Joseph (Joe) John King Interview

Today is the 26th of January 2017.   I’m interviewing Joseph John King, formerly farming at Te Pohue. Joseph is going to tell us about the life and times of his family from the start until today.  So Joe, would you like to tell us your story – thank you.

My earliest memory is of the earthquake of Tuesday, February 3rd 1931 at 10.45 in the morning.  I was four year old at the time and being rowed around with my brother, Peter on the Te Pohue lake by Elsie McGoslin.  My memory is of the cabbage tree by the lake shaking around and making a great rustling. The quake kept coming and I remember being taken out of the house and looking up at the cliffs, and thinking they were on fire.  In actual fact it was all the rocks and dirt being shaken down and sending up a great cloud of dust.

The other thing that comes to mind was of a great moth, probably a Puriri moth climbing out of some timber no doubt agitated by all the shaking that was going on.

As the years rolled on I went to school at six and enjoyed school work.  I have enjoyed reading ever since.  The school roll used to have around twelve to twenty, and if it was a very cold and wet day and the McRobbies and the Kings weren’t at school, the school would close.  I don’t say this happened very often but it did happen at the odd time.  Of course there was no bus, and [the] odd child would ride a horse and an odd child would come on the service car that ran from Napier to Taupo.  The rest of us walked.

In the summer time we swam in the lake and manuka growing on the banks was used as a dressing shed.  There was a diving board and a raft anchored about fifty yards off the shore.  We all swam by the time we were six, and had swimming certificates up to eight hundred and eighty yards.

There was a roster for cleaning the school.  At the end of the year often Percy Howell would take us to town on the back of his truck.  We would be given five shillings to have the day in town for cleaning the school.  I had no trouble with lessons and enjoyed the Te Pohue school.

Where was the Te Pohue school relative to the village?

When I went it was where it is today – just behind the village.

We were very poor, and so was everyone.  Patched trousers and holes in socks were the norm.  I was lucky to have Miss Capnik as a teacher for my last years at Te Pohue – a good teacher who got us all on.  I remember staying after school to finish work from in the day. There was always rivalry between Ohura School and Te Pohue School, especially in rugby and basketball.  Ohura school nearly always had more pupils than Te Pohue so mostly came out on top.

One big event was the 1938 flood when the only rain gauge at Te Pohue was at Rukumoana and it overflowed. This was also the wettest year recorded – 105 inches.  The flood covered all the flats of the swamp paddock, and went in Uncle Jim’s house nine inches.  Most fences were broken by slips and hundreds of slips on the faces of the hills.  The flood came up to the first oak tree and Dad said that was the height of the 1898 flood, the difference being in 1898 the hills were mostly in bush.  By 1938 the hills had been shaken by the ‘31 earthquake, and the bush had been cleared away so everything was set up for a major flood.  I remember following the creek down after it had subsided a little and trout and eels were all along the banks for us to catch. There was probably so much silt in the water that they couldn’t stand it, so came out into the shallow water for some relief.  The trout have never been very good since.  The road was covered in slips all the way from Eskdale. There had been a dance at Te Pohue the night before and a number of people had stayed at the hotel and so were stuck ‘til the road opened.  Nearly every day a plane would fly over and bread would be dropped and sometimes butter and other food.  For us children it was all a lot of fun.  As there was no machinery of any consequence it took a long time to clear the road. About the same time as the gang opened the road from Napier the gang from Taupo end arrived at Te Pohue.

By 1938 apart from the flood things were picking up financially.  The Works’ camps were clearing, closing down and there was no more swaggers on the roads.  The first Works’ camp was at Maori Gully with about fifty single men who worked on the road. The road used to wind down in the gully across two bridges and very steeply up the other side.  It was filled in and was a vast improvement.  Another camp was opposite Peter King’s;  another was in front of Ross Randall’s house.

