James (Jim) Edward Kenneth Judd & Elizabeth (Betty) Kyle Judd Interview
Today is the 1st of February 2017. I’m interviewing Jim and Betty Judd about their family in Havelock North. Jim, would you like to start off by telling us about where your family came from, where to and so forth? Thank you.
Well my family originally came from both England and Ireland. My father’s parents and his parents came out from England on the ‘Martha Ridgeway’, which landed in Petone in 1840. And my mother came from Waterford in Ireland and her name was Shanaghan. And after the Judds landed in Petone they then spread themselves throughout the North Island, and basically they went up through the Wairarapa and they settled in Greytown … and all of my parents, their brothers and sisters, were born there … and it was a move from Greytown through to Tane which is located between Pahiatua and Eketahuna. And it’s on the back road from Pahiatua – you turn left and go up over the hill and then on the metal road right through the back end of it – and they had a sheep station there.
And my mother, she was brought out from Ireland by some people named Hodgins, and because Charlie Hodgins’ wife was critically ill she was brought out here as a … well, she was a cousin … and she came out to look after or foster the children. And then, ‘course they both met at that time – he was just down the road and Mum was at the Hodgins’ estate so that was how they joined up.
And when we talk about 1840, we’re talking early days of Wellington history really – there wouldn’t have been too many people, too much activity round – what did your father do at that stage?
Well, he wasn’t born of course … he wasn’t born at that particular time, and he was born in Greytown. My grandfather was named James Judd as well, and he married Augusta Carr, and as I say, they had quite a substantial sheep station at Tane.
And I was there through until I was about seven years of age. I went to school in Eketahuna by bus and that took quite some considerable time to get both to and from school but both my brother and I went to school in Eketahuna. And I have some sort of great memories of Tane – I always remember my grandfather taking me down to watch a bulldozer, and it was the first bulldozer he had ever seen as well, and he was totally fascinated by it. He spent nearly all of one day watching the bulldozer shifting earth and it was quite amazing. And I also remember listening to the news, which was the BBC news in those days, and especially about the war – what was happening in Germany and what was happening on the Eastern Front as well. So I do remember those things, and I can also remember going eeling as a kid. We had a river running through the property and it had some very big eels in it as well. So that’s about where we are with that.
Once we left Tane we went to Tokomaru which is just outside of Palmerston North, and Dad and Mum had a dairy farm there. And they used to milk sixty cows and it used to take them about an hour, an hour and fifteen to an hour and thirty minutes to milk all of those cows, and it was all sixty of them. And I recall now we have a friend up in Whakatane and he had seven hundred and sixty cows and it took him and an hour and a half to milk those cows as well. So that was quite a sort of a …
But it’s very efficient though, isn’t it?
I can’t recall exactly how often there was one cow stepping off the thing, but there were sixty cows up on the platform at any one time, so it was quite incredible. But Mum and Dad used to strip the cows as well after the milking – and they would still turn around and strip the cows as well. And we had a very old International truck which used to be able to take the milk cans to the factory. But a lot of people in those areas – they used what they call a horse and dray, and they used to take all their milk down to the factory with the horse and dray.
And we were plagued by one thing in Tokomaru, and that was there was always stumps – the ground was actually sinking and the stumps were actually coming through the ground. But it was magnificent soil and it grew anything, and I can recall even with chou moellier, it grew so high that actually birds could nest in it, and it was amazing stuff.
‘Cause that was all swamp …
That was all – it was all swamp.
And old forest was coming up.
Yeah. It’s interesting that Dad also ran some sheep on the property as well, and I can recall him putting the sheep into the chou moellier paddock and I said to him, “how on earth are they going to get at that?” And he said, “well”, he said “you’d be quite surprised”. He said “there’s a certain amount of grass around the bottom of it. There’s also the fact” … and I was quite amazed because the sheep actually put their front feet on to the chou moellier and pushed it over … oh, they were pretty bloody bright, there was no doubt about that at all.
So we went to school at Tokomaru, and the way we went to school was – we had a horse and a gig, and I used to catch the horse every morning and put it into the shafts. And then I used to take my three siblings to school and also pick up the Mason kids from down the road – there was [were] four – so there were seven of us altogether, and that was our daily routine going to school.
So the school … Tokomaru’s where it still is now … the school was obviously away from there, was it?
No, the school was right up in the actual township itself. Yes, and right opposite the town hall. But in those days of course they had a butcher and they had a baker and a post office and everything else, but now of course everything’s gone, there’s just the store left.
And the museum.
And the museum … the steam museum … which was started up by two of my school mates, the Stevenson boys. It was very interesting.
And from there, with my father – he developed bronchitis and was very, very ill. And the doctor told him in the finish that he had to get out of Tokomaru because of the low-lying area, and of course the fog and the problems that created for bronchitis. And so we then went to Taranaki, and we went to a place called Kaponga. And we had a farm up the Upper Manaia Road and that was basically sheep.
And just where is Kaponga?
It’s in between Eltham and Opunake … Stratford and Opunake, and around the mountain road. And at that time there was [were] dairy factories everywhere and of course they’ve all gone now, the whole lot of them. And I think there was a dairy factory spaced at around about … between five and seven miles … there was a factory every so often.
