Kenneth (Ken) Udy Treseder Interview
Today is the 21st September, 2015. I’m interviewing Ken and Judith Treseder, retired farmers, about the life and times of their family and their farming life. Ken would you like to now tell us something about where it all started.
Yes, well ever since I was a little fellow I have been on the farm of course and I remember there was one stage when I think I was three or four, and my father was shearing up at a neighbour’s place. And – I didn’t realise this – but I’d taken off, and I was going to chase him up the road which was about a mile away. And I went down by the creek – it’s a wonder I wasn’t drowned – went down by the creek, and eventually I tried to get through this fence that had barbed wire on it, and I was stuck. So eventually Mum came down looking for me and that’s where she found me. So that’s when I started off on the farm really, but there’s lots of other things that I was doing.
I went down to Nelson College in secondary school. Before that I went to Crownthorpe Primary School, just over the road from our house, and I was there for … well, I started there at five, and left at about twelve I think it was, and then I went down to Nelson and I was there for three years. And after I came home from Nelson I was working on the farm with my father and another man that was there. Then I said “I wouldn’t mind taking off to Australia for a while”. So Dad said “yes, righto”. So I hardly had any money but I went over to Australia with another friend of mine, Brian Key, and worked on the Snowy River Scheme, and worked on a cattle station. And it was very, very interesting – very good … I can still remember it when I was there, you know.
Well, just before we go too far, could we go back to where your great-grandparents came from? And where your parents were born as well, and then we’ll work on your …
Yep – okay. Oh well, the grandparents – my grandfather came over from Australia when he was about four I think. That was Grandpa Tressy (Treseder) – we called him Tressy, and his wife was also – I forget her maiden name, but they were great people. You know, we used to be with them quite a few times and … remember we had a photograph taken of us all there one time, with them.
Then my mother’s side – she was a Udy, and she had two brothers and a sister and they used to live in Greytown. And her father, my grandfather, was a blacksmith and he used to shoe the horses and everything. Then before that … I’m not too sure with the history of their parents … I’m not too sure, but they were in England.
It’s not that important but if you happen to know where they came from …
Yes … think they came from Cornwall, that’s right.
Yeah, yeah. Whether they were originally smugglers I don’t know – they could have been – you never know. [Chuckle] No, that was them.
So when did your parents then start farming?
Well Dad was – he went away to the First World War, and then he came back from that and met my mother. And then they knocked around for a little bit and then they eventually married in 1923 I think it was, or ’22 or something. That was where they started there, and then my father – he drew a Soldiers’ Settlement Block out at Crownthorpe, and he was on that with some other people that were all around the district, about twelve or thirteen or fourteen of them – all settlers, you know? And then they had my sister, and … fact they were living in shearers’ quarters for the first time. Shearers of course came over from McGills’ place which was a station at that stage, and they lived in the shearers’ quarters – like a lot of them, they had to rough it, you know.
So Crownthorpe, was that a major station that was cut up?
It was cut up. Crownthorpe was cut up. It belonged to … forgotten their names now, but it was a station that was cut up. And then Matapiro Station – their old boundary fence with the Crownthorpe Station used to come through our farm. So that was as far as Matapiro went, and then Crownthorpe went on to the rest of the
And so the Crownthorpe property that your father moved on to is the property that you farmed?
That I farmed – yes, yes. Yes I did that. That’s right – I farmed on it after they’d retired in 1959 and then I took the farm over, and it was very tough then for a while because I had to buy out my sisters and everything, you know. The same sort of thing can happen. [Chuckle]
Yes, I know – been there done that. So what size was the property?
I had four hundred and thirty-six acres on the home farm, and then ten years after I was married I got this other farm … [voice in background] … another block – it was about a mile or three quarters of a mile away from the home farm. And I used to run that and it was very good too, you know? Then I put irrigation on that farm as well – that cost me a bit.
You had some flats there?
Yes, yes – it was all flats basically. Then the Kikowhero Stream went through it, and that was along the hill sort of thing, but all basically flat.
I just can’t place … was it on the, as you …
On the Matapiro-Whanawhana Road. And then down that road, and there was the Crownthorpe School down there – we were right opposite that.
I interviewed Tony Connor, and of course that was part of Matapiro originally. I drove down that road, down to Yules’ and I was surprised how it’s all changed over the years.
Ooh, gosh yes. I can remember going down to see Tony’s father, Maurice Connor, and Dad said “come on down, I want you to buy another …”, an old truck there or something or other – I forget what it was. So, and my gosh – the gates I had to open. I don’t know how many gates there were, there were a heck of a lot of gates I had to open. [Chuckle]
So in your farming you were fat stock breeders?
