Michael (Mick) Stanley Small & Dawn Kathleen Small Interview
Today is the 7th April 2016. I’m interviewing Mick and Dawn Small about the life and times of their family on the Tukituki I guess, and on the Maraetotara. Would you like to tell us something about the family, Mick?
Oh Frank, where do we start? I think they arrived out here about 1856, and they had a few shifts during the early stages. I know they owned Mangatutu up at Puketitiri there for a number of years ‘til the pigs and the deer and the possums over-ran them, and everything they gained was just stalemate. They couldn’t get ahead fast enough, so they moved from there out to the coast – I think it was Ritchies’ place. Ritchies later bought it. I think there’s still a paddock there called Small’s Mistake, because when the McHardys and the Ritchies bought it they didn’t graze one of the paddocks for twelve months. And the neighbours rang to see if they could graze it, and they didn’t realise they’d bought the paddock off the old great-grandfather so it’s called Small’s still to this day.
Then they went from there to Otane, before 1901, and … Frank … it was called Kaikora North in those days, and it’s where the dairy farms are there now, on that back road, and it’s now called Fernside and the old homestead’s still there. Then the war came and the Government came along and had a yarn to them, and the two brothers decided to cut it up for dairy farms to settle some [?] and they moved out to Okahu on the Waimarama Road. That was my father’s father …
Yeah, and his cousin. Then they split up. One kept Okahu and the other one went to the Waikato – Manurewa of all places.
Your grandfather kept Okahu?
Yes. Arthur was his name. He kept Okahu, but he had a house in Pepper Street where he kept his horses and milking cow and things and he used to come out to the farm, and my father and Mum were there – Morris was in the Air Force, and Dad missed out on the Army and that because he had to join the Home Guard in those days, and someone had to look after the farm and the Government wouldn’t let all the family go. So Pat went to the Islands, Morris went into the Air Force, and Dad had to stay home. That’s what happened there. So that was about 1901 I think they went there.
And at that stage Okahu would have been all developed? Or was there still …
Oh, there was still plenty to do.
Yes, still plenty of scrub on it and so forth.
No – the country out there, like here, never had rubbishy stuff on it, but they said they got it clean. Fact the land’s rather … it’s a real good farm there, it’s real limestone country.
How big is it?
Sixteen hundred and eighty-eight I think, and there’s a fresh water spring in every paddock, and the water’s that cold you can hardly drink it – yes, beautiful stuff. And all down the east coast side of the farm it’s bounded by the Maraetotara River – the whole lot of it. We’ve got about – nearly three miles of river, so that’s a good farm.
Yes, I’ve walked that river many times fishing it, or the stream.
They’re stroppy fish eh? We had a lot of fun there.
What happened then? Morris came home from the Air Force – had a house there, but they built a house for Morris. And Pat came home from the Army, and he had single men’s rooms just across from the kitchen there. And they all stayed there, right through to when it was sold. And Pat moved into Havelock, Dad went to Frimley Avenue, and Morris went to – oh, what’s the name of that road? Just by the racecourse, then into Grays Road and then Southland Road, and that’s where they all finished.
What relation was Gordon?
He was a brother. And he got that bit of land in Mt Erin Road – in Crystall Road. That was his share of the Estate. When he wanted to go farming, their father said we’ll get you that and it’s your bit of the Estate. And that’s how that worked, and it stayed like that.
Dad’s sister married a Husheer – she lived in Napier … Jean.
Is that one of Gerard Husheer’s ..?
Yes. Tobacco team, yeah.
Dawn: And Doreen?
Mick: And Doreen went … she was a doctor’s nurse in Wellington for years – all her life, and she stayed single. What was the name of that town she lived in? On the way into Wellington. There’s a golf course there. She lived there, then retired out at Waikanae.
Just going back a bit. Where did your family come from – England or Scotland?
Yeah, England. English our side … Dad’s side. They lived – where the pirates … Plymouth was it? Some … down there, with all the pirates. And their family must have had a bit of land, inland somewhere there. ‘Cause she was a pretty wild area where they came from. Yeah, you had to be wild to survive.
