Lynette (Lyn) Edith Barham Interview

Today is the 21st November 2016. I’m interviewing Lyn Barham. Lyn is going to tell us the life and times of her family which will be attached to the Barham file. Lyn would you like to tell us now about your family please.

Yes, most of the relatives come from Ireland. James McGimpsey came to New Zealand from Newtownards, County Down, Northern Ireland in 1875. James was born in 1850 in Ireland and he came over to New Zealand in the ship ‘Dilharee’ in 1875. He landed in Auckland and came down to Christchurch and then he decided he’d come further south and he stopped at Papakaio.  He loved the Oamaru district and he had a bit of land there and he married there. He married Jane McCone. Now the actual area he settled in was Otiake, and he had five sons and one daughter so he had six altogether. Two of the boys went to war – James was killed at nineteen in the First World War, and Robert also was killed in the First World War.

Now, going up the Otiake Road – when we go south we always visit there. There are two large trees, one on each side of the road and they have a plaque for each of the boys on it, one for James and one for Robert, and often you see other people putting ashes in there. There has been the odd cousin that’s also had their ashes put there.

The Otiake Road – whereabouts is that relative to Oamaru?

That’s north of Oamaru and it’s about 10k south of Kurow. And he got about two hundred and twenty acres of land. It was freehold land right up the top of the Otiake Road, and it was good land really and he enjoyed living there. He went back to Ireland several times and was very sad when Robert and James died. It upset the whole family. I know my father who was just that little bit younger he found it very difficult to cope with.

He was left on the farm, but his wife was a very strong person. I loved Grandma. She was Elizabeth Jane, and she married James from next door, as often happened in those days. The McCones had the next door farm. So they got married. She was strong, strong … and she would let him go off back to Ireland if he wanted to or whatever he wanted to do she ran the farm. She was quite strong and she enjoyed doing it. But the last time he went was 1906.

He was an interesting man. He tried hard to talk to people, but he was very clever – but he was scientific, and he didn’t speak easily. He had quite a problem speaking with people, part of it because he couldn’t read. He came here without being able to sign his name. This made it quite difficult for him to manage his business really;  however he did. He died before I was born of course but Grandma lived on for many years and she was a sweetie. I remember her polishing her apples. You didn’t ever have an apple unless it was well polished. Whether she spat on it or not I don’t know, but they shone. I’m sure she just used water. But she would have me helping her when I was just a little girl.

But another thing she loved to do was when she went to Oamaru after her husband died, she had several houses that she rented. She would go round every Saturday and collect the rent and I went with her. My poor little legs nearly fell off – it was a long way. For those who know South Dunedin she went over to St Kilda where her houses were. It was quite a distance … and St Clair. Anyway they had their money ready. If it was exactly right she gave them ten pennies back for having it ready but if they didn’t, they didn’t get anything off. And she would give me a penny every time I went with her so I thought she was pretty good. She loved me because I was interested in what she did.

She had a room full of clocks. I can’t imagine how many clocks she had but she had a lot and I was just fascinated by these clocks.

My grandfather didn’t have very good health at the end. He worked hard really, on the farm and he had people in to help him.  But he died in 1921 – he was really quite a good age for that time – it wasn’t bad at all, but he felt ill towards the end and he had a very good friend, Dr Hellen in Dunedin, someone he knew in Scotland. And he came out about the same time that James did. So he went down to see him and see how he was, you know, to get an idea of what was wrong. He said go home James, get your business right and go to bed. He had cancer, but they didn’t use the word then. That’s all he told him, was to go home. And he did that and he was dead in a fortnight. And of course this was a big thing for all the family. They weren’t expecting it, because he’d kept going for so long they thought he would be all right, but he was perfectly relaxed about all this.

But he loved people. Although he found it hard – harder than his wife – to communicate, he loved people and they always had people round their big dining table. And I remember sitting there with their large head and shoulders painting above the table and there would always be people there – the ploughman always sat there at the table with them. Didn’t matter who you were, you sat at their table. They were very hospitable.  And he wouldn’t talk small talk – I think that was his problem – it had to be something scientific, or really interesting. He was on the School Committee and he was Session Clerk at the church, never missed church – Presbyterian Church of course. But he was very highly thought of in the district. But he left his wife to carry on when he died.  And she left her youngest son in charge of the phone [farm] – Thomas, and she went off to Dunedin then and spent her last years in Dunedin which she enjoyed. She was very good with money. She counted every penny but she made it too. She was just extremely frugal but I’ll never forget those apples.

Well, that’s my great grandfather. I really could go on and say much more about my grandmother but it’s very hard to talk too much about her because she was just a loving, lovely person that loved every one of her family. They were all equal. If you went in to see her you got a shilling in your hand – that’s the grandchildren that lived a long way away. So it didn’t matter how many times in the week you went you still got a shilling when you went to see her. And it was very sad when she died. She died in Dunedin and that was the end of the McGimpsey great grandparents.

