Knowledge Bank Volunteers on Radio Kidnappers – Barbara Haywood

[Music] You’re listening to Radio Kidnappers, the Voice of Hawke’s Bay, and I’m Lynne Trafford, presenting on behalf of the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank. Today in the studio we have volunteer, Barbara Haywood, who began working at the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank because she happened to live next door to James Morgan, the visionary behind the venture.  Well I guess you could hardly escape from such a persuasive neighbour as James, but we’re going to find all about that today, so welcome, Barbara Haywood.

Barbara Haywood: Hello.

James is persuasive, isn’t he?

He’s very persuasive …

He is indeed.

And I had been hearing about his activities for some time, and it wasn’t ‘til I said I was retiring that he grabbed me.

[Speaking together] How long ago was that?

Ooh … two and a half years ago … maybe three; time goes by as you get older, and you look back and you suddenly find that it was … possibly three years ago.

So three years is a good chunk of retirement to give to a project like this one. Do you feel it’s been a good move for your free time?

Oh, I love it. I do two days a week, and I just enjoy … I love people. I was a nurse, and I’m used to meeting people. And I get as much out of it as I give; sometimes I think I perhaps get more than I give because I love being with the people; I love meeting them; I love encouraging the other volunteers. And I like seeing what comes in and learning about what’s in the boxes, and … oh, it’s just people. It is exciting – I’m pleased James coerced me.

Ooh – do you tell him that?

No. [Laughter] I just give him cheek.

Well that’s good, because you might find yourself committed for another ten years …

Probably am [chuckle] … we’re still living next door.

I know that your grandparents lived in Napier, and you had a couple of aunts also who lived in Napier, but are you a Hawke’s Bay girl?

No, I’m a Lower Hutt girl.

When did you come to Napier then, Barbara?

We moved up here in 1988; my husband got transferred.

Well that’s almost Hawke’s Bay …


Can we just find out a weeny bit about your grandparents? Because you’re delving in personal histories in the work that you’re doing at the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, let’s find out a little bit about your grandparents and your aunts. Why did your grandparents come to Napier – do you know?

I understand they came because my aunt … I think she purchased one of the private hospitals called Langsyde, in Napier. Now it was somewhere on Napier Hill, I can’t remember where the first one was. [Clyde Road] And then it moved to Lincoln Road, and she had that as a private hospital for some years, as much as I can remember. Then eventually that was sold, and she for a brief time was matron of Pukeora [Sanatoriaum].

And what was this aunt’s name?

Maisie Helen Wilson.

So hopefully there’s some listeners out there who might’ve known her.

And thinking about it, and I’ve just recalled this now, my grandmother had a bit to do with St John Ambulance in Napier, but I’ve never been able to track exactly what she did. But I’m going to have a look through all our papers one day and find out …

You have to, Barbara.

Yes, I know I do. [Speaking together] Has to be part of my job at Stoneycroft, to track down what she did.

And now there was another aunt also?

Yes. My other aunt was a missionary in China.


She was interred [interned] by the Japanese, and when she came back she settled in Napier as well, and was a maths teacher I think it was, at Napier Girls’ [High School] for several years. In fact, she taught Leith Morgan, James’ wife.

Oh, did she? Now this aunt’s name?

Flora Wilson.

So that’s quite nice really, to think that these two aunts were both up there on the hill.

Yes, and I remember coming up here from Lower Hutt for holidays; we used to come up and visit the Highland Games. And we’d occasionally go to the Blossom Festival.


And we would come up – I remember having picnics in Cornwall Park; I remember just going out to Greenmeadows, which wasn’t joined onto Napier at that stage.

No, it was Green Meadows. [Chuckle]

Yes. And I think there were kiwis and stuff at a park there [Greenmeadows Game Farm] … I think, but I … not sure about that.

I didn’t know they were out there before they came into town.

I think they were out at Greenmeadows.

Well you’ll have to just get all that straight, won’t you?

Well hopefully I’ll come across some material, and I can say, “Oh, that’s right.”

You know what to do at least, having been a volunteer, you know what to do and how to do it. These older generation that surrounded you, the two aunts, your grandparents – were they by any chance storytellers?

No. They didn’t say very much at all. It would’ve been nice … if I knew then what I want to know now, I could’ve asked them a lot more.

Yes. But we all feel like that …

Yes, and that’s why the Knowledge Bank’s important, because even non-storytellers collect memorabilia, and that can help families pad out the story; the bits I don’t know.

That’s right. When you were a wee girl were you interested in history?


No. Too busy playing in Greenmeadows, [chuckle] looking for kiwis under hidden rocks …

I’m sure there was a park out there, or a visiting place.

Yeah. Now that you’ve been at the Knowledge Bank for about three years, you must have a really good understanding as to how everything comes together in that beautiful building. How do you explain what the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank is?

I tell them it’s a place to collect the history of anything to do with Hawke’s Bay, and it doesn’t matter how little or how much we collect; it’s what we collect. And I remind them to look in their parents or their grandparents collections, photos … that mean stuff to them. Or perhaps their grandmother’s collected it – ‘cause it’s grandmothers we’re normally talking about. But we’re grandmothers now … well, I don’t know whether you are, but I am.

Yes, I am, I am.

So I talk about grandmothers but maybe I’m not far away from that. And I think it’s somewhere that you can keep, and know that your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will know a little bit more about you, and how people lived; and how people within the community interacted. It will be there for always, and it’s not reliant on a little bit of paper that might get rotten, or …

No, no …

… dirty. It’s there as it is now, in digital form, for always. And it doesn’t matter whether they move away or the emigrate or they go and live in London, the story will be there.

[Speaking together] Their story will still be here.

And the people can access it from over there … don’t have to come home to read the bit of paper; they can read it from somewhere else.

You know what it’s like … children at school; the question was, were their grandparents, their parents in the war, and was there a story?

Is there a photo of your granddad you can bring?

Yeah, that’s right. There will come a time when people will be able to – with Hawke’s Bay’s history – just sit down and google Granddad, and up he will pop.

That’s right. It won’t matter where in the world they’re living.

No. But the main thing is, it all relies on feeding that information through. Before we come back to the information, I know you feel very fond of Stoneycroft; you have parts of Stoneycroft that you feel particularly close to. So remind visitors where Stoneycroft is, and tell visitors about your special bits.

Right … Stoneycroft’s very central for Hawke’s Bay, it’s on the junction of the Expressway and Omahu Road in Hastings; so it’s on the Expressway from Napier; from Waipukurau; in from Havelock North, and it sits on that corner. It’s an old building that’s been restored, and it’s beautifully restored. It’s got some of the old features … scrim on the walls. I wasn’t there when it was restored, but apparently they got the last of the scrim, and it’s all beautifully scrimmed. The wallpapers are beautifully chosen; the ceilings are gorgeous. Although most of the rooms are set up with computers, because it is a digital archive … the main thing is to have the computers and the scanners and the cameras and everything we need to work with … there are three rooms that are done up in the old style. There’s the kitchen, which has a lot of memorabilia from Warren’s Bakery; a lot of their old price lists and wall bits, and some of the …

The kitchen is beautiful.

The kitchen is lovely, and it’s got all the things I remember being in my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchen.

I know, it’s memory lane stuff, isn’t it?

Yes. Yes, totally, including white flour bags with flour in [them]. The house was Doctor Ballantyne’s, and his consulting room is upstairs. And that includes all his war memorabilia and lots about what happened in the war. But the room I love is the County Club room, [in] which a lot of the material … the honours boards, the list of past presidents, life members … [is] all from the County Club, which was in Hastings; can’t remember which street. [Queen Street] But it was here, and I just think if it wasn’t there [at Stoneycroft] it would’ve been lost. And they’re the most beautiful boards, and there’s beautiful tables and the chairs – I just like stroking them. And the honours boards [have] got beautiful wooden pillars which you can just …

It’s of its day, isn’t it?

It’s beautiful. And then round the walls, somebody within the Club has over the years done a cartoon of significant people in the Club, so there’s this whole collection of cartoons, and they’re all on the wall there as well. And a lot of people come in, and you mention this to them and they go in, and they just go … oohhhh!

And I want to go back a bit and talk about the house and the beautiful wood; the bannister on the stairwell is – I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Have you slid down it?

No, you wouldn’t want to; it’s got a dreadful bend in it, and it bends and twists …

Ooh, a chicane! [Chuckle]

Oh, it’s gorgeous. So although the place is not a museum – there are just these three rooms which are set up which help when you’re working there to give you some sense of history. And there’s one or two little items in some other rooms; one room’s got the bookshelves in for selling books. The room I mostly work in has got the Speaker’s wig from …

Sir Richard Harrison?

Yes, Sir Richard Harrison’s Speaker’s wig, with a photo of him, that he had when he was Speaker of the House.

Yes. I know.

So there’s these little bits just pop up. But it’s not really there for [as] a museum; they create the atmosphere.

They do.

When you’re working there you feel like you’re working in history, not with history.

And as a visitor it also helps it all hang together somehow, doesn’t it?

Yes, it does. Yes. Some of those trees outside … one’s a hundred and forty years old.

But I think the park – it’s set in what I call a parkland …


… sort of environment, isn’t it?

And that’s a public park … anyone can come and park; [speaking together] have a picnic in the grounds.

Gazebo out the back, and lots of space for parking.


And of course if people aren’t interested in history, they could still go there and just wander round and see the pretty house?

Yes, they can.

Let’s talk about some of the work now that you do as a volunteer, and I know you’ve been working, for example, on the Who’s Who of Hawke’s Bay history; what a project. That will never end, will it?

That won’t end. And thank goodness for digital and computer searches [chuckle] and word search. It’s the linkages … you might have an article about someone, or … I’ve seen a handwritten history of Stortford Lodge, and that mentions …


Oh yes – it’s about four or five A4 pages, handwritten; but that mentions other things, so it’s getting the linkage between that person mentioned there and what someone else did. Now you can do that because it’s digital; because you can search for a name. If you had to do it all on paper it would be [chuckle] almost impossible.

But that’s how we used to do it …

Yes. But the who’s Who – I think we’re a long way off saying we a good Who’s Who yet because we haven’t got the linkages, and at the moment most of the Who’s Who is done by word search; but it’s coming. But it’s a huge project; I think I’m going to have to spend another twenty years to get it …

Yes, maybe – so James will be thrilled … [speaking together]

… looking reasonable.

… to hear that you’re going to spend another twenty years doing it.

[Chuckle] I’m sure he will. [Chuckle]

I had a wee look at it a few weeks ago, the information that’s already there, and there’s quite a lot. I don’t know how many people … have you any idea?

No. And it’s probably changing because you do all these little things, like I was doing the births, deaths and marriages from one newspaper article. Now that one newspaper page had … I don’t know … twelve names on it, so that’s immediately twelve names …

Prospective candidates?


This information that’s coming together on the Who’s Who, how do you think people will be using this information?

I think the future generations – or you know, our children – will be using it like a search engine and finding out about their family history, and finding linkages; because there’s a huge upswell of people wanting to do their family trees, and people wanting to track where they come from, where their roots are. And New Zealand roots are only just starting; we’re only three or four generations here. We haven’t got the length …

We all have to go offshore mostly …

And even Māori families … there’s not a lot of written material, so we need to try and get some of their history as well, so that in a hundred years’ time we can trace back how people were, how they lived, and how they linked with each other; make us more of a community. I like to think it will a community more because we can see how we all fit together.

And an understanding of each other, maybe?

Yes. We can see how we’re all linked together; we can see how we’re inter-dependent; we can see how we affect each other; we can see how great it is to be one community, especially from Hawke’s Bay.

How does it all work, Barbara? Do people just walk in off the street, so to speak?

Most of the material we get is brought in – and some people do walk in off the street, and I’ve shown them round the building; and they say, “Ooh, but I’ve got this from Mum”, and they bring it in. We have a huge amount of stuff waiting to be done. I sort of say, “Well, we’ve got about the first inch of of a mile journey, and it’s going to take a long time to catch up.” Because things come in and some people want their stuff back, we have to try and do it a bit quicker; some people don’t want their stuff back. But most of what we’ve got from individuals are just people off the street, or they heard something or they spoke to someone. We desperately want more volunteers so we can get through some of the stuff; it would be nice to think that in a year’s time we’re a foot through this mile rather than just two inches.

How many of you are working on what you’re working on?

Oh, mine tends to be more in the background; I collate what other people have done, so I need the other people to do their work before I can do mine.

And how many of those other people are doing what they’re doing?

Ohhh … I don’t know. There’s four or five of us there every day when I go each day, and I think there’s probably four or five people there every day.

Can you fit in four or five new ones if you happen to find them?

Oh yes! We could fit in twenty new ones.

Oh! [Chuckle] All right …

We definitely want more volunteers. [Chuckle] They don’t have to be up to speed straight away; we’re happy to teach them; we’re happy to work through with them.

And we have had special projects come through – someone’s typed up the Who’s Who books … you know, the [?] books? Linda did those …

[Speaking together] Yes. Do we still publish those?

Think so; but someone’s typed …

Typed it all …

Well no, because you do optical character recognition scanning, and that pre-types it. We have people who are typing, we have people who are scanning, we have people who take photographs that we can save, so there’s all sorts of skills. We have people who look after the computers, we have a webmaster. All sorts of skills are needed; it doesn’t matter what you do or what your skill is, we can find somewhere for it. I do the dishes.

That’s only ‘cause you like the kitchen. [Chuckles]

There’s all those little things that are really important, and we are just a volunteer organisation, so all skills are necessary.

Do you find maybe when you’re around in the foyer, do people smile when they see what’s going on? How do visitors react?

They all go, “Oh, what a beautiful building!”


Yes. That’s the commonest response, is “Oh, this is beautiful.” And then I talk at them. [Quiet chuckle]

Ya, ya, ya, ya. And you tell the story, do you?

Well sort of, yes, and I often escort them through, then I hand them a bit of paper suggesting they volunteer either information or themselves. I can keep up with James.

Oh good, he’ll be pleased to know …

‘Cause I think it’s good. And the other thing is, the people who are working there all enjoy each other’s company, working together as a unit. So it’s … it’s quite nice to belong.

If you didn’t feel a belonging you wouldn’t be there, would you?

That’s right. And we all belong to Hawke’s Bay.

Very good. Barbara Haywood, volunteer at the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank, thank you for being a guest on this series of interviews, and explaining your work.


This programme was produced by and first broadcast on Radio Kidnappers, a volunteer-based community access station. Thanks to New Zealand On Air for making this programme available through funding the Access Internet Radio Project.

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