Judy Siers – Women’s Rest

Michael Fowler: Judy [Siers] of course will be known to many of you, especially with her win from ‘The Life and Times of James Walter Chapman-[Taylor], her book, which won a Montana Book Award in 2008. And welcome once again.

Judy: I’ve now been living here … it’ll be five years this Christmas, so I think I could call myself a Hawke’s Bay person now. And in those five years, I’ve found out so much about the history of the place. It felt quite daunting when I first arrived – I thought, ‘I’ll never get a grip on any of this because it’s such a vast area, and it’s so full and rich of history.’ But it’s amazing with a few historical commissions, how the knowledge starts to flow and all the connections start to come together. So I’m feeling like I belong to this place now. And this is a completely new talk, so this a dress rehearsal. I’m not sure how long it’s even going to take so I’ve brought the clock to try and keep me on the straight and narrow, but you’ll give me a nudge won’t you, Michael, if you want me to finish?

But first of all, I hope you’ve all read that wonderful quote on the screen because that’s an inspiration to me. Every time I think, ‘oh gosh, this is too hard’, and ‘will anyone care about what I’m turning up in history?’ I go back to John Beaglehole, who really spurs us all on that are interested in history, that we should make every effort to record and make sure the things we discover don’t get lost.

And I also want to acknowledge, before I go any further, because I don’t want to acknowledge people as I go through, necessarily. So I have to thank first of all, the Napier City Council who got me going on a great deal of local history. And this happened a couple years ago when the King George’s Hall in Bay View was being looked at by the Council, who now own that … well, it’s a Council asset. It’s coming up for its hundredth birthday next year, and the Council wanted a history to be written and commissioned me to do that. And that started me on a whole train of historical events that happened around Petane, as it was then known. And I had to come back into some Hastings files because at that stage of the King George’s Hall being built, it was not part of Napier – it was part of the greater area of Hawke’s Bay. That took me back to the coronation of George V, and so that’s where I’m starting with some of my local research. And I’m not presenting any illustrations of that Hall tonight – there just simply wasn’t time to fit it into this talk.

But I just wanted to tell you that when I went back to 1910 when Edward VII died, and I discovered that King George V’s coronation had brought about this fervour by national government to encourage communities to apply for £250 worth of subsidy, towards their £250 that they were going to put towards memorials and commemorative buildings for the occasion, the people of Petane said yes, they would raise £250, and they did. And they built their Hall … King George’s Hall that is still there today. It’s just been painted and is looking very smart, ready for its hundredth birthday next year.

And then Napier put up their hand, and Vigor Brown, the Mayor, said he wasn’t going to let the government out of giving Napier £250, so Napier better get its a into g. And they got a hall … a Coronation Hall, and unfortunately it was lost during the earthquake. The Tabard Theatre in Coronation Street is now on that site.

And Hastings … coming back to my Hastings research, I found in the Council minute books, all the details about how Mayor Garnett and his councillors of the day decided no, they wouldn’t have a Coronation Hall, but they would have a Coronation Fountain. And that’s of course in Cornwall Park, but I don’t quite know where the fountain comes in because I’m not sure where the water used to flow. But it’s a very handsome monument, as you will all know. But if Landmarks want a little project, Michael, and this is to the Landmarks committee, I noticed that some of the writing on the plaques is disappearing. It’s a four-sided piece and it’s got four plaques, and two of them you can hardly read. If I didn’t know it was the Coronation … a piece for George V, I wouldn’t actually be able to read that information. But I can read about Mayor Garnett and the councillors, ‘cause they’re on the other side and the weather hasn’t [chuckle] … hasn’t erased their names. But it’s a lovely piece. So that was my first foray into the Bay history around that 1910-1911 era, and it’s very satisfying to have concluded the King George’s Hall book. It’s now in production and it will be launched next March during the Bay View Centennial celebrations.

Now the other research job that I’ve got which is of large proportion, is the research for the building ‘The Women’s Rest’ that we know of on the corner of Eastbourne and Russell Street. And that’s taken me all over the place, and I have to acknowledge the staff there – Pam Hollows and Beverly Kirst, who’s Chairman of the Trustees; also Madelon from the library, who helped me with Women’s Rest information; and the Council staff at the Council Archives who are here tonight – thank you for coming – who helped me go through the vast minute books, which tells the amazing story of how Women’s Rest came to be built. I’ve also interviewed the Hastings Plunket staff about Women’s Rest because they occupied the building from the time it opened, and so I got into the Plunket history as well. And then I did individual interviews for this original-source research that you really need, to put these sorts of stories together. I relied heavily on Mary Boyd’s ‘City of the Plains’ book, but it’s only quite short in information about the Rest. So I’ve interviewed a lot of people, and many are here tonight and I’m not going to name them, but some are part of this talk tonight, and they’ll recognise the images that they’ve donated to me – thank you. And yeah, I think that’s it. And lastly, thank you to Landmarks for inviting me back again. That’s very good – in two years’ time I’ll have another subject, I’m sure. [Laughter]

