Peacock, Terence (Terry) Speedy Interview
Good morning. Today’s Tuesday 27th July 2021. I am Lyn Sturm and on behalf of the Knowledge Bank I’ve been given the pleasure of interviewing Terry Peacock from Waipukurau, Central Hawke’s Bay.
Well good morning again, Lyn. My name is Terence Speedy Peacock. I was born in Waipukurau – actually Waipawa, but lived all my life in Central Hawke’s Bay. My father was overseas when I was born; he was in the Second World War, and upon his return we moved into a house in Reservoir Road, Waipukurau. Before that I was brought up by my mother and grandmother while my father was away overseas serving in Africa and Italy.
Upon his return as I said, we moved into a house in Waipukurau on Reservoir Road. I went to school there. After the Waipukurau Primary School I attended Hereworth in Havelock North for three years and Wanganui Collegiate for five years. I have one brother, Hutton David Peacock – my little brother I call him because he’s younger, but three inches taller than me at six foot seven inches. He was the one with most of the brains, being an actuary; and in his life he was setting the MPs’ [Members of Parliament] wages, judges’ wages; he was on lots of committees and he founded Government Life – he changed it from … what was the name? I can’t remember … State Advances or something … to Government Life. [Government Life was established in 1869 and renamed Tower Corporation in 1987] He was the manager of that; he was head of a lot of companies but unfortunately he died at the age of sixty-three, so we didn’t see that much of my brother – well, not lately [later].
I had eight years of school; mostly enjoyed my boarding school at Hereworth and Wanganui Collegiate; I was intending to be a lawyer. I quite enjoyed debating; I was quite good at debating and public speaking. But in my second last year at Collegiate the family farm, Hononga, was subdivided into four blocks, and the four brothers in 1957 all put their hands in and drew one lot out. It was interesting that not one brother had a preference – it was so well divided that nobody thought this block was better than the other one. The back two blocks consisted of about twelve hundred acres which is productive; the homestead block was six hundred and forty acres, and the other front block was eight hundred and thirty acres. My father drew the homestead block.
Now unfortunately, in my last year of school I had a spontaneous pneumothorax, or a punctured lung, and I wasn’t allowed to do physical work for about two years. So I went into Williams & Kettle and started as the office boy; this was in 1959. Because I was very good at bookkeeping at uni [university] and I was good at accounting and figures, I moved quickly up from the office boy to be the wages clerk and paid all the wages to the normal people – not the salaried staff, not the head ones – but to all the grocers and all their staff. The average wage in 1960 for a top grocer was fourteen pounds two shillings and eightpence [£14/2/8d] a week. The highest paid in summer was a person called Stuart Ewen who worked in the seed store, and with overtime he could get up to £20 a week in 1959-1960. Stuart Ewen, as it happens, is still working in Williams & Kettle – or now Wrightsons it’s called – to this day, aged about eighty-four.
Yeah. In 1962  I went overseas on my OE [overseas experience] with three other friends, and we did thirteen months’ travelling around Europe. We were based in London but we travelled around Europe quite a bit. I worked for a firm called William Corey & Son, who actually were right in the middle of Petticoat Lane. We used to go to The Bell, the local pub, in our suits; everybody else used to have rough gear from working in the lane except those in the posh part. We didn’t go there, but the locals at Petticoat Lane took us to their hearts; they loved to see these two New Zealanders in their suits in their bar, and they used to tell us where all the bargains were in Petticoat Lane … “Don’t buy those socks up there, the heels’ll come out”, or [chuckle] “Go and buy this one – the property’s hot but you won’t be caught.” So we made great friends working from The Bell in Petticoat Lane and I have been back there since, and it’s still there. So that was in 1963.
Then I came back farming in ’64, at Tamahine [Taniwha] Station which was part of the Speedy block on the Takapau Plains. While I was there I was joining Young Farmers [Club], and was very fortunate in 1962  to win a scholarship overseas to England. Each year the Meat Board sent two young farmers in New Zealand to England, so I won the scholarship and went overseas for a year, staying on farms throughout Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England, talking to them about New Zealand agriculture. The first time I went through the Panama and came back through the Suez; this time I went through the Suez Canal but came back through the Panama. Each trip takes about five weeks. Going over on my first trip with my good friend Jeff Dunn and Ed Joll, we had Tahiti, Acapulco, Panama, Bermuda, Miami … all great ports, and we had a lot of fun.