Now, the son of course was David.

And he was running the farm was he?

Tom was running the farm.

My father was the second son. His name also was David McGimpsey. It was very difficult in those days because the eldest son usually was called after the father and the mother passed her name on to the daughter. And so you can imagine what it was like in large families – it was very difficult to work out who was who.

Now my father, David, was born in 1887 and he lived to 1947. I’m going to read this little bit that my sister wrote about him because it does explain him perhaps better than I can:

‘David was tall, over 6ft, broad shouldered with an erect carriage and not an ounce of fat anywhere. He had a depreciating [deprecating?] grin, very like his mother’s smile, the one I’ve just spoken about, and a head of thick fair hair which never thinned – ever – as long as we remember. He was clean shaven, not just on Saturdays but he was immaculate every day of the week. He always wore a tie when travelling to Kurow, which he did often, because he eventually had more land on the other side of the Waitaki bridge. We never saw him walk as an old man as he collapsed with a coronary at the age of fifty seven. One of my most vivid memories of him is that of dancing the Sailors Hornpipe, whistling the accompanying music as he danced on the concrete patio at the back door. He was practising for a children’s party. The next time I saw him he was lying prostrate in his bed with a coronary, afraid to move. In those days you were put to bed if you had a heart attack, and he wasn’t even allowed to feed himself. Well, he didn’t live of course – he died soon after. If it had been today he would probably been alive for another twenty years. He was great with community service and he always has been a natural with people. He loved talking with anyone and in the country he did a lot in the church. And when he and Edith, my mother, and the young family moved to their farm up Hakataramea Valley he soon got to know everyone.’

Now Hakataramea Valley is over the Waitaki river, over the big long bridge from Kurow.

‘They both took an active part in all community affairs, David as a leader with Edith fully supporting him in the background. He was chairman of the social committee, on the school committee for two separate terms, and during this time was the moving force to raising the money for installing electricity in the school.’

Now we had a very small school and all six of us went to that school but it was one room, and the teacher often would be teaching up to thirty five pupils in one room. And our family were lucky because we were all educated, except for my brother who wanted to leave school. And at the age of twelve he started helping on the farm, and he went and helped on other people’s farms too. But it was a tragedy really because he was bright and he should have been one of the ones to go further with high school, but he didn’t.

But money was very short then. It was very scarce, but then everyone was in the same position. And I as a kid never noticed it but then I was a lot younger than the others. And Dad helped to raise this money with fortnightly dances in the Valley school so that they had more money to do something about the school – put electricity on for example. And he really worked very hard at that, so the whole family went – when something was on everyone went – even I went and I was fourteen years younger than the next one to me. And my oldest sister was twenty years older than me, but I was told not to talk to everyone. That’s very hard for me but I did get a lot of information.  And the women made sandwiches and they had wonderful times. Everyone looked forward to that.

Dad was very active in the church and the whole Sunday worked around the church. We weren’t allowed to even polish our shoes on Sunday. The food was all done too, so that it was a day of church and rest.

But during that time we had wonderful people staying. We would have students coming up to stay to take the service who were going to be ministers. And one of them of course was Lloyd Geering who set many a standard and upset a lot of people with his thoughts on the church. He was such a lovely man – we were very fond of him. My father listened to everything he said, and then before he left he said “well Lloyd, you’ll always be my friend, but I don’t agree with you”.

‘For many years David was session clerk while Edith was organist and Sunday School teacher for the Valley area. For many years David travelled the districts by horse to visit his parishioners and collect their contributions to the church funds. They also organised the church picnic which was always held on a Sunday – in fact on New Year’s Day usually – buying all the prizes for the races, making sure that everyone got a gift whether they won a race or not. David was on the Dog Trial committee, and the founding chairman of the Federated Farmers in the district and chairman of the committee which raised the money for the building of the Memorial Hall in Kurow. In all these activities his family was expected to play its part – an excellent training for all of us. It was always a contribution from us, and has been felt that we were brought up in a good way.

‘When the 1939 war began all his energy went into producing wheat and meat for the war effort. He willingly agreed, saying he arranged, or encouraged, or let Jim … go to the war.’

Jim of course … that’s my brother … wanted to go to the war but he felt he should stay with Dad because he didn’t have anyone else to help him over that time.  What with help from his daughters and neighbours he managed to go on with it, until he collapsed of course with the coronary.

‘In temperament he had inherited almost equally the charismatic genes of the Scots and the Irish. I wish father – after his Scottish/Irish father, and the Celtic genes of his easy going, laughter loving mother. I glance at their portraits often verifying this fact. It was an engaging mixture, if very frustrating at times such as when Dad was in the gig going out. He had a horse called Jean that knew him very well and when he saw someone coming towards him the horse always stopped for a talk. But at other times it wasn’t so easy because my mother was a quieter person, very dignified, had been a very good rider in her time and was very proud. She didn’t want Jean to stop and talk to all these people so she would try and encourage her to go on further, but Jean wouldn’t move. She stopped anyway and mother was left there biting her lip. But she was too polite to really upset people but it didn’t make for happiness.