Swaggers used to call regularly.  One old chap with a goat would come about every year. We were always a bit scared of the swaggers but if we thought no one was around we would yell out from cover and give a bit of cheek. They would come to the door and Mum would fill a billy they always carried with tea, and give them a good slice of cake or some tarts and they would go on their way.

There was a camp put up about this time for married couples called ‘the tin town’ on account of the buildings being lined on the outside with sheets of tin.  It was situated where the recreation site is at the turnoff to the Ohurakura Road. There were about five houses and several children came to the school.

From my earliest days, Ohurakura was always an integral part, apart from the mill of Te Pohue.  They had their school of about thirty pupils and a hall, and they always helped to fill the hall when there was some activity on. Apart from dances sometimes travelling people would put on a show – it might be music or clowns.  One night I remember wrestling going on and five or six bouts for the night.

Farming was still hard but from about 1932 all our produce was bought overseas, and every year we produced a bit more and received a bit more for it.  So things gradually got better and this continued right up to after the Second World War.  The war changed everything.  There was such a change in what people wanted and such a change in machinery.  Soon after the war ended tractors came on the scene, and soon after aerial top dressing, and all the waste areas of fern and manuka were brought into production.

Now to get back to earlier times – we used horses a lot, and there was a yearly pilgrimage down the Mohaka River on horses with pikau bags.  This was a large sack with the opening of the sack sewn up and a slit half way down one side, which was put across the saddle.  And you could fill both sides and still ride quite comfortably. We would fill our pikau bags with quinces and peaches which grew in abundance quite unattended and take them home.

Uncle Jack farmed where Dave Coles is now down the Ohurakura Road and he would want a hand mustering, so Peter and myself would ride out and give him a hand for a few days – a nice change. Then whenever neighbours had stranger’s sheep and ours, we would ride over and drive them home through the paddocks.  A good leading dog was part of the all dog packs.  We did our own shearing, and would saddle up and go pig hunting out the Waitara for a weekend. I remember pig hunting with Peter and Mike Lowry out the Waitara with a .303 when I was fourteen and they were fifteen and thirteen, and nobody was too worried.

There was no power so one of the big chores was getting an adequate supply of wood – mostly matai for the stove, and anything for the open fire.  As time went on some people had lighting plants, and would have a small engine to charge up batteries for electric lights. We always used candles and kerosene lamps till 1958.  A copper was boiled for washing clothes, and once a year, soap would be made in the copper.  It was a mixture of fat and caustic soda which would be melted and mixed.  When it was cold and set it would be cut up into suitable blocks.

Our diet was very limited with no fridge and no freezers.  A vegetable garden was a must with the problem of how to keep vegetables for any time.  It used to be a feast or a famine. There was plenty of meat, with the meat safe in a cool place to keep the meat as long as possible before it would go bad. Mum would make bread which we all enjoyed and oatmeal porridge for breakfast. In fact Dad only ate meat and some vegetables, oatmeal porridge and bread, and kept good health ‘til … in fact he was still working when he was eighty.

Most years in the winter one or two wild cattle which lived on the Whaka would be shot and packed down on horses – then it would be beef twice a day.  Some would be salted and put down in a barrel to keep it a bit longer. Uncle Jim always had the job of milking the cows.  Milk was set in pans and the cream skimmed off and once a week made into butter, then the milk was fed to pigs.

There was always hay making in the summer.  Two old draught horses would be put in the hay mower and about two acres of grass mowed.  Everyone was on the job to get in when it was dry.

Mum always drove the car and there was always a car as early as I can remember – a De Soto that gave great service for many years.  When Mum first had it, it used to take one and a half hours to drive to town. There were some places, if you met another vehicle one of you would have to back up to pass.  The roads were all metal and once or twice a year a grader would grade the road and smooth out all the corrugations. There were roadmen every fifteen or twenty miles whose job was to keep the water table open and generally keep the road in repair.

