Lady Margaret Agnes Harrison Interview

Today is 12th of December 2018. I’m interviewing Margaret Harrison of Hastings, and she will be assisted by her son, Robert. Margaret, would you like to tell us something about your family?

Well my grandfather Kelly came from Scotland. He came from Scotland and he was brought up in Carluke, which is south of Glasgow. I don’t know what age he came to New Zealand, but he must’ve then done his teacher training because he became a teacher. And I know that he taught … my father was born in Kurow … his father taught there. And eventually they moved to Weston where he taught in the school there. And that was in the same area as the Mitchells, and that’s where Dad met Mum. And then eventually they came and lived in Dunback with us, and then eventually he retired to Dunedin … to 14 St Clair [Close] Dunedin.

My grandmother was a Bell, and her father was born in the Dumfries area in Scotland. He was a teacher too, and eventually they came … he came out … he was married twice and my grandmother was of the second marriage. I don’t know where they met but eventually they married and they had three children, Arthur, Vera and Eric.

Robert: John Tweedie, your grandfather, married Elizabeth Agnes Bell on October 28th 1886 when she was twenty years old.

Margaret: Is that enough of that?

No, just relax and just carry on as you want to tell it.

Well we used to spend lovely holidays in St Clair as children, and also at Parkside where the Mitchell family were.

See those are the interesting things … where you spent and the happy times you had …

Yes, they were the happy times.

Robert: Parkside was at Weston, which is just inland from Oamaru.

Margaret: Oh, that’s right, you’re right.

Robert: And Weston was owned by Mum’s grandparents on the Mitchell side. Now they came from Cornwall …

Weston was a station?

No. Little town.

They lived at a little town, or a place called Kenwyn in Cornwall.

Margaret: In England.

Robert: And they moved out … a Henry Mitchell moved out to Australia to begin [with], and he married a …

Margaret: And he married Elizabeth Carter.

Robert: No, no, down here … Nancy Hickson. Yeah, that’s going back … way back in the family. This one here, Henry, he was your great-great-grandfather, and he came out to Australia, married Nancy Hickson, and she was born in Londonderry, Ireland. They married in Australia, and then Henry and Nancy moved to Otago, and they owned a pub in Dunedin I think, didn’t they?

Margaret: Yes … pub in Dunedin. It was called ‘Parkside’.

Robert: And then, I’m not sure when, but they moved up to Weston which is that little town there, and they bought a big farm there, and they called it ‘Parkside’. And on that farm there’s a limestone quarry.

Margaret: The Oamaru stone.

Robert: Yeah, that’s where you get the Oamaru stone from. Now the farm has been … there’s the Parkside farm, and now there’s also Rosedale.

Margaret: When my grandfather died, the two brothers owned Parkside, and when – I just can’t remember – they split Parkside and my Uncle Jim had Rosedale, so Parkside and Rosedale. Then my grandfather and grandmother had … Joseph Ross Mitchell was my grandfather, and he was born in 1871. And in 1933 he was killed – he was on his horse and something happened and it bolted, and his foot was caught in the stirrup, and he died after that. He married Margaret Elizabeth Brown … that’s not right, is it?

Robert: No, it’s not right, no. The family we thought … well he did marry Margaret Elizabeth Brown … he did marry her, and we’ve all thought that Mum’s parents were Margaret Brown’s children. But we’ve since found out that he married a Margaret Ferrier, and she was from Scotland. And … marriage certificates and all that sort of thing … she moved out to Australia, and the guy that she married, this Ferrier chap, did a runner. He was a chap from Scotland called George Ferrier. Now he married an Ann Jane Maybury and they had a daughter, Margaret Elizabeth Ferrier. She was born in Australia, and came out to New Zealand with her mother, and came out with a fellow called George Brown. Now she was initially married to this George Ferrier; he did a runner and she met up with this chap, George Brown. Now we haven’t been able to find any marriage certificate with this George Brown and Ann Maybury, so we’re making the assumption that when they came out, she changed her name to Brown and they said that they were married. And there’s records to say that the George Ferrier was still alive, so she couldn’t marry. Anyway, the daughter married …

Margaret: Joseph Ross [Mitchell].

