Nola (Betty) Manley Interview

Good afternoon, my name is Nola Manley although I’m known as Betty through a nurse saying I looked like a ‘Betty’ at the McHardy Home in Napier when I was born. And I come down the Fergusson / Manley line. The youngest of three. I had an older sister, Ellen Jean, and our brother Thomas Charles, all passed on now. I’m coming up to the age of 92, so there’s only one of our other generation – cousins that has already reached 92. So the Australian relations call me their – what do you call an elderly person? Sort of a senior? Oh dear – I should know.

Born in Napier – my parents lived in Taradale but shifted to Te Mata in Havelock North when I was … I think just over a year old, so I don’t really remember any of the … before that. And then when I was just about six we shifted into Te Mata Road, opposite Hereworth School. But before that we also walked to school from Te Mata, so it was much handier and in time of course we cycled. So I did all my primary school year at the Havelock North Primary – and looking forward to the 150th celebration in October to see if there’s any of what we call now ‘seniors’ because of our age – senior ex-pupils.

And then went on to Hastings High School which was co-ed in those days and then – of course in those days too, like our Fergusson cousins we were into swimming, and I think Charlie and I both won the senior sports cup in our final year, Standard 6. We had some good teachers and some that I didn’t get on with, but others did – my brother, and I think Charlie and John Fergusson all thought he was fine. And then going onto High which we would bike into – whether it was wet weather we went or not I cannot recall.

But there were lots of you know – perhaps weddings and things coming up over those years, of our older cousins. And I can remember Lucy Fergusson’s wedding. I don’t think as children we attended, but we did Ada Fergusson, and Ada had knitted a very nice wine jacket with flecks in it and I smocked her a wine blouse to go with that for her going away outfit. And they set off for England.

Then Uncle Frank being a plumber, there was old tanks round about and with us children playing on them, one day I got caught on a piece and had a piece taken out of my knee. But with Uncle Frank’s sort of medical background, he was able … all you did in those days was to bathe it, there was no stitches. And of course we always went round there for Guy Fawkes, and one year something went off in my hand and I got a few blisters. But it was also a year that a bus driver, Harry Penman, and a girl, Billie Greening – they all got their hands hurt through crackers.

And of course we used to have sports days on a Labour Day, we would cycle over to Farndon Park for sports days to … I think it was really to play basketball in those days. And then going to Tech at Central School in Hastings – that was from our primary days – you went by bus so that you had six months of cooking and six months … well several months it would be … of sewing. And you had to have everything done, and I know one girl – her mother sewed some lace on for her and she had to undo it. So that’s just part of it.

And I can remember one girl – she was actually born in the McHardy Home a day after me but we both ended up at the Havelock North Primary – and one day there was the teacher, and she ran up to the teacher and the teacher took her up in her arms. And I couldn’t understand a child doing that to her teacher, but it turned out to be her big sister – a girl Gloyne.

At High School of course, we played cricket, and we did all sorts of series there – you know you had your history and your geography, you had your gym, there’d be science – and one of those days I added something to something and it started to smoke so I quickly got it down – well fumes, I guess – I quickly got it down the sink.

And of course another thing was – in primary days we had school balls and Auntie Poppy Fergusson made … often made us a costume of some sort. And I think somewhere – wherever my sister’s photos are – there’s one of Ferg as an Indian; Ada was a pierrot, or pierrette; my sister was a Christmas cracker and I was Night. And I had a wand with a – I think star on top, and a moon hanging and I had a black veil over my head. And I guess that was all thought up by Auntie Poppy.

And also the Fergussons, Ferg and Ada, they used to put on little shows at the Town Hall in Havelock North and also at home. You know, Ferg’d try to think up something that might be a little frightening. And one thing was you were asked to come into the room and you were sat down and an awful noise was made, enough to startle you to send you out of the room again.

And of course the earthquake time, of course – they lost their house, and I think that our Aunt Rose Fergusson’s husband Ganga Reeves had built that brick house, and Uncle and Auntie – they’d had it – they put window seats on each side and evidently weakened the structure so that at the time of the earthquake they fell out. So they had what they called a camp city down in the Village behind Uncle’s plumbing business. And they would have been there I guess some time until their wooden house was built.

Can you tell us where exactly this camp was?

Oh yes, yes. Oh well, the Post Office was on the corner and I think there was a paddock in between, and I’m not sure if, you know, any animals were ever put on that. And I’m not sure if the Fergusson’s business – plumbing business – was next to that. And then the Meads lived next door, so that the camp was behind that shop. But I – no I just can’t remember if there were other shops in between – there’s so many there now.

So it was pretty close to the Village centre?

Yes, yes it was.

And I can remember Auntie Em’s wedding, where she had … there was … oh, the one that came out from England – the one that brought out an English bride – her daughter, Joan – Joan Ashby. There was Marion James, there was Ada Fergusson, there was Lucy Fergusson from Uncle Bob’s side, I think there would be Ernie Wall’s sister, and also was Ina and Sam Morgan were in it, and they were at the end – I’ve got a photo of that. And they – I thought it was so nice because they had net just sort of drawn onto their hair with a – sort of a bow on the side, but it was coloured, and then with the confetti being thrown a certain amount caught in it. Yes, I don’t know if we went to the wedding or just to the steps, and mother made my first long frock for it, and I tripped up the steps and put a hole in the skirt.

And of course in the school days there were pine trees so you played – you know, you swept up the pines … trees and made outlines for a house and things like that and then one girl, one … I don’t know if it had been chopped down … but a sharp piece and she – you know split in her inner elbow sort of thing, on that tree. But they have now passed on. And of course our – you had your basketball and your tennis. And I can’t remember a great deal. And of course in those days too there were Bible class camps. So, I remember one year we stayed would be Labour … oh, I’m not sure if it was Labour Day … but you took your mattress down and you stayed down there. I can’t remember what we did about food though, but never mind we got through it alright.

Then – ‘course I could have gone on with my schooling but in those days all you really thought of was getting a job, getting some money, getting married and having a family, and that was all there was to life. Far more to it now. So I started off doing housework for a Mr and Mrs Neilson up Simla Avenue and then from there a friend, or several friends I’d met through going to reel classes … dances … one of them – she worked as a housemaid/waitress at the Grand Hotel, so I took her position when she was getting married. Then I went onto a cake shop, West End Home Cookery. And then of course it was war years too, at that time. And then I went on to Ann Barry Footwear, which was on the corner of King Street, and Tom King’s grocery across the way.

And in those days you needed coupons to get different materials and mother had made a wedding cake for an old school friend and I was to ice it, so George Foulds there, he was arranging the icing sugar for me. But when I got it home and put it all in one jar it turned out to be cornflour, but George did fix it up and that cake arrived safely in Lower Hutt some time later.

Oh, and of course in those days you used to cycle at night, it didn’t matter. You could leave your bike anywhere it seemed, in those days. But I guess – at times we had a light on, perhaps other times we didn’t. And of course you had the local dances – in the war years they had dances for the troops, getting – I guess sending – I don’t know if it was eats or just what – over to the troops, or to help with the balaclavas or gloves … whatever that was.

Where did they hold the dances?

Out … it used to be the Town Hall in Havelock North in those days, down – just past the blacksmith, Mr … should remember what his name was. There was the Town Hall … I’m not sure – I guess their offices were there as well, but all well gone now.

And then of course with the – the Presbyterians didn’t believe in dancing, but some of us Bible class folk got the first one, and a Mr Joll from Joll Road – he came, and the Minister, and they sat there I guess to see that everything was in order and so we had our first dance. And we had a badminton club there. Jim Redgraves from Regraves’ Garden Centre was our President and Gordon Vogtherr, the well known of Vogtherrs Bacon Factory was another, and the others that have, you know, spread away from here or passed on.

In the growing up days, what did I do? Well, Ann Barry – they bought Miss Jones’. The Miss Joneses had a footwear shop further into the – nearer Market Street – and they went there and sold their Barry one. So I worked there until it was taken over by somebody else, and then I went to Hannahs for a little while and then over to Australia to one of the – my boss’s daughter’s 21st, and she became engaged. I stayed in Australia a year for her wedding as well. And of course we’ve got Gran’s eldest brother’s family over there so I was able to stay with some and meet others, and some we are still in touch with. And what they call me now – refer to me as their matriarch … New Zealand cousin. And so I think some of them – I heard another one has just passed on, one of the boys, but five of them were born in New Zealand and then another three in Australia. He was to do with railways which the Turner family seem to be, and the youngest one, William, who was three when they came to New Zealand, he was secretary of the Addington Club in Christchurch. And they lived – oh, I should remember the name of the street but I don’t, and then they lived in Lower Hutt I believe in the end of their days.

But unfortunately we don’t think to ask questions or note things that our parents may have been able to tell us. And I don’t think our Dad could have told us much – he was badly wounded in the War but came home, whereas his brother went through the War and then died of ‘flu. So there were no other family, although we believe there’s a mystery aunt, but with his mother dying at – when he was about five and in that time having a baby which died in a few months – who is this Ruby, this Aunt Ruby? Could she be Granddad’s … which is perhaps more likely, but who was the mother? So we have still to find that one out. We’ve got the year of birth but not the month of birth. And she also married and that was in 1931, well Dad was still alive then. But when she died and she was up in Mt Eden Prison – evidently like Porirua, that’s where they sent people in those days – so that on her death certificate it’s got that she’s single, she’s buried under her married name and she’s buried under my grandparents as being her parents. So just – I’m not sure if I know just where she’s buried. There’s so many things to go through and you know, if you had this wonderful gear you’d have it – just push a button and it’d come up.

And then what’d I do after I came back? Oh, I’m not sure if I did anything before I went to Farm Products. I went into the office there and that was a very … I was just in to my 15th year, when I turned 16, and “I’m sorry – off you go”, which was far too young, but there. They were a great firm to work with. And one of the things – at Christmas they’d give you a whole ham but you had to work there three years before you got it. So I used to have it cut in half and I’d send half to the family and I’d have half myself. And in the year of course you had different celebrations to do with the firm. Just say they were very happy years. And of course then in the store office I often used to get goods of some sort put on my desk, and I know when it came to yoghurt and I saw it one day, I said “but you folk have got families – why don’t you take it home?” Oh no, they’d see the ‘best by’ date and they wouldn’t touch it. So you know there was many occasions when something was on my desk which I wouldn’t know where it came from. But I’d know if it came from the store.

And then David Nash and I shared that same office for – he was there before me, but coming up to fifteen years that we worked together. And just this year, with the Volkswagen Club we went to Windsor Park – Wheels on Windsor it’s called – and David was there (he works with The Mail now) and said he’d take a photo. Oh very nice – but then when I saw it I thought ‘well why didn’t I stand up, or why didn’t I have the walking stick out of view and have the top off?’ To show my Volkswagen top that Hawke’s Bay friends – they shifted to Sunshine Coast many years ago and they sent it over to me, so it’s no use saying ‘why’ now. But I sent a copy – I had actually Harvey Norman take some copies. Perhaps I had Peter Dunkerley do some first and then thinking Harvey Norman’s was cheaper I’d have it done there, but my face is too dark. Whereas I got The Mail, whoever does it for them, and that was much better. And I sent – two of our great uncle’s granddaughters in Australia, and they both rang and said they were thrilled to have them. And one’s husband had a Beetle at one time, and the other one’s brother – well both of their – was their brother, had a Kombi van. And my first ride in a Kombi van was up in the Blue Mountains somewhere, where they lived, and he had it for his work – he’s a carpenter. And then I believe he did up Beetles for his daughters. So since – I just had a call yesterday from the other sister to say they were pleased to have it because you know Kombis and Beetles had been in the family. And I – also I sent one to my great nephew in Christchurch. He rang to say their three and a half year – was so in love with it they’ve had it put in a frame and hung up in her bedroom. So goodness knows. [Chuckle]

But also, with this modern technology how much information about us can somebody pick up – by pressing a button?

Well, depends what they’re searching for.

Could be.

You know, someone may in future listen to this whole interview or they may be able to tap into part of it. Like – you mention Hannahs, well somebody that’s looking at the Hannah history may tap into it and find out that you worked at Hannahs. So that’s why … I’m not trying to restrict what you say because you don’t know who’s going to want to know, and you don’t know what they want to know. So the more history that we can get recorded the more valuable it will be for people in the future.

No, it was just I think with – you know … get a rebate on our rates and going in and they say “oh, it’s all right, we’ve got it all on screen”.


[Chuckle] I’d like to see what they’ve got on screen.

This is the development they’re sort of … going through here, and this is very new to all of us, this recording and so on. We’ve got Heugh Chappell and some others, and Jim Newbigin – you mentioned Newbigins, Peter Trask …

Yes well he’s our cousin ‘cause his mother was a Fergusson.

Yes, well he’s going to be doing some recording too.

Yes, yes, well Peter – he’s given me all – well he’s taken I think, all the photos I had and put them on disk but he’s printed them out and I’m naming them all. And I first had to review, and then I thought ‘oh I’ll start again, I’ll put who they married and …’

Occupations, where they lived …

Yes. Well I haven’t got that but I just thought that may give him a hint, and I’ve written a few things on that he wouldn’t have known about that’s happened in families, that part of it.

But there’s a lot – and of course in school days, you know we went … we used to come into Ebbett Park to play. Well we went to different schools – we went to Woodford and Iona and I guess High School, and I guess wherever there was. And then our swimming for the High School was at Central Baths so there wasn’t – they didn’t have their own pool – I don’t know if they have now. But just different things over the years. And I was one of these that you know, as children – as little tots – you get different … measles and mumps etc, and my sister and I went to the theatre to see Judy Garland in Wizard of Oz. A little while after we both came out in measles, and I think I was 27 at the time. [Chuckle] Yes. Otherwise kept pretty right.

So where did you go to see the film Wizard of Oz?

It would be the Regent I think in those days.

The Regent, the Regent, yes.

Oh yes, I think so. And I wonder now why did we have to have an ice cream or a stick of chocolate when we went to the theatre?

Because it was special. It was a special night … special day out – special trip out.

Oh! Yes – and another thing too, mother and my brother and I – we would cycle into the Municipal – they used to have a double feature. And you just left your bike over the road, no trouble. I guess mother was more energetic too in those days and you just got on your bike and that was it. And I think as small tots when we lived at Te Mata and you’d go to the Show, and I guess we’d go to Grandma in Waipuna Street first, and you’d walk across to the Showgrounds. And the days when you had your picnic – all had a hat on, and gloves sort of thing … the adults. And a chairoplane was something I liked and yet I can remember when teams … and a group of us, and the boys wouldn’t touch it, but the girls went on it. Yes. I don’t know if I’d be so keen now, sort of – put you a bit off balance. Oh, there are lots of things that happened.

And then or course we had our – take a train to Napier – that was very special. And whether Mother doubled us – I know there used to be two of us on the carrier, and whether Jean sat on the seat and Mother stood on the pedals – I don’t remember that. But I learnt to ride before my brother who was perhaps eighteen months older than I. And one of our cousins, Auntie Aggie, the eldest of the Fergusson family – one of her daughters had left her bike under our house and it had no tyres or tubes on it, and I’d get on it and my sister would be holding it for me and that’s how I learnt to ride a cycle. And I guess – whether Alice ever took it back or not I don’t know, but I think – she got a car.

And of course the first time we saw snow was walking up to the Peak. And of course there were so few cars in those days and people were walking. But in places I thought how deep it was, but I think it was because we came down the fence line and most probably in the dip it would perhaps be thicker. And another time – the McRobbies – farmers lived across – dairy farm – across from us, and those three and my sister and I – I don’t think Tom was there, may have – and we walked up from down at Te Mata, up through Chambers’, up to the Peak, but we came back down the Peak road.

Oh yes.

And I, you know – I was perhaps a five year old. And those were the days … and Mrs McRobbie was out on the road waiting for us – I suppose she heard us talking once we came, but of course it was dark, and they wondered where we got to. Oh, dear.

And swimming in the river. It didn’t matter if it was flooded, we’d still be in and we were just so lucky that we never got drowned. If you got to a whirlpool you’d just fight your way out of it. We didn’t have parents with us, we … just us children. Oh!

And another thing – mushrooming was going down Cooper’s paddock just down the way, and you’d collect your mushrooms. And I remember one day I saw something white and rushed over and it got up and ran away – it was a rabbit – is it a rabbit or a hare? A rabbit I think – it had the white tail anyway.

And of course the gum trees you see, they were all along that road – you know, spaced – but they were big. And I think if I remember rightly you know, Dad would dry pigs ? up there – was it – hang it for them to bleed? And he would smoke eels, he had his own little shed there to smoke eels. And then further, we played just over the little creek that came through. There were lots of all sorts of trees and we used to … you know, that was our playhouse sort of thing up there. And then there was a willow tree just out from the house where the tree went through, and I was holding my sister’s doll – I don’t know if I had one at that age – and it had its mouth open so I gave it a drink or two, and it was papier mache sort of thing, the face, and it evidently disappeared. [Chuckle] I can’t remember if I got into trouble over it – I’m not sure – but it had its mouth open so I thought it was thirsty, and of course the water was amongst the willow, you know, it perhaps wasn’t flowing but there was still water amongst the roots.

And another time coming back from McRobbies I jumped over the fence into the gutter onto a broken bottle, so my sister went and got the wheelbarrow to take me home. And even then you didn’t get stitches – bit of a wonder … why – you know. Well of course you – I guess you didn’t have the money … not sure.

And how we got mail down on Te Mata I can’t remember. But Napier used to have a shopping week, and you’d get a book with a lucky number on, so Mrs McRobbie would drive and mother beside her and Ray and I in the dickie seat. So whether it was a three seater Ford I’m not quite sure now, but they’ve all gone, too late to ask. So you’d motor through to Napier and go through all the shop windows to see if you could find your lucky number. And I don’t think we ever did, but I’m not sure that that was over East or just when.

But, as I say I’ve no idea – I think the butcher came. I seem to remember a little trailer sort of thing, he opened the doors. And your bread, but I’m not sure about that now. And I know pies were about threepence ‘cause Warren’s Bakery started over the way, and you were lucky if you were able to have a pie of course.

And then there were two Frogley twins that lived down the end of lower Te Mata Road which is now … what is it? After Eric Marven got killed. And they would have sort of other treats to what we would have, so you were willing to give them a sandwich so you could have a [chuckle] taste of theirs. And Kath had a horse so I would let her ride my bike home to her place and ride the horse and then I’d have to ride all the way home. That was [chuckle] neither here nor there, it was – you know, we enjoyed it at the time.

I think there was more of that swapping and bartering between kids in those days, because you didn’t have a lot, and it was one way of trying something different.

Well that’s right. And of course we climbed trees, or if they were pines you could sit on the branch and swing. And in this lot of handy trees was the wattle. When it was in flower and we had little matchboxes, little round ones, and you’d pick each one of the wattle and that was the doll’s powder … the baby’s powder sort of thing.

Oh dear oh dear … yes – certainly simple things and you made your own – you know, if you were going to do some jumps you made your own little hurdles. And in those days of course you had plenty of room up in your own section, and your Dad had a big garden, and then the chook houses were down on the back section, which now holds our old house and three flats on the front. And the Cornetts had a cow yard, and it went right … actually right round, just about to Guthrie Road, and I believe there’s two extra houses on that section.

So they own … and I imagine you know, where they’ve got the High School and the Intermediate – lots of houses in there now that I wouldn’t know – it was all F L Bones’ dairy farm, and it had … along the roadside it was flowering gums. And the only – on the far end was the cowshed … cow bales … and this end was just a cottage for the cowman, as they called. And they used to have silage away over the back and there was a big hay shed and that went down to lower Te Mata Road, right down.

And then that’s where Dad must have got past digging – he got Ian Marven to … was it Ian Marven? No, no – Eric Marven … to cultivate the back section, and then he went down to do one – I don’t know if it was part of Bone’s property or not – down off lower Te Mata Road. Evidently – I’m not sure if wire got caught in the disks or what – and he got killed. Whatever happened. And the Johnsons were living there at the time and Mrs Johnson I guess got in touch with Police or doctors … whatever was. So … he was whistling – is it Bambezi … Bam? Oh … here at our place, I can’t think what he – was there such a song as Bambezi? So that was a sad end. It’s … years since at the library, one of the staff was talking on how they got street names, and she said about Te Mata Road, now Brookvale Road. And I was able to say “yes, it was Eric Marven that got killed”, and that was why it was changed. Because the ambulance came up Te Mata Road, they didn’t go … so they wasted time – but of course Eric may have been dead at that time anyway.

So … then I sort of think of the – you know, who lived on the corner – there were Lileys and Steels and then the Jacks and the Gardners lived at the back and then all the – next to the Fergussons, there was a paddock … wall I think in the first place, and then the Fergussons and the tennis court of course they had.

And after – when they were rebuilding I can remember Charlie one end of a plank, I on the other on a workman’s … whatever they call it … and he’d bang it so hard that I’d be up … [chuckle] … and I don’t know … oh, there was something … he got angry with me one day – I think it was over a girl. I sort of set him up a bit over something.

But – and another thing too, still at primary school, and found – going through the house there, Ada had red nail polish so I used some, and the Principal wouldn’t let me back to school till I got rid … and I had to scrape it off – I never knew there was such a thing as nail polish remover … oh, dear oh dear … yes.

So then of course in later years with my mother dying suddenly, I went – after – coming back, I was at Havelock North Footwear – oh, that’s right, and I – from there I went to Farm Products. So there was a little bit of time there. And as I say mother had evidently had a little bit of a stroke. We didn’t know … she went into Shoals – didn’t you have a sister at Shoals?

Yes, yes.

She evidently – she said she had great trouble in trying to do her … put on her stockings. And then a stepbrother, Peter Kerr and stepsister Grace Kerr – they sat with her on the old Embassy corner, and then I understand the driver and somebody else had trouble getting her off at home. Then when I arrived home – of course knew that something was wrong. So she only lasted a few days after that. But otherwise she thought she was alright. And she worked for Greenwoods at Duart House, so I knew Duart quite well. And Mr Greenwood, during the War years, used to make knitting needles out of clematis. Clematis was it? No, no – honeysuckle. So there was, you know, different colours.

And she worked for F L Bones too and he used to come down and get her, put the bike on the back and then she would come home at night – bike home. And once when I was up there in the holidays, I touched something on the piano and it started going click, click, click, click and … oh! What have I done? It was you know, to do with music isn’t it?

That’s right.

[Chuckle] Doesn’t do to touch things in anybody… [chuckle] … when you don’t know. You know, they were very nice people to me, and of course they were more of the wealthier ones – Greenwoods. I’m not sure if in the end they used to come down and get mother and then take her back. There was always a nice … if I went up after school there was always a nice afternoon tea. Not that mum I think did – you know, I think she baked all right, but it was, I guess something different having someone else’s eats … afternoon tea.

Oh, and I don’t think I mentioned the days of the school balls? And how … you know, I wish now that you had the cameras of today. And we had a record, because Alan Baldwin – you know Alan Baldwin no doubt – he was Robin Hood and I was Red Riding Hood, and I sort of think … and then the song came out ‘Abie, Abie My Boy’ and I thought ‘ooh, Alan Baldwin” [chuckle] and we were only kids. [Chuckle] … oh dear. So recently his daughter’s taken me round to visit them, and hopefully he will get to the Reunion. Yes, and they were saying he was a State child. I knew there were lots … well several children that were cared for by other women usually, so … I hadn’t heard that Ward of the State for a long time.

So he’s evidently a great photographer, as Peter Trask is. And I guess – part of the job. And that’s another thing with the relationship that the younger ones don’t know. Peter was with the Council in Waipukurau and his children went to school with children along the road, and it wasn’t until somebody’s death when I found out they were close … well, they were related through the Fergusson’s side.

So now we’ve got that wee little Matisse Reid that’s been in America for some time to have her organs replaced, and evidently doing quite well, I understand … perhaps needs a day or two off school and being on steroids she’ll be a bit puffy, but it’s amazing what they did while they were over there. But the thing was Wayne wasn’t able to work – evidently that was part of the country’s rules, but at times he was needed. You know perhaps … anyway the mother of the child – she would need to be at the hospital, there’d need to be somebody at home with the young one. And one day she was on the telephone talking organs, and little Fran said “oh, I was born in organs”. It was August [chuckle] … so this is children for you.

So – and I wondered if Matisse was interested in cooking because Auntie Belle, before the earthquake, had the Belle Tearooms opposite … just about opposite the Albert Hotel, and it comes up when they showed Christchurch earthquakes and then showed here, and the Belle Tearoom was up there. So whether it was that that got them off – because I think Uncle was with Williams & Kettles, a storeman or something like that – they had the Waipukurau … the Barton Private Hotel. And I’ve thought ‘well perhaps it’s coming back’, the cooking part is perhaps coming back. Matisse – but it could be because she’s never been able to eat, so she’s interested in food.

And I was going to say too – one time Ron was 15 – he was born the same year but a few months older – and I was invited up to his 15th birthday. Going on a train ride from Hastings to Waipukurau, no idea where I was going [chuckle] … oh dear, I don’t know how much it cost in those days. Yes, so – ‘course Ron is well gone.

It’s just – amazing how different things happen, like Eric and when he tried … used to go – it used to be Adams Bruce Kitchen I think it was, and I think it was there. And they’d go there, and no idea that the man, chap Martin, was married to a Fergusson – one of Ron Fergusson’s. And I perhaps found out and let them know, so of course they made themselves known.

Different things that come up at life, you just wish you’d sort of … able to tell your parents about it. And of course with Dad – he was the only … with family because Uncle Tom didn’t come back from the War. And whether this mystery Ruby … and strangely enough, my late nephew’s eldest daughter – they’ve called their daughter Ruby, and they’d have no idea that there was a Ruby before.

And then people say at the … to do with the cancer place … what did they call the cancer place here? Cranford House, or hospital is it? Or whatever – they had luncheons out at St Columba’s for them each year. And our old postman, Harry Hanna – his in-laws live next to the Fergussons in Guthrie Road – he was down the end and as he was passing – and I had ‘Nola Manley’, and he said “any relation to Betty?” [Laughter]

Sort of.

Yes – I said to Donald Trask about it and he said “well I think his mind’s perhaps not as good as it was”. But the next time when I rang – I’m not sure if a lady – whether she was from Holland, or … she was a foreigner, so my next name plate had Nolan – [spells] N-O-L-A-N Anley on it. [Chuckle] I said “who am I?” [Laughter] So I naturally go under the name of Betty, but being older I use the name of Nola. And I think … seem to think too, on my Standard 6 school report it’s got Nola on it, so it must have been used at some time. Not that it matters it’s just for – I think things – if ever my nieces and nephews have got to sort things out after me, and it’s just as well to have everything as straight as you can for them. But they all live away from here so that’s no help.

And unfortunately with our sister’s son dying I think – perhaps he tried to do too much. He started out here as the Hawke’s Bay Education Board’s Nature Study special, and Peter Fergusson said he was interested in that too, so he knew Derek. And he was – oh, where did they go to first? Oh I think they went to – they were the first education officers in the Tokolau Islands, so their son and daughter, the younger two, are the first European female and first European male and so they’ve both got … the elders gave them a Tokolau name. And when Caroline was being married, Andrew’s aunt though he was marrying an Islander – with the preferred name. And then James – he has now … I’m going to present the book here to Lily Baker’s Library too … he’s written about his mother’s side, The Four Sons of Skye. And so he just said he was born in Tokolau, but of course there’s no more than that.

So they had their four years there, and then out fishing one day and coming back into the lagoon the boat tipped, or tipped over and Derek was caught under it and he thought he would drown. And whether that affected something to his brain or not, but later he went to America to do his doctorate and did it in one year. And I believe it takes three to study. And then they were by this time – they’d been appointed – they were up at Matawai – they were at Arthur Miller for a while – he was appointed the Principal of the District Area School in Akaroa. Once he was there … found out some of his genealogy group were Museum in Napier and I said to one “I’ll give you a ride home to Taradale”. She said “oh, I’d like to do some searching first” and I thought ‘oh well, I’ll go with her’. And I must have known something about Grandad Manley … and oh! His wife was born in Akaroa. How did he, coming into Napier as a tailor and working – how did he meet a girl from Akaroa? And marry her. But I wonder if there was a little bit of illness in their place because she ended up in the San there and this baby she was expecting only lived a short time.

So I wrote to Derek, because the archivist from there lived next door – Jessie Mould – and I said “well before you read the next page, you’d better sit down”. And I was able to say … and we’ve found our great grandfather’s buried there as well, but we don’t quite know what happened to grandma. And there were several boys, and the … one of Dad’s cousins, I think they were at Mangatainoka or somewhere – I think that’s where they lived and one was … although her name … Christian name was Brown, she married a chap Black from Napier. And they had a store on – sort of where you come down St George’s Road – and they had their store and garage there. And when I found out this, of course the cousin was dead, and I went and saw the daughter and she said “oh, a cousin’s husband’s doing this”. So I made myself … to them, Stewart McLeod and Dulcie. Yes, he’d done a tree but no sign of us on it. So you see perhaps with Gran dying and being buried in Napier they just didn’t catch up on it.

And then, through joining the New Zealand Society four magazines came. I thought ‘I’ve no time to read through these but I’ll see whose searching’. And that was ours – and that was Gran’s youngest brother’s family in Levin. So that he did our Turner side, but unfortunately he died early and we just lost Peter, one of the other grandsons – he was about 86. But he’d evidently – melanoma had gone through his body somehow. But talking to this cousin in … from Mullumbimby yesterday, she said there’s a cure out and you just put it on and it killed the melanoma. But she said the Government had banned it, because there’s so many firms into skin treatment and evidently that would, you know, perhaps take a certain amount of finance from them, I don’t know. So she said “oh, we’ve got some”, so perhaps there was some still available. So you just don’t know really, but I mean I’d had it myself, but never saw it on your back. And it was only when I went up to the brothers up in Tauranga – we go to the baths and she’d – Joan would say “what’s that spot on your back?” And of course I couldn’t see it, but Mr Tyler – you know, had quite a big job in the end, but fortunately it seems fine. As I say you don’t see it – if it’d been on your chest or your chin or something you’d notice it.

But oh, yes – there’s all sorts of things that come up. And another thing – how I found out about Santa Claus – Auntie May Fergusson-Trask arrived one day in Te Mata Road with a big box, and that box was up in my parents’ wardrobe, and then it was in my Christmas stocking … lovely big doll. But this Auntie Edna – I think she was Deputy Matron of the Children’s Home in Napier – and they were sent up to Auckland. And in the August she died – evidently they must have taken some of their storage with them. And in those days the preserves had to be – well, a deepish top with milky – and that must have shattered in the earthquake and she swallowed a piece of it – it penetrated her lung. So she’s buried up in … and she was the single one. You know, I think perhaps Mother being the youngest, she rather spoilt us young ones. And I remember, you know Christmas – sunshades for Christmas and that sort of thing, and a doll. The first doll she gave me ‘course I wouldn’t know – it had a china head. And Mother was out in the washhouse one day, and here’s Mum leaning over a box – she was looking for a mouse – and I dropped it, and so it had a shattered head. But I didn’t want to part with it. And so this is why Auntie May – I guess Auntie Edna gave it to Auntie May to bring to me, and so there was no Santa after that.

And thinking back too, we used to go to Grandma – Tom and I used to spend quite a lot of time there in holiday period. You got perhaps one thing in your stocking plus some fruit. And then I remember on a spare table there’d be perhaps a dozen soft drink. And then the step-uncles, there were three of them, they’d say – “oh what’s that”? And you’d be looking up there and they’d be putting some coin out of theirs under your plate too.

And so we had more to do with step-uncles ’cause they were – well mother was the youngest and then her grand … second husband, Kerr – I don’t think any relation to this Nicki Kerr that was in here. Their eldest would be now – not sure if she was two or three years younger – and I think when gran and … they were married I think Mother was about 13 by that time – I believe they were very upset and I’m not sure if they were split up, the children. And I know one was brought up by another family, and one was drowned in Lake Rotorua, so I take it he was up there. But then in the end the eldest daughter – she wasn’t married then – she came, and she was the housekeeper. So she’d have Granddad, her own father and a step-grandmother and the three boys out in a big tent outside. I suppose she did the washing and all for them. All had motorbikes. One had a sidecar … and I can see that outside our Te Mata Road there, sitting in it with Mother but I can never remember if … Jack was it? Rob, whether he ever took us, whether it was – over to Grandma’s. Can’t remember that.

So – anyway, that’s, you know, going back many, many years of course. When I think back now that I’m coming up to 92, it’s amazing in a way to think that … even the Fergussons you see, Charlie was a little older, born the same year, Stan and John and Bob Fergusson (Uncle Bob’s son) – they’ve all passed on. And you know quite a few … we lost quite a few of the … from our Fergusson side. Well I mean their parents were Fergussons, but of course the ladies were married to others. So … and I remember – I’m not sure if Uncle Bob was … no Uncle Frank was the last ‘cause he lived with Auntie Em. And I can remember you folk living on Te Mata Road, perhaps not in your time.

Not me.

Joll Road were you?

No, I was Queen Street. I’m one of the babies, one of the three babies.

Oh yes. Now I can remember the Waterhouses, ’cause I went through the Earthquake Survivors, and I sat with – the youngest one’s wife, the younger man – she was a girl Garland, but I don’t think …

Shirley? There’s Shirley Waterhouse.

That’s his wife, yes.

Alex was it? Alex Waterhouse?


Lex, yes that’s right.

Yes, well of course Lex I think would be a little younger. Margaret was older, mum and my – I think more my brother and sister … and then there was the older brother that married a Sanson. Anyway that – going back a little way now.

I now – you know, going in … signing in – you get an invitation to the Earthquake Survivors, and I thought this year our cousins – late cousin’s wife Eileen Mulgridge might be old enough to cut the cake, but nobody – a hundred year old lady and a man that was born four hours before the earthquake. The principal announced that we were not in the hall, we were in the gym because the hall was said to be an earthquake risk. And he said builders of old – they did great work, some a little lazy and they evidently – he said beautiful heart rimu, they put a bolt through but no – there was a bolt but no nut on the end. [Chuckle] So – it’s a sort of a little get together.

And then I also get an invitation to the Hot Rods because of Volkswagon Club – we get an invitation. You don’t have to pay but you fill in a form that you might get a prize.

And where else did I ..? And I’ve just had an early form for the Long Lunch – and that sort of gives you preference evidently. It saved me and I was able to put it through the bank, so I didn’t have to go through to Napier. And they get all sorts of people from all over … they get them to perhaps make that their last stop on their travels. It was once held in the hall in McLean Park stadium and the band was far too loud inside, and then a singer with a microphone. And you usually get a pen and perhaps a complimentary wine glass so I took one one year.

And the year of … at the McLean Park, I pulled in and I noticed sort of a station wagon Volkswagen pull up further, and later the driver looked me up and he said “I’m doing up a 1971 Beetle”. So – I saw a white one parked … between the bank is it? And the old Warehouse, and it had VW71, and I thought ‘oh that must be it’, but evidently somebody else had got it. And now – he arrived – we went – oh, we went to Haumoana to have a barbecue but a friend had invited me for dinner so I couldn’t stay. And our airman, he arrived in a Kombi van. And they’re left hand drives, I didn’t realise. And his is, perhaps not … but he’s not always here, as I say he’s an airman, he could be in England or could be anywhere around the world so he doesn’t always get there.

But we had one trip, a mystery trip over the Napier hills. And there’s far more hills … streets up there than you realise. And we paid $5 in and there were clues you had to pick up, but because I didn’t have a co-driver I followed the two in front of me, the driver and co-driver, and we paid $5 – I got $10 back for the booby prize. [Chuckle] Our time was evidently average. One of them said “oh, we waited for you”, but the top gear was not working to full then and so of course I wouldn’t be able to pick that up. But anyway, we got back safely, that was a good thing. Some – you know, some come and some don’t. And it was started evidently by an English couple and they’re having it Porangahau Labour weekend, they must be having a camp up there. I wouldn’t go you know, because if I’m sort of pegging along, “oh, are you alright?” and “need help getting up?” and that sort of thing, and I’m better to let them enjoy their break. We have been up to … some bush – White Pine Bush is it?

Yes, White Pine Bush – it’s on the Wairoa Road.

Yes, and we’ve evidently going up to Tutira Lake. I’m not sure if that’s the Christmas one, but my … when we went up – you smell that Lake. I take it it’s a smell from there – whether it – they said it was that …


Whatever it is, and then we went up to – we went up through Puketapu – Sherenden was it? Up to some reserve up there, which was all very nice set up. So time, you know, we’d go – oh, the Christmas one we’re going to – oh, on the way to Waipuk there’s a tea rooms, it’s an old house. I think an old church is just past it – Blue Flamingo or something they call it.

Oh, I’ve heard of it.

Mmm. So we have been there before when we’ve gone down to Porangahau and back that way. So as I say we do trips from time to time. And I say if my late nephew only knew where his first new car has taken me I’m sure he’d be having a laugh. [Chuckle] He said “it will see you through” and it has – as long as I see it through is the main thing.

Yes, so have we said too much?

No, that’s right. I’m going to … somewhere stop that.

Original digital file



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Interviewer:  Leslie Morgan

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