But anyway, getting back to my trip to England on the Young Farmers’ exchange in 1965, as it happened my brother was still over there doing post-graduate work at university over there as an actuary. And I had two weeks left before I sailed back, and he said, “Come and stay at London House”, which I did. London House was subsidised by the British government; you had to be doing post-graduate work to qualify to stay there. And I said, “I haven’t got any qualifications.” He said, “You’ve got UE, you’re teaching people farming; you’re doing post-graduate work.” So in I go; there was only men allowed at this London House. Then on the Saturday night we’re seeing notices on the board saying, ‘Wanted – 5 Men for a Party at 11 Bromwich Road’, or ‘14 Aldgate Street – Just Come Along’.
And next thing I know there’s a ball on about six days before I was due to go back. And my brother said, “You’d better come to the London House ball.” And I said, “I haven’t got a partner.” He said, “Well my partner’s best friend’s just broken up – you can take her.” I said, “I want to have a look at her first.” [Chuckle] He said, “Well, there’s a party tonight in the street and they want some men there; come along to that.” So I went along to the party, and was very attracted to this young girl there … Jillian Walker was her name … so I took her to the London House ball. Four days later I had to sail back to New Zealand. We agreed to write to each other but go out with other people. She returned fifteen months later, and we were married four years later. That was my wife, Jillian Mary Peacock, who I met briefly in London; she came from … well, North Canterbury originally, but she was living in Christchurch at the time, and was a nurse.
So having done two trips overseas in 1963 then in 1965 on a scholarship with the Meat Board, we settled down to farming at our present homestead, Hononga, in Waipukurau … or six miles out of Waipukurau. I’m just trying to think – roughly I’d been on the farm about two years and I decided to lease my uncle’s place next door which is eight hundred and forty acres; and then four years later he offered to sell it to me, and I bought that farm in 1981 borrowing ninety percent of the money, which I’d hate to do nowadays but in those days it wasn’t too bad. But interest rates then were about six percent. Fortunately I paid most of it off before 1985 came, when our interest rates went up to twenty percent; and those were really difficult times.
But anyway, so I then ended up with a block of roughly fourteen hundred and eighty acres, farming the two front blocks of Mangatarata.
So the block that you bought was ..?
No, it was Michael Peacock – there were four brothers; there was Barney and Sam who had the two back blocks, and Michael Peacock, who was a half-brother who lived in Hastings, had the other front block with Dad. And I bought Michael’s block which gave me the fourteen hundred and eighty acres. So we were farming there.
At this stage I was fortunate to have three children, one son and two daughters. They were born in 1971, 1972, 1973. They all get on well together. And I had three children at boarding school which was quite an expensive exercise at the time. The two girls went to Nga Tawa [Diocesan School, Marton], my son went to Hereworth and Wanganui Collegiate. Then we had the difficult times, say from ’85 to ’90, where we had high interest rates, land values dropped by about twenty or thirty percent. I did a Farm Location Map for the Waipukurau Rotary Club, and between 1984 and 1995 sixty-nine percent of farms in Central Hawke’s Bay were sold. That wasn’t from father to son, that was to another family; that was the effect of it. But anyway, we managed to get through that.
By this stage the children were going to university down in Dunedin – they all went to Dunedin. My wife was doing district nursing – she was a qualified nurse, and once the children reached five she went back to nursing at the Waipukurau Hospital as a district nurse.
I forgot to mention, going back into …what year was it? 1969? Anyway the Young Farmer of the Year competition came on, and I managed … well, I didn’t win it but I came First Equal in the Young Farmer of the Year competition, then had a play-off for a question there which I got wrong; [the] other one got right, so I came second on the count back. The winner got a trip to Singapore for two and a John Deere tractor; I got $500 worth of carpet which was much appreciated, which is at this stage still at Hononga but is being pulled up, I believe, in the next couple of weeks. So that was in 1969.
Done well – so where was that competition actually held?
Well the final was held in Hamilton; the semi-final for the North Island was in Napier and Christchurch, and the final was in Hamilton.
So you were on TV?
It was all on TV, yes, and a big crowd there at the final – there [was] probably six or seven hundred people in the hall in Hamilton. And there was four – two from the North Island and two from the South Island, and the two South Islanders were worrying about me because I’d won easily in the North Island, and I was worrying about them; and we all forgot about the other North Islander [chuckles] … sneaked up and [chuckle] and won it. Really nice chap, and no hard feelings at all, but he won that. So I’ve been lucky in life that I’ve had an exchange overseas with the Young Farmers, and I’ve been the Young Farmer of the Year – or runner-up to the Young Farmer of the Year.