‘For many years he was MC at all the dances, but he always watched his five daughters at the dance and we were not allowed to dance with anyone that was drunk. And the boys used to often have a drink outside the hall’.

You’ll remember that. [Chuckle]

‘On the other hand we were not allowed to refuse if we were invited to dance’.

Now this was quite difficult and my sister said on one occasion she made a mistake and did get up with someone who was pretty drunk and having trouble, but an old friend came and rescued her.

‘Dad loved talking about politics and world affairs and local matters and also liked to chat with whoever he should meet. The other thing that he just loved was the dog trials. He was very, very good with stock, not so interested in planting seeds and things but he just loved his dogs and the horses. And he broke them in and did it very well, and people would come to him to get the help with that. He delighted in breeding, breaking in and working horses and dogs … his eight horse team of horses, the Clydesdales, and his dog. He had a very valuable dog called Don whom he three times sold before giving up, because Don refused to be sold. Each time [chuckle] he would arrive back thin, dusty, footsore, hungry and thirsty. We marvelled at his stamina and … intelligence of this dog who would have been taken by car up to fifty miles away, and he came back. He always found his way home’.

I’ve heard of this happening to other people.

Well that was my father, and in between all of that he did have time to farm. He was a great father really. I don’t ever remember getting really growled at and he had six of a family. He and my mother got on very well, but mother had been born with a silver spoon in her life [mouth]. She’d been a McIntyre from down south that we will hear about later and she always had help in the house. Mother never put a foot outside but the family all did. It was very interesting really, but he was very proud of her and they had a very good life.

And of the six children Thelma was the eldest, and she looked after everybody. And later when we’d all left home, she did some work herself in a doctor’s surgery, and she married at the age of sixty, so there was no family but she was very happy to be married.

My brother was next. He went to the war … the Second World War as I mentioned … and I do remember so well the soldiers going away. I would be about eight at the time, and they marched through the streets of Oamaru and they came to the station. And there were … some of them had wives, they were married the day before, and all their families, and the crying went on. It’s the saddest thing that I remember – something I will never forget.

So we said goodbye to him;  had a family photo taken, that you’ve got there. The only one we ever had with everyone in it. And then my sister went the next year as a nursing sister. Now she was near the front too, but she had some happier experiences. My brother was on the anti-aircraft for five years and he came back a different person. He didn’t like loud noises. He didn’t laugh as much. He wasn’t quite the happy person that he had been.

And then there was Isabella Ponton. Now that is an old Irish family name from my mother’s side which we’ll talk about soon. She was a nurse as I’ve said. She came back from the war having had six months in Japan actually, to help clean up there. So when Hiroshima went she was right there and went out in the boat to have a look at it so you can imagine she ended up with a lot of skin cancer. Little did they know that some of the people died of course. It was bad. But she was matron of Queen Mary Hospital in Dunedin and St George’s Hospital in Christchurch for nine years. And she retired at seventy, and found ‘goodness me, I’m not ready to be retired’, so she ran the Rhodes Memorial Hospital in Christchurch, for the elderly, for many years after that. She was great, and I was very close to her. And she loved her grandfather McGimpsey.  And he was buried at Kurow, and in Kurow is the photo of the McGimpsey family and the two boys who were killed at the war. Billy – Isabella had a nickname Billy – she wanted her ashes to be left there, so David and I took them up and we scattered them there. What a lovely site. The Kurow cemetery on one side of the Waitaki river and straight across the river was the Hakataramea cemetery and her sister is on the other side.  I often wonder if they talk to each other. She just loved her grandfather though, and wanted to be there.

Now also there was a little boy called John born to that family, and that was sad. He only lived about five months and he died, so his name is on there too.

Now, next comes Elizabeth, another sister. She was a teacher, trained in Dunedin. And she taught overseas a lot, and she married Charles Martin who was very musical. And they had wonderful trips overseas and a very happy life. Had one son, David, who is still living over in England with his music.

And next came Mavis Catherine, and she was a nurse also. And then there was little me, and I brought up the rear fourteen years after the one before me. And I don’t know whether I was a shock or a delight. I know my father was delighted when I came along. It must have been hard for mother – she was forty when I was born. And I must say that she was married at nineteen and had five in five years and then me later, and her husband was a lot older than she was.

Well there we are at me. I was born in 1932 sort of in the middle of the depression really. I remember swaggies coming to the house and being given food – they would sit at the table and eat with us. They hadn’t always had a shower that day and [chuckle] they always got a bed to sleep in outside. We had a hut outside with a decent mattress on it. They could sleep, but they were sent on their way the next day but they were never sent away hungry.

As I said before we didn’t have much money, but then no one else did in the depression. No one expected much but we always had Christmas, and that was something kids looked forward to from one part of the year to the next.