Stock used to run on the road quite freely.  In fact one man used to run his milking cows on the road every day and take them home for milking every night. After the milking next morning they would be turned out on to the road again for the day.

As time went by the house got too small, so Peter and I slept in a tent for a number of years – well in fact until the tent became rotten, and by that time my sisters had gone to high school and so there was room for us in the house again.

Dad and Uncle Jim both had orchards with apple trees and plum trees and the best of all cherry trees.  We would sit up the cherry trees for hours eating cherries. My grandfather had planted lots of walnut trees around the farm and these were always gathered in April and dried in the sun, and we’d eat these for hours too.

On the whole these were great years.  We were too young to understand the hardships.  We had plenty to eat of plain food and very little sickness, but it all came to an end when we went off to secondary school.

I spent two years at secondary school and made the First XV at the Napier Boys’ High.  My first job was at Bissell’s Automotive shop.  My wages were thirteen shillings and sixpence (13/6d) a week.  I had joined the ATC (Air Training Corps) and we were going to join the Air Force when we were seventeen and a half.  However the war finished just before I was drafted.  I left Bissell’s and went home to Te Pohue and worked on the farm for a while but was unsettled, and decided to go and see the world anyway.  I got a job on the ‘Rangatira’, a ferry boat running between Lyttelton and Wellington, and then got on an overseas ship and spent three years roaming the world.  I came back to Te Pohue in 1948 and worked on the farm.  Uncle Jim retired and gave me his share in the farm – that was 29/9/50 – at the Te Pohue, before moving to Napier.

I had my 21st birthday in London working on Lions’ Corner House on the corner of the Strand and Tottenham Court Road.  The Union Steam Ship Company bought a liberty ship and hired a crew in London, and I was shipped to Baltimore.  We went over on the ‘Queen Mary’ from Southampton to New York and then I sailed on the liberty ship – now named the ‘Wairimu’ – back to New Zealand.

I married Yvonne in the Trinity Methodist Church, Clive Square, Napier on the 12 August 1950.  She died on the 6 October 2008.  We had fifty nine years of happy times and many years of good memories.  We had five children who are married with their original partners.  They have two children each, but Janet has three.  They all work for themselves.  I have four great grandchildren in 2017.  Unfortunately Dennis died the 14 March 2016 – a big loss.  I now have a friend, Patricia Dick.  We have dinner every night at her place or mine.

Just a little aside … we had wild cattle running in the bush and the bull got with the quiet cattle.  The bull ran over my father and I was lucky enough to get it by the tail and swing it on to the ground so I was able to cut its throat.

Another strange thing happened … I saw some wild pigs under a manuka bush.  I fired a shot and shot three pigs with the one shot.

Goodness me!   [Chuckle]

Then another thing … I bought a Chevrolet car in 1955 and a Sprite caravan two years later.  We travelled all over New Zealand spending six weeks travelling the South Island.  We even used to take it to Westshore for the day and sleep the baby in the caravan while the rest of us had a swim.

As far as I know the first settlers took up land at Te Pohue prior to 1862.  Most of the records were lost in the quake of 1931, but I have read a letter of a John Parsons who bought Woodlands, later name Rukumoana,  4th October 1862 – two thousand acres. It had a snug little house, also two to three miles of fencing, a nice garden with a large quantity of peach trees and a few vines, figs, strawberries and a few apricots.  It was built on a small flat hill with a riverlet running at the bottom of the garden, approximately where the old homestead is now in 1992.

John Vautier took up land where the entrance to my farm is in 1872. This is before the road to Taupo was opened.  My grandfather bought it from Billy Hill in 1875 when he came to Te Pohue. This original hotel was rebuilt with pit sawn timber and a wood shingle roof but was burnt down in a bush fire in 1897. The Kings then built a house where the hotel was and rebuilt the hotel at the Te Pohue lake where the store is now. The hotel was added to when the hotel at the Mohaka river was closed down in 1899, the timber brought over and used to make a 24 room hotel.  It was shaken down in the 1931 earthquake and rebuilt over the road where it is today.  The hotel was leased by the Kings to a Mrs Joshua, and then sold to Alf Pothan in 1926.