Okay, well we’re going to start – we’re going to move from this quote, and … this is a sort of historical ramble. Because while I’ve been here in the Bay, I’ve still been collecting information about my man Chapman-Taylor – you know, he’s my favourite man. And he’s very safe, he’s up there in heaven and gives me good guidance but he doesn’t get in the way. [Chuckles]

So I’m going to start with just telling you that Chapman-Taylor and information about him and his houses, keep popping up. People come up to me and say, “oh look, I can tell you this story”, or “I can relate to that house because …”, or “I’ve got a photograph I can show you.”

But I’ve got three lovely paintings here that I want to put on the screen, just to show you how my connection never ends. The first one is painted by the Napier artist … and now I’ve forgotten her name, isn’t that terrible? Someone’s going to help me, I know.

Audience member: Patrick Dick?

Judy: Patricia Dick – thank you. Patricia Dick. That’s ‘Turama’, the house that was built for the Gardiners in Duart Road – it is now Fred Saunders’ house. And it was a very early one and it’s designed in brick, and is one of Chapman-Taylor’s major triumphs of domestic architecture.

The second one is also a watercolour and this is William Rush. This is ‘Woodcroft’ in Simla Avenue, taken from the hill opposite the house, and of course the gum trees aren’t there anymore, it’s all quite built up – suburbia encroaches this house now.

And the third one is by Gwen Nelson, and it’s not a Chapman-Taylor house, but it’s ‘Tauroa’, the house that was built for the Chambers family in Duart Road where it joins Tauroa Road at the top of the hill there. The reason I’ve collected that piece [coughing] is because Gwen Nelson married Harry Malden, so there’s a lovely connection there with Chapman-Taylor ‘cause Harry Malden commissioned a little cottage from Chapman-Taylor in Greenwood Avenue … or it is ‘Road’? Greenwood Avenue, in Havelock North. So [coughing] I’ve always dreamed that I might find a Gwen Nelson painting of a Chapman-Taylor house … hasn’t come yet, but you never know – after talks like this things come to hand.

And the next little bit about Chapman-Taylor was – I was researching in the archives for Women’s Rest material and I found this little snippet about Chapman-Taylor. And he had taken the building inspector … he’d caused some problems because of the height of his interior for the house he was building in Frederick Street for his parents. So that’s the first entry, and then the second one is … ‘the inspector’s attention was called’ … no, I think this is the first one – I think we’ve got these muddled about. ‘The inspector was called to the height of the studs in the building being erected by …’ and they’ve had to change the name to Mr Chapman-Taylor. [Cough] So … nearly fell over when I saw that in the minute book, but it just reminded me of the times that Chapman-Taylor put building inspectors through a very hard task, ‘cause he was always pushing the limits of the bylaws … the building bylaws of the Councils … all round the country. So if we just go back again, Madelon … can we do that? That’s the resolve that he’s allowed to continue. I haven’t got the correspondence for this, but I have got the correspondence from one argument that went on in Wellington, and Chapman-Taylor’s long correspondence and the use of very interesting long words, and his persuasive argument. In the end I can just see the building inspector throwing his hands up and saying, “let the man have what he wants.”

And the result of it is this house … it’s the next slide on, Madelon … this is the house on the corner of Frederick Street and Kauri Street, which is still there today. But I have a feeling that that projection is making it look taller than it really is … oh no, it’s not so bad … there’s a bit of elongation of the presentation on the screen.

Anyway, that house is still there, it’s painted white and it’s got a [an] orange-tiled roof … terracotta roof … so you’ll recognise it if you’re driving past.

And then the last little piece of information I collected was [coughing] about Clara, who was Chapman-Taylor’s second wife – that’s a photograph taken from my book ‘cause it’s the only illustration I’ve got of her. But she was very well known in Havelock North. She was a registered nurse. She met Chapman-Taylor at the Gardiners’, in that house ‘Turama’ that I just put on the screen first that you saw … the watercolour painted by Patricia Dick. And so she was very well known in Havelock North and had been a great friend to a number of people that Chapman-Taylor became friends with. The problem with Clara is that Chapman-Taylor fell in love with Joan, who was going to become his third wife in time, and he left Clara here in Havelock and went off with Joan to Auckland. And the Havelock North people weren’t very happy about that and turned against Chapman-Taylor to some extent, ‘cause they thought he’d really let her down. As indeed he had, and Clara went back to her nursing.