The Hakataramea farm Dad called ‘Fairview’. It was right in the middle of the valley and had one large hill, and on one side were the Hunter hills on the other side was the Kirkliston Range. It really was very lovely. Our nearest neighbours were the McCaw’s and the McKenzie’s were on the other side and everyone was just so close in that valley.

Are those the football McCaw’s?

Yes.

Well you’re quite famous then.

Oh very famous [chuckle] … not in Richie’s time of course. Before that – his grandfather we knew so well. He used to use the tractor to plough up the field next door so I would take him out morning tea – I rather fancied him as a little girl. And he always stopped. They’re a very friendly lot.

Now – when I was about eight my older sister and I used to go and set traps for rabbits and opossums. We got good money in the winter for their skins but I was only a kid and I found the possums very hard to kill … very hard to kill.  One or two got away and I was growled at for that. Ferrets were hard to kill too, but my sister took that over. But we always buried the ferrets for a day or two before we skinned them. They were much easier to skin then, and we both skinned them – we’d both sit on a log of wood and do it. We made quite good money from the skins. The rabbits were good food of course for the dogs and the ferrets were just buried.

I remember the school so well. I had to walk, because we were one and a half miles … not quite two. Had we been two, I could have ridden my horse but I wasn’t allowed to because it was under two miles, so I had to walk each day. If it was wet sometimes I got a ride in the car – it just depended. We got our first car when I was born and it was a 1932 Model A Ford. Dad thought it was marvellous, and of course it just held everybody. [Chuckle] You sort of rolled in, no seat belts in those days.

But anyway, getting back to the school. This one room it was heated by an old pot belly stove, and it was tended by wood. And we had to collect the wood for that stove and … first there in the morning got the wood there. We weren’t allowed to put it on but we helped bring the wood in.

I joined the Red Cross as a kid and that was good. We learned the things that the Red Cross did. It’s more than they do now at an early age.

Now we were 10k from Kurow, and when I was ten I used to ride on my bike over the big Waitaki bridge to Kurow for music. It’s a long way, even in the car now – I wonder how on earth I did it. But that was expected then and I did it. And the bridge is much better now than it was.

And I went to boarding school – I went to Waitaki Girls’ High School. Dad felt education was very important and each one of us has secondary schooling except my brother who helped on the farm. So I boarded at Waitaki Girls’, and it stuck with me all my life. I made such good friends and it was a very good thing for me socially, because we didn’t see a lot of people – they were all older than me. And the first time I was with all these girls my own age … it was rather good.

Then I went to Teachers’ College for early childhood training. It was partly separate and partly attached to the Primary School Teachers’ College, and that was wonderful.

At the end of 1954 we got married. David finished his degree [chuckle] a week before we got married, and I had finished the same day as he did. We had no money whatsoever. I don’t know how we thought we were going to exist really, but we did.

How did you meet David?

I met him at a University hop in the woolshed where they had the old wool bales around the side. I met him there along with lots of other guys, and – they used to have one about once a fortnight I think, if I remember rightly. And we used to go to the Town Hall sometimes. Joe Brown at the Town Hall – that was good. That’s really where I learnt to dance – I’ve forgotten now, but it was great.

We got married then because we wanted our friends to be there and we were going to Christchurch where David had to do a year at Teachers’ College, and we were going to be right away from family and friends. So we got married, and he worked in the pea factory in Christchurch for the holidays to make some money. We had £5 left [chuckle] by the time we [chuckle] got over the marriage and got to Christchurch.

Never mind. I had a job which was fortunate – I was appointed as a teacher to Opawa Kindergarten in Christchurch and that was good for me for the year. Michael was born – our first child was born at the end of the year, so I was lucky – I had exactly a year and that was acceptable then because they didn’t like you leaving in the middle of the year. So I kept going until the end of the year and Michael was born on the 22 December, [chuckle] so I just got away with that all right.

And from there, things changed considerably.  We’d been very lucky to have a rented house in Christchurch and we were very comfortable there, and we had to go to Greymouth.  So we went to a second-hand place in Sydenham, the cheapest part of Christchurch, and for £5 again, we bought enough furniture that we thought [chuckle] would do us while we were there. And it did – we didn’t buy anything else while we were there. We were there for three years and we loved it. And we had another baby there, Jenny was born there.

So we left there after nearly three years – it was two and a bit years – and we went back to Dunedin. Well we were so excited – we thought it would be wonderful.  But you know, it’s not always as good when you go back …

No, that’s exactly right.  [Speaking together]

… to a place after being away, and our friends had moved and they’d changed and we had two children. It did make a difference but there we were. We needed to buy a house. We had a look and we really couldn’t afford it, but we managed to get a two bedroomed house in a good area for £100 deposit for £500 … it was still pounds in those days.  And it was in a good area but it was small, [chuckle] and we had no sooner bought the house than I found I was pregnant with Hamish so we were going to have three children in two bedrooms. And it took us three years to sell that house because it was in a good area but it didn’t have more than two bedrooms.