And we farmed sheep up there. And Dad, in 19 … I’m just trying to think now, 1958 or somewhere round about there … developed polio. And it was almost debilitating for him because he had one leg that wouldn’t function properly. And it was then decided that we would sell the farm and move to Hawke’s Bay, to Hastings, mainly because all of Mum’s children that she had reared during her time as a nanny at the Hodgins’ place had all shifted to Hawke’s Bay, to Hastings.
That’s interesting, isn’t it?
So she came up here and we settled in Puriri Street in Hastings. During that time I had previously gone to Silverstream College in Wellington … in the Hutt Valley … and when Dad developed polio I had to come home and look after, or help Mum on the farm. So that was one of the problems that we had at that stage. So when we moved to Hastings – I think I was seventeen at that time – and I first started work with Farm Products in Hastings. They were quite a large distributor of butter and cheese and smallgoods and that sort of thing, and eggs. I stayed with Farm Products for … I think I must have been around about a year with Farm Products … and then I went to Taylor’s Drycleaning, and I started off in the cleaning room. And after about two years – three years I think it was … maybe two years – I was promoted to the Branch Manager in Napier, of the Napier branch, and I ran that for about a year or eighteen months. And during that time I was also … I was an eighteen-year-old – eighteen or just over eighteen – and I was conscripted into the New Zealand Army. That straightened me out and also straightened a lot of other guys out as well.
So where did you go?
I went to Waiouru – we first of all went to Linton – by train to Linton, and we got kitted out there. And then we went to Waiouru, and that happened to be during May and June, and it was bitterly cold.
So anyway, after I came back, Harry Taylor decided then that he was going to close the Napier branch and bring it all over to Hastings, and there was a fairly large plant in Hastings where I’d started off anyway. So that was decided, and I was then looking for another job, or I was given the option of going back to Hastings but decided not to.
And at that time I decided that I was going to go into the Police Force, so I went to Taranaki Street in Wellington, and I spent eighteen months in Wellington. And again, I wanted to move back to Hastings and applied for a transfer back to Hastings and I was flatly turned down, because they said that they needed everybody in Wellington and that was it as far as that was concerned.
So I resigned from the Police and I went back to Hastings, and I joined Smith & Brown. I was working as a salesperson in Smith & Brown. Oh, I should mention that by the time that I had gone to Napier and worked for Taylor’s Drycleaners I’d also sort of caught up with Betty. I wasn’t all that popular with her at that particular time, and I’d sort of say “hello”, and she would just walk straight past type of thing.
Betty: It was actually a whistle. [Chuckle] And I thought ‘cheeky devil!’ So I just kept strutting down the street.
So you worked somewhere near one another?
She was in the Napier Hospital.
You’re a nurse?
Oh, okay – so you whistled a nurse! Sacré bleu!
Jim: I got the treatment I deserved, so that was that. And anyway after going with [to] work for Smith & Brown for a while, we finally met up together again and then we got married in September of 1963.
All right. We’ll find out about Elizabeth Kyle now – where your folks came from and where things happened.
Betty: Okay. Right – now on my Dad’s side, they came out to New Zealand at the end of 1840 although some said it was 1841, so I’m not too sure. And my maiden name was Symons. It was my great-great-grandfather that came out in 1840-’41, and I think they may have left England in ‘40 and arrived here in ‘41 but I’m just not quite sure. And I’ve got a relation who’s since died but she got into the archives down in Wellington and has a lot of agenda on it.
I noted that Betty’s name was Elizabeth Kyle, but it is in fact Elizabeth Kyle Symons.
Now anyhow, I don’t know how many details you need to know about him but when his parents got married … that’s my Dad’s parents … which was in 1900, they lived in Kohuratahi, which is near Whangamomona. And they had a farm there – built a beautiful big homestead there. And they had three children, my Dad was the second born … born in 1907 … and anyhow, they lived there for a number of years. His mother was a nurse – she’d trained at the Auckland Training School in the 1890s in the days when you had to pay to be a nurse. And she used to go out at night time, day time, all sorts of times delivering babies and nursing sick people and everything, from home – just for love, not for money – and to help people out in that very remote area.
And anyhow, Dad went to school there – first of all in a little school that his father and grandfather built on their property, because none of the children round there … they had to travel quite a big distance, and I don’t know whether it was to Whangamomona or where they had to get to, but it was quite a hike. So they built this little school and then later on a lot of the parents got together and they built a much bigger school. And I’m not quite sure where that was, but I have got a book there and I must look at the detail.
Anyhow to cut a long story short, when my Dad was … I’m not quite sure how old, he might have been about ten or eleven, I don’t know … but his mother developed peritonitis. And that was rather sad, that a nurse should have an appendix that seemed to develop rather quickly into peritonitis. They didn’t realise at the time that’s what it was, it was that bad. But they got a message to Stratford and a doctor came out on a motorbike, visited my grandmother and arranged for a train to come from Stratford all the way … as far as it could get to that area … and they took her with horse and buggy etcetera to the station and managed to get her back to Stratford Hospital. But by that time her appendix had burst and she was a really sick lady. But anyhow, they managed to save her life but she was never quite the same, you know – health wise, again following that. And the doctor – or I think Dad’s father decided that it was too dangerous living out there, you know, too far away from help. So they sold up their farm and they moved to New Plymouth temporarily, and then they decided they’d come over to Hawke’s Bay.