You mentioned that when your great-grandfather came out he had trouble getting here. He had to make three attempts.
Yes. Yeah, every time he got on a sailing ship to leave to come out, halfway across the voyage they’d detour ‘cause they had contraband on the boats, and they’d go to South America and deliver them and make huge money in those days. Then they had to go back to England, and “oh, we’ll go next time”. And after three trips they sorted the captain out and he came to New Zealand for them.
Where did they land?
That’s a good question and I can’t tell you – it’s not far from here because they’ve always been here.
Yes, all their farming activities were within forty or fifty miles of Havelock.
Yeah. In fact I wouldn’t mind betting it was Napier, because they weren’t at Pakaututu in those days, and Mangatutu and all them. It was a really tiny country in those days, yeah – 1850s.
Coming back to Okahu – they all lived on the farm and farmed it until it was sold to the Averys. And at that stage you must have been at school – no, you’d left school.
I’d just left school. Late fifties … when was it sold, love?
Dawn: Oh, we were married – must have been in the seventies.
Mick: It was – what did I say, fifties? Yeah, in the seventies – a bit earlier.
Dawn: Tell him why it had to be sold.
Mick: Oh, my grandfather left it as an estate, and he said when my father, who he made the manager of it, when he became sixty-five it had to be sold.
Dawn: Which is a pity.
Mick: And everyone should have their money and retire with a few bob. That was his idea. It was murderous as far as the farm goes. That’s why it was sold.
And was this part of the farm, this ribbon ..?
No. No, this was the rural part of the original Chambers block I think. And before that – before we came here – the chap Glenfield was here. And before him … he was here for years … I don’t know who was here – I think it was a Joll.
Dawn: Tell the connection between the Fields and the Smalls.
Mick: Well Len Field’s wife was Ivy Jubilee Gebbie, and my mother was a Gebbie from the South Island. Some of the early settlers down there in Banks Peninsula, and they arrived out before the three ships arrived. So that’s real early days.
Dawn: The original four ships that came to Christchurch? His descendants [ancestors] were on that, yeah.
Mick: They walked into Christchurch from Lyttelton.
Do you remember Peter Gebbie? Wonder if he was related?
No. No, he wasn’t, should have asked him – well Mum did. And she was a Gebbie. The Gebbies have branches of the family all round Lyttelton and Christchurch. And this chap Fields married her and they didn’t have any children. He farmed a bit of land at Pakowhai when they came up this way, and it kept flooding. It was all round Ruahapia Road / Pakowhai Road area. In fact it was on both those roads.
Well that’s before the river was changed.
Yeah. Oh, years before. Every time it rained it got flooded out – every time.
Well it used to flood right from Twyford right through to the freezing works and the railway line.
Yes, that’s right. The railway line used to stop at [?] into Hastings, so it’s a long time ago. He sold that and came out here.
So during the days of Okahu, were you all interested in all horses those days? Well I suppose you had horses on the farm anyway.
Yeah, I can remember driving the draught horses. Mainly just up the top it was a bit steep for … I can remember the first Ferguson tractor they bought. Dad was about eighteen stone, and this poor little tractor underneath him – he thought he was driving a draught horse I think.
Well was he over six feet?
He was a huge man.
Yeah. He was a heavyweight wrestler. Australasian Champion and everything. He wrestled McCready and all those sort of fellows. Lofty Blomfield.
Did you ever go to any of the wrestling?
Yeah. He tried to get me to go, but I’ve got too many …
The Municipal theatre – we all used to go down there – Jack Claybourne and …
Ivan Hostinitch and … oh, what’s the name of the chap with the Fernhill Hotel? Bob Croft.
Yeah, he was the referee wasn’t he?
He was a wrestler too in his day. Dad used to take me to the gym there. I was sort of too long and skinny – I got tidied up a few times. It taught me a few things about life though.