And after that we went to Australia for a year. David went on exchange to Lyneham High School and I had a job to go to at a private school.  And the kindergarten there was from three to seven, and I had forty little new Australians who didn’t speak English. They were just lovely. So really I was teaching these kids to speak English, and the parents [chuckle] more than anything else. The fathers were lovely – they would bring them in the morning. And the mothers were too shy to come out because they didn’t speak.  And I used to get these lovely hugs from the fathers when the day was over. They were so glad the child had been happy and they were learning, and I was glad too because that was quite a responsibility. But I did mix with the staff in the other parts of the school too. It was a great experience and I had enough money exactly to buy a new Valiant car at the end of that year. So that was good, and it was waiting for us before we got over to New Zealand again, so that was good.

Then we were back in Dunedin for a short time, and I ran a Play Centre there for those two years. The kindergarten was a long way away. We had only one car and we’d had to have taken the kids to Maori Hill which was a distance away. So we got a room up in St John’s Anglican Church just at the top of our street, and I ran this kindergarten with help from the mothers. It worked very well. I ran it as a kindergarten actually. We had a waiting list and it was very good.

That was Dunedin for us.  Then we moved to Palmerston North where David was appointed to a new position as Head of Department. None of us really cared for Palmerston North very much. The children had to change school again and they had been so happy where they were. But that happened – it was rather a pity.

And after two years we had to move again. This time we moved to Raumati Beach. David was working for the Department of Education so we decided to live out of Wellington and Raumati Beach was wonderful.  And there I opened a brand new kindergarten. It was quite a big thing to do, and of course we were only there two and a half years when he was appointed the Head’s job up here in Havelock North. But we just loved there and the kids loved school. We had a very happy time there. David would come home at the end of the week and say “well what’s happened?” And half the time he didn’t hear exactly what had happened, but once the gear box had gone;  another time a piano had fallen over, and … oh, all sorts of interesting things happened.  So we made some very good friends – it was just wonderful.

So that was Raumati Beach. None of us wanted to move but we did. And this was the stage where our eldest son left home. He was ready to branch out – he didn’t want to go to Lincoln at that stage so he had a year at Dalgety’s in Wellington and he got a place to stay with someone else that he knew in the flat and that was quite acceptable.

And the rest of us all went up here, and this is a lovely place but I’d never been here before so we had a few changes around. And I had sold the house in Raumati Beach. We had bought it for $12,000 two and a half years before and I sold it for $24,000. I was very pleased with myself, but that was just luck … it was just the very time.  So we eventually bought a house in Havelock North but we rented for a little while in Hereworth Grove. There was a house there for rent and it was lovely there, then we bought in Joll Road to start with.

Right – and I thought ‘I don’t think I’ll work now. I think I’ll have a bit of a rest’. I’d always thought with kindergarten children that you shouldn’t be too old anyway, to rest. [Chuckle] What were we?  We were forty, it wasn’t old at all.  But it was only a very short time when we got there that I was looking round the kindergartens – I couldn’t help it.  And I saw quite a few special needs children sitting in with the others, and I sort of started taking an interest, and I was asked. But anyway, I was appointed as Director of the Kindergarten. It was a kindergarten but it was called a Centre for the Disabled, in Albert Street, and I was there for two years and I just loved it. I’d always had an interest with disabled children and I had a good ratio of one to three staff – one teacher to three, or one carer they were, to three. We had two nurses. It was very good. It was right next door to the older workshop where the older ones went. So we got to know them too. So that was really good, and some of the men from Rotary in Havelock North bought our kids in once a week from Havelock. I remember Jim Newbigin being one of them … can’t remember the others now, but there were a number of them and we were very, very grateful for that. We did get a van eventually.

Then David thought I was treating him like an IH child and I realised I was beginning to talk a little bit differently – I’d better have a change. So after two years I went to Mayfair and was Head teacher there and that was just lovely, it was just wonderful – so much easier. I realised I’d been working very hard although I’d enjoyed it.  And I didn’t mention, but the children from that area of kindergarten for the disabled went to Kowhai School when they were ready, and they would be checked to see if they were ready by the Psych Service. It was great.

The two years there were just lovely at kindergarten. One funny thing happened. Havelock North High School had the kindergarten there right on their boundary, and there was a fence there and that was all right, but they did put their rubbish on the other side of the fence. So one day I saw … the children were in session, and I noticed that there was smoke coming up, so I thought ‘I’ll ring my husband and tell him that his rubbish is on fire’.  Which I did, to be told he was in a meeting, he was busy, and I was to ring later. So I rang one minute later to be told “just put it out if it’s on fire”. I said “no, it’s dangerous – I’ve got the children in session”.  “Right, well just get the hose out – do something”.  We had the hose out, but then I thought ‘really, this can’t go on’. The smoke was still going so I got the Fire Brigade. Well!  Mr Barham left his meeting very quickly – came running out. [Laughter] “What are you doing with the Fire Brigade here?” [Laughter] So we had a wee talk over the fence – very quietly of course. The fire was put out by the Fire Brigade …

Good one.