But the interesting thing is when I was doing the book I couldn’t find out anything about Clara. Nobody in Havelock North could remember her at that time, even though I’ve since found her mentioned in the National Council of Women books, and she did quite a lot of speaking engagements on behalf of National Council of Women. So she was into women’s affairs. But I did find a man in Auckland who was her nephew who used to stay [coughing] with her a lot and he was very fond of her. And I said, “I haven’t got much to say about her in my book – could you sort of embellish her as a personality?” And he said, “ohhh – well,” he said, “do you want real story? Do you want the real story?” And I said “yes, yes – that’s why I’m ringing you.” “Well,” he said, “it’s like this.” He said, “Clara was a sweet, gentle unmarried lady, and she was a virgin.” Yes. And he said, “and that man Chapman-Taylor, that you think’s worth writing a book about”, he said “I can tell you he was a sex maniac.” [Laughter] And I always felt sorry that he didn’t tell me anything that I could really put in the book. [Laughter]

But now I’ve found out, since I’ve come here and I’ve got into some research, I have found out that she actually, as a registered nurse, applied to become a Plunket nurse. And they accepted her because she was very experienced and had a good reputation. But she had to go down to Dunedin to do her Karitane training, and that involved a cost for training and a cost for travel and a cost for uniforms, and they were so eager to have her that Plunket paid for all that. They even recorded in the minutes that they’ve paid three guineas for her uniforms. So she goes down to Karitane, comes back, and she takes on one of the roles of Plunket nurse. And she is based from 1921 onwards, here in the building that’s on the next slide, which is the first slide I have of the Women’s Rest building which is the major portion of what I’m researching at the moment, with the objective that next year hopefully, if we can get the funds right, we could publish this book next year.

And that’s the earliest photograph that I can find of Women’s Rest. So it’s about 1921 ‘cause you can see the land hasn’t been cleared, and it’s looking very fresh and newly built. And I’m just going to read to you a small portion from where that photograph came from. The book … it’s a book promoting Hastings, 1922. It says: ‘The Women’s Rest [coughing] which also houses the Plunket Society, caters for the comfort of women and children so completely that its fame has spread throughout New Zealand and over to Australia. Situated in the heart of the town, and in the midst of beautifully laid-out grounds, it is a paradise for mothers and children sojourning in Hastings, the younger children being accommodated in the next enclosure so that their tired mothers can enjoy their rest without anxiety for the safety of their little ones. The visitors include ladies from Australia, England, India, and America and they all speak in the highest terms of management.’

And I’m not going to read you all the extracts, but this building was the pride and joy of Hastings all through the twenties when it was very new. And the council minutes are full of the correspondence received and correspondence out about people enquiring as far as Australia as to how it got to be built; how does it work? What is the design? What are the numbers? And so it was a much talked-about building in its day. And I see our Mayor’s over there at the back, so can I just say you to, Mayor Yule, that the Mayors used to fight to get onto the Women’s Rest committee … [laughter] … so popular was it! [Laughter] And he was always welcome – one of the matrons said, “the Mayor is always welcome for a hot cuppa.” [Chuckles] So Women’s Rest – I’ll come back to that again.

But the next slide is an illustration of the Crusaders for Temperance. This is an illustration of one of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union … Boadicea, I think you could call her. And it comes from this Temperance songbook, which I picked up, Madelon, in the Hastings library for 50 cents one day. [Chuckle] Obviously hadn’t been out of the library for a while. And this is to introduce the Women’s Christian Temperance Union who, through the research, I have found were the main catalysts for the building of Women’s Rest. They fought very hard for women’s rights, right from the 1870s when the union was formed in the United States. And then in 1885, one of the representatives for the union came out to New Zealand to recruit for small communities that wanted assistance in making sure that they could beat the problems of alcoholism and the addiction to gambling. They saw that as their crusade. And they produced this book, The Temperance Songbook, and the next slide is just one of the songs: “Our Motto Song”, and you can see there if you just read quickly, what their crusading zeal was all about. There’s very good songs … it says in the front here that they’re purposely designed to be jolly and to be easily sung. So if any of you feel like having a Ladies’ Night, and you want to have a sing-along around the piano, I’ll loan you the book with great [chuckles] enthusiasm.

But the organisation fighting this crusade also took on women’s issues … they became a women’s rights organisation. And in setting up in 1885, Frances Willard, in coming out to New Zealand, actually set the scene and gave the women confidence to go into the next decade to fight for women’s suffrage. She did such a good job of course, as you know, we had women’s suffrage in the early nineties, and we were the first in the world. But I think that it was only because the Women’s Christian Temperance Union was so active, so determined, and gave people a voice, and showed them how to lobby and how to be sure that their voice could be heard. And by the end of 1885 she had recruited fifteen branches throughout New Zealand. She went from Invercargill right up to Whangarei, and Napier was there boots and all – they had a branch set up by the end of 1885.