We were – when Dad had it he was all fat stock, and then I took over and I was breeding – that’s right, I was breeding ewes. And then I started breeding Perendales, and I used to enter the shows with different rams and I got … did very, very well with them, you know. Then I used to … well, used to go down to Dannevirke Shows and show them down there.
Judith: South Suffolks as well.
Ken: Yeah – and South Suffolks, yes.
You mention irrigation – did you irrigate for sheep?
Yes. Oh, I originally did it for cropping. And being dry country I irrigated mainly for cropping but I didn’t take full advantage of it really. At that time, I mean interest rates were thirty-three percent, you know?
That’s right, and of course we didn’t have those centre pivot [speaking together] units as well – it was all hand …
No, no, – no, you had to buy the machine and everything. Oh, by gosh!
I know. So what crops would you have grown then?
Mainly barley, and wheat sometimes, and Lucerne – oh yes, that was another – oh yes, one paddock was lucerne and that was very good. I used to have a built up hay barn, so I had about oh, half a dozen hay barns I think it was. I bought this other property and I used to put the lucerne in those barns, the idea being to sell it later on. But then I ran into droughts, and most of the lucerne was gone to my own use by about July. It was very dry country, very dry.
And did you do your own harvesting and all your own work?
I did all my own work, but … I put it in but the harvesting of the crops I didn’t do. I used to have a contractor came in for that.
So I guess being in an area like Crownthorpe, a lot of the interest would centre on the school and the hall wouldn’t it?
They were communities that did a lot together.
Yes, I was President of the School Committee for one term I think it was. But there’s about – I think when we were there, there were about … fifty at the most, children who used to go to the school and then it gradually dropped off. Now the whole school’s been taken away, now.
Yes, I know – it’s as if it’s never been there.
Yeah, that’s right.
I guess there was a change of farming philosophy.
Okay, we were talking about the community and how things changed dramatically. Yes, everywhere you go now you find these communities … the hall has gone, the school has gone.
Yeah, that’s right. Well, the hall is still there, but – see most of our farm and [?] next door and another farm, is all going into grapes, you know. There’s a heck of a lot of grapes grown now, so that’s what’s happening – changing farming patterns, you know?
The whole pattern of farming has changed.
Yes it has, it has. You get a lot of people doing other things.
That’s right. So at some stage or other you met Judith.
Yes. Then we had our first son. We were married in April, and he was born the following October, twelve months away – October 3rd I think it was, or 4th. And then – I’ll go on to the other children – he was born and he’s now running a farm of his own – well, he’s managing a farm and he’s bought three hundred acres as well, not far away from his farm. And he’s doing that, so he’s got two girls. And my daughter, that was the second child, she was working in Whakatu Freezing Works for a while doing the office work in there. And then she married Kevin Bayley and I think from memory that he didn’t have any money at all hardly – might have had $5 or something. And Karen had about $5,000 after she’d saved up. And he used to go up to Taupo selling fruit, and they did very well at that, and then lived in a cottage down Middle Road there somewhere, and then eventually … he’s doing very well, thank you. You’ve probably heard of him.
Yes I have actually – yes. It’s surprising, you know – there’s a reward for effort isn’t there?
Oh yes too right, too right. And I’m you know – wholeheartedly behind him, you know, and that sort of thing, so …
And so you just had the two children did you?
No, and then the other one – Andrew – he was born … fact they were all born in October. There was Stephen born the 3rd or the 4th; Karen was born on the 10th October, and Andrew was born on the 18th October – not the same year of course. And he’s a good kid – matter of fact he and Stephen, they both went to Rathkeale College. And then he was working in Williams and Kettle’s for a long time, and then he started a job with RH Plastic Company – a very big company – and – well, he has a car but they pay for the car and everything – pay for the petrol. So it’s you know, it’s very good, and that’s what he’s been doing. But he married and he hasn’t got any children out of it, so there’s just – Karen, she’s got three children, two girls and a boy, and as I said earlier I think, Stephen has two girls, so – that’s it – I’ve got five grandchildren, that’s all.
Now Judith will tell us something about the background of her family. We’ve had their children before they’ve been married in the interview, but we’ll catch up with that as we go. So Judith would you like to tell us where your folks came from and where you grew up.
Judith: Well I was born … my father leased the Sugar Loaf farm – six hundred acres in Taradale, and he milked cows and had sheep … yeah, sheep mostly, there. He also had a milk run … in those days it was the time of the Depression, and he had a milk run that he used to go into Napier with, on the milk run up the hill and everything. And I grew up there. He did lease land at Meeanee as well which he farmed there, and then he became a stock agent and we moved to Hastings – Oliphant Road in Hastings. I went to Taradale School when we were in Taradale, and went to Napier Girls’ High School, caught the bus in Hastings – biked into Hastings, caught the bus there, and in those days you could leave your bike anywhere, and it would be there when you came back for it.