Where the hotel was shaken down in the quake, Aden Pothan built a store in 1937. This was sold to Frank Weir in 1948 then came Ashley Andrews and others. The Post Office closed on the 30 November 1986. The original Post Office was run by the Kings at their houses.  It was moved to Howells’ store in 1895 which started off as Grant and Howell. The store burnt down in 1923, and a billiard saloon from over the swamp was moved over for the store. Howells eventually sold to Tucker then Levinson and many others, and then Charlie Champion, who leased Andrew’s store and moved the Post Office to the top store in 1966. The old Post Office and store closed down. The Post Office finally closed down in 1985.

Kings built the first mill.  It was driven by a water wheel.  Wichers had a mill in front of Peters’ Rock Station and this was later moved to west of the present school.  Lees had a mill on Big Richmond hill.  Holts’ mill at Ohurakura started 1920 and went until 1964.  Sundry small mills also operated for some time –  Prebensens and Orbells by the waterfall above Te Pohue.  Odlins also took logs from my farm and milled them in Hastings and now have only one small mill.  Pullers left in 1992.  There’s very little native bush left but big forests of radiata pine all through the district.

The first school in Te Pohue was [a] subsidised household school with eight pupils which was established in 1897 on the property of Mr Jack Bodley at what was locally known as ‘Bodley Town’, now on Rock Station where Mr Bodley had a transport business. The school had its beginning in a building set aside for Post Office purposes, the first teacher being a Miss McDonald followed by various other teachers.  Roll numbers grew slowly with ten on the roll in 1900 and fifteen by 1905.

Many of the people living near the lake wanted the school sited in a more central position.  During a visit to town by Mr Bodley the locals took the matter into their own hands and bodily removed the school to the site where the present school stands.  All moves by Mr Bodley to have the school returned to its original site were successfully resisted. In 1907 the Education Board assumed full responsibility for the school and the first teacher, Miss McPhail, commenced duties with a roll of eleven children.  The old building remained in use until 1911 when it was considered too small and was moved over the road where it is still part of a house.  In fact when Yvonne and myself were married we lived there for sixteen years.  A new building 24ft x 20ft with a porch 18ft x 6ft, was completed by the Education Board – play area, a shelter shed and a horse paddock were also provided.

The present name of Te Pohue was originally Pohue.  It derived from the pohue plant or bindweed which is a convolvulus type of plant. At one time the plant was very prolific in the area.  The root system is very strong and was used by a food item by the Maoris.

There have been two big floods – the first in 1898 and another in 1938.  The first didn’t do as much damage as all the hills were covered in bush. The 1938 flood was much more disastrous because of all the slipping of the land due to the 1931 earthquake loosening the soil and the bush being felled off the land.

Whose plane brought the bread over?

I don’t know.  A tiger moth used to come over.

Originally the land had big areas of native bush especially on the slopes of the Maungaharuru range.  Lower down there were big areas of fern.  Along the top of the Maungaharuru range it was covered in snow tussock and flax and originally grazed by moa. The bones can be dug up in odd places.  After the bush was cleared it was good for farming for many years but when [where] the fern was it gradually reverted to manuka.

There were always people to take up sections, many not staying long.  The 1880 depression was not noticed too much.  By the 1930s living became very hard and gradually the land went back to manuka and fern.  The farms were abandoned ‘til when I started farming in 1948. There are only five resident farmers left in the district. There didn’t seem to be any answer to the manuka, biddy-bid and blackberry, and rabbits. However there was movement economically.  Britain took all the meat and wool and we could produce it, and continued to do so ‘til they joined the European Common Market.

By 1949 the Esk Forest had taken up land along the Ohurakura Road and had planted many acres of pines. At this time the Lands & Survey got interested in bringing in land to good pasture. They started in on land along the Ohurakura Road.

Also at this stage aerial topdressing started.  With all this activity it was no time before there were more people about and everyone better off.  I built my own air strip at this stage.  There must have been golden years – we didn’t realise it at the time. All we could produce was bought for a little bit more each year;  there were no major wars;  there were no floods,  no earthquakes.  The power came in 1958 and the automatic telephone in 1970. Then Britain joined the EEC and the debts started piling up by 1975.

A little big on the history of the King family at Te Pohue.

Joseph King was born at Devizes, Wiltshire, England in May 1847 – he died in 1938 at eighty three years.  Jean Henry King was born at Affleck, Huntly, Aberdeen, Scotland in 1841 and died in 1934 aged ninety three.  They were married in Auckland 17 July 1873 by the Reverend David Bruce, Presbyterian Minister, Auckland.  The first son, Joseph was born in Auckland in 1874, then they moved to Te Pohue [in] 1875 and bought the hotel off Billy Hill.  Prior to this it consisted of three rooms with a wooden shingle roof.  At Te Pohue the other children were born.

After settling in the hotel they got busy and rebuilt the hotel, extending its size.  It had a wooden shingle roof and was two storeyed. It was burnt down in a bush fire in 1897.  I imagine the shingle roof would have been hard to protect from a fire.  After the hotel was burnt down they lived for a few years in a hay barn, then in a tin shack called ‘London’. The home was then built where the hotel stood. This home was lived in by the family ‘til Jim died in 1966, then my family had fun sifting through all the rubbish but there was nothing of value. Peter took the iron off the roof and I burnt the old house down.

The hotel was rebuilt at the hotel lake where the store is now. It was leased to a Mrs Joshua. The hotel at Mohaka river was then not used after they built a good bridge, so grandfather bought it, and brought it over in 1899 in sections and added it on to the Te Pohue hotel. This made a hotel of twenty four bedrooms.  A paragraph from the NZ Encyclopedia reads “1908 – Pohue Lake Hotel – 1899 – 29 miles from Napier – over 20 bedrooms, drawing, sitting rooms, smoking room and dining rooms – well stocked bar, hot and cold baths, delightful back bush country walks with ferns of every variety – trout and perch in the lake and pigeons, quail, pheasants, hares, rabbits, pigs and cattle for sportsmen.”  The hotel was a lunch stop for the passengers en route to Taupo, and as soon as the coach left Napier a pigeon was released – it flew to the groomsman at the stables at Te Pohue, and he would let Granny know how many were coming for lunch.  This was later used for the hotel at the lake too.

The hotel was now leased to Mr Bodley who subleased it to others including various names, and then sold to Alf Pothan for a house and thirty acres at Mangateretere, where the road forks to Havelock North.  But the house was never lived in by the Kings – it was leased to various ones including Smith, who was a bad tenant.  It eventually sold for £2,500 [in] 1931 to help pay death duties after grandfather died.

Amazing – I had no idea the hotel was that big, and of course the Kings were the original owners of the hotel weren’t they?

Yes, that’s right.

So you’re really retired publicans.

Yes.  [Chuckle]  Yes, they were there a long time.  Now Granny Jean King hardly ever left Te Pohue.  For one thing it was a three day trip to town, one day to get there and another to get home.  Over one eighteen year period she never left Te Pohue.  She and her brothers and sisters had a family reunion in New Zealand, January 29th 1920.  Margaret Chalmers, Catherine Moore, Jean King, Ellen Cheyney, William (ninety) and Alexander (eighty five), and James.  They met at Matipu, Taranaki.

Soon after coming to Te Pohue Joseph King took up farming, buying or leasing several sections next to the hotel. Dad said people would take up a section and would chop away at the bush for a year or two and would get sick of it and walk off or sell up.  Next he expanded down the Mohaka river, leasing four and a half thousand acres at Waitara in 1894 and at a later date leased another three thousand acres.  This ran four thousand sheep which gradually dwindled to fifteen hundred, ‘til Tom and Jim gave the lease up in 1933, three years after Joseph King died.

Joseph King bought two hundred and fifty acres from Bob Startup at Papakura (now known as Meeanee) for £30 an acre. Some of this block was sold off at some time; the rest was sold to the Lands & Survey for two rehab farms after the Second World War, for £78 an acre [in] 1947. About twenty acres [which] Will King kept as his share of the farm. Will had managed the farm for many years. Will died 1947 and Bessie lived there ‘til she died.  Shirley, Bessie’s daughter, sold the twenty acres several years ago – 1989.  The road past the old property is called Kings Road.

After Joseph King died [in] 1930 in the middle of the great Depression, the death duties took the Mangateretere block and the Meeanee block was run by de Pelichet McLeod with Will King as manager. Tom and Jim farmed the Te Pohue farm, extending it at Te Pohue and giving up the Waitara lease.  Peter and myself now farm the area. Now Perry and Kate King farm the area after taking over the farm at Oakmere [in] 1990.

Joseph King also showed much enterprise in building the first mill at Te Pohue. The mill was situated by the old hotel and was driven by a water wheel.  The water from King’s Creek was brought in a great wooden trough all across the swamp paddock. A bullock team was used to haul the logs to the mill. To drive a bullock team a whip with an 8ft handle, and a 10ft whip was used.  All timber before the mill was built was pit sawn. Later the Kings had a mill by the waterfall under Sam’s rock.  Pedersens also had a mill in the same region and hauled the logs over the rock and into the mill about 1936. They went bankrupt eventually. Then Orbells hauled logs over the rock and took them to Hastings for milling.  Finally Odlins bought the beech bush and what was left of the rimu and matai for £2,500 and cutting rights for twenty one years, but finally gave up the cutting rights in 1957. They’d pushed a road in to get the timber … what is known as the Burma Road, as it was put in when the Burma Road was built for getting military supplies to China when they were fighting Japan.  This road was extended by the Post & Telegraph Department when they put in the microwaves tower started in October 1972 and completed in June 1973.

At about this time I bought the airstrip for sowing super so was very pleased to have the road maintained for getting any super to the airstrip.  It also gives us excellent access to the back of the farm.

Uncle Jim retired 29th September in 1950 and gave his share in the farm and I paid him £50 a year.  I was now in a 50/50 partnership with Dad.  We crutched seventeen hundred and fifty ewes and hoggets;  we had one thousand three hundred and sixty seven ewes, three [hundred and] eighty hoggets, thirty rams, nine hundred and ninety eight lambs crutched, and forty three bales of wool.

Who used to do your top dressing?

Lawson Field was the first top dresser that came around – he was from Gisborne. And then it was Derek Turnbull, and he did it for many years.  Anyway, I don’t know who does it now.

Actually you’ve got some really great history there – not often do we find a family who has been in a place for so long.  That makes it quite unique.  And you were talking about the mills. We’ve just recently got all the photos from the Tuck family – all the photos of all the milling.

Yes, massive logs.  Then over the Titiokura where the main road is, Peter farmed five hundred acres where his house is, called Crohane.  The reason for the low stocking rate was the number of rabbits and a lack of super, and aerial topdressing had not started.  The plague of rabbits started with three drought years –  1945, 46 and 47. There was no poison or ammunition as things had not recovered after the war.  Also, rabbiters had found traps and had gone around all the farms trapping rabbits.  When you trap rabbits you catch mostly bucks and you also catch the stoats, ferrets and cats.  You could get two and six[pence] for a rabbit skin, eight shillings for a stoat skin, twenty three shillings for a ferret skin and five shillings for a cat skin.  With no natural predators there was an explosion of rabbits.  When poison came on the market you could get fifteen hundred rabbits in a night with strychnine poison.  The problem was to skin them.  After the Rabbit Board got cracking they used phosphorous with pollard and oats, which was very effective.  Rabbiters took twenty two thousand skins off our farm in one winter.  However in a few years they were brought under control.  By 1960/61 the sheep and cattle tallies were fifteen hundred sheep, four hundred hoggets and seventy rams, seventy eight cows, seven heifers and eight steers.

I’ve been getting ahead here … Dad retired 1952/53 and gave his share of the farm to Peter. My share was from Sam’s, the Whaka and the line running from the Whaka trig to the north end of the swamp paddock – about nineteen hundred acres.  I started putting on super [in] 1953, and this raised the lambing percentage from next year from the mid seventy per cent to a hundred per cent.  The average price for a sheep was £2.15.0;  average for cattle £13,  and the super twenty tons.   All this year I was putting in the airstrip.  It was sewn down 4th February 1971.  It was all bush to start.  A hundred and fifty tons was sewn this year by Fieldair – $7.50 a ton.  Average per ton $27.88. Williams & Kettle’s – a hundred and fifty tons of super $2,521, and then a subsidy deduction $1102.

The Te Pohue automatic telephone was opened on the 18th November.  I have signed a contract with the P & T for the micro station on the Whaka. They buy two roods twenty seven perches for $75.  They have right of way and maintain the road to an all weather standard at their own expense.  I have the right to use the road at all times.

I sold eighty two acres to Rukumoana Forest for $60 an acre.  This was what was known as Little Richmond.  I now own two thousand three hundred and fifteen acres.

This winter has been the mildest June and July on record;  the mildest August in fifty years.  Up to August we have had eighty inches of rain.  No snow around the house for two years running.

On January 25th the King family and a few friends held their centennial celebrations.  It is a hundred years since Grandfather King and Granny came to Te Pohue.  We gathered in the afternoon on the site of the old hotel that they bought when they first came to Te Pohue.  Everyone brought a plate and a bottle and we had a barbecue under the walnut trees.  It was really enjoyed by those who came.

That was 1974 was it?

Yes, that would be right.  We have paid a deposit on a farm at Ohope, the 15th March – $46,500.

At Ohope?  That was quite a step away from home.

[Chuckle]  It was.  Takes a while to get up there.

Do you still own it in the family?

No … no we sold it when all the children went away.  Wasn’t used.

Yes, so … Rhonda’s wedding, 7th February Rhonda and Rick were married.  The wedding was at home and it rained all the time. 14th March Rhonda and Rick flew to Adelaide to get a job at a law firm.

So he’s obviously a lawyer.

Yes, and Rhonda.  Both of them are lawyers.

The Lands & Survey have found it uneconomical to run the LIP leases (Life in Perpetuity) for the small rentals they can charge, so offered them to me at the original rental value. It was McGlashan’s lease, and that was a hundred and sixty hectares, and Te Whaka blocks two hundred and twenty four hectares.

Tom Peddle lived under an overhanging rock on Rock Station.  Hore somehow tricked him out of the farm.  Tom Peddle wouldn’t leave so a policeman came to move him so he hit the policeman and then he was sent to prison.  After he came out he had an operation but didn’t look after his wound.  He used to put Stockholm tar on the wound and finally he died. Hore then sold to two bachelors, brothers Willy and Lochie McKinnon.  Willy had the farm ‘til he died.  After a few years Dad bought it for Peter, who farmed it for some years and then sold the back portion which is now called Crohane.  Peter kept the front five hundred acres and took over Dad’s share of the Kings’ brothers’ farm, 1952/53.  Jim retired in 1949 and gave me a share of the farm.

And then another interesting thing … there was Charlie Chadwick – he murdered the head shepherd on Rukumoana and disappeared.  Sometime later, Will and Uncle Joe … on top of Soames Rock and came on some bones they couldn’t identify.  A little bit further they came on Charlie Chadwick where he had hung himself with a rope of flax he had got from the side of the cliff.  His pipe was in the fork of the tree where he had his last smoke.  When the police gathered up his remains they called at the hotel for dinner.  After some time they were startled by chanting and banging and found Charlie Chadwick’s Maori wife beating the bones.  He is buried at Eskdale Cemetery, firstly outside the cemetery.  After a law change he was moved inside the cemetery. I have looked for the grave but couldn’t find it.

That’s interesting – I never heard that.  So someone that had murdered someone was never buried inside the cemetery.

No, it used to be illegal, yes.  And then they changed the law.

Well I’ve sort of come to the end I think.

It’s fascinating.  You know, there’s a lot of history there isn’t there?  And so you retired from the farm … how many years ago?

I’ve been here twenty six years.  About that time I retired from Te Pohue and I bought a vineyard in Pakowhai.  Well I bought the land and planted it.

No, you didn’t mention the vineyard.  Whereabouts was the vineyard in Pakowhai?

It’s in Allen Road, yes.

Who did you grow for then?

Well I used to sell on the open market.  I bought fifty acres there and I didn’t know what to do with it so I planted it in grapes eventually and I used to just sell to different ones and they all lied to me.  [Chuckle]

So you would have been on the river side.  You would have been somewhere near the Marshalls … the Andersons?

Yes, Peter Marshall was next to me, and John Brownlie.  He had a dairy farm round my vineyard.  Well of course I bought the farm off Frank Gordon.  Got fifty acres there.

So that’s where your vineyard is.

Yes.  He had a hundred and fifty acres there apparently, and he put it up for sale in fifty acre blocks.  And two blocks sold and then the other one hung fire, so anyway I came along at that stage, you know, and a chap from Williams & Kettle’s said “there’s fifty acres down there”, you know, so I bought it.

Oh, that’s fascinating.  So do you still own your vineyard?

Yes.  So – my son bought it off me, that was Dennis.  And well – Dennis died in – well March, this year.  And it was a big loss … he was such a clever fellow, you know really clever fellow. And anyway, his wife owns it now and she leases it out.  Dennis got sick of running it. He was losing money each year, you know – at that stage grapes weren’t paying, and so anyway, he started leasing it out – for five years I think, to a Dutchman.  Anyway, they still own it.

The wine industry is very strong again now.

Yes.  Well the chap who leases it – he took all the grapes out and now it’s onions and maize and stuff.

So does the family still own Te Pohue?

Yes, my son’s up there – Perry.

So it still goes on – well that’s wonderful isn’t it?  So here Joe you sit and you look out over towards Whirinaki.

I can see the farm actually.  Just out the window I can see Te Pohue.

Those of us that’ve been around a long time use lots of landmarks, ‘cause we know exactly where things are.

I know all that range, and all the Kaweka range intimately, you know.

Well, you and the family have rung the changes haven’t you?  When you look from going into an area that was bush and then … you made a remark about … everything reverted back to manuka and kanuka. Did you then have to break it all in again?

Some of it, yes.  We were pretty lucky where I farmed.  They didn’t take the bush off straight away – just gradually – and so when the bush finally went we had good years.

Because the ‘50s – they gave farmers the opportunity to actually do some development, put some fertiliser on and get a return.

Yes when I started farming there was only five resident farmers left in the whole district up there.  Just amazing really, that everybody had walked off or sold up or something.  Most of them had just walked off.

But as you said, tough times with rabbits.

Yes.  When I took over I must have had a million rabbits on the farm I think.

Yes, well that’s good – well actually that’s probably …

Is that enough is it?

I think that’s wonderful actually. Thank you very much Joe for allowing me to tape it.

Original digital file

KingJJ1596_Final_Apr17.ogg

Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

Accession number

1596/39755

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