But getting back to my family, we struggled through the eighties, and I leased a farm down in Ākītio … just out of Ākītio at Taumata Station. The idea was not to make too much money on the farm – the stock prices were very low at the time – it was just to sell the stock at increased prices. Everything was going well until I decided prices didn’t look good, so I re-leased it to an airline pilot with very substantial wealth from Auckland, a real estate agent and a top farmer – well he was a young cadet I suppose – young farmer from South Island who was going to manage it. So I leased it to those three.
First two years was all right; all I was trying to do was build up the stock, sell that and make a profit out of the stock, not out of the farming. Then after about two years the real estate agent didn’t like what was happening so he took paraquat, and killed himself. The airline pilot – he rang up the manager and told him sell all the stock; he was going to do a runner. He had substantial money; we’d checked – he had quite a lot of buildings and properties in Auckland. So next thing we had to go up and rescue what we could; then tried to sue the airline pilot, not the farm manager, because he’d told us what was happening. It took us seven years to get to Court; every time we got to Court they found an excuse not to attend. By the time we finally got to Court, the airline pilot had separated from his wife, put all his assets in his wife’s name and declared himself bankrupt. And when we got to Court the judge awarded us – I think it was £10 [?$10?], or something like that. But the terrible thing was, before we got to Court the lawyers, who’d made a couple of mistakes, said the opposition would pay us; we were suing them for $280,000, and they’d give us $210,000 to settle out of Court. I said, “What do I do?” My lawyer said, “Well, it’s over to you, Terry, but if they offer you $210,000, you know, they must think they’re going to have to pay more; and I think they’ll have to pay more.” So I didn’t accept it. The Judge gave me £10, [?$10?] and therefore I had to pay my own legal fees and their legal fees. So that was a bit of a loophole ….
So all you got was £10? [?$10?]
Yeah, it was headlines in the paper … £10.
For how many acres?
No, this was for breaking the lease – all the money they … yeah.
Oh, it was breaking the lease … oh!
They owed us $260,000 or something … dollars.
And you got £10? [?$10?]
Yeah. Any rate, so that was another little setback, but we’ve got through that and we got into the nineties. Monies were a bit kinder, but unfortunately at the end of the nineties, just at the turn of the century, my late wife started to get ill. She had to, shall we say, give up district nursing; she lost her perception of depth, and eventually we had to put Jillian into a home in 2009 … into Summerset. And she died in 2013, still a young seventy year old.
But my children have been very supportive to me throughout. I’m very fortunate, and I’ve got two sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law I wouldn’t change.
That’s awesome …
They’re incredible. I’ve got nine lovely grandchildren which [whom] I treasure, and I think I’ve been a very fortunate person in life. If I had my life over again I’d marry the same woman, I’d have the same children. I might make a few different business decisions, I’ll check on that. But [chuckle] apart from that I’ve been one of the fortunate ones to have a life of a lot of happiness. I’ve made a lot of friends, I’ve still good health and I’m looking forward to the next ten years.
My life now … my two favourite things are probably golf and bridge, but every second Monday I drive the [?Pakete?] bus, picking up old people taking them to Pakete and then taking them home. That’s on a Monday. On a Tuesday is bridge day; that’s afternoon at Waipukurau Bridge Club. We normally have about fifty to sixty people there playing bridge. Wednesday – every second Wednesday I do this – [it] was Red Cross; I’ve been doing it for eighteen years. It’s now St John’s – I drive a St John’s shuttle picking up the dialysis people mainly, and there’s five people have to go every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for dialysis to Hastings. So you pick up the dialysis … there’s usually six in the van … you start about seven o’clock, quarter past, and [it] usually finishes about four o’clock in the afternoon. So that’s every second Wednesday. Thursday I try to play golf.
Well, I … yeah. Generally when I’ve got nothing on. Friday I’ve got a group which generally meet for lunch in Waipukurau; there’s ten of us. We have a group that go for golfing trips; we’ve been to Australia a couple of times, South Island a couple of times. Because of Covid we haven’t been away for two years.
I’ve got a new partner just recently; I tend to go down to Havelock [North] on the weekends and spend the weekends with her, though coming back to play golf sometimes on a Saturday at Waipukurau. So that’s my week, so it’s quite a busy week.