So they settled here in 19 … oh, well before the 1920s … it might have been about 1916, ‘17, ‘18 – something like that, I’m not quite sure really. And initially they lived on the Napier hill but they wanted some land, so they rented the house on the hill out and bought some land out at … between Te Awanga and Haumoana … and they ran a chicken farm there. It was really an egg farm, and they used to put eggs on the train every day – they were really special eggs, lovely free-range ones as they were back then – and they used to be sent down to Wellington on the train every day. Quite amazing. [Chuckle]
It’s amazing isn’t it.
I have a Whangamomona passport.
Oh you do, do you?
Oh, did you go over there to the special weekend?
Oh, no I’ve been through there two or three times and both times it was a time they were issuing passports – I thought why not? This is pretty important stuff.
Oh, that’s neat! I had quite a few other relations living in that area. Anyhow that’s sort of the Symons … oh, I suppose you want to hear what happened to my dad later, do you? ‘Cause that’s all history.
Anyhow, sadly my grandfather fell over not long … oh, it was before the ‘31 earthquake … and they were still living out at Te Awanga, and he tripped over something and fractured his femur. And they put him into hospital and sadly he died a few days later of hypostatic pneumonia – ‘cause back then they used to have them lying flat and, you know … And I think his lungs might have been weakened being over in Taranaki, and climate, and they’d broken in this huge amount of area for farming. It was a pretty hard life, and they milked cows and they employed staff to help milk the cows by hand back then, and everything.
But anyhow, so things weren’t so good by that time because my grandmother wasn’t well following having had that peritonitis, and the grandfather had gone, and so they tried to sell the farm out there but then the Depression came, that’s right – that’s what it was. And that had a huge effect on people not being able to sell properties or get good prices for properties and all the rest of it. Anyhow they ended up … they went and lived in Napier on the hill, and then of course there was the ‘31 earthquake a bit later. My grandmother was still alive then … probably only just … and my aunt actually threw her out the window – out through the bedroom window when the earthquake starting shaking, because they had a great big tall dresser thing in that main bedroom. And my aunt had just managed to get her out through the window, and the whole big thing fell over and it landed on the bed, so … I mean isn’t that luck? Wonderful good luck. And their house did … it all shifted off the piles and everything and the chimneys all came down, but otherwise they were able to … you know, they had to put it back to where it started off from, it wasn’t destroyed totally.
And then my younger aunt – my Dad had two sisters, an older sister and a younger sister; it was the older sister that saved my grandmother. The younger sister had just started her nursing training at Napier Hospital. Her name was Kirsteen, and she’d only been there for a very short time when the earthquake hit – and that’s quite a story in itself, but anyhow she survived the earthquake but she saw the Nurses’ Home all shaking down … falling down over the road. And there was a surgeon operating in the theatre just near where she’d been posted in Women’s Surgical, and this surgeon came staggering up and they took the patient that they were operating on outside and he said to her, “I can’t finish sewing or fixing up this lady because I’ve got no shoes”. Because in theatre, you know, and they still do today, they have those cloth things on. So he looked at my aunt’s feet and she had rather large feet, and he said [chuckle] “can I have your shoes please?” [Chuckle] So anyhow she kindly gave him her shoes so then she was running round in stockinged feet.
And my father was working – he was an electrician, or was an electrician – and he was working on a great big new church that they’d just finished building in Napier. And he was up doing the wiring with another sparky and the earthquake came, and he quickly got down that ladder and out that door so fast. But the thing was the building didn’t fall down but it burnt down sadly in the fire. That was quite amazing. Dad’s been mentioned a few times over the years in earthquake things.
Anyhow, Dad was in the Army doing all that sort of stuff they do – mounted rifles and things like that. But before the war started he’d set up his own electrical business over in Taradale, and you may have heard, that was Kyle Symons Electrical, who [which] my brother Robbie took over later when Dad retired, and now our son, Peter – he has been managing it for a few years.
So it’s still going?
So it’s still going, still in the family. But now he’s just actually … it’s kind of pretty much … I won’t say it’s completely folded up, they’ve still got a base over there, but Pete’s now working from Hastings and they have another office over here, and he’s got an electrician doing the Taradale work. And things have just changed quite a lot.
So I suppose that’s – oh, my mum – oh gosh, that’s another story. Her family came out here in dribs and drabs I suppose. They came from England, from Cornwall … her mum’s side did, but her father’s side came from Scotland. And anyhow, my mum’s name was Nancy Fisher and her mother’s name was Lily Baker, and the Baker family came out and settled at Puketapu back in 1886, I think it was. Anyhow, my grandmother was the first-born, Lily, and she married my mum’s dad, and his name was Harry Fisher. He was a Fisher and my mother was a Baker, [chuckle] or my grandmother was a Baker, so a Fisher married a Baker. And the interesting thing was, my grandfather who was called you know, Fisher … Harry Fisher … turned out to be a baker by trade. Oh, he was the first pakeha child to be born in The Square in Palmerston – there must’ve been a private hospital there or something, but I don’t know.