They weren’t worth stealing, our bikes. [Laughter] They’re not like today’s models. [Laughter]
Oh, no. They served the purpose, you might say. Anyway, that was my schooling. After school I worked in Alan Grant Pharmacy, in the office there. And I went over to Australia for a trip, and came back and worked at Rainbow & Hobbs for Des Moss. I was his secretary.
Then I met this lad here, and [chuckle] we got married and I was out on the farm with the children and Ken and everybody. I helped on the farm, and did the housewifely thing until I was about fifty-seven. Our daughter wanted to get married, and in those days the finances weren’t too good – the banks were snapping at our heels. And so she wanted to get married so I thought ‘well, I will go back to work”. At fifty-seven – which was a big shock to me really. But I worked in the National Bank there, and it actually did me a lot of good because it kept my brain going at that stage of the game.
Were you involved in the community at Crownthorpe?
Yes, very much so, with the Church there and with Institute and … well, the children with schooling and whatnot. I played golf at the Golf Club.
The late Golf Club. See, it’s another icon that has been erased. [Speaking together]
The late Golf Club. Yes, and you sort of … you cut the heart out of a district when the school goes, the hall goes …
Ken: Golf Club goes.
Judith: … and Institute goes. But at Institute it was very good for us, because we learnt to do flower arranging, cooking and sewing and it brought us all together – it was a good sort of institution that we had there. I was working for nine years at the National Bank, and then we retired here.
You became a gardener.
He’s the gardener – our roles have changed from me doing all the gardening when we were on the farm to now Ken does all the gardening, except I might plant the odd thing.
Ken: Yes – she’ll tell me what to plant [chuckle] and where. I might be a bit off the clear paths …
Everyone needs a gopher. [Chuckle]
Judith: Well the trouble is, if I’m going out which I often am because I manage the local St Luke’s Op Shop, and I walk out the door and Ken’s got the shears or the weedkiller in his hand, and I dread what’s going to … [chuckle] … going to be happening.
So the farm – you obviously sold the farm?
Ken: Yes, I kept it for quite a while – well, after we went to town I kept it for quite a while, about four or five years, didn’t I? I think.
Judith: Yes, we sold off pieces of it.
Ken: Yes, we sold – that’s right, yes. But then this gorge part – we were in town and I used to carry on out there about three times a week in the wintertime, and that was good – it was something for me to do. I enjoyed it. And then the dairy farmers that had bought the flats, they wanted a particular paddock of mine for their irrigator you see, and I said “well, you put up the cattle yards for me, and …” ‘Cause the cattle yards – I used to use them you see. So they put the cattle yards up over there and that was it.
So now you are involved in gardening?
Well just here … just in this place now. I used – no, no – when I first came in I used to … oh, lots of people I used to garden for.
Right, you obviously had an interest in that.
Yeah – well, something … bit of cash coming in.
You know, we all do things – I work for nothing at the moment doing this, and I enjoy it.
So I think that probably almost covers everything and I will have a talk to your sister and that will cover another part of the family.
Yes, yes, yes.
Well, thank you for that.
These are some of the off-farm interests that help develop and give you interests away from the farm.
Yes, well – I used to always like riding, and you know, I was very keen on horses and that, and I think one time my hunt pony that I used to jump at the Show and used to ride at the Shows and everything … it was a great little pony, and eventually it got injured – when we were having a cup of tea in the back yard there – got injured, and matai flooring went up through the anus and that was just trouble. [Quiet chuckles]
And then I used to go to the Shows … well before that of course, I used to go to Lowry’s place for hunts, and used to hunt with a horse. Dad used to have a hunter there one stage, and I used to ride that one over the jumps and everywhere at the hunt, and that was good fun – I used to enjoy that. Then I went to the Show … after the pony had died I went to Hawke’s Bay Show. I know one person wondered if I would ride their pony at the Show – I said “Yes”, and another person wanted me to ride their pony at the Show. Two other people wanted me to ride their ponies, so I had four ponies to ride, all in different classes. And one of them was too [?] in the jump, so I’d get off one and hop on to the other, and jump that one too sort of thing. It was good fun, I used to enjoy it.
Judith: No floats in those days, you used to ride …
Ken: No, I used to ride in from Hastings and … I was only about ten, or eleven I think or … it must have been ten. Yeah. And I used to ride into the Showgrounds, stay at a place in there – Tony Connor’s parents’ place. They had a house in town as well sort of thing, and that’s what they used, living in that. That’s where I used to stay sometimes. But you know, when I go past going in through … oh, coming back from Karen’s place … and goes down there, and that was a place I used to go and stay but nowadays it’s all houses everywhere, sort of thing. In those days there was hardly a house, you know.