So I gather that driving people to the hospital for their treatments … you do it out of the goodness of your heart?
Oh yes. Everything is voluntary around that, yes. I’m also a member of Rotary; I’ve been a member of Rotary since ‘bout 1990, for about thirty years. That’s on every Monday night.
It’s still going?
Yes, it’s still going there.
Do you have a meal with that?
We have a meal on Monday night, yes, we do. I usually get home about quarter to eight, so it’s not a late night. Oh, I’ve also got a bridge group … an interesting time. In 1981 the great George Hunter and I started a bridge group out at Wallingford. There was eight of us there. I had a group of four with Ed Joll, Jeff Dunn, David Ritchie and myself; and George Hunter had a four with Stuart McKenzie, Johnnie Ormond, George Hunter and David Wright; and we had an emergency in each. And we’d start at half past seven and we’d go to twelve o’clock and play bridge. Now this bridge group, the identities have changed. In my group there’s only myself and David Ritchie of the originals left. Oh, Michael Morrow also was a member of the other group – sorry; and on the other side none of them are alive. They’re all gone, or gone to Taupõ. But we’re still going, we’re still playing each other, but we stop now at half past eleven; but we start at half past seven, and here are these oldies in their seventies … couple of us in the eighties … still playing bridge at half past eleven at night. That’s only once a month and we circulate round the various homes.
So that’s what I have to do in my spare time.
And now you’re a gardener?
No, I’m not a gardener. I’m afraid I’m not a gardener. I don’t mind pruning roses or do a bit of weeding, but I’m not a gardener. No – my house I’ve got’s got very little garden, so I keep away from that. [Chuckle] It’s too hard to bend over now, picking things up and down …
I can appreciate that.
No. So I do a bit of reading. I like reading the paper, I’m old fashioned, I still like to read a newspaper. I try to read books, but I get distracted at times. I’m not a great classical music … I’m more the old fashioned rock and roll stuff …
Country & Western?
Yeah, all that sort of thing. Food – [I] just like normal food; I like a good breakfast, I have porridge in winter and fruit and cereal in summer; I always like a good breakfast. Lunch doesn’t worry me too much, and cooking my own meals, I like it to be quick. I always have fish at least once a week, something I can cook in five minutes with a couple of vegetables. I don’t spend much time in preparation.
So you’re very independent?
I tend to be, yes.
Yeah. I try to keep busy ‘cause I think that’s important. Exercise … I’ve got golf – I haven’t lately because I haven’t been that well the last week – but I try to go to the gym each Tuesday morning for an hour’s session there – I just have my own programme there. And I like to do a bit of walking.
So what’s your handicap with golf?
Ohh! I’ll do my skite – I did get down to 3 …
…and now I’m on 23. [Chuckles] So I’m on 23, not a very good 23 either.
You’re actually going out there and playing …
Oh yes. Up ‘til a month ago I liked to walk it, but now I’ve got a sore knee which needs replacing so I’ve got to change to a cart now. Yeah. But I still want to be active. So that’s my life, anyway.
I’m now going to talk about my school days at Hereworth and Wanganui Collegiate. I only had three years at Hereworth – nothing outstanding; wasn’t in the First XV or First XI … Second XI, Second XV. I was quite good, I came mostly top of the class … I did come top, and I left after Form 1. I had to decide when [whether] I’d stay a fourth year at Hereworth so I skipped Form 2; so I went from Form 1 at Hereworth to Form 3 on to Wanganui Collegiate. And at Collegiate they had five Forms  – A, B, C, D and E – and I was put in 3A. I was completely out of my depth having missed a year and put in the top class, so my academic record at Collegiate was not strong. I went 3A, 4B, 5C, 6D and then actually sat UE [University Entrance] and got it; it wasn’t accredited, which was quite rare in those days.
So you had to get two hundred, didn’t you, to pass?