And then he ended up … oh, they opened up a bakery in Napier, and I don’t know how many years they had that for, the Fisher family – not terribly many years I don’t think. And then my grandfather went to Wellington, but prior to that he went to Scotland and did a fine baking, very intricate baking course over there making special you know, bread and cakes, and learning how to ice cakes and do all the fancy stuff. And he opened up his own bakery down in Wellington when he came back and I think that might have been either late 1800s or early 1900s. And he married my grandmother, Lily Baker, I think about 1909. Or it might’ve been a bit before that, it might have been 1907, I’m not sure. Anyhow, she inherited the family property, or more or less inherited it, at Puketapu, and she used to use that as a little holiday retreat.
And my grandfather kept on with the bakery for quite a number of years, and then during the First World War they wanted him to be on this ship that was out in the … not the Pacific, but I think it was in the Atlantic. And it was the one sort of out there – I don’t quite what it did exactly, but there were lots of Japanese boats and things around. I’m not quite sure – all I know is that he was a chef and bread maker and everything on board ship.
And then after he got married, set up that bakery down in … oh, he might’ve been married when he went to the war. He would have been, wouldn’t he? ‘Course he was. That’s right – while he was at war my grandmother came back up to Puketapu with my uncle who was about five years older than my mum. And they lived in Puketapu and my uncle started going to school at Puketapu School. And then later on … my mum must have been born … oh, she was born in 1917, so she wouldn’t have been alive then would she, when he went away to war? What year did war finish? ‘18, yeah.
But anyhow, they lived in Wellington and then eventually … oh, his health wasn’t very good and they moved up to Puketapu full-time. And my mum had … prior to that she’d been educated in Wellington, and a little bit of schooling in Hawke’s Bay but mostly in Wellington, same as my uncle.
What else can I say? Oh – and then in ‘bout 1930 … not quite sure what year … but my mum met my dad anyhow. He was actually ten years older than her – that’s Kyle Symons. And anyhow, they got married in 1939, or 1938 … ‘38 or ‘39, I’m not sure … and I was born in ‘41. I had an older sister born in 1940, and she actually died of leukaemia when she was four and a half, which was really sad. Then I had other siblings and we were all brought up in Taradale and spent quite a lot of time staying with our grandmother out at the farm, which was called ‘The Nook’, where my sister still lives today. And it’s been in the family for … what’s that? A hundred and fifteen, sixteen … oh, quite a long time, anyhow.
Relative to the hotel, where is ‘The Nook’?
Okay, do you know Springfield Road? Well you go past that rubbish dump if you go round through there, you know, and if you just keep going round … and it’s up that Springfield Road and it’s about the last house – oh, there’s a new house now that’s gone up further down. I can’t really describe but anyhow it would be probably about a kilometre or a couple of kilometres from where the old rubbish dump was. And it’s on the right, and it’s nestled in against a hill. There’s a sort of a cycle track that goes right round over what was my grandmother’s … part of her land.
And I’ve got – all my family are up there – I’ve got my brother with a deer farm … oh, he’s actually up the Taupo Road with the main farm, but then he built a new house on some of the land opposite ‘The Nook’ … he’s got sixty acres there I think, or something like that. And my sister’s got the other piece which is up against the hill, and there’s a few acres there. And my other little sister and her partner, they bought a house up over the hill, so they’re all sort of in the vicinity with [of] each other. And my other brother … one other brother, Robbie, who was the one that managed Kyle Symons … he’s on the Taradale Sugarloaf, so they’re sort of all on the land.
So you went to school where?
In Taradale. And I often stayed at my grandmother’s and used to get on the school bus and go from Puketapu down to Taradale School and then back there after school. And we loved staying there because we were spoilt rotten, [chuckle] and she cooked special things that we loved. Yeah. So we lived in Taradale – Dad had land and we had a few sheep and a cow during the war years, and chickens and ducks and all those sorts of things.
Did you play any sports?
Yes I did, I played netball and I loved swimming, and then later on … oh, for quite a number of years I skated … roller skating at Napier. No, I can’t think of any other sports – oh, I did tap dancing and things like that as a kid.
During this period of course, you became a nurse …
… and trained in Napier?
Yes, I started my training in 1958 at Napier Hospital and I graduated there. And I was there for five years, you know, as a student and then Staff Nurse. And during that time I had met Jim. This chap used to whistle out when I was walking down the street and I thought ‘cheeky devil!’ And poked my nose up in the air and stalked down the street. [Chuckle] But the thing was I had met Jim’s sister, unbeknown to me it was his sister – she was lovely. She didn’t whistle. She was a Hastings nurse and Jo came over to Napier to do her Isolation training. And anyhow, she lived in – they stayed in the Home that we were in … the old Home … Hastings nurses. So it was rather fun getting to know her because she was always the life of the party, or the life of the Nurses’ Home. And then later I found out that it was Jim’s sister as it turned out. But we used to have dances in the War Memorial – do you remember them?
Yes, very much so.