Dawn: His name was Corky, wasn’t it?
Mick: Yeah, Dad’s wrestling name was Corky Small.
Dawn: His nickname.
Mick: And then when this tag wrestling stuff came in, Dad resigned and he never ever went back. He never saw one of those, and that was the end of it. He said “they’ve just lost a sport with a lot of art”. In his day you had to book your ringside seats a year before. The Stead family and oh, heaps of them – all had their permanent tickets – and the Lowrys – everyone. And Dad had two tickets, one for him and one for me.
Did you know Ian Robson?
Oh, he was living at our house. Robbie.
And Eric Taylor, his wrestling name was Eric King. He didn’t want his family to know he was a wrestler.
That name rings a bell too just quietly.
So anyway he was a wrestler. So when you left school you obviously worked on the farm until it was sold.
I worked on that farm and this one. I used to get off the school bus coming home from primary school, and they’d have my horse caught over there, over the road in the yard behind the house. It wasn’t mine, it was a horse that was on the farm. They caught it because I couldn’t catch it. [Chuckle] Bloody thing’d go round and round the paddock.
How big is this block in total?
Originally it was seven hundred and forty, [acres] and now it’s six hundred and eighty.
So where does it run then? Up the river …
From behind Craggy Range. It used to be Johnny Joll’s … was a while ago …
… and now it’s Jeff Jewell’s – still is. And we own the river – to the water, to the rock. And we go from down there right up the river, cross over the river out from the shingle pit there on an angle, and we go up to the second to last pier on the bridge going over the river on the Waimarama side. So we own both sides of the river. Then it comes back under the bridge, then straight up onto that bit where the rock forms the … up towards the peak. We’re bounding Carroll, and Tommy Cooper.
There’s a big block in here that you don’t see.
Dawn: It’s a hundred and something acres of river bed, which is pretty useless. [Chuckle]
Mick: A hundred and ninety-seven. I used to graze a lot of stock down there, but now we’re not allowed to, and it’s just a disgrace really with all the fennel and weeds. It’s shocking.
The noxious weeds just grow wild don’t they?
I know! It’s shocking.
Hemlock and …
Well I’m spraying all the time, and with my eyesight [cat miaows] I come in at night and I’m knackered, because I strain looking for stuff, you know? It’s a simple job, but it’s bloody hard work.
So then you were working this block after Okahu was sold …
… and you did this on your own?
Yes – with my brother, Jim.
Jim died recently, didn’t he?
Yes, last year. And his wife. They died about six weeks …
Did they really?
… two months apart.
And so during that period of time you decided to go into the machinery business?
Oh no, that was later. We had to go to Napier Boys’ High School because you weren’t allowed to get on the school bus and go to Hastings. So we had to go to Napier, and we boarded there because it was too awkward, you know. And then in the school holidays Jim and I used to come home a fortnight before the others so we could do the lambing beat. Then we’d go back to school then at Christmas time and Labour weekend and that, we’d take a week or whatever and do the docking. We’d knock off early for Christmas so we could do our own shearing. We were too young to pay for the farm, so Dad leased it. It was all irrelevant from there, so that’s how we started. There wasn’t even a woolshed on this place. We used to drive them over to the red shed at Te Mata.
It wouldn’t be so bad those days with …
It was easy.
… because there were not so many vehicles.
Dawn: Of course, yeah. Well your father actually leased this farm first, didn’t he?
Mick: I just told Frank. He leased it ‘cause it was illegal for us to lease it. We weren’t even allowed to even lease it. We were too young.
Dawn: It’s called SA Small & Sons.
But we had to do all the paying, he just – he was the [chuckle] … yeah, he was good though. Then Dad and Morris and Richard Hope who became a builder, we all built the woolshed up there. That was a long hard process, I tell you.
That was Richard from Guthrie Road …
… one of the boys.
Yes. They had their own dance band, didn’t they?
Dawn: And the piles for the woolshed – you’d made those, didn’t you, out of concrete.
We made the … shingle off the river bed out at Okahu. We carted the shingle out there. We made up a frame where we made eight piles at a time. And in the mornings we would get up and take the ones out that we’d made yesterday – and when I say ‘take out’, we just took the boxing off, didn’t move the concrete. And then we’d pour the next eight, then we’d go round the sheep, and then we’d come home and stack them, or come over here. So it was a big job – we carted all the shingle from here out to there, then brought the piles back again. [Chuckle] ‘Cause there was nowhere here flat, really …
No – to do it, yeah, sure.
Dawn: And you milled some of the timber down here didn’t you, for it?
Mick: Yes, where Craggy Range Winery is, just in there. We got the timber out of there. And all the flooring came from Te Haroto on the Taupo Road. Peter [W?] jacked it up for us. Beautiful timber, still is. People want to actually buy the floor of the shed for the wood – old fashioned. But there wasn’t even a woolshed on this farm when we came here. There was that old cottage over there which we have made – bit bigger. And that’s the only building on the whole show. There was [were] two corrugated iron tanks, one had fencing gear in it and one had a saddle and a bridle and a couple of spanners, and that was it. And the wood was thrown under a big branch and you tied the iron to the bottom of the branch – it was a hard case set up. So we soon fixed that.
Dawn: And how many paddocks on the farm then?
Mick: There was only eight paddocks on the whole farm. He only ran eight hundred sheep total, and that was it. Oh, and about twenty bullocks and that was all that was on the farm.
Dawn: We used to take the sheep to shear … Cooper’s woolshed.
Now at some stage or other – just to keep things in some sort of order – you met Dawn. ‘Cause you weren’t old enough to lease the farm but you were old enough to work. Did you go into camp? To the Territorials?
No I registered – still got my number in the desk. And I was doing my final doctor’s check to go, and he says “you can’t go”, he said “they’ve rejected you”. I said “why?” He said “you’ve got hammer toes”. [Chuckle] My hammer toe was created because a bloody horse jumped on it. There was nothing wrong with it. Doctor Cashmore said “there’s nothing wrong with that”. I was quite looking forward to it but I didn’t get a trip.
So at that stage you were just working within the farm …
… and then you met Dawn.
Oh, before that we used to go out shearing. But with the farm – it was full of cockies – they used to call us ‘the Aussies’. And we would go and shear say, Fred Chesterman’s or – oh, just about every shed up the Maraetotara – not quite, but most of them. And right up the top – McGillivrays’, Thompsons’ – all round there – Walls’ …
You did Walls’ too did you say?
Cecil Wall. I remember the days you went up there, with all that fog at the top of the hill.
And yet it cleared, and it was a beautiful view.
In the early days there used to be Cecil Wall, Rowan Taylor and John Beacham. The whole district knew those three.
The Taylors were pretty wild.
They still are. Yeah, everyone knows all the Taylors.
Ian Brigham was very friendly with one of the Taylor boys, and they went up to a party this particular night and they had the horse in the lounge. [Chuckle] They’d never seen that at a party before.
[Chuckle] Oh dear – it’s not the only thing he’s had in the lounge, that fellow.
So then you met Dawn. Did you meet her in Hawke’s Bay?
Yeah, yeah … where the hell did I meet you? Oh, playing Sunday cricket for the Young Farmers’ Club.
Dawn: I lived at Raukawa, and the Waimarama Young Farmers came out to Raukawa Cricket Club. And that’s where I met Mick.
Did you grow up in Raukawa?
I was born in Tolaga Bay originally. Came down here when I was eight … something like that. My father used to do a lot of droving round the Coast, but his father actually lived at Te Kuha at Raukawa. And Dad had a bit of an argument with his father I think, and took off and went up the Coast, did a bit of droving out there, married my mother who lived at Te Karaka. Her father was a policeman at Te Karaka. He had been a policeman for twenty-five years up there, in the backblocks. And he originally – he was Scottish – came out from Scotland and was at Levin to start with, and then went up the Coast as a sole policeman.
That would be a pretty tough area to be on your own as a policeman.
Well I used to go and stay out at Te Karaka with him and that, and I can always remember the police cell – the door was never closed. There was quite often somebody in there sleeping it off, but never locked. And Pop used to give them a kick in the bum and tell them off, and tell them to go home and do things and that. He was very well … quite popular.
Where did you go to school?
I went to school at Raukawa, this was a sole … and then I went to Napier Girls’ High.
So we’re all Napier High School people.
Mick: I was just thinking that, yeah.
Dawn: Well yes, I boarded at … I mean …
Mick: Are you going to tell Pat [Frank] that before that the Menzies were all on Banks Peninsula. And you know going to Akaroa? You go up to the top of the hill? Well you turn left there, and you went down to Little Akaloa – Menzies Bay, Decanter Bay – all those Bays? That’s where the Menzies were.
Dawn: Yeah, my father was …
So you’re a Menzies?
I’m a Menzies. Yeah, my father was born at Menzies Bay, way down there, and had an argument with his father.
Mick: He had plenty of arguments, the old fellow. Beautiful bays down there Frank, steep country, but it’s beautiful.
Lovely spot. It is. [Speaking together]
Dawn: I’ve still got cousins in Menzies Bay down there.
Mick: They had a polo club down there – played polo down at Menzies Bay, and every time the tide came in … cleaned the place up, then they’d … when the tide went out they’d play again.
Once I bought a cow from the best herd in New Zealand – Norman Mason from Okains Bay. This cow didn’t milk, it didn’t breed, it didn’t do anything. It didn’t like leaving Akaroa.
Dawn: [Chuckle] Oh, really? Long way to bring a cow from up there.
Mick: Well it’s funny you should say that, ‘cause you know Lyttelton – you know the headwaters of the harbour at Teddington where you go up to the radio station – well that’s the Gebbies, all round there. And the Gebbie Brothers had a Friesian stud – it was called Burnt Hollow – New Zealand thing, and they won prizes at the Shows and production prizes and everything. And I used to love going down there in the holidays.
So then when you left Napier Girls’ High what did you do?
Dawn: I went to Dunedin and trained as a school teacher. Not a very good one … it wasn’t really my calling. No. I did my PE at Central School and I’d met Mick by then, and got married.
And so … there’s David?
Well we had three children … had three under three quite quickly – Robyn, David and Kirsty.
And so then you settled down to being a mother.
Mick: She became a shed hand and cook.
Dawn: We started up our own shearing gang.
Mick: Used to have two gangs.
This is after you were married?
Yes, straight away, while having the kids. Yeah, so Dawn was the cook. And we used to bung the three kids in the car and away we’d go.
And you’d go up the valley?
Dawn: Everywhere. We had two blokes that stayed with us and they slept on the floor here, because at that stage we only had three bedrooms in our house. We didn’t have four like we altered on, and the boys used to stay here with us and I cooked for them. Used to take the meals out and then I’d stay in the shed and be a shed hand as well. Kirsty at that stage was a baby. We lost her in the wool one day. We thought she’d got baled up.
Mick: Geez, it was scary … oh, it was scary, I tell you. It throws into gear pretty quick.
Dawn: Yeah, but no, she wasn’t … she was still in her thing, but she was in another fadge, so she was okay. But we were very busy …
Oh, it’s so easy with a little kid.
Because a fadge is a natural place to put them, especially one that’s empty.
That’s right, yeah.
Mick: So yeah – we used to come home, I’d go round the sheep while Dawn was looking after the kids and I’d give her a hand when I came home and away we’d go.
Dawn: And Mick was playing polo at that stage – big time. And we used to go out and also ride the polo ponies after work.
So how many polo ponies were you running at that stage then?
Mick: Oh, five or six. But we could sell them in those days – we’d give one to someone who wanted it ‘cause there was more available if you know what I mean – they were easier to get. We used to break our own in, so it was good – it was another form of income really.
I know Ray Crombie – used to manage Papuni Station up the Ruakituri Valley – he had horses everywhere but they were all sold for polo ponies.
Yeah, he was a mate of Lionel Stone’s.
Yes, well the old chap Stone used to be the manager there – Sam Stone. Then you went from shearing contractors. You must at some stage have bought a baler or a mower, and that started it.
Yes. I bought the hay baler off my second cousin Ray Collins for a grand. It was a Massey Ferguson 125 and it was flat out baling about a hundred an hour. Worked behind the Fergy tractor. We used to plod around doing our own, next thing people were asking us, so away we went. And we did more and more, and more and more, and less shearing.
Dawn: Well you stopped shearing because you were charged double tax or something, wasn’t it?
Mick: Oh, it was in the days of secondary employment – they murdered me. Yeah.
Dawn: Because he was sort of getting a bit of income off the farm and from the shearing as well.
Mick: I‘ll never forget one year I shore seven thousand more sheep than the guy next to me … total, for the whole twelve months that is, and he made more money than I did. And Dawn was doing all the cooking and looking after them and helping.
Something wrong with the system there isn’t there?
Something wrong all right. So I thought ‘that’s the finish‘.
Dawn: Yeah, you got an ulcer, one wet season we had, and it was … oh, it was hard. You got an ulcer that time.
So then once you started with one baler you obviously replaced that with a New Holland at some stage.
No, we replaced it with a John Deere. Now when I say replaced the Fergy fell to bits ‘cause my cousin had made a lot of hay with it – a lot of hay. But she did the job, he had it for three or four years. Then as you say, I replaced it, then we really made a lot with that baler, then things got more and more and bigger and bigger up until a few years ago.
Dawn: Mick baled and I raked. I was on the tractor as well, on the 35, chugging along.
Your stomach shaken to pieces. So you eventually ended up with a truck to cart hay too, didn’t you?
Yes. Well then we had three trucks and we were carting hay.
Dawn: Ken Miller carted the first …
Mick: Ken Miller helped us – Ken Miller out at Craggy Range. Yeah, so some days you‘d have four, five trucks running round then we bought the big square baler and that made life different, because we couldn’t get staff in the finish. Bloody excellent staff when we had them, then they all went to University or went home to work, and the young fellows weren’t keen on carting hay to make some money.
Couldn’t start ‘til six at night which meant you had to work ‘til two in the morning.
Dawn: Well that’s the thing. And some of them didn’t look after the truck very well.
Mick: And when they gave the students more money that was the finish – they didn’t have to work.
Dawn: Yes, and they got student loans and things like that.
Mick: That finished it.
Dawn: Well we had a lot of boys that came through, you know, varsity students and things like that. Some of them are you know, still friends and all that sort of thing, you know – they were good boys. Yeah. Had a lot of fun.
So you played polo till when? How long ago since you ..?
Mick: Oh, be twenty-five years.
Oh, it’s a while. You finished probably about the time you finished shearing?
No, it was well after that. But yeah, I gave up – age beat me. You know when you’ve been there long enough.
Well especially with the young ones around.
You can use your native cunning for so long can’t you.
Dawn: We had a bit of a disaster one year. We lost about – what, five horses in one year? Something like that.
Dawn: Through various reasons … broken leg; got sick; age, and all that sort of thing. And also that same year we got burgled and all the horse gear went.
That’s quite personal, horse gear, isn’t it?
Yeah. Well it … mostly the kids‘, ’cause the kids all rode horses as well.
Mick: It’s a terrible place round here Frank, for burglaries. Every policeman in Hawke’s Bay knows this place.
We used to get burgled in Thompson Road too.
Yes. They have someone up on the peak with a cell phone. “Oh, they’ve just gone to town” – bang.
Dawn: And then used to go over to the woolshed a lot and take the batteries out of the truck …
Mick: One morning we went up to do work – there wasn’t one battery in one machine. That‘s one, two three tractors, the Met Pro, you know, the tally handler … and four trucks. Not a battery to be found.
I can imagine what you said.
Dawn: Exactly. So then we got an alarm – we actually alarmed …
Mick: But that’s about roughly how we went, Frank – not too hot on dates. The biggest thing out here is the change – buildings … God.
Well you’re living in suburbia almost, aren’t you?
And so, does David carry on the ..?
He helps the farm [?] but he’s got his carrying business, you see, he’s got a truck and trailer – he’s hardly ever here.
So does he do any baling or anything now?
He did. But he just buys the hay off the guys. He would make about a thousand bales a year, that’s all.
So he’s really retired.
Just this year.
Dawn: We haven’t got the contract business like they used to.
No, so the machinery …
Mick: There’s some sold, some being sold, and it’s all for sale.
So everything’s gone along quite good, ‘til recently you were struck down with a lurgy. What was it?
Kidneys packed up?
Yeah. They got a disease that they‘d never even had in New Zealand. No one knew about it.
Dawn: Goodpasture disease. It attacks the lining of your veins and things like that – the arteries. Yeah, and it went straight to his kidneys.
Mick: Overnight sort of thing – bang.
And so you’ve had treatment obviously?
Oh, you’ve had kidney transplants?
Yeah. And my daughter gave me a kidney.
So that fixed your kidney up, but then you got this eye problem?
Dawn: Sort of all totally sort of, together, sort of thing.
Mick: One sort of bounced off the other.
Dawn: Yeah. Retinal vein occlusions – like the blood vessels burst behind the eye. Can’t do anything about it.
So can you think of any other … now you live in the middle of the wine country, and holiday homes and …
Mick: Just the population, how it’s grown.
… the main highway to …
Dawn: This road is so busy. It’s absolutely busy.
Mick: Well we used to wander over to the woolshed and keep our dogs up there and everything, but now we have to keep the dogs down here. But you’re right – the other day I waited twenty minutes to get across the road. Twenty minutes. And it used to be like that on a popular Sunday or something, but now any given day you can cop that.
Well, can either of you think of any other highlights? Grandchildren?
Dawn: We have three grandchildren. It’s one of them‘s birthday today actually, sixteen. Ethan.
Is that David’s?
Mick: No that’s Kirsty’s.
Dawn: Davey’s been married twice – he’s had a son by his first wife and he is now twenty-three. He works with his mother up at Ohakune on a dairy farm – he kind of runs the cows on the dairy farm. Robyn, our eldest, is married and lives up Elsethorpe way, she hasn’t got any family. And Kirsty, the last one, she’s up in Cambridge. Her husband‘s a milk tanker driver.
So they’re all spread around the cow country and sheep country.
Yeah, and Kirsty‘s got two children, Ethan, sixteen today, and Connie‘s thirteen.
Mick: I think the most significant thing is we used to ride our ponies around the countryside in Havelock and out – canter along the road, or over the old road, over the peak there. You wouldn’t dare go on the road now. They’d run over you. And the pace of the cars has doubled.
Dawn: You tell some stories Mick.
Mick: Oh, Frank you’ve brought back a couple of memories. But the Estate used to have a property at Pukahu down Te Aute Road right opposite Durneys’ where Gordon Boyle’s dairy farm was – right opposite Gordon’s farm, from the worm farm right down to Scott’s strawberry farm. That’s what they had. And we used to walk the wethers down there, take them back to Okahu and shear them, then walk them down. And this morning we were sneaking through Havelock pretty good, and there was a hell of a commotion and some of the wethers took off – these kids turned up on their push bikes and they’d never seen push bikes, and they finished up in the chemist‘s shop there – Donald Symes‘ chemist shop. And all the staff started going “shoo!” And Dad said “stay still, don’t say a word”. Oh, there could have been glass and pills for Africa, and you know there wasn’t one thing dropped. We all just stopped, and those sheep walked out again on their own. It was so close to disaster.
And another time Mum brought our lunch down. We got out of the village then – it was a bit risky – so we went Crosses Road way, St Georges Road. And we were sitting there having our lunch, one at each end of the mob ‘cause there were about four hundred of them, just shorn – big [?] wethers. And next we hear this lady growling “shoo! Get out of here”, and all this. And the dogs all decided to dive into her swimming pool … it was a Mrs Growcott, was it? Flat-roofed place? Beautiful garden, and all these bloomin’ scungy old sheep dogs in her … and they were chasing the fish. [Quiet chuckle] It was a bit of a catastrophe, that one. But Dad bought her some more fish anyway. We had a lot of fun.
When Les Jardine looked after the reserves for the Havelock Borough Council, they‘d just taken over Keirunga Gardens. And Les said to me would I like to put some heifers in and try and tidy it up for them. So I put twenty heifers in. Anyway, got a ring from someone “I’ve got a cow in my garden … our little dog went down and was chasing them. It’s standing in my garden, it’s eating some of my shrubs, what shall I do?” But it was so funny, these people saying “oh, my little dog was down chasing them and they came up to the garden after the dog”. And I don’t blame the dog. [Chuckle]
You know something. We still have exactly the same problems round here. [Chuckle]
Dawn: What about the time the cows got in Hereworth?
Mick: Oh, that’s another time. We were taking a mob of cattle to Pukahu. It was one of the last trips through Havelock and we come round the corner and there was a lady sweeping the footpath. And Dad said “would you please just hop inside the gate, because these cattle haven’t seen people on foot”. And they hadn’t either. They started going up the road beautifully, then she goes “shoo!” with the bloody broom. “Don’t let them go on my lawn!” she starts yelling out. And they just took off. And they went straight up that side lane, into Hereworth? Yeah, it took us over an hour to get them out. And you‘d swear someone had rotary-hoed the place ‘cause it was raining. Oh. I must admit that lady didn’t come out waving a broom for long … when Dad got hold of her.
So there’s no other reminiscences that you can think of?
Okay, well I think that gives us a pretty good picture of the Small family that has grown into a much bigger family these days. But thank you Michael and Dawn for that. If you think of something else I can always tag it on the end at some other time.
Yeah. I don’t think there’s anything is there?
Dawn: About how it became Lake Lopez.
Mick: Oh, yeah – one night the surfies stayed under the tree in Lake Lopez on a carton …
Dawn: Beer carton thing, wasn’t it?
Mick: Yeah. That’s how it got called Lake Lopez, but it was really the [?caves swamp?]. And the story goes – us kids used to go up into the bush and there was a cave there – not a really big one. And this woman and this guy lived in there for months, and she went up there ‘cause he was her lover, and vice versa, and they stayed there … lived there. Then the whanau came and got them and made them go back to Waimarama. But that’s it. But we drained it out with horse and scoops, and then two or three years later they bulldozed about ten or twelve big piles of stumps, all native, then two or three years later they burnt it, and it burnt for years.
Then when that all settled down the lake area actually dropped, then they worked it up – that whole paddock, with Ferguson tractors. And Bob Field came round with his crawler to do the hill part and then they sowed it, and it was one of the best paddocks around because it was always green. And they used to finish off about a hundred big three year old bullocks in there every year. Gee, it was a great paddock. Yeah. That’s how that happened. And then that water that comes out of the bush is from the spring that supplies the homestead, and the drain that goes right down to the Maraetotara was the overflow, so away it goes. And it’s dammed up because the new owner put a culvert in just a bit further up the drain, a bit higher, and it blocks up the with limestone. And it was only a matter of months and that dam was reformed again. So … just shows you.
And the last thing that you mentioned was about the eels.
Dawn: Pat used to clean the drain out and there used to be all big eels in there.
Mick: Every year. And all the kids and people from Waimarama used to stop and he’d have sacks hanging on the fence full of them, and they’d be yelling out at him – old Pat.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper:
- Michael Stanley Small
- Dawn Kathleen Small