Yes. So I wasn’t great; I never got any prizes at Collegiate for academic things, but I was the youngest boy in the school when I went there. And likewise, my father happened to be the youngest boy at Collegiate when he went there, and his nickname was ‘Naps’. I wasn’t called Naps, I was called ‘Sticks’ because I had skinny legs, and so has my brother. [Chuckle] But anyway, so five years at Wanganui Collegiate and three years at Hereworth. I enjoyed it all. There was corporal punishment at Hereworth when I was there; I actually never got the cane there. But at Collegiate there was slippering at night for misdemeanours in the dormitory, and the caning; I certainly got the slipper and I certainly had the cane. Didn’t worry me; unless you had somebody with a terrible vindictive mood which I never struck, I thought it was reasonably fair, though I think it’s right it has been cancelled now. But any rate, my years at Collegiate were great years, 3A, 4B, 5C, 6D, then went to 6A in my last year. And I was made a school prefect in my last year. Couldn’t be head prefect – not that I would’ve been because the head prefect was in our house; he was a Sixth Year, name of Stuart Veitch. But I thoroughly enjoyed my boarding school days. I was never great at sport, always in the Second XI, Second XV, but had a lot of fun, made a lot of friends, and I was proud to send my son on to Collegiate who thoroughly enjoyed it with a bit more success than I did [had] … also a school prefect but two years in the First XV at rugby. And so my school days were happy days and I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Now the other thing I’ll mention I’ve enjoyed a lot in life is travelling. I’ve been fortunate that one of my daughters married a very successful New Zealander who spent seven years in New York, then they had six years in Hong Kong. And just before Hong Kong erupted he moved to Sydney, about four years ago and he’s head of the company there. But every year from about 1998 my wife and I would go over, first of all it was to America; spend a couple of weeks or twelve days with my daughter and son-in-law in New York where they were – had great holidays there – and do little tiki tours round other parts of America.
We also went back to England; we had friends in London, and did a lovely trip round London staying with friends; three times we stayed with them in London, reminiscing about the past and where we’d been. We did two nice trips around Europe, so we’ve been very lucky.
My next daughter also married very well, Bettina. Her husband – he started the Gourmet Burger Kitchen, GBK, in London; worked that up – that was a takeaway burger bar; became famous as GBKs. He sold that off, and then he came back to New Zealand and is doing very well with Go Healthy Supplements; he is one of the owners of Go Healthy Supplements.
So he’s a Kiwi?
He’s a Kiwi, he came from Wellington; he went to St Pat’s [St Patrick’s College] Silverstream. But then – we’ve been very fortunate, in the last … ooh, probably eight years until recently … we used to do a trip with my daughter in Hong Kong round Italy and places like that; we’d go with her. We really loved Italy, we’ve had three or four trips round Italy; we’ve had two round France, so we’ve done a lot of tripping round Europe which has been great.
Which is your favourite city?
Well my favourite country is Italy and my least favourite is France. And interesting … my daughter, Bettina, got married at Ibiza, the party island off Spain. And that was a great wedding; we had about six of my friends went there. They had it on this island, Ibiza, and we took over a whole group of motels, so a hundred and ten guests all stayed at the motels. We all had six days there tripping around Ibiza as a group, and then the wedding. Then after the wedding we did a trip with my daughter and son-in-law around Spain for six or seven days.
So a great experience … been very fortunate. It was just unfortunate, by this time my wife was starting to get ill and she couldn’t do everything; but she did her best. So I’ve been very fortunate to have trips like that.
And also my daughter, Bettina, and son-in-law shouted me two trips to Hawaii where we’ve gone over and joined them and all the family. One trip was the whole family; my son, Marcus, and Nicolette and their family … we all had a big reunion in Hawaii. So as far as travel goes I’ve been very fortunate.
I used to travel … and upon my wife’s death, although I was looking after her when she was ill, I used to go away for three weeks. I’d spend ten days in Hong Kong with my daughter, and then ten days … my favourite country is Cambodia; I love the Cambodian people. I love going up and down the Mekong [River] in little boats there stopping at little villages with a group of about a hundred people, so that was my favourite part of Asia. But I’ve been very fortunate to do quite a bit of travelling with both daughters.
That is special.
Yeah, it’s … it is very special, and I feel very fortunate. [Of] course with Covid the last couple of years, we haven’t travelled. Right up ‘til the end there I was doing travelling by myself, my wife having died in 2013. I still travel overseas to my daughters
So how did you find travelling on your own?