Okay, so Jim used to often be at those dances. So that was fine, I didn’t sort of become involved at that stage. But I actually met him at a party over in Hastings. It was another nursing friend became engaged, and we went to this engagement party and Jim just happened to be at this party. And I was with some other chap and he said to me, “I don’t know what you’re going out with him for,” he said “you know, you should be coming out with me.” [Chuckle] Pretty cheeky …
Jim: Very subtle.
Betty: [Chuckle] … he was very positive. [Chuckle]
So at that point then … okay, you got married, and we’ll pick up the children further along. But at this stage we’ll get Jim to carry on with how he sponsored all these things you’ve done in life.
Jim: Yes – well, we met and then became engaged and we got married in 1963, in September ‘63. We then had three children, Peter and Michelle and Nick.
And basically, when we first got married we rented a house in Queen Street off some friends of my mother’s, and it was only then that we learned from Mum that there was a house for sale in Gordon Road and we decided that we would have a look at this place. And then … at that particular point in time I had been down to Campbell Island, and I’d been down there from September through to the following October, so thirteen months in all, altogether. And my job down there was Officer-in-Charge, and during the summer months we had fifteen men down there, and then during the winter time from March through ‘til September, there was ten of us. And the only communication that we had at that particular point in time was basically either the American Navy or the New Zealand Navy. And they had an escort – well, basically it was a destroyer escort – and it was stationed between us and the Antarctic, just in case anybody who was flying had to ditch their plane or anything like that. So that was the reason they were on station between us and the Antarctic. And the only other communication we had was via radio.
So what was the point of being on Campbell?
Well basically the island was a weather forecasting station, plus also ionisphere and satellite tracking station, so that was the reason that it was manned twenty-four hours a day and twelve months of the year. So that was the reason for that.
Just prior to going down to Campbell Island I had also been in a fill-in job with Morrison Industries. And the Factory Manager at that particular point in time said to me, “well, there’ll be a job for you here when you come back.” So I then joined Morrison Industries when I arrived back in 1964, and I started on the production line assembling motor mowers at that point in time. And after a period of time assembling motor mowers, I was given the opportunity of doing a special job, and that was reorganising all of the steel section of the factory, and I was given five men to help me with that particular job. And then after I’d finished that particular job, the Foreman of the cycle assembly department had handed in his notice. And Bill Henderson, at that time the factory manager, said to me, would I be interested in looking at that job? And of course I was particularly interested in looking at that job.
So I began as a Supervisor of the bicycle assembly department, and I think I had sixty-odd people working with me at that time. And that went for a period of about two to two and a half years, I suppose. And then from there, there was a job arose in production control, so I then became the Production Controller of Morrison Industries, and that was basically setting up and initiating any of the factory work that had to be done, putting job cards out on the shop floor and making sure that everything ran smoothly … that type of thing. And I’d been in that job for about two or three years and the Factory Manager decided that he needed a Production Supervisor, so I was appointed to that position.
And then in 1974 … well, we bought a new factory in Adelaide … Scott Bonnar … and the Factory Manager at that time, Bill Henderson, was appointed as their Factory Manager in Adelaide. And so he recommended that I get the position of Factory Manager, and I was appointed to that particular position. And that went through various stages and finished up as Manufacturing Manager responsible for that.
And then in 1986  of course we had the problem of the share crash. And during that time we had changed ownership of the factory from the original Fletcher Challenge and … well it was Fletcher Challenge at that point in time, and then we were sold to a merchant bank in Auckland. And at that point in time they had a number of businesses and we were the only profitable one, and with the share crash they went bung and we then had to be put on the market. And so we were, and we were sold to Masport Industries in Auckland. And at that time we were offered a job in Auckland, but we had so many other commitments in Hastings, and of course the family were here and also Betty’s family were here, so we decided that we wouldn’t go to that.
So that was what year?
That was 1986-87.
I had no idea that Morrison Industries ended up as part of Masport.
Yeah. Well all of the big presses that we had, which included a three hundred ton and a four-hundred-ton press – all of those were dismantled and taken up to Masport in Auckland to continue with the pressing of the steel shells that we used for motor mower bodies.
And of course Morrison’s had quite a history – it was basically started off by Sid Morrison, and from Sid Morrison who developed one of the rotary mowers of the New Zealand industry – he started off in a garage where Powdrell’s old building was in … I think it was the corner of Nelson Street and Eastbourne Street from memory. So that’s where he started off. And I do recall that evidently he ran into some stones, and it being a side delivery it shot a stone across the road through somebody’s window, and that was [chuckles] … certainly wasn’t a good start to things as far as motor mowers were concerned. But then he moved down to Karamu Road and had a factory down there and then also an assembly plant just across the road … I can’t remember the name of the street now … Jervois Street. So there was an assembly plant in Jervois Street.
My dad also worked for Morrison’s – he worked in the assembly plants in both Jervois Street and also in Omahu Road. But when Sid got to the stage where he’d virtually had enough, he then decided that he would sell the business and it was taken over by J H Mason. And from J H Mason it was sold to Fletcher Challenge – no, it wasn’t Fletcher Challenge, it was Wright Stephenson’s – and then Wright Stephenson’s became part of Fletcher Challenge, and Fletcher Challenge was also the owner of Morrison Industries. And at that point in time they sold the business to the merchant bank in Auckland, and they wanted out of manufacturing altogether because they originally had both a multi-faceted engineering place in Dunedin and also one in Lower Hutt. And they decided that they would get out of all the manufacturing and they would concentrate on building their livestock business, which they were very, very good at of course.
So after Morrison’s closed down … I was also on the City Council at that stage as a councillor, and I served three years as a councillor at the Hastings City Council initially, and then the Hastings District Council after that.
So in the interim period I had another job as the Chief Executive of Foldaway Industries in Napier. The Managing Director didn’t really want a Chief Executive because he was doing most of the work himself, so I finished up by resigning from that position and then went back to the District Council to assist the General Manager, or the County Clerk as he was called in those days, in setting up a reconstructed Hastings District Council, which consisted of Havelock North and the old County Council … Hawke’s Bay County Council. So I assisted with that particular job, and then he said to me, would I be interested in becoming responsible for corporate management in that, with HR and that sort of thing. And I said yes, that I was, and so I spent thirteen years with the District Council from that point onwards, retiring from there in … what year was it, Betty?
Betty: I don’t know – you’ll have to go back. You’ll be eighty this year, so that means it must been …
Jim: Sixty-five, so it must have been …
Betty: [Chuckle] … fifteen years ago.
Jim: Fifteen years ago, so it must have been somewhere around about 2005 – no …
Jim: … 2001, 2002 – somewhere around there – 2001 in actual fact.
Jim: These dates are somewhat confusing. So in the interim period since retiring, I’ve been doing quite a bit of work as a JP and also as Marriage Celebrant, Funeral Celebrant and that type of thing. And we have had two or three moves – we moved from our property in Gordon Road out to Omahu Road – we had a property out there which was adjacent to the factory – and we moved from there out to Beach Road in Haumoana and I think that was around about 1987, wasn’t it?
Betty: I’m not sure, actually.
Jim: Somewhere round about there anyway. We were then for a number of years, and then we moved back into Hastings into Usherwood Crescent and then we moved here.
Now during this period you had a long association with Rotary?
Yes, I joined Rotary in 1975 … I think ‘75 … with the Stortford Lodge Club in Hastings, and we used to meet then at the DB Heretaunga Hotel. And of course that’s long since gone, and we moved from there to Heretaunga Club, and then we moved again to the Hibernian Club. And since that time we’ve gone out to No 5 …
Betty: Oh, that’s the Karamu Club I think, go to 1024.
Jim: That’s the Karamu Club. No 5 – the golf course at Mangateretere.
Betty: It’s a bit confusing though, isn’t it?
Jim: That’s where we are. And so I was appointed District Governor of District 994. It was 9930, or 993 in actual fact, and it was 9930 later on. But I was appointed District Governor for that area, and that’s now 993. And Betty joined me with our training session in Dallas, in Texas. And we were right in the middle of an airport, and it was quite amazing because there was one plane taking off in one direction, one plane landing in another direction, and I think that happened about every thirty seconds or something like that.
Betty: But we couldn’t hear them from inside the motel, it was remarkable.
Jim: So we then had quite a number of trips away with Rotary and that type of thing. So that’s where we’re at.
So you joined in the seventies, did you?
And are you still a current ..?
Yes, I’m still a current member of the Stortford Lodge Club.
So you’ve been there for a while?
Forty-two years or something like that … forty-three years this year.
I don’t know whether you remember Trevor Page?
Yes, I do remember Trevor Page.
Betty: He’s amazing, isn’t he?
Jim: Trevor Page of course was Page Plating in Onekawa and he employed my cousin’s husband for forty-something years, didn’t he?
Betty: Oh, all his working life, basically.
Jim: Alan Watson. Well it’s quite amazing actually, how some people …
Betty: He walks huge areas.
He walked up Sugarloaf the other day … he was puffing a bit.
Jim: Well, he’s got a pacemaker obviously.
So you must have got a lot of pleasure out of being part of Rotary over those numbers of years?
Yes we have. Well Betty’s been included in that because she’s been a vital part as far as we’re concerned, and she’s hosted so many jolly things it’s unbelievable.
Betty: It’s good though, it gives you great satisfaction, doesn’t it?
Oh, absolutely. You know, I’ve just had so much out of it that I could never, ever do enough to …
Jim: D’you know, Frank, it’s rather interesting, because once upon a time it used to be a huge privilege to be invited to join Rotary. And unfortunately now it’s something that a lot of people don’t want to take on because it impinges so much on their time and that type of thing. And in actual fact, worldwide the numbers are not increasing at all, and they haven’t done for quite some time. In fact they have receded in many cases.
And the other good thing, Frank, is that they have done such huge humanitarian tasks, especially with you know, the fact of beating polio. And now there’s only a couple of countries – one Nigeria and the other Pakistan – where they’ve got a few cases which are reported each year, but they’re running into huge problems with the likes of witch doctors and goodness knows what, so it’s a real problem. But they’re just about that far away from cleaning it up.