… and they thanked us for getting it so early so it didn’t burn the fence down. [Chuckle] The rubbish was moved to somewhere else after that.

All these funny little things that do happen.  I used to have students coming over who wanted to see what kindergarten was like, and to spend a morning there. And Maggie Hicks … Margaret Hicks … would bring some over to see the place which was quite good. We only had two teachers then for forty children.

And at that stage I went to a Correspondence School for two terms. Now that was a wonderful experience in Wellington and I saw how the Chatham Islands got their education and how the things were sent out and … and a lot of people in North Canterbury and the Nelson area in the outblocks. I did enjoy that and I did learn a lot from that.

We were getting to the stage of knowing that we must have more teachers. One to twenty wasn’t nearly enough. We’d been pushing for this for ages. We’d also been pushing for parity with primary teachers’ full pay because the pay was not as good as primary, and yet we worked every bit as hard and sometimes later than they did to run a good kindergarten.  And it was heavy – we moved all the outdoor furniture, and it wasn’t just a play centre at all, it was an educational centre.  But anyway we were there ‘cause we enjoyed it – we’d trained for it, and we knew things were going to start and change very soon.

So after the Correspondence School and the IHC I was appointed to Mayfair Kindergarten as a Head teacher, but also they asked me if I would be a Senior Head teacher which would cover the whole of the Heretaunga area. They would give me a third teacher but I would still have to work a third of the week in the kindergarten.  Now that sounds all right but it was very difficult to do everything I wanted to do.  But that was the very beginning of getting more staff and seeing what was happening, giving the staff more work with the children.

Now after a year there doing that my husband got a Woolf Fisher scholarship for three months overseas, and it was coming up to holiday time.  So he went ahead and I caught up with him – I took a month off and I caught up with him in the States, and I spent half the time with him. It was very good and I looked at kindergartens. In England the nursery schools were very similar to ours but very formal. They had desks and chairs and so on and they didn’t really move much from there, but they did have mat time. But it was interesting to see these places.  The one that was so different was in Malaysia where the kids had a bare room. The houses of course were on water, and here was this bare room with nothing in it for the kids, so they’d get stories and so on – I was fascinated with that. So we are so lucky. We shouldn’t complain really.

At this stage we had a move. David had always wanted, he said, to be a farmer so we thought we’d try by having a few acres of grapes. Well, it was interesting – the grapes grew and we had the machine to get them off the vines.  We didn’t lose money. We didn’t make a lot, but everyone else loved it out there – they loved to visit ‘cause we had a tennis court and we had a swimming pool and it was lovely.  A lovely place, we just loved it.  But we realised it was too much hard work for both of us really, and we decided we would have to move at some time but we didn’t have to hurry so we were there for … we put someone in to rent because we got it just before we went overseas.

And that’s another story too. I got a couple to come and rent the place while we were both away. And when we came home there was such a funny smell in the house, and I couldn’t make out what it was, and I was fairly new to that smell.  And when I was cleaning a cupboard out I came across a cup of marijuana seed. I realised they’d been smoking that, so I thought ‘blow them, they can’t do that, but I’ll take the seed back and I’ll talk to them’. So I found out where they were. It was a young unmarried couple – they were a nice young couple. I went round and found them and said “are these yours?” “Oh yes”, grabbed it – glad to have it back.  And I said “well you left them behind you. You left the smell too, in the house. I didn’t realise that you know, you were having that or I might not have been so keen to leave you there”. Anyway it was no use doing anything after that but I let them know that I knew. But it took me such a long time. We had to get the curtains dry cleaned to get the smell out. It was right through the house and it was a big place. Anyway we did manage to get the smell out after a while.

Now it was too much continuing out there really, so we came back into town and we rented a house [chuckle] until we bought one.  A doctor bought our property and he wanted to sort of move in so we moved back into a rented property, just for a short time. But that was all right, just while we were waiting to get a house we wanted. Which we did, we got a John Scott place in Iona Road which we liked and we were there for thirty years and it appealed to us – we liked it.  But it had a quarry tiled floor, and we felt it was unsafe for David when he became unwell. If he fell it would really hurt him so we decided we had to move at that time.

Well once again I wasn’t going to work. I was well over the fifty by this time, but I said I wouldn’t work with young children again, so I thought maybe I did need to look further afield. We never seemed to be able to collect much money together. We’d had some lovely trips but of course they take money, and although we’d enjoyed them we were getting older and realised that – you know, we’d have to think of later on.  So I had a good look around – I was on a committee which worked for the general community and children and elderly, and I met someone who was looking for someone to work perhaps, with Age Concern. It was a new thing, to get volunteers from right over Hawke’s Bay to be trained to visit people who lived on their own.  And so I thought ‘well that sounds all right’.  I’d not been trained for that – I soon was. So I took it on and I really loved it, and had training sessions and meetings with the others who had trained, once a month to see how they were getting on. And I got some wonderful volunteers. It was the time when there were volunteers around and that was a wonderful job to have. So I really enjoyed doing that, and I did that for twenty years.

I went from Age Concern, which closed down in the old Borough Council building in Havelock North.  It was very sad – when we knew that the building was closing down we held a meeting and Sally Lusk was there, and she went away from that meeting having heard us say “well, we’ve got to find somewhere else for the oldies to meet”. And she went and bought a house in Te Aute Road and it was just ideal. A few things had to be done to it, but that’s where the people living on their own were able to go to.  But it ended up with people in Rest Homes going too, and they were wonderful people because they had been through the war and the depression and they knew what hardship was. They were just wonderful. So we were very lucky to work in the Lusk centre. In fact I might still do a bit from time to time, when I have time.

So I was there for just on twenty years. What did I do? I trained the volunteers there. I organised fund raising events. I telephoned people to drive their cars in and pick people up, take them home.  That’s where Noel Sutherland was so great. He loved picking people up …

Yes I remember that, yes.  [Speaking together]

… and he was so good and they loved him too. So he’s one of the ones … Scott Henderson was another guy from Rotary, and he is still tied up with it.

So through this I’ve got to know so many people but I’ve realised when David became ill that I would have to stop. I was on the Board for six years and I found that very useful. I learnt a lot through that.  And I was a member of Inner Wheel and I used them as drivers. I got to know so many people and they were happy to do it and it was quite wonderful really to have so many. And from Dinner Club – I belong to Dinner Club and I got a few volunteers from there.

But at this stage I was busy because I had a Book Club that I loved going to once a month. I had grandchildren. I had quite a lot of family round here and I was President of Waitaki Old Girls’, and that kept me busy.

But as I said, we were looking for more help within the kindergarten area. That is the Department Free Kindergarten that they talked about.  Nothing was free.  No child is kept away because they didn’t pay anything but they were asked for a donation at that stage.

Well, things were happening.  First of all the training changed. It went to a three year course where they completed their degree. Like so many jobs that changed then where it was you know, so simple to get a diploma with two years, it went to a three year course, and that’s what’s happened.  And the money has gone up for the people who are doing it with the degree – they have to be paid more.

But the teachers had a New Zealand curriculum to follow. They called it Mat or Weaving – Te Whariki, they called it.  And each child had a documentation each day, and the book at the end of the day had to be filled in. This is now … they leave kindergarten with this book of what they have done in the last years. They talk to family about the culture a lot and what they’re doing.  And the staff, I believe, are more accountable. They must do these things.

These are all for the good.

This is for the good.  Yes, but I’ll tell you about the changes in the children in a moment, they come … they are interested in the special needs area, which is wonderful, ‘cause they weren’t before. We used to have perhaps one (or two) special needs child and that was it.  But they were very interested in that and you might now get another staff member.

But they changed the idea of the sessions. They had six hour sessions – a full day. They would take their lunch and have that there. Those were the up to five year olds.  Young children under two go for three days a week, and they do a six hour session too.

Well, it’s interesting – twenty hours of kindergarten is free to start with and after that you are charged.  But the ratio now is ten children to one staff member, so that is good.  And for children under two, it’s five children to one staff member, so those things are wonderful.

But you can do the straight University training or the Polytech training, but some girls do work in a kindergarten. It won’t be well paid, but they will work in the kindergarten part of their time, and finish it.  But we do have parity now with primary schools, and at the pay end of things, with the degree – the very top, after about seven years or more with the degree, it goes up to around about $70,000 a year, and they start on round $30-34 [thousand].  So that is wonderful. That’s top of the scale of course. But they don’t have Mother Helps. Mother Helps don’t come now.

Because they don’t want them to help?

No, they want them – they don’t have them. They do want them to help, but they don’t come, because they think … extra staff, they’re not needed. They feel it’s not right.  And they miss that – they have no one helping with the paints and the kitchen.  Now of course, so many mothers are working, and they’re using kindergarten to allow them to work. So that’s what’s happening.  And there aren’t the volunteers. The mothers are working where they possibly can.  So you can see the change.  But the thing that worries kindergarten teachers, and why we’ve always … we’ve known this was coming but we were unhappy with it, was the fact that trained teachers are changing nappies and looking after babies as well.  It seems just a waste of training.  It depends what roster you’re on and so on, but you know, it’s not easy for them to change.  And the girls who are doing it now are finding it quite difficult – quite heavy going. They leave quite late in the afternoon, they just can’t get through the work. All the writing up for every child, every day.

Yes, it’s become a paper war wherever you go.

It has, hasn’t it? And before, we always kept the roll and we always kept the book and wrote what was happening and so on, but that has changed tremendously.  And that is where that is.

Right.  At this stage I decided that I would be at home and look after my husband who was really sick, so for five years I cared for him before he went into hospital for the last year and a bit. But I’m still interested in everything that’s going on and I’m still in touch with a lot of people.

Now, I haven’t mentioned my mother’s side of the family – of the McIntyre side. They were quite different people from the McGimpseys.  My father was the McGimpsey, and he married my mother who was Edith Elizabeth McIntyre when she was married.

This is the McIntyre of Merino Downs. Hugh McIntyre was born on the 6 April 1821 in Northern Ireland – possibly he’d been in Scotland but came back to Ireland. The parents were Donald, and Mary McNab.  Now there are McNabs in Southland and they happen to be good friends of the McIntyres.  His parents got married in July in 1816 in Scotland, in Perthshire. But Hugh had been a shepherd in Scotland for a long time and he decided he wanted to go further.  He had more to do so he decided that he’d go to New Zealand.  So he started off for New Zealand, but he stopped at Tasmania and decided that would be a good place to be and in 1942 [1842] he arrived there. His wife to be, Miss Grace Young, arrived a few months later, and they bought land near Hamilton in Victoria. They actually left Tasmania and decided South Australia might be better, and they took up farming.

In the mid ‘60s the McIntyres came to New Zealand to visit McNabs at Knapdale, the two men having been close friends in Scotland. He was greatly taken with the land in part of Otago. He had been farming merinos in Australia and was convinced they would do well in this country. So he began negotiations to purchase what was to be known as Merino Downs a very large area of land.  Once the purchase was completed Hugh McIntyre returned to Australia for their family – three girls and five boys. Once domiciled at Merino Downs, Hugh McIntyre imported some fine horses and many excellent merinos. He was very interested in his horses and he had very fine horses. And this is where mother learned to ride and she had a beautiful saddle.  I remember her saddle. Lovely leather one.

But what type of man was he – this original leader of Merino Downs?  [Reads]

‘He was of the clan McIntyre, a powerfully built Highland man with a goodly share of quick temper often attributed to these, from this part of the world. Most who incurred his displeasure had good reason to remember him but there was one in whose hands he was like putty, and that was his wife. She was a very articulate, kindly lady and he just worshipped her.  And her name was Isabella Ponton. This is a name that’s gone right through the family from further back than this. She was a music teacher.

‘In those far off days, no finer horses were to be found than in the McIntyre stables. He made regular trips to Australia to get new blood for the flocks and thoroughbreds for his stables. Carriage horses were not neglected.  A horse had to look good. It had to be a smart stepper to pull the McIntyre carriage.  Any new man coming on the place was warned once and only once, that if he left the gate open there would be trouble.  That was really an unforgiveable sin because the paddocks were so large and moving stock could entail tremendous work in mustering and redrafting.

‘At ‘The Point’ – that’s the name of the place that they had, part of Merino Downs was cut up into smaller areas so that the family all had their own separate farm. It was leasehold, and now only one black pine strainer stands where the house was – the first one burnt down.  And they had eight children, Donald, Mary, James, Isabella Ponton, Hugh, Grace and Alexander.’  So you see the same names keep coming through here. They were all very popular.  So my grandfather was the James.  Isabella Ponton had married before, a sea captain, and he had been drowned at sea. He was washed overboard, so she had gone back to Scotland but they had corresponded, and he came out to see her and to marry her at a later date.  And that’s where the family stayed for some years and then Hugh’s health gave away. He wasn’t very good – he needed kinder weather. Well it is pretty cold down there, and they came up to Otiake where the McGimpseys were, and they were side by side.

Their story has done the full circle.

And that is the full circle of the story.

And my parents married and went up the Valley. They had four hundred acres there and three hundred acres at Kurow Creek which was the other side of the Waitaki, so Dad used to take all the stock down and bring it home for shearing and so on.  Oh, he used to drove, you know, late into the night with these animals, so that is really the end of the story of our family.

Well that’s wonderful.  It’s interesting hearing you talk about your father and stockmanship and the dogs and the leadership and that. It almost runs through the family in Michael, doesn’t it?

It does. I don’t tell him that, but it does. It’s there. It’s not in Jenny. It’s there partly in Hamish too. He does a lot down there that we never know about, but I hear about it occasionally.  But it’s very much in Michael. He’s been marvellous to me. So quietly done.

Well that’s the way he operates.

And the way Dad operated.

Okay, I think that pretty well covers everything. In fact it’s a lovely story.

Thank you.  I’m sorry I had to stop here and there.

Well, thank you Lyn.

That’s all right – I hope it was good enough.

Thank you for your contribution – I think it’s been marvellous, the time you’ve put in for early education and the community.

Well I think children are very important, and I’m sorry to see things if they go downhill from here, with the teachers. They mightn’t get the good teachers if they make it too difficult.  I don’t know.

Time will tell.

Original digital file

BarhamLE1547_Final_Apr17.ogg

Additional information

Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

Accession number

1547/39972

Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.