Robert: Joseph Ross [Mitchell], who was Mum’s grandfather. But we always thought she was Margaret Elizabeth Brown, but she’s actually Margaret Elizabeth Ferrier.

It’s not unusual.

So this Margaret Elizabeth Ann Brown should actually be Ferrier. But anyway …

Margaret: Anyway, they had one, two, three, four …

Robert: Five.

Margaret: … five …

Robert: Joseph and Margaret …

Margaret: They had my mother, Ina Gladys (former Maybury), Matthew …

Robert: And Martha.

Margaret: … Martha – that’s where that Maybury came in … a son, Ivan Ross, and Margaret Constance. That’s right.

Robert: So Mum’s mother met her father, who was Eric John Kelly.

Margaret: Actually he wasn’t – he was John Tweedie, but he somehow or other didn’t want to be called that, and he called himself Eric. So he …

Robert: Where did Pop and Gran meet? They met at Weston ..?

Margaret: Well, they must’ve met when Poppa was teaching at Weston, and Dad worked on Rosedale. And he must’ve had quite a bit to do with the Mitchells, so … Then he went to train for the war, and he was just about to go overseas and the war stopped, but he got that awful flu instead. But he recovered as you can see. And then when they married, they moved to Dunback. Dunback is nine miles in from Palmerston in Otago.

So it must be on the pig route almost?

Robert: It is, yeah.

Margaret: The pig route was a bit further north.

I identify things by names that I can remember.

Robert: It was on the pig route.

Margaret: The pig route started further up. But my husband liked to tease me that I was on the pig route, but I wasn’t. So anyway, they moved to Dunback, and it was a very tough time because of the price for sheep and what-have-you, and the Depression.

Robert: Drought, and …

Margaret: And the only thing that sort of kept them going was rabbits. You did this in the hill land. And there used to be a rabbit factory for the furs – which I don’t remember – in Dunback. Eventually – of course they stayed there – and they had four children.

Robert: I remember Pop telling me one time when they were doing the rabbits, they’d go along with a single-furrow plough along the side of a hill and put some carrots – you know, just put ordinary carrots down. The rabbits’d come along and eat them.

Margaret: For about two days.

Robert: Yeah. And then they’d go along in sort of two or three days’ time, put a single furrow – and I can’t remember how long the furrow was – but they’d put the poisoned carrots down and the rabbits would come in and eat them. By the time they got to the end of the furrow and turned round to go back to the start, they were tripping over the rabbits to come in and eat the … and then you know, the rabbits were …

It’s hard to imagine what it must’ve been like.

Margaret: Then they had to be skinned and put on wire and dried, and they were sold. So that’s what kept them going then. He farmed there but … droughts and what-have-you … And a friend of his that lived in the North Island persuaded him to come to the North Island. And that was …. have you got a date for that?

Robert: It was about 1942 I think when …

Margaret: He settled in Waverley. I was eighteen then. He leased the farm and eventually made enough money to buy it. When he came to the North Island he had a wife, four kids, a car, a dog and £2,000 in his pocket. And when he left the farm to my brother and retired to New Plymouth, he eventually died and he didn’t owe anybody anything.

Well people that went through some of those times were very prudent about money they owed, and repaid …

And I’m sure that comes back through the generations.

Robert: Pop died in 1982 I think, wasn’t it? Yeah, 1982 – he died in May 1982, and Gran died in February 1982, so when she went he didn’t last much longer, did he?

So what age were they?

He was eighty-four.

Margaret: So was Mum.

Robert: Yeah.

Margaret: Dad had angina. But he was very lonely after …

Robert: Mmm. They’d been married for sixty years, so …

Margaret: No, we had a good childhood.

Robert: That’s three life sentences for them.

Yes, it is. Then the family was in Waverley …

Margaret: Yes, the family was …

… you were eighteen, so you were still at school?

No, no – I went to school in Dunback for primary school, and I went to the State school in Palmerston for high school. But my other two sisters and brother – they went to school in Waverley. And I stayed at home ‘til I was nineteen, and then I did my Karitane training, and …

Robert: That was in Wanganui, wasn’t it?

Margaret: In Wanganui.

Oh, you didn’t have to go to Karitane to train?

This is to look after babies.

Robert: Yeah, they trained on the job, didn’t they?

Karitane …

Margaret: Well that’s where Sir Truby King lived.

Yeah, and you did train on the job.

No, I trained in Wanganui. It was a sixteen-month training, and then I went on cases and I landed up in Takapau casing for my brother-in-law to be. And Dick … when the war ended he spent a year as a liaison officer in India, and he came home just as I was casing Janet.

Robert: Mmm. The reason why you got that job with Uncle Pod was that you met up with Sheila … Aunt She.

Margaret: Sheila was a MacIntyre – Duncan MacIntyre’s sister – and we both trained at the same place.

Oh, did you really?

And I used to come over and stay at ‘Turamoe’, and eventually he arrived back home and …

Robert: She saw a photo of him, and thought ‘I’ve got to have this bloke’. [Laughter]

Well he was a very handsome man.

Margaret: Well, when I was at ‘Turamoe’ at one stage there was a photo arrived of him, and of course after that they teased me that I saw the photograph and I was going to marry him, which was rubbish.

Robert: [Chuckle]

Okay. You met Dick in a shearing shed – whose shearing shed was it?

Margaret: We were taking over morning tea and he happened to be there, but …

Robert: This is at Tasma, wasn’t it?

Margaret: Yes, this is at Tasma.

Robert: Which is … Tasma is a farm that my great grandfather, James Bell bought, and he then sold it to Dad’s father, William Creed [Harrison] , who then sold it in the early twenties. And it reverted back to him during the Depression when the people that bought it off him couldn’t take it, so he took back ownership. And in 1933 I think it was, Uncle Pod went down there to start running it. And at that time it was …

Margaret: After he came back from the war.

Robert: Yeah, well he was running it to begin with before the war, and I think it was about 1933 when he did it. And there was about oh, sixteen … seventeen hundred acres all told.

Margaret: Well eventually the war ended, and Dad … before the war he thought he’d be a teacher. He had a very good brain, but he decided when he came back that he was going to be his own boss – he was sick of being told what to do.

[Speaking together]: Ordered around.

So for a while he worked with his brother ‘til he learnt something about farming.

His brother’s name?


Robert: James Arnold.

Margaret: And then eventually they split the farm between the two brothers and his sister, who was Joan Grigg – she was in the South Island. And there was a house on Springfield which was our part, and of course there was the one on Tasma. She had the one across the road. And it was Uncle Mac that put his foot in it … told her that since it was her farm that didn’t have a house on it, she had to build it. So it meant for six months we lived in the shearing shed. [Chuckle] Then eventually William was born, then Hugh, then Mary, and then Robert.

Are you the baby of the family?

Robert: No, I’m the youngest. [Chuckle]

Margaret: He’s me [my] baby! And I suppose we did all the normal things that farming families did. Dick was on committees right, left and centre, but I wasn’t really a committee person. But I had plenty to do with four children – garden, housework, cooking, because if anybody came on the farm Dick would say “oh – come and have a cup of tea”, or “come and have lunch”. And if I hadn’t had my Karitane training my children wouldn’t’ve been on the routine they were.

Okay – well let’s go back then to Dick – Sir Richard. And where did he come from? His parents? [Speaking together]

He was born in Hastings.

But where did his parents come from?

Robert: His parents … one was English, and the furtherest we can go back there is that he was a Vicar Choral at Lichfield Cathedral, and he was born in 1812 and died in 1848. He had a family – Dad’s grandfather was John; he was a bank manager in Shifnell, and then he had a number of children and the youngest child of their marriage was William Creed [Harrison]. And William joined up with the Orient Line …

Margaret: Merchant navy.

Robert: … he was on sailing ships and that sort of thing, and then also joined the Royal Navy Reserve. And Dad always had said to me that he couldn’t get into the Navy proper as an officer because his Latin wasn’t up to scratch.

Margaret: [Chuckle]

Robert: So he served … well met his future wife when Gran’s family were taken on an overseas trip by their parents who came from the Dumfries area in Scotland, in a little place just south of Moffat, called Beattock. And they were tenant farmers there, and his name was James. Well his father came out to Australia with his two other brothers, and they farmed out of Rockhampton in that North Queensland area. William decided that the droughts were … you know, terrible sort of things, so he up [and] moved his family from there, and they arrived in Nelson in about 1867, so … sometime round there. And they then moved to the Marlborough area and he started up a company, William Bell and Sons, and he had four sons, Robert, Adam, James and William. And they farmed – my great grandfather James was a cattle drover, and he ended up wheeling and dealing in land down in Marlborough, up in the Hawke’s Bay, up in Northland – all over the place. And he married the girl next door and they had three children, John, my grandmother who was Jean, and my great aunt …

Margaret: Esther.

Robert: … Esther. John married but had no children, and he died in the thirties I think it was. And Jean married William Creed [Harrison], and Esther married Archibald MacIntyre who was [were] Duncan’s parents. And they were born down in Blenheim, and my grandmother met my grandfather when they went on their overseas trip. And he was working on the ship that they happened to be on, and [they] took a liking to each other. From what I gather I don’t think Jean’s father was particularly impressed with this Englishman, and he wasn’t particularly impressed from what I gather with Jean’s sister’s choice of husband. And I think from family tradition, or lore or whatever you like to call it, that my grandfather and grandfather [grandmother] eloped, and they got married and that was it.

First of all he had Uncle Pod, who’s James Arnold – he was born in 1913 – and then had Joan who was born in 1915, and then after that he went off to war in the Royal Navy Reserve. He was in the Battle of Jutland, and he ended up off East German Africa or Tanzania I think – Tanzania?

Margaret: Tanzania.

Robert: Yeah – he ended up there. And when he came home, obviously Dad sort of happened along the way, and he was born in 1921.

Now, you haven’t mentioned the name Harrison at all? You’ve mentioned Creed …

Robert: Yeah – William Creed was William Creed Harrison.

Aha! I kept thinking William Creed is featuring there, but yeah, it was William Creed Harrison.

Yeah. So anyway, when Dad was born, it was found out that his father, William, had a bone tumour. It was a benign one, and the only place they could deal to that was in England, so when Dad was two weeks old he was handed over to a Mrs Aitchison from Clive …

Margaret: Miss.

Robert: Oh – Miss, sorry – and was brought up by her for the first two years of his life. Dad’s parents went off to England, got the tumour sorted out … he had a stroke along the way somewhere, and I was always led to believe that they went to Canada where they could hopefully try and sort that out. Whether that was true or not, they went via Canada and back home. So two years later they arrived back on the doorstep and picked Dad up, and Dad was thinking ‘who are these people?’

Margaret: He wasn’t amused.

Robert: Yeah. Anyway, things settled down and they eventually bought … was in about 1924 … they bought Stoneycroft.

Well just before we go to Stoneycroft, did you ever meet Miss Aitchison?

Margaret: I didn’t meet the father – he died in ‘39.

Robert: Yeah, he died ‘bout …

Margaret: Before I met Dick.


Robert: But Mum did meet Miss Aitchison.

Margaret: Yes, Dick took me to meet her. And he seemingly walked home, and he went missing. And Pod was sent to look for him, and he was a way down the road looking for Nurse, crying his head off. Can you imagine it? Why they didn’t take the Nurse home …

Robert: You know, they did things differently. Anyway, they bought Stoneycroft in about 1924. Dad – then when he was about five he went to …

Margaret: Queenswood.

Robert: Queenswood, which I think is where Rudolf Steiner is today … he went there. Then he went off to Hereworth – he hated that.

Margaret: He wouldn’t allow his children to go there.


And I thought it was … I tried to persuade him to let Robert go because he was just home with me.

I’ve had several friends who had children – they were all farming people – they regretted sending their boys to Hereworth ‘cause they never ever got to know them. They were segregated … yes.

Well he went to Queenswood, Hereworth, Wanganui and the Army.

So he was away …

He was away for most – yeah.

… for many years of his life?

Robert: Yeah. It was interesting, on the Honours Board at Hereworth on the academic side you’ve got Dad’s name as being Dux; you’ve got Uncle Pod as being on the sports side.

Margaret: Well Duncan was somewhere on there too.

Robert: Yeah. And Dad went to Wanganui Collegiate and absolutely loved it. Loved it there, then went to Canterbury University.

Margaret: Oh, that’s right, yeah – Canterbury.

Robert: And at that time the war had broken out …

Margaret: As soon as he finished his BA he went straight into the Army.

Robert: He was a Territorial while he was at … along with a lot of his mates. And as soon as he graduated he joined up …

Margaret: To the 23rd …

Robert: To the 23rd Battalion which was the Canterbury Battalion. And then they shipped him off to Egypt to begin with; had his 21st birthday in Perth – not sure whether he can [could] remember much of it …

Margaret: I think it was quite a party.

Robert: Yeah. And then from Egypt – he was a Second Lieutenant – from Egypt they were sent to Italy via Taranto, which is down the bottom, and he went up through the … you know, with the Italian campaign. I think he started there in 1943 or whenever it was, and followed it up there. He was wounded at Cassino at the sort of start of the battle. They were in this house that they’d been billeted, and this German pilot in a Stuker decided ‘oh, well, I’ve got to get rid of my bombs, so I’ll drop it on that house’. And Dad had his tin hat on – if he hadn’t had that then we wouldn’t be here today. But he had a big scar right down the middle between his eyes, which you know, right up until the day he died you could still see the scar.

Well he was out for about six weeks or however long it was, and then joined up back with the Battalion after Cassino and then carried on up through Italy. About the time they got to the River Po he was a Major I think, by that stage. And he came back to New Zealand via India as the New Zealand Army Liaison Officer. And the reason was that he was helping organise the transport for New Zealand troops coming back to New Zealand. While he was there – they were in Bombay at the … I think it was Bombay … and they were on one side of the city and he had to take some mail over to the English Embassy which was on the other side of the city. Anyway he got in his car and headed off and got caught up in the demonstrations … the anti-British demonstrations that were going on there. And eventually he got stopped, dragged out of the car and was getting stoned and beaten up and whatever, until someone saw the New Zealand badge on his lapel, and they sort of stopped, picked him up and sort of dusted him down. They said “he’s from New Zealand – he’s not an Englishman, he’s a New Zealander. Leave him alone”. So they chucked him back in the car and sent him on his way. So not long after that he was sent home, and because of the sort of situation straight after the war, he joined up with the Territorials again because you know, there was talk of … you know, they might have to go and fight the Soviets. So he eventually became a Lieutenant-Colonel; was made Honorary Colonel of the Hawke’s Bay Regiment – commanded that for a couple of years or whatever it was – and then eventually retired back to the farm.

Margaret: That was while he was on the farm.

Robert: Yeah. Yeah, that all happened while he was on the farm. And then in 1963 he entered Parliament. Yeah.

Margaret: Much against my approval.


Well, I was a farmer’s wife. I wasn’t … [Chuckle] It was rather funny because when he became a candidate people said “Well, where did she come from? What school did she go to?”


I didn’t tell them – I wasn’t going to tell them. [Speaking together]

Robert: From Dunback, just off the pig route. [Chuckle]

Margaret: I thought they were a snobby lot.

Robert: [Chuckle] No, we just like to poke a bit of fun. [Chuckle] [Speaking together]

Margaret: But anyway …

So he was back at Springfield, he then decided to throw his hat in the ring and go to Parliament? [Speaking together]

Margaret: He was persuaded by several.

Robert: Yeah. So basically the election for the Hawke’s Bay seat back at the time – it wasn’t the general election that you needed to worry about, it was the selection race, because whoever won that back in those days was going to be a Member of Parliament.

Margaret: No, it was in the main election.

Robert: Yeah – no but before that Dad had to go up in front of the National Party.


Margaret: There were six of them.

Robert: Yeah, for pre-selection. Now whoever won that …

Margaret: Yes …

Robert: … was basically guaranteed …

Margaret: … was the candidate. Dick was last, but I can remember one of them – what was his name? He got up on the stage and he said “So-and-so’s away out there”, and I wished I was there. [Chuckle] Dad spoke last, and then eventually he was picked.

Did he follow Cyril Harker? Yes. D’you know, we can find no history. We can’t find any of the history of the Hawke’s Bay electorate. Nothing at all.

Robert: Oh, is that right?

Margaret: Michael Laws was …

Robert: Yeah, I know – it was after that.

Margaret: Oh – he might’ve dumped it.

Well we don’t know. We have one minute book for the whole electorate, and that was from Douglas Twigg’s electorate …

Margaret: Oh, he was in our electorate.

Yes – from his electorate at Maraekakaho. And it’s like reading who’s who in the farming area.

Yes, it would too. He was a very loyal member. We had some very loyal people. And Lawrence Yule’s father, Donald. He was …


And he was very loyal, so …


Dick was in the Ashley Clinton thing for fifteen years, and it was – I think McPhail did the most [?] thing.

Robert: Oh, yeah – McPhail.

Margaret: [Chuckle] Yeah.

So then he served New Zealand as not only a National Party representative but as the Speaker, and he really was a very distinguished politician, wasn’t he?

I think he was one of the best Speakers because he was fair.

Yes, very much so.

I can remember one day there was a lot of trouble in the House, and a lot of interjections – Dick said “Right! The next interjection will go out.” Unfortunately Talboys came in, and he wasn’t there. And he let out something … “Out!” Ooh, he was angry.

Robert: [Chuckle] Who – Talboys or Dad? Or both?

Margaret: Talboys. [Chuckle] Oh, Dad was sorry, because he knew what happened, but he could not send him out.

And of course being an elected member, it wasn’t a Party vote – you were actually elected by the electors [voters] weren’t you?

You were always “The Member for Hawke’s Bay”; “The Member for Hastings”. The Speaker always wore his wig in the House, and although there’s some torrid times, there was great respect for Parliament, and the Labour Party as well.

Robert: He started some things – he took over from Sir Roy Jack who got quite sick …

Margaret: He actually died in the Speaker’s suite.

Robert: And Dad – he sort of was Acting Speaker from about 1976.

Margaret: He actually went through. He was Whip …

Robert: Junior Whip.

Margaret: Junior Whip, then Senior Whip. Then he was Chairman of Committees. And he understood the House – he knew when to you know, make a bit of a joke or … or when to put his foot … They said the quieter he got, the more they sat up. So no, he was greatly respected. And he did things – he entertained the whole staff of Parliament either with drinks before dinner, or cocktails. And we also brought the public in – I don’t think it’d ever been done before, and I bet it wasn’t done since.

Robert: He also got the two parties together – was it once a week, or ..?

Margaret: He used to have the Whips of both parties in after half past ten, one night every so often, to discuss things they wanted to discuss with him …

So it was mutual ..?

… on the understanding that nothing went outside that door. And for a while they were very cagey, [???] but eventually it worked.

And so during this time while Sir Richard was busy sorting the country’s problems out, you were back at Springfield looking after the family?

When he made his acceptance speech, he said that … first thing as far as I were [was] concerned was the family. And I didn’t go to a lot of things until … I used to go to the Opening of Parliament – and we used to get Mrs Sandel – and the conferences, and that was that until Robert went off to boarding school. And my kids were lucky. They went to Wanganui, and of course most of [the] sons … what was your House?

Robert: Selwyn.

Margaret: Most of them were farmers, so you didn’t get Labour and all that fired at you, did you?

Robert: No.

Margaret: But, Duncan MacIntyre’s kids when he was Member for Hastings – they got hell at school, and they wouldn’t even stay for lunch at school – they’d go home. And it wasn’t a happy time. So I was lucky, ‘cause the kids were in their environment. And then once Robert went to school, then I went to the meetings and …

The farming pattern changed at Springfield too, didn’t it?

Yes – well that was during that Rogernomics. And of course it just turned out that it was decided … the boys decided they’d sell.

Oh, no – wasn’t there a dairy conversion done on …

Robert: We sold to a Singaporean consortium that turned it into a dairy …

Oh, okay, right.

Margaret: But he only lasted …

Robert: He was there for about three years.

Margaret: … something like that. And then he sold it to …

Robert: Peter Barry.

Margaret: Peter Barry. And once he was killed they turned it over to …

Robert: His wife still …

Margaret: … she’s still going, but the Bell outfit …

Robert: Oh, it’s called the Bell Corporation or something.

Margaret: And they were dreadful.

‘Cause I was one of the ones that used to turn up at Springfield for that cup of tea [chuckle] after we had been to a meeting in Palmerston or something. Happy days, though.


Now, my grandchildren. [Chuckle]

We need their names and their age.

Well, I had four children. The four children had three boys, and only two of them had a girl. So I had [have] twelve grandsons and only two granddaughters. And you want all their names?

Because some of them will look at your history …

Robert: Okay. William …

Margaret: William John – he was named after his two grandfathers, and he was born in …

Robert: 1949. And he married a Jeanette Lang from Canterbury, who happened to be the daughter of Dad’s Regimental Sergeant-Major during the war.

Margaret: William at that stage went to England.

Robert: So they got married in 1972, and had Sam, Edward and Piers. Sam was born in 1978; Edward 1980, and Piers in 1983. Now they are all married – Sam married a Jess Ernst, and she’s from Germany. And they’ve got one child on the way. Edward married Kate McNab from Blenheim, and they have two children, George and Arlo. Piers married a Sophie Tricker, and she was from the Hamilton area I think, and they’ve got one son.

And then Mum’s second son, Richard Hugh – he was born in 1951 and married Shelly Ann Severinsen, and she was born in Ashley Clinton. And they had four children – Michelle, who was born in 1978, and she married Matthew Wilson from Hastings area and they have two children, Lewis …

Margaret: Louie.

Robert: Oh, sorry – Louie, and Bella. Angus, the next one – he’s the eldest son. He married Nicola West, who was originally from Ashburton, and they have an Erica and a Cameron. And then the next son was Christopher, married a Lisa Cooper from Hastings and they’ve got a Jackson and a Blake. And Duncan, the youngest son, married Carolyn Kiel, and she is from Germany, and they have one son, Henry.

And then Mum and Dad’s daughter [Mary] born in 1954, married a Leonard Bielski from Rangiwahia. They have three children – Hamish, born in 1977, married an Ann Bradfield from …

Margaret: Amy.

Robert: Oh, sorry – Amy Bradfield from down Otago way.

Margaret: In the Catlins.

Robert: And their three children are Madeleine, Tuvia and Luke. Peter, the next son, was born in 1979 and he married – and I don’t remember what her surname was – but he married an Angela. They divorced after a couple of years, and then he married an Amanda Mertens, and she is from Canterbury and they have [?] and Samara. And then their youngest son, David, born in 1980, married a Miriam McAllister, and she’s from Ireland. And they have three children – Saoirse, Quillam and Seamus.

And then it comes to me – I was born in 1956, and married Kerryn Hales from Waipawa, and I have four children, the eldest being Rebecca, born in 1983, married Matthew Symons who is from the Pakowhai area. They have three children – Haley, George and Gemma. My eldest son, Blair, was born in 1985, and he is about to get married to Anna Gengos who is from Australia. My third son, Michael, born in 1987 – he’s still single … well, he’s got a girlfriend, but he’s not married. My youngest son, Richard, was born in 1989 and he has just this last week got married to a Candace Schollum, from Whangamata.

Your sons or grandsons are all … become an international family.

Margaret: Oh, we’re international. I’ve got twenty-one great grandchildren, one step-grandchildren [grandchild] and two more on the way.

Are they all coming for Christmas?

They’re all coming to Shelly’s for Christmas. In 1973 the Mitchell family had their hundred year celebration. [Shows document]

With your permission we would like to copy that and attach it to the history.

This is my section … the cousins all round my knee, and that’s me. And that’s the Mitchell family.

Now, what have you forgotten to tell me?

Well … [shows document] that was supposed to be done after the celebration, but the chap never got round to it – and then he died. And then they got this woman who’s done it.

Now we haven’t got to the point where Sir Richard passed away …

Yes, I lived on my own for … ten years or so?

Robert: Yeah. Dad died in …

Margaret: ‘82?

Robert: No, he died in 2003. And Mum carried on living out at Springfield for … nine years was it?

Margaret: Nine or ten years.

Robert: Yeah. And then she was persuaded with a little bit of a push – quite a big push – to move down here, and has thoroughly enjoyed it, haven’t you?

Well, it’s lovely. I’ve seen about four rabbits …

Margaret: There were four out there the other day. Pukekos … [Looking at photographs] Oh, that’s the Parkside one. This is the Oamaru stone – the quarry. And that’s Weston.

There was an article on television recently about that quarry, wasn’t there?

Robert: Was that on Country Calendar?

It was, yes.

Margaret: Yes, I think so.

The man who owned it is selling the quarry – the rest of the farm was sold some time ago.

Robert: No, no. No …

Margaret: I don’t think …

Robert: No, the farm is still in the Mitchell family.

Oh! Maybe it’s a different quarry.

Margaret: Joe, who ran the quarry and owned the farm … the two brothers owned the farm, but Joe bought Derek out. But his first wife – they were divorced – and he married a Mary Wilson, and it was some of her people that ran the quarry. But I never heard of it being sold. [Shows photograph] That’s Joe – he now is in care.

They only employ about four or five people – it’s not a big operation, but they handle a lot of stuff.

Robert: Yeah.  If they’re selling it that’s certainly news to us because we certainly haven’t heard anything about that.

Yes, yes.

Because I was down there – oh, would’ve been a year ago now. I suppose.

Margaret: [Speaking together, showing photograph] You see, these are all the people they employed.  Bob Wilson – he was the one that ran it. But Joe – there’s somewhere here that he had made it that the farm couldn’t be sold for years.

Robert: I’m sure it hasn’t been.

Well maybe it was just the quarry that was being sold.

Margaret: Well I was talking to Ann the other day, and she said that Wilson … she thought that Wilson was probably …

Okay, well look, I think we’ve probably covered a lot of your family history …

That’s my mother’s and father’s wedding. [Shows photograph]

Robert: Yeah. I think what we’ve given you is just a basic outline of …

Margaret: That’s Rosedale – my Uncle Jim took that over. [Shows photograph]  Clyde[s]dales, which he was very proud of. I can remember walking round the paddock with Dad when he was [?] … single thing with a horse in front.

Robert: See Uncle Pod told me one time he can remember back in the day when he was at Tasma, having to get the horses in and sort of put the plough onto him and you know, he used to do the ploughing with the horse. And … seemed that he was one of the first in the Takapau area to buy a tractor.

So Tasma – does that farm still have that name?

Both: Yes.

It’s a very old farm name, is it?

Margaret: Yes. I gather it was an author.

Robert: I don’t know … I don’t know where the name Tasma came from but it was a sub-station of Burnside Station down in Takapau. And if you go down Highway 50 you get to the corner of Highway 50 and Paget Road – all that land from Paget Road to the river … whatever river it’s called … and you go up, there was probably … it was quite a big station. And they had … sort of early 1900s there was a flax mill and everything on it. I can remember some of the paddocks you would walk across and you could sort of bounce up and down on them. You know, it’s where all the flax swamps used to be – you’d never take a tractor in there. But they got drained … you know, Dad drained the farm.

Margaret: He became a very good farmer, but then he put his brain to it. [Chuckle]

All right, well I think that will probably do, so thank you, Robert and Margaret.

Original digital file


Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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