Well as a past District Governor, do you have any further involved with RI? [Rotary International]
No, not particularly, no. All I do is go to the past District Governors’ meetings, which are not all that frequent now. They used to be every three months or even a lot sooner than that in the past, but they have now been sort of put on the back burner as well, because they’re only just an advisory body more so than anything else.
Now sports – do either of you play any sport?
Betty: It sounds terrible but we don’t, we do other things … Jim walks – he goes for about a two kilometre walk every day, which is really good. I walk about a hundred kilometres around here just doing housework and gardening … no, just kidding. I do sometimes, but I’ve had two knee replacements and you know about knees, don’t you Frank? And so you know, the doctor said “don’t pound the pavements, you know, too much.”
Jim: We did the Otago Rail Trail with bikes, and that’s sort of a while ago now, but we did quite a bit of training for that, and that was a really, really good exercise – it was four days and over a hundred and fifty k. [Kilometres]
Now you’ve got a fifth wheeler sitting in the yard, I hope you make use of that?
Yes we have been – but we haven’t been, because we had a series of misfortunes I suppose you could call it, when we went away. We were going to go to our nephew’s wedding and that was going to be in Ecuador. And we started off … we thought ‘well okay, we’ll head straight down to Peru, and we’ll do the Hidden Valley and the Machu Picchu and all that sort of thing’. And that was going to be a two-month holiday but unfortunately we had only been there about a day and a half and we were involved in a horrendous car crash. That put us out of circulation for about four and a half weeks, and I was sort of … I was a little bit worried, and I think Betty was a bit more worried than I was at that particular point in time. We had … fortunately, we had very, very good insurance, and they moved us from a sort of a mundane sort of a room to a suite at the top of the hospital, and we were in intensive care there for about four weeks. And then they flew us home from Cusco all the way to Napier with a doctor, and they flew us business class as well. The insurance was a great thing, that you have to have.
That was one of the problems that we had, but apart from that we’ve been pretty good. And we’ve actually … we did do two trips down to the South Island and there were three months on each occasion, wasn’t there? and we still didn’t see all of the South Island, because the problem was you’d get to some place and you’d think ‘oh, gosh – this is … this is really nice’, you know.
Betty: It’s idyllic.
Jim: And then you stayed, and you just lost time, and that was all there was to it. We actually went away … we went up to the Eight Acre up at Taneatua, which is Tuhoe country.
Betty: That’s going back a few years now.
Jim: We took a brand new caravan that we’d only just purchased from Australia – we had it built over there – and we took this in. And this bloody goat track, and it was so [?] and it went through three fords and we lost one of the feet from the back end of the stabilisers going through one of the fords. And we found it coming out again, but that was a very interesting trip, there was no doubt about that at all.
Betty: And I think some of the members might have been laughing, thinking to themselves ‘that’ll serve them right, taking a brand new, [chuckle] spanking new caravan on a rough road like that.’ [Chuckle]
Now, coming back to the family … your children … we know they’re all in Hastings.
Well, they are – they are at the present time. [Chuckle] Well our oldest one, Michelle – she was born in 1964 and she’s been married twice, but with her first husband she had a lovely daughter who is now aged twenty-six. And then, and she’s got one son from her second relationship and he is now just … almost eighteen. And her first daughter … her only daughter, Erina … she produced our very first great-grandchild. So that’s rather nice. So it’s now four generations now just about – yes. So anyhow, we’re getting a lot of joy – she’s four months old now and a little pet.
And then our next son, Pete, he’s fifty. He’s the electrician, and he was married – his second marriage actually, and his second wife died from a brain tumour about three years ago which was really sad. Peter has one daughter, Greer, and she’s now eighteen and she’s just gone into childcare – that’s her chosen profession. And … oh, the young one, Caleb … well he’s not young but he’s a few months younger than Greer – it’s Michelle’s second one – we’ve only got three grandchildren. He’s applied to go in the Navy, but at the present time … oh, he won’t be able to go in until June so he’s sort of filling in time. His father is a builder and so he’s actually employing Caleb to work for him in the interim period, which is really good. He’s picking up a few building tips and things so that’ll come in handy later. But he wants to go into the engineering side I think, in the Navy, so that’s his choice.
What can I say about them? Oh, our daughter, Michelle – she’s a beauty therapist and she works from home in Hastings. She did have a business in Karamu Road but she decided that she preferred to live [work] from home. And she has exchange students staying at her place which is good – you know, very interesting. So that’s her and that’s about it, really.
Betty: Oh, Nick – I forgot about our baby. Oh my goodness! He’s forty-one, just turned forty-one, and he’s had an interesting life. He was in England for about … oh, more than twelve years I think, all up. He managed a hotel down on Burgh Island which is a very interesting place. It’s off the coast of Devon and it was bombed during the Second World War. And it’s got this amazing hotel on it, which was you know … badly damaged.
Jim: Art Deco style.
Betty: Yes. Agatha Christie wrote books there. And they made a film there. And you can actually see that whole thing – you can pick it up on the net, can’t you?
Jim: Yes, you can.
Betty: … if you want to check Burgh Island out. Burgh Island – it’s at a place called …
Jim: Big Bree on Sea.
Betty: Oh, Big Bree on Sea. And it’s just amazing.
