with … her shoes were built up three inches. And it made it hard, and the Parkinsons gradually got worse and worse. And she was in one … ooh, in one of the homes for respite …

Yes, respite care.

… to give me a rest; and she went to the toilet and she just come [came] walking out of the toilet … [claps hands once] … Bang!

Yes. And in the meantime you’d taken on a part time job; tell us about that part time job?

Oh, I was doin’ that part time job, ‘cause a woman named Diane used to come round and char [do housework] every day, and I’d go and do me [my] … the first run I still do. How I come [came] to get hold of it – the woman down the road used to do it on [in] a different area –

Delivering junk mail, roughly; pamphlets, for New World and all them [those] sort of people. [At] that time there was quite a few – there’d be nine or ten every run – twice a week, same as I’m doing now, but I’ve got two runs instead. Yeah.

Still get exercise …

Yeah. And I still do.

So coming to New Zealand was probably the best thing that you could’ve done?

Yeah … in some ways I sort of …

You miss your family​?

Yeah I did to start with, but our family weren’t that close. Not really, ‘cause I was the only boy. I was the rose between the two thorns; I had this older sister and younger sister. There was five years between us – me [my] older sister, and then it was five years, and then it was me, and then five years later it was my younger sister.

So overall … how do you think the Power Board work nowadays?

Don’t know, not really. [Chuckle] I look at the trucks and say, “Who the hell are they?” [Chuckle]

What do you think we should all have – solar panels on the rooves of houses?

Well I would like to – I’d have one on mine, ‘cause my place would be ideal for it, ‘cause my actual house was a flat roof once upon a time. Then we bought it off [from] Pam’s uncle, and he had a bad leak in it. So he put what he called a hick [hip] roof on it … a tin roof … ‘cause I get all this afternoon sun on it, and it’d be ideal for it, but you know, at my time of day … eighty … is it worth me doin’ it? ‘Cause it costs quite a bit to do. My place’d be ideal for it.

So any further thoughts of what you might do in the future?

No, not really. Just keep on keepin’ on, and keepin’ fit. Keep mobile; and I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong. When they retire they stop.

Ray’s going to tell us about one of his spare time occupations. I think he was trying to keep it a secret.

Me? [Chuckle] Well, how it come [came] about was I wanted a cable Aran cardigan knitted, and I couldn’t knit. So I asked my mother-in-law if she’d knit it for me. “Huh! If you want that knitted you’ll have to knit it yourself.” Oh! Oh, well that’s nice, innit? [Isn’t it] So to Pam I says, “Do you think I could do it or not?” So I got her to go out one day and got this ball of wool and some knittin’ needles, and sat down with a book.

How long ago?

Oh, about forty-odd years ago. And we lived in Southampton Street in the flat, and the woman across the road – she could knit, and so I went across to her to show her what I was doin’. She says, “You’re doing it wrong.” She showed me how to do it, and I went back and … Pam was pregnant with me oldest; [my eldest] … and I knitted this little matinee coat for the baby. And that’s what I started on, and the woman across the road – she said, “Well, you’re not too bad.” So I took on this cable Aran cardigan.


I finished it; I had to pull it out because …

You’d made a mistake?

Yes. Because I didn’t realise … nobody told me … I knitted tight, so I knit round the needle as it said, and it come [became] too small. And I told the lady; she said, “You’ll have to get a sort of square and make sure what size needles you want.” So I turned round, pulled it all out and started again, [chuckle] and carried on ever since, doin’ it..

And you knit all your own jerseys?

Yep. Yeah.

And hats and socks?

I make socks; and I’ve drew [drawn] patterns out on graph paper, and knitted them into jerseys.

And do you knit for other people?

I have done. Yeah.

Tell us a little bit about the teddy bears?

The Trauma bears?


There’s a woman – her husband’s in the Orphans, and I rang her one day, and I’d seen the little teddy bears. [I] said, “Who knitted them?” “I did. I’ve got the pattern here -do you want one?” So I took one and I knitted that and done [did] exactly the same as I did with the jersey – it come [came] too small. But that didn’t matter, ‘cause when I took it to her you could see the difference. So [the] next one I done [did] on the bigger needles, and they come [came] the same size again. The bag I carry in town, I’ve got two in there; I carry two round with me all the time.

So you can give them out to people ..?


… might need a Trauma bear.

I give [gave] one to a little girl in Specsavers one day ‘cause she was cryin’ and that, and she went to give it back to him [me], and [I] told her she could keep it and she was really pleased, and it stopped her from crying. That’s what they’re for.


And the joker that … his wife’d given me the pattern … they’ve got some in the car, and if they see accidents and kids cryin’, they’ll get out and give ‘em one of these teddy bears. And I think she did a lot for the Rescue Helicopter. It’s not just for little kids; it’s for old people as well. It’s pretty neat.

And do you sit knitting at night, watching TV?

I just do it mainly at night. I used to do a lot of jigsaw puzzles, but since we got the new cat [chuckles] … ‘cause I’ve got them [those] big green mats, so that when I finish I can roll it up. And I was doin’ it one day and this little cat, what [that] we just got, came … whoosh! [Whistles]

Straight through it, and pieces all over the floor?

Yes. [Chuckles] Mind you, I kind of like these Wasgij ones, you know? Those are … I like them; when I’m not doin’ the gardens and lawns and everything.

So [regarding letter box delivery] – what time do you start usually?

Now I’ve been startin’ out about half past four in the morning.

And then you finish at about what ..?

This Saturday I was home just after six o’clock. If you go out early, you don’t get stopped much. You’d be surprised how many people are out at that time of the mornings – people walking, running, walking the dogs, traffic, paper people – they’re all out at that time in the morning. Then I go home and have me [my] breakfast, and might load me [my] pushchair up again and come out and do this one, because when I come in here I’ve got to go and sign in …

He’s coming into the Summerset Village …

… and I’ve got to sign in – it’s really for safety – and go in and sign in, and go round, and sign out when I go out again. And it’s awesome doing it in here, ‘cause you can walk down the middle of the road. [Chuckle] Summertime is a bit bad ‘cause there’s a lot of people might want to talk. Yeah.

So summer and winter – you’re doing it all year round?

Yep, twice a week. And the worst time is rain. I’ve got wet weather gear on and that, so I don’t really get wet. It’s your hands that get wet.

Then closer to Christmas … tell them what you do then, Ray.

I put my Father Christmas hat on. And I’ve got t-shirts with all different slogans on them as well; walk around, and you get lots of comments. You put a smile on somebody’s face. It’s just like the other little fellow, Johnny Wheeler … he walks around, but he’s got the white beard; it looks a bit more authentic. But I haven’t got one of them.

He walks from Hastings to Havelock North every day.

Not now, he doesn’t, no – he’s gone as far as the roundabout I think, now. He used to do harrier runnin’ – that’s how I got to know him, through the Harriers.

Okay – I think that’s a good place to stop, but thank you very much, Ray, for your cooperation …

That’s all right.

… and telling us about your very interesting life.

[Chuckle] I wouldn’t say interesting. [Chuckle]


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Interviewer:  Erica Tenquist

Hastings Orphans Club


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