It doesn’t worry me. The worst experience I ever had was, I wanted to do a trip round Japan, on a cruise round there. So the travel agent said, “I’m awfully sorry Terry, there’s only one left, they’re doing it now, it could be quite Asian, you know.” But I said, “That doesn’t worry me.” It sails from Hong Kong and you stop at four ports in Japan, then you come back to Hong Kong. Any rate, we get on the boat; there was [were] three thousand people on the boat. That’s quite a lot; that’s a big boat I can assure you, and there were only four Europeans. All the rest were Asians. So – this we didn’t know – the next sailing had a hundred and ten Europeans on it; we just struck a … well, bad one, but it doesn’t matter. So I got by; I was tall, I sort of stood out a little bit. The Chinese from Hong Kong were great, the people from Singapore were great, they were all helpful. The Chinese from China were terrible. They just pushed past, and they wouldn’t go into queues; they’d say, “There’s no queue, we just push in.” So completely different people …
No manners …
… and the Chinese from Hong Kong and the people from Singapore and Laos were most embarrassed by the way the Chinese from China behaved.
But any rate, [to] add to my woes on the trip there, they thought there was a storm coming up. Instead of getting four ports we only did two ports, so I was quite pleased to get back to Hong Kong and disembark. But that was the only trip I’ve done which I wouldn’t do again.
So the food on that trip was …?
The food was adequate, yes … quite good. Yes, doesn’t worry me, I quite like Asian food; nothing wrong with it. One bottle of Heineken was $10, and if you bought five bottles it worked out about $6 a bottle. So I’d buy five bottles and take them to my cabin. I had a little deck there, and I’d sit on my deck, watch the world go by and drink a couple of Heinekens, so the world wasn’t lost. [Chuckle] The amusement and the music and the theatre was very good on the boat, so that was very good.
So I’ve done a lot of travel; right up ’til three years ago I’ve travelled.
And with all these scares with Covid on the cruise ship ..?
But this is before Covid. I haven’t done any travelling since Covid, or not outside New Zealand. And I don’t intend to either.
Have you seen all of New Zealand?
Well I’ve … you can’t see all of New Zealand. [Chuckle] I’ve been up the top of the North Island. We were based in Carrington [Estate on the Karikari] Peninsula there, and did trips up to the north. I’ve been to Invercargill; not my favourite city. I wasn’t crazy on Invercargill, sorry …
What about Gore?
Gore, I’ve only … well the person I went overseas to England with came from Gore; Kevin Kelly, he was from Gore. I’ve only passed through it so no, I haven’t stayed at Gore but I have been to Gore. I’ve been to Milford Sound a couple of times.
Just recently this year we went down to Queenstown, my partner and I, and we got a plane trip from Queenstown into Milford Sound; no tourists, brilliant flight, it was a beautiful day in Milford Sound. Instead of [there] being about a hundred and twenty on the boat there was only about forty of us cruising round the Milford Sound. Came back, and I got a text from my good friend Andy Train ‘Trust you Peacock – I see you’re in Milford Sound today and Milford Sound was the hottest place in New Zealand for the first time.’ [Chuckles] And there were no mozzies [mosquitos] either. So we just struck it right, and we had a beautiful flight over the mountains and a beautiful day. But I’ve been to Milford Sound about three times. I love Queenstown. Been up the West Coast a few times and travelled round most of New Zealand. So I don’t mind travelling, I don’t mind driving, I’m quite happy to do it by myself if I’m by myself. And I’ve been right round the East Cape; we spent a lot of holidays at Te Kaha. I’ve got a friend who’s got a place at Te Kaha, which is half way up the East Cape there; go north of Ōpōtiki … between Ōpōtiki and East Cape. Very isolated place, very attractive but quite a rocky shoreline in places; very isolated but very attractive place, Te Kaha.
So are you a fisherman?
No, not a fisherman. No, I should be. They all laugh at me; I usually get seasick. Not on the big ships, I’ve never been seasick on a ship; on the small ones I go out fishing there, and I nearly always get seasick.
You lay the ground bait?
Yeah – they bring me just for bait there, yeah. [Chuckle] So, the burley as they call it, yeah. But I quite enjoy fishing but if it’s rough I’m no good at it. I get a bit bored with it, quite honestly, you know, I don’t want to go out five hours fishing. I’ve had an hour of it and I’ve had enough, so that’s not on my bucket list of wanting to do more of, any rate.
Both sides of my ancestors actually came from a little small village just out of Perth in Scotland. On my mother’s side it’s the Speedys, and [of] course on my father’s side it’s the Peacocks. The Speedys were probably a bit more well known round Perth than the Peacocks.
But it was intriguing – when my great-grandfather arrived here aged about sixteen, they didn’t go to Lyttleton [or] Auckland; they arrived in Wellington for some unknown reason which I don’t know, on the ‘Rajah’ in 1853. They were met by one of the Speedy clan, which is quite incidental because my mother was a Speedy. But they were met, and he originally was just shepherding and driving stock usually round the coast … sheep and stock round the coast of the Wairarapa, up the East Coast. So that was my great-grandfather. I’ve got no recollection of him; there was very little written about him. He died very young.
My grandfather, Hutton Richardson Peacock, he lived ‘til eighty-eight. He farmed various plots of land, some right up at Willow Flat, some at Meeanee. He actually got caught – the last big flood at Meeanee caught him and wiped him out. The Peacock brothers actually owned the store at Meeanee for a long time. But he was farming there; after he got flooded out at Meeanee he was based in Napier, and this lot of land came up for sale, Mangatarata Station, twenty-seven thousand acres was auctioned off in 1908. Any rate, Granddad bought the back two blocks which was about … oh, two thousand five hundred acres … and the front block of fifteen hundred [acres] was passed in. So J S McLeod came along and he said, “You’d better buy the front block, Hutt.” He said, “I haven’t got any money.” He said, “We’ll lend you the whole lot”; so therefore we ended up with four thousand acres, part of Mangatarata Station, in 1908. We had access at the Waipuk [Waipukurau] end which was only six miles from town, rather than eighteen or twenty going right round Farm Road to get to it. So he farmed that, and made a good job of it; and then it was subdivided as I said before, in 1958 into four blocks for the four sons. Granddad Peacock – his first wife, Tottie McLernon, died when Dad was two. He spent a lot of money – he took her over to America trying to get something for her cancer, but couldn’t.
So what year was that?
Well, I don’t know; let me think. I don’t know what year that was. I would’ve thought the early 1900s, about 1916 or something like that … round about then anyway; I’m just trying to work out from my father’s age. Any rate, his mother died when he was two; he had an aunt, Aunt Annie … I can’t forget [think of] her other name; but anyway, she came down and looked after them. And she was very strict, Dad said. They’d always had a tennis court prepared, and they wanted this tennis court. Then suddenly, when Dad was at Collegiate, probably when he was about fifteen or sixteen, he [Granddad] said, “I’ve got a surprise for you boys when you come home at Christmas time.” And they said, “Right, we’ve got the tennis court.” And he came up and he said, “I’m getting married again.” And he [had] met Myfanwy Clay. He was fifty-five and she was twenty-three, and she was a doctor’s daughter from Wellington. And they met at … on my mother’s side [she] was a Speedy … at the Speedy’s tennis court at Taniwha. Granddad Speedy never spoke to Granddad Peacock again – he thought he was a dirty old man.
Any rate, Granddad Peacock married his second wife, Aunty Myf … Myfanwy Clay, she was. I don’t know the exact year, but anyway he was fifty-five and she was twenty-three; and despite what everybody said they were very happily married. They had one son called Michael Peacock who was the fourth one in the family, whose block I later bought; he was at the front, Michael. But Dad said Aunty Myf, his stepmother, treated all four children equally well … very good mother, stepmother. I can always remember one time going up to stay with Aunty Myf as I used to call her, and she said, “Terry, I’m sick of Hutt, I’m sick …” I said, “What’s the matter, Aunty Myf?” She said, “We’ve just had an argument. I’ve just told him, ‘I’m sick of you Hutt, I’m sick of you – I’m going to run away.’ You know what he did?” I said, “No.” “He put the paper down and said, “Why run? I won’t chase you.” She said, “How do you argue with that?” [Chuckles] “And then he just went on reading the paper”, she said. [Chuckle] No, Aunty Myf was a very good mother to her stepsons there and treated them all well.
Michael Peacock only died about eight years ago; I was very fond of [him]; after his wife, June Peacock, died I used to meet him for lunch once a month – my wife was actually at that time in Summerset – and he wanted to know all about the Peacock clan and everything like that. Very good looking, Michael Peacock; all the young girls used to look out the window at Woodford and said, [say] “I wish I had a dad looked like that.” Yes. [Chuckles] But he was a very kind, gentle person, my Uncle Michael, yeah.
Terry, on behalf of the Knowledge Bank I would like to thank you very much for giving me your time today and telling me about your life. You’ve led a very interesting life, and we wish you all the very best for the future.
Thank you very much, Lyn.
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Format of the originalAudio recording
Interviewer: Lyn Sturm