Hastings was slower to come in because of the distances that people lived apart. Napier was easier to run as a branch because of the proximity of people in the area. But Hastings supported Napier right through the women’s suffrage campaign, and then in 1903 set up their own branch here in Hastings.

And in 1895, as the next slide shows … their magazine, ‘The White Ribbon’, and you probably know about ..? Do you know about ‘The White Ribbon’? Does everyone know about ‘The White …’, and ‘The White Bow’? No? ‘The White Ribbon’ was the magazine for the Women’s Christian Temperature Union, and they had this little white bow that they wore on their lapels if they were registered members and had signed the pledge – you had to sign the pledge to be a member. And then later on it came out in slightly different form, it’s slightly ivory – but you can see from this, the pink ribbon was taken up by the breast cancer supporters, and campaigners, so they’ve copied the ribbon to some extent which is a nice gesture, really.

So ‘The White Ribbon’ produced this illustration in 1913. But in 1911, the Napier branch of the union was so strong and so financial that they could build this … their own premises there on Carlyle Street in Napier. And they stayed there and occupied it, had their meetings, and they rented out for other meetings so they could meet all their costs. And it stayed there until there was damage during the 1931 earthquake, at which time they sold it and it was taken over by the Orange Lodge. I don’t know what happened to it, and I’ve got Robert McGregor onto it to find out what happened to the Orange Lodge, but Women’s Christian Temperance Union no longer needed a building of their own.

And the next slide is one of ‘White Ribbon’s’ special edition[s], when the union got together with Māori women at Pakipaki and they had a Māori convention there. And that’s quite a famous photograph now, it appears in quite a few Māori books. But it just shows the strength and the breadth of the union and their determination to get things done. And fortunately for Women’s Rest, they were there and they were the catalysts.

The next slide is one of Ruth Lovell-Smith, that some of you might remember. Of all the women that were involved with the union, this is the only person who I can find a photograph of. I’ve got names of lots of other members, but none it appears, took on as many community roles as Ruth Lovell-Smith. Now Hubert Lovell-Smith, the husband, ran a photographic studio in Heretaunga Street. I see some nodding, so that’s the connection. But Ruth [be]came very seasoned in the campaigning and lobbying for the women’s cause, because – married to a Lovell-Smith, and through her husband Hubert; and Kate Sheppard had married for a second time and she married a Lovell-Smith – and of course they had led the Women’s Suffrage movement in Christchurch. So when Ruth arrived in 1918, and transferred her union membership from Christchurch to Hastings, they really had someone in their organisation who was never going to take ‘no’ for an answer. So they were leading deputations to the Mayor at just about every Council meeting, and asking for … if they couldn’t get their building they were asking for money, and … could they have special film shows at the theatre to raise money? And so they really made their voice and their objective heard.

Now running alongside all this, was the Plunket. And the Plunket Society was formed in the early years of 1900, but the next slide shows a 1909 newspaper report of the minutes of the first meeting, and you’ll see Henrietta Russell who became Lady Russell – she’s the Chair. And the Plunket were really advancing in leaps and strides. It was a matter of Truby King really taking on the job of nutrition and care … medical care … of women and babies that really took off, and the whole of New Zealand were behind the cause. And then they got Lady Plunket … Victoria Plunket … and her husband Lord Plunket, who was Governor-General, on their side. And it became a social success as well as a campaign for the best for women and children. I think their motto was ‘To Save’ … what was it, Elsie? To look after the children and save the babies and … save the mothers – who were they saving? ‘Saving the babies and looking after the mothers’. Yeah, that’s right. Had to get that right.

But the next slide shows one of the first Plunket books. You can see that little round motto there. Some of you will remember versions of this … this is a 1928 Plunket book … and the next slide just shows the inside front cover and the name – it’s Valerie Cave from the Maraekakaho, and she was a very bonny baby. And every second page we know exactly what she was doing, and they had a particular fascination for motions. [Laughter] And this poor little girl, she had sluggish motions. [Laughter] But never mind, the right amount of Karilac fixed it [chuckle] and it’s a great success story that goes right through ‘til the child is five years of age. They’re very telling, these Plunket books.

And the next slide is of the glamorous Lady Plunket, and she had … she and Lord Plunket had seven children. I’m not sure if that’s one of hers or whether she’s holding somebody else’s baby but she sort of has the appropriate sort of … she has that … I suppose if you can find a way of saying she looks motherly and regal at the same time – well – that’s it. She came right through New Zealand. She took Mayors out to lunch – I don’t know if her expenditure was scrutinised, [laughter] but she wined and dined Mayors [chuckles] – I don’t think it was the other way round – and persuaded them that they must help the women’s cause, and she was very successful.

And one of the women that she inspired is in the next slide. And that’s Hannah Garnett. She became, of course, Mayoress, because William James Garnett became Mayor in 1911. And a very successful Mayor he was – he went in with a very good majority, and he would have gone in for a second term except he had appendicitis, was rushed to hospital and survived the surgery, but didn’t live to tell the tale. So he didn’t do a second term. But Hannah Garnett was a very forceful woman and she belonged to Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and she was on the Plunket Society. So she wanted to see the right things done for women, and I can’t help but think that if her husband hadn’t died as early as he did, probably Women’s Rest might have got along a lot earlier in the piece.

The next Mayor, who was William Hart from memory, just let it trundle along, and then the next Mayor to make things really happen was Simson, and then of course, George Ebbett.

But here is Hannah Garnett who comes up again in the story, very importantly, and she’s here with her five sons. And the next slide is just another picture of the sons, a little bit older … be nice to tell you the Garnett story, ‘cause I’m getting into that and I’ve got Shirley Waterhouse here tonight who’s given me these photographs and told me a lot about the family. But there’s a lot to write up. But don’t they look smart? Look at those boots! It’s a very, very lovely photograph indeed. And Albert Garnett, the renowned Hastings architect is there on the right-hand side, and he’s a worth a book in himself.

Right, well, the next slide takes us to the street – this is Lyndon Road going right through the centre. And across the front is the railway, of course, and then there’s a sort of a pathway. And on the left of Lyndon Road is the timber yard that belonged to the Garnett[s] … well, by the time this photograph’s taken it’s part of the Garnett Trust, because James Garnett has died.

But about 1918 … about the time that Ruth Lovell-Smith arrives from Christchurch, and about the time when the Plunket is saying, “we really need good rooms”, and about the time that the Council are saying, “we need to do something about the traffic problems and the street problems around the railway, and we’ve got to get a decent railway reserve, and have to get that looking good” … all these things came together at one moment and it’s about 1918. And so Mrs Garnett was approached with a view to her Trust selling the land that had been this former timber site – they were timber and coal merchants.

And so negotiations started, and it involved some of the neighbours as well. You’ve got Knight Brothers and a man called A S Knight – I’ve yet to discover who he was – they own a bit of land that’s important to the development of this street and road formation. There’s also McLeods, who own land over here on the right, and there’s the Granite Company – I’m not sure how they fit into it, but they were interested too in seeing this rearrangement of land and roading that would take you back to Station Road, [Street] Heretaunga Street, and Eastbourne Street. [Cough] And the intention was to tidy up the crossings and to bring a road through, over the Garnett land, to open up the access to Lyndon Road. So all this made really, really good sense. And you can see if you read the Council minutes, how all this is going through the Council’s mind … but where to start?

So they start with Mrs Garnett, and she agrees that she will sell … the Trust, the Family Trust, will sell the land. They want £8,000 for it, but if they buy it, and if the Council will agree to erecting a Women’s Rest building on the land, she will donate £750 back to the Council after the transaction, with the assurance that the building will follow. Well, this is accepted with enthusiasm by the Council. They get their fifty-four extra feet from the Knights, and they can be on their way. They have to get the Railway Reserve permission, and there’s a whole lot of those kind of things that come together quite efficiently, and so it’s a done deal.

And George Ebbett comes in – I think … I can’t remember, but I think he comes in as Mayor in 1918, and he picks up all the work that has gone beforehand, and then kind of pulls it all together. He knows Hannah Garnett, and together they form a group … a committee group … and they represent the point of view of the working party, to Council and so everything’s approved and it’s on its way. And the next slide is just recognition that Council have got themselves involved now with building a Women’s Rest, and they’re going to be the owners of the building on behalf of the people of Hastings.

The next is a picture of Women’s Rest, and it’s a year on since that previous slide that I showed you, and you can see the layout of the garden, and the pathways, and there’s a sign there, I think you can see, with ‘Women’s Rest’ on it. So it’s looking really smart. That is dated 1924, so it’s three years after it was opened in 1921. It was designed by the Council Borough Engineer, who was a man called Samuel Dodge. They did have three plans, but Samuel Dodge’s was the one they proceeded with. It’s very frustrating in the minutes ‘cause it says ‘three plans attached’. But the three plans aren’t attached, so we just have to think that Samuel Dodge’s must have been the best design. It’s designed in hollow concrete blocks and then it’s rough-casted on the exterior, and it has a slatey type of imitation tile that was developed by the architect Anscombe. And that replaced later, when they started to crack and they started to let water through.