Well, you know, we talk about you having to ride the horse in … well we’ve all forgotten that we used to have to drive the cows to the freezing works …
Yeah – that’s right.
… drive them home from the sale yards. It was just a matter of course.
Yes, it was.
And the children used to go and swing the gates shut, or round them up out of people’s gardens. So it’s not that long ago. [Speaking together]
Not it’s not, no. No, you’re dead right.
Judith: And when you think of Stortford Lodge being a place that was more or less a highway for sheep and cattle to be driven along there … there was no trucks.
Ken: Yes it was – it was, yes. They used to go to Longlands, didn’t they – the sheep?
And then they were going to put the sale yards down there – I think they did have a bit of a sale there at one stage, but then they shifted them up here, to Hastings.
Yes, yes, yes. Now you also mentioned Federated Farmers?
Oh yes. I was in Young Farmers first of all, and – used to go on trips too down the South Island sometimes, with Young Farmers and they were good.
Was this on stock judging?
No, just a trip. We’d go round different farms round there and have a look, you know. They were good.
And you were talking about hunting – not hunting over jumps – I’m talking about … did you do any hunting ..?
No, I didn’t do any fishing or anything. No. None of those sort of things.
Judith: Ken mostly worked on the farm by himself, and we brought up our land from having the original four hundred acres to land beside the river, which made it up to about six hundred acres.
You lived beside some of the best fishing water in the country … [chuckle]
Ken: I know. [Chuckle]
… and you just looked at it.
Ken: I was never a fisherman you see.
Judith: Well … then you didn’t have time – you were a very hard worker.
So what did you do for your leisure time as a farmer.
Ken: There wasn’t much leisure time.
Judith: You played some golf there.
Ken: Oh, I used to play – well, at one stage I used to play on a Sunday or Saturday – nine holes – sometimes I’d do the whole lot. And of course you could have a few beers down there, and it was all right for me – I only lived a couple of miles away from home.
Other fellows used to stay there quite late and they had to get home sort of thing, to Hastings, you know. It was a good Club though.
Judith: You used to go to football matches, you know when we had the Ranfurly Shield, back then. Ken’s always been very interested in football.
You made a comment working all the time … you don’t play bowls?
Ken: I play snooker … play snooker, and that’s all my … Wednesday afternoon and Friday afternoon. Sometimes I go on Friday. No, it’s good.
Judith: Oh yes, another one of the pastimes in the district was the drama club and through Institute they had competitions of one act plays that we actually did quite well, and travelled to … oh I can’t quite remember, but we did go to some other district and won there – it was all competition. Was when … Holderness … she was the one who coached us along.
I guess during your period as farmers you obviously did some socialising – did you go to balls?
Oh yes, yes.
So that was a whole new … and I think the first time that I ever met you was at Junior National Party. Would that be right?
Ken: Yes, yeah. She was going to the Junior National – that’s probably what made me come in all the time. [Chuckle]
That’s half the reason why most of us went. [Three people talking]
Judith: We’ve been lucky to have that in those days.
Ken: We used to look for a partner – we had a great time.
Oh, everywhere we went. You know – the dances, the country dances, the balls … and we actually danced together.
That’s right, we did. We did.
Judith: Yes. We did. Particularly with Junior National Party – one of the rules was there was no liquor.
Ken: No, that’s right.
Judith: And so it was all good fun.
And it was a Tuesday night.
Judith: That’s right. We made our own programmes.
And then we had a few trips to Taupo, and …
Ken: That’s right.
Judith: We were lucky.
All formative years and I think we’ve lost something.
Judith: Well you could have parties and dances in those days without having people who are going to be gate crashing.
Ken: That’s right.
Judith: That’s not very nice.
Well most people in those days only had phone lines that were shared with others.
Ken: That’s right … on our party line at one stage.
Judith: I can’t remember the number but it was quite a lot, and the wind up thing on the wall.
All right, well if you think of something else that’s important just ring me.
Judith: I think it’s marvellous because, you know, our kids often say “well, write things down,” and this, that and the other – if it’s all here …
Ken: Yeah, that’s right – that’s right, yes.
And not only … we would copy those pages that referred to you and your family out of this. They would go on the website. We would take the pertinent things out of this and all of a sudden we’ve stitched together a lot of history. If someone wanted to know about farmers in Crownthorpe, they can put ‘Crownthorpe farmers’ and it would immediately bring your name up, and your story. All this information sits in the person whose home it belongs, and no one ever sees it. The only time we know anything about anyone is at their funeral – their eulogy – and we think [all three speaking together] … my God, we didn’t know those people at all.
Judith: Exactly, that’s right. [Speaking together]
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper
- Kenneth Udy Treseder
- Judith Treseder