Jim: It’s an amazing place to get to too, because the roads are so narrow and so deep because they’re the original cart tracks that they had. And they’ve just been furrowed right the way down, all the way through. And now you have to have a passing space about every four hundred or every five hundred metres. And it was quite amazing how many people were … oh, terrible – especially with caravans. [Chuckles] Oh, unbelievable!
Betty: Anyhow, you go to Exeter, you know, and then you go out to the coast from there. So it’s about … oh, well it depends on the traffic … probably about an hour’s trip, isn’t it? To get there.
Nick is also very – oh, he was managing a hotel there, and then Jim wasn’t very well so he decided he’d come home about three years ago. And he was doing some troubleshooting and he sorted out a hotel – oh, the Tennyson Inn in Napier. And then from there he went to Mangapapa, and he was there for not even two years, was he? Japanese had taken over the ownership of it a few years ago and it was all falling to pieces. Well he tried to get that place sorted out and it actually wore him out in the end, it was just …
Jim: Oh, he was having trouble with the Japs as well.
Betty: Oh no – they weren’t forthcoming – it was only about a two-star when he went there and he got it back up to where it should have been but he got out of it.
Jim: Nick reckoned they were just using that as a money laundering operation anyway, so …
Betty: It sounds like Frank knows all about it.
Well, only because we used it and our company used to use it as well for functions. One of the managers that did a runner – she was a member of our Rotary Club.
I’ve known Mangapapa myself … it was a derelict when the Wattie family took it over – the house was really on its knees.
Jim: The way they’ve built it up – and of course James and Lady Wattie – they didn’t live in the place anyway. They lived in the secondary quarters.
So, can you think of anything else? We’ve covered just under a hundred and seventy years of history – they haven’t been sitting around idle during that time, have they?
Betty: They haven’t.
Okay. If you don’t think of anything else … if that’s it …
Jim: No, well that’s fine. But I think the only thing that I think I would like to do perhaps, Frank, is to give you a summary of times, because obviously there’s a couple of times I’ve said that aren’t quite correct in those particular ones. So perhaps if you can just alter those dates, that would bring it more up-to-date than perhaps it is at the present time.
Betty: Jim has some other interests he didn’t tell you about either, like he’s passionate about fishing. He did have a boat at one stage but he hasn’t … he’s sold that. Yeah, look at his face – that’s fishing yesterday. [Chuckle]
Jim: Because I had forgotten that Betty’s sister’s husband, my brother-in-law, had said to me, “we’re going to go out fishing.” And I’d completely forgotten all about it. So that was yesterday, so that was the reason I had to call in on Monday morning and say “look, you’ll have to can this, I’m sorry.”
Betty: But not only that, it was my friend’s birthday yesterday and we’d made this pre-arranged plan to go out and have a little gathering.
So I suppose it was inevitable you’d have an interest in fishing because your family were Fishers from Cornwall.
Betty: Yes, exactly. [Chuckle]
And they turned her into a Baker!
Yeah, I know!
Jim: One of the interesting things is that we can actually track our family back to the fourteenth century, and one of the forebears was actually the Lord Mayor of London.
They weren’t responsible for the demolition of the Anglican Church, or the Catholic Church?
Don’t think so … I don’t think so. No, no, no.
We also had a beach house up at Mahia, and we used to use that an awful lot until the kids got sick of it and Betty got sick of it.
Betty: Well I mean we loved it up there – it was just that it was high maintenance and you know … and you go off in different directions and the children wanted to go and explore other …
Jim: There’s other things that they’d like to do now.
So fishing – were you any good at it?
Oh, very very good indeed, believe you me.
Jim: And I’ve got all the rods out there to prove it.
So yesterday …
… did you bring home the bacon or the fish?
Jim: We brought home the fish. And we finished up by catching something like about forty-five gurnard, and so many kahawai we were just hooking them and throwing them back. But we also got two trevally and two snapper and two blue cod.
Betty: But then they had to share it all amongst them ‘cause some didn’t do as well as others. So that works well.
Jim: Well we go out with Brian. All of the fish were filleted on the way back and the boat was cleaned on the way back.
So you put it in at Napier?
Napier. He’s got a permanent berth over at the Yacht Club at Napier, and we just go out from there and once we’ve set sail for home … it’s a clinker built – a big one, thirty feet … and we just clean the fish on the way home and make sure it’s clean and fresh and everything else. And then the boat’s scrubbed down so by the time we get back it’s already divided and – off we go.
Are there any other sports that you haven’t confessed to?
Well I used to play rugby, and I played for a number of years for Celtic in Hastings. But I’m not a golfer and I don’t profess to being a golfer. I’m quite a mean hand with pool or billiards and that sort of thing.
Betty: Enjoyed scuba diving.
Jim: Oh yeah, I really did enjoy that, that was fantastic.
Well, let’s hope there’s many, many years of fishing and all those other exciting things we do when we’re retired. So I think that’s probably just about it, so thank you, Betty and Jim, for a lovely look into your history. I’m sure at some stage or other your great-grandchildren or friends or someone will listen to your voices talking about the yesterdays, so thank you.
Thank you, Frank. Thank you very much for your interview.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper