Lorna Margaret Ward Interview
Today is the 26th of the ninth 2016. I’m interviewing Lorna Ward, retired – she was in a jeweller’s office in Hastings. She’s going to tell us the life and times of her family. Lorna would you like to carry on?
Well, my earliest memories were not in the town where I was born, Napier. There’s more of Hastings. I presume that my father had bought a home in Gordon Road in Hastings before the earthquake. So, we – after all medical things were sorted out my mother and two brothers went back to Gordon Road and lived there and we went to Hastings West School, which is now Raureka.
Did you play any sports when you were at Raureka?
I was too young for that.
No netball or ..?
In 1936 my grandmother died so my mother shifted us all to her home which was opposite where the New World is in Hastings to look after my grandfather. We went to the Convent School which was a few doors away.
So what was your family name then?
Evans. So I played sport … played netball there, but when I left school we had marching teams which were girls about eighteen, nineteen, twenty. That was an ongoing thing which stopped when I was married of course. From there I went to live on the farm.
So where was the farm?
Oh, is this the farm that Linda’s on now?
Oh, I didn’t realise.
Linda is LM Ward too.
But not related?
Oh no, she’s from Christchurch.
So when you moved to the farm – about when was that?
1951. Well, my husband was there before that. It was a big station and it was split up between four brothers, but it ended up with just two brothers being there. One didn’t like the isolation and he moved to a farm nearer town. He was eventually killed in a tractor accident. And another one went to Waimarama to work for his uncle at Brookby at Waimarama, and another brother was just over the fence. So, I think the Wards more or less gave the local school a boost. They brought the school across the river that was unused, to start the Waiwhare School.
Oh, they brought it across did they?
Is the Waiwhare School still going or is it closed?
It’s the Waiwhare Social Club now. It’s been quite a useful sort of an organisation now.
Well it’s a focal point for the local people isn’t it?
Yes. Oh we used to have a local sports day, horse sports and that sort of thing. But the only fly in the ointment was that the children had to go to boarding school. Most of them went to Wellington to Silverstream, and my daughter went to Sacred Heart in Napier.
So you lived out there ’til … when did you move from the farm then?
It was a gradual process. We bought a section at Westshore before the bridge was built, so I’m not sure what the date was. But, as the children got older and they came home from boarding school on the holidays they didn’t want to go there, they wanted to come home to the farm, so it didn’t get much use.
It’s amazing how children … their focal point is where they’re comfortable and where the adventures are.
It was more fun, yes. Mind you the work was involved too. Things would be saved up until the children were home to do. Yes, yes.
Did your husband play any sports? Did he do any horse riding or show ..?
Not as such no. He was in the army for five years so when he came home it was more like head down and working to organise the farm.
This was during the War wasn’t it?
Mmm, yes. But we held the horse sports in my brother-in-law’s front paddock, which was quite convenient really. People used to come out from town until it overwhelmed us a bit, bringing their horses, ’cause the hunters took all our trophies. [Chuckle] Yes. So, it’s now still being held but as just a local sports day. Nothing to do with conduct of horses, there’s such things as barrel races and things like that. But the school’s roll fluctuated so much that it eventually … well, it just got down and faded away. [Chuckle]
Well you sort of wonder … all these communities were made up of the shepherds’ kids, the fencers’ kids, the cowmen’s kids, and all of a sudden all those people disappeared and the farmers had to run the farms themselves again.
It was the reverse of that that we saw. All the big stations and most … any children would go to boarding school or have mail schooling. But when we were there all the farms were cut up, houses were appearing and the school was established. Forestry moved in, built a camp and so the roll shot up. I’m not sure what it would have been, probably at least fifty anyway. That doesn’t sound much but it was.
Well it was. I think all those little country schools all had forty / fifty kids.
Well they got lots of help from the Education Board simply because most of the children were children of Returned Servicemen, and had swimming pools built and those sorts of things.
And did your husband do any farm contracting, or is your son ..?
This was his new venture.
There was still a lot of the farm to break in. But he did a lot of bulldozing and tractor work, bulldozing scrub and fencing. Well he didn’t do the fencing – for a while we had a permanent fencer and a permanent rabbiter.
‘Cause you’re right on the boundary of the Kaweka Park aren’t you?
Yes, I use that road quite a lot going across to Taihape.
It was a horrible road in those days.
It was, once upon a time.
I can remember when one truck went over the bank, and I’ve never really found out where, but the road was pretty terrible.
‘Course now it’s tar sealed all the way.
Yes, and a lot of corners taken off. The road itself from Stortford Lodge to Waiwhare … people always used to say it’s boring now.
It’s such an easy quick road isn’t it?
Well it is now, but it wasn’t. My mother used to be horrified. She … I don’t think she would have driven on it.
Yes. I think I’ve met one of your sons.
Who would that be, David?
Yes – he was one of the contractors.
Yes, he ran the farm for a long time before this contacting gradually crept in.
I think a lot of farmers’ sons … I ended up by being a contractor too in Havelock North area. We needed some off farm capital, so the natural thing was to go and work on other people’s farms with machinery and bring it in.
Yes, well now it’s going full circle.
I suppose Waiwhare will have changed a lot – are the old families still there, or has it changed?
I can’t think of any of the old ones still there, that I knew – neighbours to us. The ones over the fence, they’re Bernie’s wife’s sister’s children. But that house when we went there we were told it was a hundred years old and you could tell it was old. It was built of pit sawn timber. It was a big place but it was quite interesting to gradually see the houses pop up and then the roll increase at the school.
So did you do any travelling at all during your life? Did you go overseas?
Yes. Well most of the children were at boarding school. Well, the only one was the youngest one – he was the only one not at boarding school, I think. I can’t remember where he stayed but probably with one of the many relatives. Yes, we went on the usual tours to Europe. I wanted to go to England before my relatives died out.
Oh, so you’re from England originally?
My father was.
Whereabouts in England?
He was from Liverpool, Dingle. But he used to work his passage on the liners, passenger liners, and I suppose eventually he decided to stay. Somehow, I don’t know – I know he helped my grandfather, Michael Begley on the dairy farms.
So are you related to the Begleys?
Yes. My mother was a Begley.
Dan Begley’s sister?
This is bizarre. I was talking to Linda Begley the other night.
Yes, that’s Moira’s daughter.
Yes. Well I knew Selwyn and Doug very well. And I was in Rotary when Selwyn was in Rotary.
Moira was in here last week.
I’m going to interview Doug Begley next Thursday.
He and I fill in our blanks. [Chuckle] He fills in the things I can’t remember.
Dan Begley was the head of our Heretaunga Dairy Company, he was head of Farm Products, and he was a dairy farmer in Norton Road.
He more or less started Farm Products didn’t he?
Yes. And yet there’s not a great deal of history about him. There’s some books about Farm Products and the Dairy company.
Well I think that he would have originally taken over the dairy farm in Riverslea. My grandmother ran the farm while my grandfather worked for William Nelson. Uncle Dan was the only one … I think Uncle Dan is the youngest, I’m not certain on that. Him or Uncle Joe. There was so many of them.
Yes. So Riverslea Road was the first dairy farm they had, was it?
Then they moved to Norton Road?
No. I don’t know about Norton Road, but my grandparents’ farm was Riverslea, and then my grandparents bought a farm in Oliphant Road and that was sold, but I don’t know why – I don’t know any details about that. But where Raureka School was, that would have been part of the farm.
It’s only when you start uncovering … lifting the branches and looking under the shrubs you start finding out about these families that are all linked together.
Well, this is right. I find that chap that writes in the paper …
Yes, doing the history of Hastings and I was waiting for him to get to my grandmother’s buildings but I don’t think he ever did. He might not have been able to find …
No – they’ve got ‘Begley Buildings’ written on the front.
That’s that, and the one around the corner in Warren Street, it’s got Cohen’s Building. After the earthquake Ike Cowan talked my grandmother into letting him put his name on the building. They were burnt down, and then they were shaken down by the quake. But she was the power behind it there. He used to go off to work to William Nelson’s and she’d run the farm.
Margaret Walmsley …
Yes it was – she married a Nelson.
Well William Nelson started the freezing industry here.
That’s right. Would have been one of his sons because the Nelsons had lots of sons too didn’t they?
Yes. I don’t know because Grandpa came to New Zealand in 1878 I think it was. He was wrecked on the Waitarere Beach.
Over in Foxton?
Yes. And the Maoris helped him in a bullock wagon to get to Wellington. From Wellington to Napier they came by boat. And where he went from then I don’t know – he was single at that stage. My grandmother … she worked at Waimarama for a family there. The name seems a bit garbled to me – Minus Albans – if that means anything to anybody, that she used to work for. So I used to know the name of the ship, in fact I had a book but everything has been divvied up now … called ‘The White Sails’, and another one ‘The New Zealand Shipwrecks’, and there’s some information in them.
Well I’ve got ‘The New Zealand Shipwrecks’ – I must have a look in it.
Yes. ‘The City of Auckland’.
‘The City of Auckland’ was the name of the ship?
Mmm. Now don’t quote me on that, because it might have been my grandmother on that one, but I think it was my grandfather.
Well, fancy getting wrecked over there because Waitarere’s a great long sandy beach isn’t it?
That’s right. My brother and I … after the earthquake when my mother was hospitalised, we stayed with an elderly couple at Tokomaru near Levin and they took us to the beach one day and we saw it.
Oh – it was still there?
Yes. Now there’s one … there is one there now but it isn’t …
It isn’t the same one? That area … I suppose that it would have been blown by a nor’wester or something like that.
Oh yes. I can remember as a small child my grandfather telling us about it, and the panic that ensued, and the Captain with his gun – his rifle or whatever it was. [Chuckle] Yes.
It brings out the best in people, that sort of panic.
Yes. Oh well – I think the rifle was to stop the men getting into the lifeboats. [Chuckle] That’s only my theory though.
Well, I think you’re probably quite right. [Chuckle] So see – there you are. There’s little bits of history starting to come out, aren’t there? And my father, who … they always used to speak very reverently of Dan Begley.
[Chuckle] Yes. Well we didn’t see them. I think there was a rift somewhere along the line, whether it was over the farm or not I … well I’m not prepared to say, because I don’t know.
No, in fact it’s happened with many families.
It happens. I’m not sure so I’m not …
I know that.
Because as children …
I know, you hear some things and …
But when I think about it, I don’t really know much about my childhood. I think we were shifted around so much – as being the caregivers for us. My mother was injured and also she had surgery. She was first … she got a neighbour to drive our car out to Hastings to where her mother and father were, and from there she must have been taken to “hospital” (inverted commas), which was a canvas … at the racecourse. And from there she was taken to Palmerston Hospital, my younger brother and I with her. Imagine it. Two toddlers. Anyway a sister at the Palmerston Hospital managed to convince her that we would live the life of Riley with her parents out at Tokomaru, outside Palmerston. And they were a great old couple. We used to go there for holidays for years afterwards.
Oh, it’s lovely for friendships built like that.
Well, my mother would have had a hard time, healthwise plus having to make a new home again.
So you never actually lived on the dairy farm then?
Did you ever visit it?
No, I would have been too young. 1928 I was born.
So what other exciting things can you think about? Your children … how many?
We kept the school going.
You kept the school going.
I know you’ve got one son, I haven’t met any others.
I’ve got five sons.
One, one daughter. That’s probably why [chuckle] there were at least four sons, because … that’s them. [Shows photo]
Gosh they’re all big men aren’t they?
Well David isn’t. He’s like my husband’s father, he was very small. Well I’m short when you see that – that’s me. I look short there. I never ever thought that I was small, but you have preconceived ideas about these things.
And so are they still all around?
Chris has got a small lifestyle block out at Puketapu but he also works at the Parks & Reserves for the Council. He had a farm at Cahirdean on the Hastings Waiwhare Road and through marriage settlements and things like that they left that. That’s Chris. Tony’s got a business … what does he do? With sheep, with his son … also he does contracting. We’ve got David, Tony, Chris … Patrick is a managing director in Cable Price in Wellington. Maree has a driving school and is also a testing officer, and Andrew has a contracting business with tractors and … well, you name it – tractors and pulls out orchards and makes dams and all that sort of thing.
They’re all big strong looking men though, aren’t they?
Well, I don’t know. Patrick – the one with the long tie – he’s the one in Wellington, but we were told when he finished boarding school, he’s not University material. He ignored it and we ignored it and that’s where he ended up.
And so there must be some grandchildren then.
There’s seventeen grandchildren and eight and a half great-grands.
Well you wouldn’t want them all to come in here at once.
Well my mother used to say about us – she was pleased to see us but she was pleased to see us go.
But when you think about it – those days houses were a lot smaller.
Well we first lived in the cookhouse that was on the Station and then when work got on a bit, by the time the third son was born we pulled down the old cook house. And the old settlers that were there when the place was run as a station – they were horrified. ‘Oh where’s the schoolhouse? I went to school in that.’ But, oh it’s worked out quite well, and there’s the shearers’ quarters and men’s quarters. The men’s quarters Fred built into quite a nice little house, and that’s where Linda’s eldest daughter lives now.
‘Cause those earlier cookhouses and shearers’ quarters – they were usually corrugated iron, unlined, cold …
It was a big two storied one. Mind you we didn’t have power for five years, and … I was going to say it was a drawback but at the time I didn’t think so. You always had to make sure you had morning wood and had the … lamps were filled.
And of course the house was always warm from the kitchen.
Yes, that’s right.
And the eating table was in the kitchen.
And we were never short of hot water. But Fred took the top storey off the shearers’ quarters, ‘cause the top storey was one big room and the shearers … I don’t know … downstairs there was oh, about – I suppose eight or nine rooms downstairs and a huge kitchen.
Oh, it was a big shearers’ quarters then.
Oh yes, it was. And it had a wood stove – those old black wood stoves.
Yes, yes. Shacklock.
And it had a double oven … two ovens.
One each side, yes.
And an extended firebox out the front.
To put big logs in.
But the coming of power was an occasion. [Chuckle] We had a district party in the shearers’ quarters. Usually after the Sports Day that we’d have, we’d have a dance in the woolshed. The woolshed was so big. Well, it’s still there, yeah, and if we think perhaps that ?? stopped holding hands it wouldn’t be there. [Chuckle] It would have about ten or twelve or even more shearing stands in it.
So it was a big station once.
Oh yes. Over four thousand acres I think.
No, It’s an area that … never really got to know where Waiwhare was.
Oh, no – it was in the sticks.
Had no idea until some years ago when my kids were young I joined the Heretaunga Tramping Club, and we used to go to Kuripapango and climb up onto the Kawekas and all over the place. And then I used to fish the Taruarau River.
My husband used to go up there too.
And so I then found where Waiwhare was, and it’s in this beautiful great big saucer, the whole area. It’s huge.
Mangawhare – Waiwhare was right on the corner of the crossroads of the Glenross Road and the River Road. Well, Fred’s brother’s place was right on the corner, but Mangawhare was on the Glenross Road.
And I suppose living up in that area there would be plenty of deer, plenty of pigs?
There was. I went up deer shooting once with my husband and disgraced myself because I couldn’t control my horse. [Chuckle] He fired a rifle off the horse’s back and of course that upset my horse. Not being used to riding – it didn’t help matters, I suppose.
Didn’t toss you off?
Oh, no it didn’t. I was told when I was put on it, it’s never fallen over yet. It was an old pack horse.
I’ve heard those stories before. Yes, so lots of pigs and lots of deer meat. ‘Cause living that close to the bush …
Well, I’ve seen deer in our top paddock and when you’d appear they’d just up and over the fence. But you wouldn’t get that now. Even pigs.
Well I suppose you would have been up there when they started aerial topdressing too.
Oh yes. Tiger Moths.
Who used to do that for you?
Tell me some names.
Jim Frogley, Paul Bartram?
Earlier than that I think.
Who else is there?
Who was the chap that was killed in that plane crash? In the district down near Sherenden. I know their names well enough.
Peter Marshall, Dick Beattie.
Earlier than those I think.
They all started with Tiger Moths. Then there was the chap who used to wear a cravat and used to smoke a lot. He was English.
Oh, I know their names well enough but I just can’t recall them. But when they first started, in Bernie’s paddock just across the fence from us, they had the big forty four gallon petrol drums and they had the floor of our old house on top of that, for loading the super. I can remember …
Were they putting it in bags?
Oh yes. I can remember cutting open the bags and in the mornings when the plane would come it would do a couple of swoops down the paddock to shift the stock.
Jock McKenzie he was at Waimarama wasn’t he?
Well that was, no there was another Jock McKenzie – used to fly for Jim Frogley.
Oh I know those names well enough but I just …
Yes. I used to belong to the Aero Club so I knew them all from there, but the once that we can’t remember, we can’t remember. You came through quite an interesting time of farming because you really battled during the ’30s, then of course when it came to the war boom in the ’50s – all of a sudden farming became profitable.
And I would imagine you broke a lot of the farm in as a result of the …
Well, that’s what was … essentially the first aim was to break in more paddocks. We’ve got a movie somewhere – where it is now I wouldn’t know – of just scrub, and you could see the tops of the scrub going like that. It was me and my husband on the crawler tractor …
Pushing them over.
And when you think, you know, how small those D4s and HD5s and those …
But they don’t use the crawler tractors now. They use wheel tractors.
Well most of the scrub has been broken down or burnt.
Yes, but even for other jobs they use the big double wheeled …
I know. John Deeres and all those sorts of tractors.
I think a Kubota might have been the last one Fred had, I’m not sure.
But it’s interesting to see the way everything developed.
That’s right – Mort Vanderpump.
That’s the only one I couldn’t remember.
Yeah, but that’s just the way it comes.
Now those days you were serviced by trucks, groceries …
Sherwoods used to have a run too but we had … mail day was Tuesday.
But it all revolved around them ‘cause you depended on them.
That’s right, it was only twice a week.
Now the other chap who used to take the milk and groceries and …
Well the mail truck would take most of …
I can’t remember his name either. I interviewed him as well.
There was another chap after Vanderpump – of course there was, but – it might come – it might not.
But, you know, they were all names that helped develop the area. And you needed the fertiliser to grow more grass, and you needed more paddocks to grow more sheep.
Yes, but I suppose, I don’t know whether the pasture’s improved or not or gone backwards, you wouldn’t know, with constant farming.
I think their farming patterns have changed a lot. You know where we used to graze down – eat paddocks out, they don’t eat them out these days they rotational graze them so there’s always some grass on there.
Well we had to do that oh, pretty early on when we went out there. There was about the worst drought we’d had, and we were grazing the long acre. And we used to have an electric fence and the stock would be fenced off at one end of the paddock and walk down a right of way to the road and they’d graze. Someone had to be with them of course. Just as well the traffic wasn’t bad because it was a side road – Willowford Road – that was put in to get to the other side of the gorge where another – Fred’s eldest brother was, and every day the stock had to be taken out on the road for a bit of grass.
It’s surprising how much feed there was on the roadside.
Oh there was because it had never been touched.
And of course the long acre was cheap too.
Well, that was a boon for us because it wasn’t a traffic prone road. Only one house.
And of course the main road, you only had the beer truck. I don’t know how often they went.
Well they actually … it changed when Forestry came. And also d’you remember … what’s the stay-put farmer – what was his name? John White … he farmed further up. Well David I think has a lot to do with his … the person that took over their farm. And so John White would have – he saw what the future lay for it and
‘Course you were in the rainfall area, apart from the odd year.
Yeah, I don’t know that it’s like that now ’cause someone said to me the other day – one of the boys – “oh we had a good thunderstorm the other day” . I said “that was a selling point when we bought the farm – you’re in the thunderstorm belt”.
I know, but we used to get thunderstorms out here over the flats when I was young.
Well they’re getting snow out there now. I only saw snow, just a sprinkling once and the second time was just enough to scrape off the ground. That’s on two occasions and fair distance apart.
Yes well they would have got snow with that snowfall we had about a month ago wouldn’t they?
Yes, they did.
I went to Northland for a couple of weeks’ holiday and it rained every day. When I came back to Taupo I had to wait until the Taupo Road was open, and when I came through Mount Tauhara in Taupo was covered in snow, and the snow was right to Titiokura. And when they’d snow ploughed … there was just this black ribbon going through, it was the most beautiful sight you’ve ever seen.
Yes. That’s what I found overseas. I’ve been in Lucerne and that – we were going further down the line or somewhere. “Oh, isn’t it beautiful!” “Isn’t it this, and isn’t it that”. Fred and I just sitting there like a couple of dummies, I said there’s something wrong with us, we’ve seen it all before.
Do you do any skiing?
You can do it here. My mother left me a block of flats and I sold it and built a place in Turangi on the Tongariro. We used to go up there fishing, the boys would go up to the snow. Oh I don’t …
Did you ever fish?
Oh yes, quite enjoyed it. Being silly – you’d go out on a frosty morning and you could walk across the puddles.
Well, that’s my thing that I did was mainly fishing, river fishing all over the Ruakaturi and all over the back country, and the Rangitikei and the Rangitaiki.
Ruakaturi … that rings a bell.
Ruakaturi – it’s up north of Wairoa.
Yes, Bernie’s wife Mary Ward she was a Gavin and came from up there.
They will be getting absolutely pounded with rain at the moment off this easterly.
By the sounds of it.
And the rivers are supposed to be opening on the 1st of October.
The magpies are operating. [Referring to background noise]
It’s quite busy in here isn’t it, there’s something happening all the time.
Yes, yes. Talking about magpies, it’s not magpies that I was thinking of, it was crows. There was a piece in the paper a short time ago about the culling of crows. They used to come out every year and try to cull them in our gum paddock, at the end of the cattle yards, and it used to annoy Fred. “Why are they coming out to shoot them?” But more so probably there’s a need for it now where they have crops like maize and that, but they didn’t have those crops in those days.
But they don’t eat much. I used to spray a couple of thousand acres of maize on the plains here, and once the maize starts coming up the crow will work his way along, pull each one up and follow the row.
I wasn’t thinking of the plant itself, I was thinking of the cobs.
They started using a chemical called ‘Fostrum’ it was a poison, one of these poisons that was progressive, every animal that touched it would die.
Well I know that Peter Sheild wouldn’t let them on his property.
We lived with the crows, we had them on our farm. See they want to get rid of magpies because they dive bomb people when they are nesting.
Yes. Mind you, I had to save niece when she was climbing over the fence between the two farms – here was this magpie – zoom – and she was stuck on top of the post. Well they’re only doing what they …
Oh, they’re protecting their nests.
Fred brought home a baby crow that had been blown out of a nest and we fed it sliced liver. At night we’d sit it on a box in the shed and in the daytime bring it out and put it on a board on the clothesline. And it grew up, and the kids used to play with it and it’d fly down onto their shoulders. The farm over the gorge from us, he was out doing something to his tractor out in the paddock and this crow flew down and picked up a bolt [chuckle] yeah. He worked it out where it had come from. Yes.
I had a quite a big dam – lake – I built put in the front garden. Anyway I got a couple of swans – if they wanted to fly they could. Well, twelve months later one took off, and I saw it take off and fly around in a big circle, and then it didn’t come back and the other one actually died of loneliness.
That’s what it would be, yes.
But I’d got quite attached to this jolly bird.
Yes. My brother-in-law said “why don’t you get some geese?” I said “we don’t need geese”. He said “well there’s plenty out at Brookby” – that’s out Waimarama. He said “I’ll get a couple”. [Chuckle] The couple grew and grew until the neighbours started to complain about them fouling the dams, so they had a shootout. And I didn’t have anything to do with it. I didn’t want to hear about it. But, it just shows you pests or …
Oh, I know – start off as an innocent thing.
Yes, I was thinking about that top dressing the other day and Mort Vanderpump. Who was it after him?
And you know, when you mentioned to me that you used to open the bags of super, I’d forgotten about that because …
They had to be manhandled into the hopper.
Yes. One of our carriers, he used to load this big International up – he had to load them by hand and then unload them by hand.
Yep. That’d be right.
And they didn’t have a Man Friday in the truck with him.
I can remember them coming in just covered in super, and being warned to stay off the telephone, stay off the telephone.
That’s right. ‘Someone may want to ring me.’ And of course hay making those days before the hay baler came – that was different again too, wasn’t it?
Yes, well we made hay in the latter years when they finally got round to buying a hay baler.
I had an Uncle who used to go all the way up to Waiwhare with his baler from Havelock, bale hay.
That could be right, yes.
He’d go up one day and bale the next day and then come home.
That’s what David’s doing now with Martin Jones.
So can you think of any other exciting things that …
Yes, you don’t think they’re exciting at the time.
So did J Mills cart all your stock and everything those days?
‘Cause this chap was …
Sherwood’s used to run one too.
Sherwood’s, yes. This chap who was a partner in Overland Transport, he used to drive for Jimmy Mills. His name was Pinky Taylor – Eric Taylor.
Well the truck driver always used to come in for a cup of tea, because we were the end of the run.
But see wasn’t that a different time when people looked after …
Whoever came … gave them a cup of tea.
Yes. Stock agents, they … they used to time it right.
They knew the best places to call at, too.
Yes, that’s right. Well even the swaggies – they knew the best places – there’d be a stone on the fence post. I remember when I was … after David was born, I was not really that used to being out in the country and this swaggy came knocking at the door and he wanted some tea. He handed over his billy and I was too scared to wait for the kettle to boil on the wood stove, I ran the hot tap until it was all, you know …
… filled his billy that way and gave it to him and something to eat. Then I thought ‘blow’ – after he’d gone – ‘I’m not staying here by myself’, so I crossed the paddock to my sister-in-law over the fence. I get there and here he is at her place. [Chuckle] He was asking for soap.
They just worked the system didn’t they?
Fred used to send them down to the shearers’ quarters. But we were afraid of fire – was the biggest … in fact we did have a fire in the men’s quarters. A friend and I were going down the paddock on horseback, and the men’s quarters had a whole lot of doors all opening up to a verandah. And from one of the doors there was this smoke trickling out from under the door. So we went on down to the woolshed where I knew that Bernie and Fred were working, and I just yelled “fire!” … just like that. I’ve never seen anyone move so fast. Fred comes up the paddock with an old rusty fruit tin that the shearers had thrown out, full of water, but that was all that was needed. It was a mattress …
Yes, someone smoking in bed.
Well, it would have burnt it down eventually, probably.
Well it would have. It was just sheer fluke that I happened to be out in the paddock and saw it. Yes. We used to … the old fences and gates that were taken down and that were all stacked in a heap down there near the cattle yards, so we decided it couldn’t get any bigger – it was as big as a house – so we decided to have a community Guy Fawkes. It was quite a good evening really. We brought a picnic meal for the night. But the next day I was going over … across the paddock to my brother-in-law’s and I could see smoke just trickling up through the pine plantation that was between us, and a sky rocket had gone down between the forks of a pine tree, yeah … smouldering in among the needles. So I mean if those trees had gone up, and the tractor shed and the hay bales in it, and the cow bale – it would have all gone.
You’re a good fire watcher.
[Chuckle] Yes, accidentally … yes.
And so Lorna, are you mobile here, you can walk around all right?
If I want to I can, but I don’t get any further than the bathroom. Jolly arthritis.
Yes. I’ve got lots of friends now who are just at the stage of – that they’re either having their licences taken off them, or they’ve got arthritis. The worst ones are the ones going into the Alzheimers’ place in Hastings.
Yes, that’s right. But mind you, for the person themselves I don’t think it’s too bad, because they don’t know.
No. It’s for everyone else.
The caregivers and that. I was three months in hospital – two and a half in intensive care with this Guillain–Barre that they’re talking about. I was paralysed and I was on life support. And a lot of those things are coming back. My feet are permanently numb and the fingers from there down. These sorts of things don’t help. Yes. Yes, they’re blaming it on the water but I can’t see that it would have applied in that particular instance.
Well it follows on after the water, doesn’t it? The campylobacter … it’s a result of having campylobacter, you get this secondary thing that you had.
Well at that stage we were living in Parklane, where the old Mayfair used to be – in there when they built a complex in there, and we were living in there so how it …
You can get it from chicken or …
Well they blamed the ‘flu injection.
Yeah, well it could be too. I know every time I have a ‘flu injection, I say I’m not going to have another one because I always get symptoms of the ‘flu.
And I really feel very ill, and they say ‘oh no, you’re imagining it’.
Well I haven’t had a ‘flu injection for ten or eleven years.
All right, well I think we’ve pretty well covered the field haven’t we? And what I haven’t got from you, now that I know you are related to the Begleys I can get the rest from Doug.
Yes. He comes every Christmas to see me.
Can’t remember her name …
Dorothy. And Kathy, his second wife.
Yes, Dorothy. And we had many a happy day out there. All right, well I think that’ll probably do. But if you think of anything else we can always add it on. So thank you Lorna for allowing us to interview you and … wish you good health.
[HB Knowledge Bank notes
– Lorna’s father, David Evans, was killed in the Masonic Hotel, Napier, during the 1931 earthquake, when Lorna was 3 years old
– “Flats” referred to are Buckingham Flats, on the corner of Heretaunga Street and Willowpark Road, Hastings]
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper