Peacock, Patricia Jean (Jeannie) Interview

Good morning. Today is Friday 21st May 2021. I am Lyn Sturm and I have been given the privilege of interviewing Jeannie Peacock from Waipukurau, Central Hawke’s Bay.

Good morning. Yes, I’m here with Lyn on a beautifully sunny morning, looking out on the Mt Herbert Road. My name is Patricia Jean Peacock, and I was born in 1946 and lived at Willow Run. I have seven siblings, and my parents were John Mackie and Muffin. Muffin was a Jamieson. We lived there and went to primary school – the Waipuk[urau] Primary School to start with, and then we were shifted to the Terrace School because Waipuk had grown so large it wasn’t coping with the schools. In 1959 I went off to Nga Tawa School in Marton. [I] thoroughly enjoyed Nga Tawa School, and do keep in touch with a lot of my old school friends; a great time at school.

Then in 1962 I left school and came back and lived at home, working on the farm helping my father because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. While I was working on the farm I occasionally went off and helped people with their children, and the next thing the phone would go and my father would say, “Come home. We’re very busy, we’re docking, I need you at home.” I was at home quite a lot.

I went to Country Girls which was tied up with Young Farmers and we had a lovely time doing that as young people. I also was the President of Country Girls, and thoroughly enjoyed doing that. We had advisory members, Mrs Winlove, Nan Dearden and a few others, that [who] helped us with all the projects that we did. Also, I was a member of the St Mary’s Young Wives group. I represented the AAW [Association of Anglican Women] while I was doing this. [I] thoroughly enjoyed Young Wives; met a lot of people from the town, and we did all sorts of projects – preserving … bottled fruit at Abbotts at home, and things like that. We had a great time.

After a while I decided I’d go off to Australia and get a job, which I did. I worked at Tumut [New South Wales] for four months; met my good friend Sue Winlove in Sydney, had a great month with her in Sydney and then Sue and I went up to Central Queensland and worked at a big property in Barcaldine. I still keep in touch with those people today.

My many interests were golf and tennis. I’ve been a member of both of these clubs for fifty-eight years [and] thoroughly enjoyed all my tennis friends over the years, and made lots of good buddies. Also at golf; I’ve been Lady President twice of the Waipukurau Ladies Golf, and Club Captain. I had my first hole in one in 2019 up in Gisborne – it took all that time to hit the perfect shot.

I got married in 1968 to Elliott Peacock, and we lived out on Peacocks Road … way out, with the most beautiful view and a very undeveloped farm to start with. My husband has worked extremely hard developing this farm and we always had [clock chiming] shepherds helping in the early days, so life was busy.

And then I had three young children all close together, so we were busy with schools, children, shepherds and all the farming jobs. I helped a lot, as much as I could, and developed a very big garden out there that I was very thrilled with. We always went away every summer camping, so we saw all of the North Island with our children in the early days. We had a lot of fun with our children.

The boys went off to Hereworth once they’d had done the early days at primary school, and we had a great time at Hereworth and Wanganui Collegiate, so that was great. Our daughter also went to Nga Tawa so I caught up with some of my old friends as well when she was at Nga Tawa.

So life was busy on the farm, and taking them to school, there and back.

Over the years Elliott and I have travelled extensively to many, many countries. The worst thing that ever happened was in Turkey … the day we went to come home we were robbed of our passports, but fortunately, no money. So we ended up at the New Zealand Embassy at Ankara, and they sorted the passports and we had a lovely five days staying with the New Zealand Ambassador. Fortunately we knew her husband.

One of the things that I do remember vividly about travelling is, I have swum in the Nile river up in Aswan. It was so cold, and yet Aswan was [had a] very hot, hot climate.

A few years ago now, I also met a very good friend in town, Pete Liddle, and we had a chat that day and we ended up going to Africa with Pete and Helen, to [on] the most wonderful tour from Cape Town up to Victoria Falls. And we have since been back to Africa more recently. We have travelled extensively with Pete and Helen to all parts of the world doing very, very interesting things.

The grandchildren now are growing up. Elliott and I’ve been very fortunate with our three children – Richard Peacock, married to Meg, live on the family farm today which they’ve taken over from us. They have two children – Maggie, who is at university at Canterbury doing chemical engineering and Sam, who’s at [in his] last year [at] Napier Boys’ High [School]. He wants to go to university too.

Then our daughter, Rachel, who was a trained beauty therapist and has travelled the world with her job, now lives in Sydney and has two very lovely sons, [a] fifteen year old and [a] thirteen year old. She has a very good job to do with cosmetics now, in packaging and ingredients and [is] thoroughly enjoying life in Sydney.

Our youngest son, Hamish Peacock, is a Resource Manager/Planner for a big company in Christchurch, and has worked for many different companies. He is very good at his job; [we] always thought that he would be a farmer, but he is very much a people person, so it is good that he is dealing with a lot of people and is very good at it. He has two older children to [from] his first marriage, and now with his second marriage has a delightful three-year-old, and they’re all doing very well. We do get to see them all – we’ve been to Christchurch this year, and we’re going to Sydney this year to visit our daughter, Rachel, all being well with Covid. We do go and stay at the farm occasionally when Meg and Richard are away, because of the farm animals etcetera etcetera, and I always love going back to the old farm and sleeping in my old bedroom – it’s rather lovely.

Time goes on, so I will get back to do with when we moved to town. We moved to town in 2018; suddenly we decided it was time to move while we had the energy to do it, but before we moved I painted the whole of the inside of this house and had the kitchen all upgraded and I’m very pleased with the finished job. We now have to paint the outside, but I don’t think I’m going to volunteer for that.

We’re enjoying being in town, but yes, it’s very different to being in the country and we have neighbours. I have a wonderful neighbour, Shirley, who is eighty-nine, and she’s a credit to the human race. She is still mowing her own lawns, travels when she can, and is certainly a wonderful neighbour. She gives me all her vegetable leftovers and things to put in my worm farm. That’s another thing … I’ve always had a worm farm and it works extremely well; it’s in an old bath on legs. I get all the liquid and put it on the garden, then I get a lot of the compost out of the worm farm. And, a lot of people come to me to get worms to do their compost, so it’s quite a good little sideline.

Anyway here I am sitting in a lovely sunny room in my new home not far from the main street of Waipukurau. I could walk down and get my groceries – in fact I often walk to tennis even. It’s a good way to keep fit, and people say to me, “You’re so fit!” I say, “Well, if you don’t use it you lose it.” And they look at me, but I’m intending to keep as fit as I can, and for as long as I can.

So now we will get to my parents, where it all started. My [father], John Mackie, went away to the First World War, came back before the end of the war and married Muffin Jamieson. They married, and Dad, after the war, went to university to do a wool degree in Palmerston [North] at Massey University. My parents had eight children all up, and I’m the eldest of two – I’m a twin. I have a twin sister, Judy, who lives in Australia and we see each other quite a lot. I also have twin brothers; Gordon lives here in Waipukurau and Graeme lives in California. We get to see Graeme quite often with his American accent. My sister Lesley lives in Wellington, and her husband is an acupuncturist which is an interest on its own. We see Lesley; she comes up here on holidays. Then I have the three younger brothers – Douglas, who farms at Willow Run, the family farm; Tony also farms up Middleton Road, on another piece of land that my father bought; and Andrew lives in Hamilton and he is a builder. We all get together quite often at various occasions, and every second Christmas we have a Mackie Christmas.

My father died at sixty-one, which was very young and yet we thought he was quite old. My mother lived a good life, and died at ninety-four. She ended up at Woburn Home in Waipukurau, and loved every minute of it. And they were so good to her. It was her choice to be in a Home, and it worked out very well.

My grandparents on the Mackie side … Ian Mackie, Mr I W M Mackie, [a] lawyer in Waipukurau married Jean Hooper from Arlington Station. They had a very successful life; Granddad was the mayor of Waipukurau during the Depression. Granny Jean was a very good golfer, and we spent a lot of time at their house when we were young children. They lived down the road at Brooklyn, part of Arlington Station. That’s how my father became a farmer, because his father was the lawyer, but his mother was the owner of Arlington Station with her family.

My mother’s family farmed a kiwi farm on the road to Onga [Onga Onga]. They had a very big family – George and Muffin Jamieson. They had nine children all up, so we had a lot of Jamieson cousins which [who] we caught up with fairly regularly, and I still see a lot of the Jamieson family today. So I’ve got lots and lots of cousins; not so many on the Mackie side though, only Dick Mackie with his four boys. So there was the John Mackies with eight, and the Dick Mackies with four. We had a long association with those cousins as well because some of them still live in this area. So that’s about all for the family.

Getting back to the boarding school time … at Nga Tawa there was [were] only about two hundred girls at the school in 1959, and we had very, very strict rules … you only spoke to a Senior if they spoke to you. But it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, and the Mackie girls were quite cheeky actually. When we first got there, my sister said to one girl called Acush, and she turned around and said, “My name is Acushla.” So you soon got the picture that you should not be cheeky or rude to a Senior.

We had very set menus of the day – breakfast in the dining room, lunch in the dining room and dinner at night. Well, the main dinner actually was in the middle of the day when you had a hot meal. Sports were played after school and we had PE [physical education] during school times. We always had to rehearse for musicals, plays, and we all, especially the Mackie girls, loved their sport. Judy was in the School netball team and I was in the school hockey team. We were put in different houses actually, so they could tell us apart because we were so alike. That didn’t really matter; we went to our different houses and enjoyed it. And we’re still keeping in touch with a lot of those girls today – it’s pretty amazing. And there are quite a lot of girls from Central Hawke’s Bay that went to Nga Tawa … the Hewitt girls, CT Train, Mary and Pauline Robertshaw, and a few more that I just can’t think [of] offhand. But yes, it was a very popular school for young ladies; a terrible brown uniform, but never mind.

So the next thing, Judy and I both left school. Judy actually went to train as a Karitane nurse and thoroughly enjoyed that. I’ll now tell you about being a twin … yes, we were very alike. The headmistress could never tell us apart, and once she was told off because I had been naughty that night; she was told off instead of me. But nothing ever happened. The girls used to have fun I think. And they knew us because there were two of us – twice the trouble. And actually even today we are still very alike, and yet my sister has lived in Australia ever since she married in 1967; but of course we do see each other. But when she first came back after not being here for six years she walked around the corner where I lived, and d’ you know, I got a big fright. I thought I was seeing myself, and I can still remember the feeling thinking, “Oh my goodness! We are alike!” So being a twin isn’t too bad, and actually people do ask me, “What’s it like being a twin?” Well – I don’t know what it’s like to be single, [chuckle] so I’ve always been very used to having someone with me, right from the womb. I think that’s why I like people, because I’m so used to being with a person. And I love having people to stay, and doing things in the community, so being a twin isn’t too bad. Actually, having twin brothers … well, that’s a bit much.

Anyway, the next subject we’ll get to is Waipukurau. Growing up in Waipukurau … [it] was a very safe town; no one ever locked any doors then. They do now ‘cause Waipukurau isn’t quite so safe, and we’re told all the time, “You must lock your doors.” The traffic seems to go faster, which I’ve noticed – well, I guess the cars go faster. And everybody when we were growing up, just about everyone knew everyone. You could hardly walk down the street; you’d be saying, “Hello”, “Hello”, “Hello”. And when I worked for the dentist – nearer to when I married I worked for Mr Henry the dentist – and if you walked down the street on business I had to be very careful I didn’t stop to talk so I used to walk very fast and pretend I didn’t see them.

Now Friday nights was [were] interesting. The shops were open on Friday night and that’s when all the young ones went to town and did their shopping. And it was quite a social event really; we’d stop and chat and we’d catch up with our girlfriends in the street, and the boys, and then we would go to the pictures – the old picture theatre around the corner, in Kitchener Street. It was an old brick building which actually unfortunately got pulled down. But it was the old theatre, and we all went up there; and if you went upstairs it was about three shillings [3/-] a seat, and if you went downstairs it was about one and six [1/6d, or one shilling and sixpence]. But around 1980 the old theatre was pulled down and a new theatre was built. The new theatre’s very nice but I think we all enjoyed the old one, growing up.

A lot of the young Country Girls had social events, parties, and we even had dinners where you had to share dinners, you went from one place to another to another; first course at someone else’s house, second course at someone else’s house, and third, coffee and cake, and then all go home. We made a lot of our own fun; there wasn’t a lot of TV. There was a little bit coming in then but people just made their own fun.

In the old days, way back in the sixties, we used to have a lot of dances [at] the United hall, the Hardings’ woolshed, the Henderson’s woolshed, and often the dances were run by the Young Farmers Club or the Young National Party, so what with the progressive dinners and these dances, the young ones met everyone and had a great time. So that was great. In the school holidays often the boarding schools put on dances too, and a lot of those dances were at St Mary’s Hall, but that was only in the holidays.

One of the things I remember in Waipukurau especially, is the Peter Pan ice cream factory … Tom and Hayden Denne. The ice cream was fantastic, and everyone bought it. And in the holidays a lot of the young ones used to work at [the] Peter Pan ice cream factory. The Denne brothers gave a Cup called the Peter Pan Cup to the Waipukurau Golf Club for Junior Golf, and it is still played for today, which is quite amazing all these years later.

Nowadays there aren’t a lot of opportunities for work in the holidays, but the young ones go to the Takapau Freezing Works which is out towards Takapau. I think the money is pretty good, but the hours are quite long and some of the young ones aren’t that fussed about the meat; but at least it’s a job. I know my grandson, Sam Peacock, was working for the Foleys doing the bailage and the wrapping of silage this last holidays, so there are jobs to be found, but not so many factories right in town.

I’d like to talk about Pukeora, which is up on the hill looking out over Waipukurau and [has] the most fantastic view around. It started off as a TB [tuberculosis] sanatorium, and when everything improved with TB it became a home for the disabled. It was added onto extensively with their own rooms. They had a big hall there and big kitchens, and I have been there a lot over the years because the Country Girls and Young Farmers used to go up there and have quizzes regularly every year. Since it changed and it was sold to a couple it is now an Events Centre and a winery which is now actually for sale; but they still hold quite a few events up there because of the hall and the kitchens. It has got very big gardens, and quite a lot of homes are built on that site that belong to the Pukeora Estate. It would be a wonderful thing to be opened up as a private hotel or spa or something, ‘cause they do have a beautiful hot pool. It is a pity that it is not going forward as much as it should. And also, it employed a lot of people with the TB Sanitorium, then Pukeora … it did employ a lot of people. Now the Pukeora Centre is right in Waipukurau, [traffic noise] but very small, but it served a very good purpose to [for] those disabled people. And there were some very interesting people that were there because they were disabled, but people that [who] mended clocks, and did jobs up there and made some money for themselves, which is great. And I’ve spent quite a few hours up there swimming in the pool at one stage, keeping fit; this is before we had our own heated pool in Waipukurau, which we do have – a very good heated swimming pool and gym right in town which serves the community very well.

We’re now, in 2021, seeing a huge amount of people building on Mt Herbert Road, Racecourse Road, Porangahau Road, Mangatarata Road … there’s a huge amount of building, and any section that is free there are new houses going up. It’s the same all over the country, but in Waipukurau it’s quite significant, and actually it is bringing quite a lot of employment to Waipukurau. And a lot of people are coming from Auckland or wherever, they’re going to Havelock [North] and they’re finding the prices far too high and for the last few years we’ve had a lot of people come and retire in Waipukurau. We’ve seen the bowling club, the golf club etcetera, etcetera … we’re just in a big boom at the moment, so that’s good for Waipukurau I think, except we haven’t really got a proper retirement village here which is something we could do with.

Today we have a very successful tennis club in Waipukurau – nine astroturf courts, a pretty up to date building, and also the squash courts, three squash courts. One of the reasons the tennis club has been so successful is we have run twilight tennis in the summer. Mr Elliott Peacock [phone notification] has organised the twilight tennis since daylight saving started in 1974, and is still organising it today. He will have nineteen courts some nights; we use nine courts at the club, Waipawa, sometimes the College, and there are several private courts that he uses. Quite an accomplishment for Elliott, but he’s done it for so long [that] it works like clockwork. And in the beginning we did not have ipads, iphones, messages … just the telephone. But anyway the tennis club is going very well. The women also have twilight tennis on a Tuesday night, and we at least fill ten courts. It’s worked in teams, so you’re in a team for the season, and at the end of the season we have a winning team, so it all works out. And actually tonight, 21st May, we’re having our prizegiving down at the Gentlemen’s Club, for the tennis club. So the tennis club is going very well. There’s [there are] a lot of junior children playing; Jane is our junior coach and she comes in a lot after school and teaches all the young children the basics of tennis. We also have a lot of inter-club being played.

Now, the other club that has been one of my main interests is the golf club. We’ve had ninety-three years of golf at the Marakiki Golf Club, but before that there were two other golf clubs. There was one down Mt Herbert Road at the Monktons’; it was an early club, and there was one over on the Hatuma Road at the Russell farm. But recently we actually celebrated – a few years ago now a hundred years of ladies’ golf, which went very well; we asked all the old members back to the Waipuk Golf Club and had a very lovely lunch and celebration.

In 1997 we had the 50th Jubilee of the New Zealand Ladies Veterans’ Golf played here in Waipukurau; a whole week of golf, top sponsorship from New Zealand, all over the place; we had a full field and the winner of that tournament, the 50th Jubilee, was Jean Whitehead, née Bishop, from Waipuk. That was a great honour for Jean Whitehead; she was a well-known golfer in New Zealand. We also did run the 25th Jubilee as well, and the first winner of that particular tournament held in Waipukurau was my grandmother, Jean Mackie. So to me it was a great interest to keep on doing this for the Waipuk Golf Club.

Today we are struggling a little bit for members, and so is every golf club in New Zealand. We could do with more members but unfortunately, the younger women of today are out working and they haven’t got time to be playing golf. We’re trying to nurture younger golfers, but unfortunately the ages are aging, and a lot of people have gone to nine-hole golf. But anyway, well may the Waipuk Golf Club keep on keeping on. It’s a very pretty course, the trees are just beautiful – it’s like a park – so we’re very, very proud of our Waipukurau Golf Club, and a lot of people do a lot of work out there.

Jeannie, I’d like to thank you very, very much for this interview today, and we wish you all the very, very best for the future.

I’ve enjoyed the whole episode myself and it might get me into gear and finishing my little story.

Thank you, Jeannie.

Thank you.

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Interviewer:  Lyn Sturm 27 July 2021

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