So then the next slide takes us further on to an aerial shot taken by Hubert Lovell-Smith, of Women’s Rest down there in the front. And you can see … oh, that’s the other thing – when all the business was going on about the Women’s Rest and the realignment of the roads etcetera, etcetera, there was also the intention to build a Civic Square, and put up the monument to the fallen soldiers of the First World War. And so that is the monument on the right, and when you read in those early accounts of ‘Civic Square’ – that’s actually what is meant, that little, tiny space there, and when you think how it’s grown, as you look back across those buildings … I don’t know what the big, white building is behind Women’s Rest. Does anybody know?

Michael: King’s Theatre.

Judy: Oh, King’s Theatre, okay … yes. Well, it’s a really interesting 1924 photograph. I’m sure that … you know, we could have a session and people could identify a lot of these things – can you identify most of those, Michael? Oh, that’s good. Oh, well I’ll just have a session with Michael. [Laughter] Sorry?

Audience member: Ross Dysart’s in the background on the left, behind …

Judy: Oh, right – okay. Okay, so I’ll have a session with you as well.  [Chuckle] 

Second audience member:  That’s de Pelichet’s there on …

Judy:   On the right, yes.

… and the building next door used to belong to the Hawke’s Bay Steam Company – the people that did household washing for you in those days.

Judy:  Very good. They haven’t got it out drying that day.  [Chuckles]  No. Isn’t it interesting? Well, it’s very close – that theatre’s very close to the Rest. And of course when you read through the Council minutes, you see how slowly land is acquired all around it, and then you finally end up …

Third audience member: It was the old King’s Theatre.

Judy: Yes. Yes, well this is just what Michael said, yes. Yes. But you can see how the history of Women’s Rest sort of involves a whole lot of other ingredients, and then it gets layered over with other aspects of the development of Hastings. So although this book that I’m doing and this history I’m doing about Women’s Rest, it becomes a history of certain aspects of the history of Hastings as well.

[Information provided on other buildings seen in the slide]

Thank you – that’s Ida Bristow who’s given me that information. Okay, well – it’s wonderful, isn’t it? I mean, you could have a session one day just putting up aerials and views and just having everyone put – in no time, you’d have named these things.

Well, the next slide is another aerial. Can you get bearings? Women’s Rest down there on the left? It’s a lovely photograph, and you can see then how much has been cleared and how Civic Square is taking shape and form. It’s really lovely, isn’t it?

What’s the time? How am I going? Oh, gosh – better get moving!

The next two slides are covers of a booklet. This is 1929, the Official Handbook of Hastings. I love this … ‘For Tourist, Sportsman and Settler’ … I mean, how does that sound for a promotion for Hastings? Put the tourists first, those people that play golf and things second, and settler third … I don’t know about the order of that. Anyway, the back cover is interesting. It’s a lovely book, I love this design – it’s so typical of the 1920s. Here’s … Hastings and District … but here’s Women’s Rest that’s been drawn, and so you can see the importance of the building to the city at that time, that they would put a drawing of it on the back of the book. So that’s that one.

Now the next thing I engaged myself in was this personal research, and I think I’ve done about forty-five interviews, all in all, and I’ve just made a little selection.

This is Joan … this is Joan McCarty – is Joanie here? We’ve got a wonderful story, haven’t we, Pam? Pam Hollows, from Women’s Rest. Joan first went to Women’s Rest with her babies in the 1940s, and when I interviewed her she said to me, “I never knew then that I’d still be coming here in 2009.” It was last year. And I said, “no”, I said “well, what do you go to Women’s Rest for now?” And she said “well, I park my scooter!” [Chuckles] She said “oh yes, Pam lets me put it on the veranda and she looks after it.” [Laughter] So Women’s Rest these days doesn’t just look after babies and mothers, it also looks after scooters. But dear Joan, she was full of lovely stories, but she said: “Oh”, she said “it’s wonderful!” She said “it takes me ten minutes to come down to the Rest. I park my scooter. I walk to the library – that’s my exercise. I go to the toilet and then I read, and I come back, have another little walk, and I go to the toilet again and then I get back on my scooter and I go home.” [Laughter] And I thought, ‘well that’s a really sort of circular routine.’

And the next slide introduces us to the Bristow family. Ida Bristow … this’ll be the fourth session, if you can count this, Ida. You might think that’s just a family card – it happens to be the Maraekakaho bus. This is on the Wai-iti Farm, and it’s Ida Bristow’s older siblings with Mr Robinson, who’s the driver. Lovely stories there, no time for them tonight, but all about the earthquake and so forth. The next slide is Ida as a little girl and she’s weighing her cat. Now what do you call that Plunket thing? That – is it ‘spiral’?

Audience member: Spring.

Judy: Spring scale … just a spring scale. She’s measuring her cat with a spring scale, which is the same type of scale that the Plunket nurses used when they make their home visits. And that – interesting – that picture comes from the house at Clearview, today – Clearview Estate. That’s where the Bristows lived when the father took a job and learnt how to grow and prune grapes, and they stayed there for about thirty years.

And the next slide is important because the smallish lady in the white suit at the back is Kate Hagenson, and she was the first matron for the first Mother’s Rest. I’ll explain … when the Women’s Christian Temperance Union couldn’t get a Rest out of the Council, they said, “Oh, well, we’ll do it ourselves.” So they went and got some rooms in Heretaunga Street and set it up, and I’ve actually brought a photograph. It comes out of ‘The White Ribbon’ magazine. I didn’t … I only got this today in the post, so I didn’t have time to put it on the slides, but it’s a very dark, but a very telling illustration of how the first … Mother’s Rest, they called it … in Heretaunga Street was set up by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

And they did this in 1918, because they were going to show the Council that they would get enough people through it, that it was going to be important enough for Council to build a Women’s Rest of their own – and they did.

But Mrs Kate Hagenson that you see there, she was the matron at the Mother’s Rest. And then when Women’s Rest opened, she transferred over to the new building, and the Mother’s Rest gave them all their furnishings and any residual cash. So Women’s [Christian] Temperance Union had reached their objective and were very happy to see the new building operating.

And the next slide is just another quick one of Kate Hagenson – this is at Larnach Castle. This is a group that go down and have a holiday in the South Island at some stage. And it’s come from Ida Bristow, it’s part of her collection. And Mrs Hagenson gets endless praise through the council minutes. She goes to these regular monthly meetings and every time, the Mayor says to her, “Mrs Hagenson, you’re wonderful.” So [laughter] … this is a very cosy club.

And the next slide is just another … just an update. Here we are – ‘Anne and Rosemary Sherwood’ at the top of it. [Chuckle] This is 19… gosh, what date? 1938, that’s right.

[?] Sherwood:   Nine!

Judy: Oh, sorry, 1939. [Laughter] Thank you! [Chuckle] Yes, I don’t want to make you a year older. So you can see the little monogram in the front has changed a little bit.

And the next … now this is not coming up as well as it should ‘cause it’s hard to photograph, but it’s a hand-coloured photograph … a tinted photograph … of the Women’s Rest. Now I was able to date this through the Council records, because around about 1938, Wellington is asking all the large provincial cities and towns to give them some photographs and exhibits for the Centennial Exhibition in Wellington, that was held at Rongotai. And I think this is probably the one photograph that survived, because of the date and because of the fact in the minute[s] it talks about what Hastings has presented to the Centennial Committee to put the Hastings exhibition together. And in the real … I think the archivist will agree … the colours are nicer in the original photograph. But you can see Women’s Rest looking really nice – it’s got its little pergola. Again in the minutes, I can find out when they got their money to put that awning up, and then when the street lights went up. So it’s very satisfying when you can pull these things together.

Audience member: It was probably an AD purchase … after purchase photograph, coloured.

Judy: Is that right?

I would think so.

Judy: You’d think so – thank you. Yes.  I had an interview with James Morgan, and here he is with his twin, Rosemary. [Chuckles] Isn’t it a classic? It’s wonderful, you know – I didn’t have to talk to James much because he gave me the picture and then he wrote the caption [Laughter] But he says here, and I want to read this out while it’s on the screen:

‘Rosemary and James’ – and the date is the second of August, 1946.

‘The clothing was typical of the immediate post-war era. Jerseys and cardigans knitted by their mother; skirt and trousers also her handiwork. Note the lining of James’s trousers’, [chuckle] ‘now protruding after home laundering had shrunk the wool of the pants.’ Quite right. ‘The lining was made from white cotton bags which came from the local grocer, weighed down with the flour for home cooking.’ Remember that? Yep. Some of us are old enough to really appreciate it.

‘The slinky vest that Rosemary is wearing was also made by her mother. What wool was available was used, even recycled from another garment’ … I remember that, too … ‘to create warmth around the chest. The back was cut to size from a cotton flour bag.’ I always remember my mother saying, “you always know a good knitter because when you unpick it, it goes [?].” [Chuckle] ‘Cause we all recycled wool in the fifties.

And the next slide just shows you – you can have a quick read of that, of James’s contribution to that picture, which is lovely. And right at the bottom, James says, “Don’t forget about the rocking horse.” And I have found out through the minutes, when the rocking horse was bought – someone donated it. It’s in my notes somewhere, and I don’t think it’s ever recorded what happened to it. Just wore out, I guess.

And the next slide is just to show you one of the ANZAC Parade[s], and Women’s Rest is in the background. And all through the history of Women’s Rest you find when there’s a particular event, that Women’s Rest … the matron records what happened on that day and how much busier they were.

Ida and I were talking about the 1960 … I think it’s 1960, when it poured with rain and the whole event had to be cancelled and there was a riot in the streets. And the Women’s Rest was very busy – first of all because people were coming in to have a hot cup of tea and get warmed up, and change clothes, and whatever. And then the riot started, and they were all going to Women’s Rest to get out of the problems in the street. So Women’s Rest is a sort of barometer, in a way, of things that were happening in the city, so there’s stories to be told from that aspect as well.

The next slide is … we’re into the late forties now – and these are two pictures of Elsie Leipst, who’s come to be with us today. Elsie was born in 1920 so she can go back along way with her stories. And this is Elsie in her Plunket uniforms; this is the Plunket car that is the Opal; and these are Elsie’s badges that she kindly loaned to me to scan for the book. So they’re little treasures, indeed.

And then the next picture is typical of a Plunket nurse on duty, weighing the baby on the spring scale, and the nappy. And I mean, these pictures tell lovely social stories, don’t they, with the cloth on the table, and the mother’s dress, and the little girl’s pigtails. Like James and Rosemary, I mean it just says so much in one image.

And the next one is a different set of scales ‘cause the Queen’s visiting, so baby’s got the smart scales.

And the next slide is patterns … Plunket patterns. Do we remember those?

Audience: Yes.

Judy: Think we do. Those are the two outers from this big envelope, and inside are all the patterns folded up. It’s lovely that these things have survived and they’re part of the Plunket archive.

And the next two slides are just showing you Women’s Rest, more up-to-date photographs. That one and then the next one.

And the next slide is of the foundation stone. You can see that George Ebbett has been the presiding Mayor at the time. And you can see the names of the people that contributed to that story of how the money came together and work in kind.

The next slide is … it doesn’t come up all that well, and it isn’t it a great aesthetic piece, but it’s a little quirky thing. This is an ashtray. [Chuckles] It’s weird isn’t it? This is a Napier man – it’s in a private collection, and this Napier gentleman went into Women’s Rest one day and said to Pam Hollows, “I’ve got this ashtray.” And he said he’d scan it for us and we could run it in our book. And it’s dated 1935; it’s hand-painted on bone china; it’s believed that only a dozen or so were created as special pieces from the Noritake collection. But Noritake … if you know anything about Noritake china, they do special editions of china, and this was one of 1935. It’s valued, interestingly, at $1,100 Australian at the last valuation and that was just recently. So it’s quite a special piece.

And the next slide which is the last one, is Women’s Rest photographed on the occasion of the Blossom Festival in 1950. I’ve put it on the end and I thought I could leave it there so you can peruse it because there’s just so much to know about what’s happening in the town – the lovely Blossom Parade itself; the positioning of the road and the railway line, and how all that’s been landscaped. And then look at the Women’s Rest garden, it looks just so beautifully manicured. And the women with their babies and the type of prams – it’s just a glorious photograph. And even if you haven’t got much of the building, you can get a sense of how that little part of town and that piece of Civic Square was so used and so popular.

And I’m going to finish on that note, and thank you very much.


Michael: Thank you very much, Judy, for your talk, and as we’d expect from you, your level of detail, drilling right down, not just about the building but all around the surroundings. I can remember my great-grandmother was a member of the [Women’s] Christian Temperance Union, and she used to get some of her friends and go the Carlton and pull my great-grandfather out of it. So [laughter] … quite an amusing sight.

And just the other thing I was thinking of when you were talking about the Women’s Rest was … and you’re probably going to ask where I saw this … was that they were also advertising as a safe haven for the young ladies of the town to go and have free tea and biscuits to escape the amorous advances of young men, so [inaudible due to laughter] ... which is completely debatable.

Judy: Absolutely!

Michael: The idea that men were somehow a nuisance!

Judy: Don’t know where they got that from. That was Temperance Union, wasn’t it? That was their view.

Michael: Yes, of course, yes. [Chuckles] Thank you once again, Judy, and I know you’ll be around if anyone wants to ask you any questions. And we’ll definitely pencil you in for two years’ time. Thank you once again.


Judy: Pleasure. Thank you, Madelon. I just missed something that Kim has just reminded me I should have said it is a Historic Places Trust registered building. The Trust gets a lot of bad press about their registration sometimes. But this is a good one, I think. [Chuckle]

Original digital file


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Landmarks Talk 10/8/2010

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