Petersen, Eric & Anne Interview

Recording Eric Petersen from Havelock North on 5th May 2016. Eric is going to record and tell us about his life.

Eric Petersen born, 21st August ’34 in Hastings. Lived at 505 Selwood Road which is now Windsor Avenue. Went to Parkvale Primary School, then to Napier Boys’ High by bus. The reason for going to Napier Boys’ High was because my brother had taken the agricultural course there and so I went on the bus with him.

I played for the 1st XV for two years and represented the school also at athletics.

Started work for Firestone tyre distributors on the 4th December 1950 at a wage rate of £2/6/8d a week. Worked for Firestone for twenty five years and became the manager of the retail branch which was the second biggest tyre retailer in New Zealand. I was there for seven years, then left about the same time as a lot of other chaps for the reason that Firestone policies were getting a bit hard to work with. And the same people went back into the tyre business for general tyres, who had the Bandag retreading process for truck tyres. We all went back about the same time. And the retreading process had been brought into New Zealand by Russell Pettigrew who had started in the accounting business when he bought three trucks from my father, and had the contracts for the sawn timber from McLeod & Gardner’s MIll at Pohokura on the Taupo road.

While going to primary school, I had to milk three to five cows night and morning for about three years, separated the milk and left the cream at the gate for the Heretaunga Dairy company to collect, then push biked back home two mile from the bottom end of Selwood Road then caught the 7:45 bus to Napier.

After leaving school joined the Haumoana Rugby club at which led me to meeting my wife of many years. And I made the Hawke’s Bay junior reps as a captain, then played for seven years for Hastings High School Old Boys. And while I made the Hastings sub-union rep team each year, never made the Hawke’s Bay team.

After finishing playing Rugby, I started deer stalking more seriously. And the venison, the feral venison was starting to be exported and a lot of money was being made by the carting, and butchering the beasts. I built a cooler room at the back of the garage at Havelock North and started buying deer for Consolidated Traders who were exporters to Germany. Export lasted ’til health regulations forced by hygienic procedures to close the selling of wild game.

I’d kept up my interest in Rugby, serving on the Hastings Sub-union and the Hawke’s Bay Union, and being appointed to the Manager of the Hawke’s Bay team. During this period, the Hawke’s Bay players, through cutting and selling fireword, raised enough money to send the team to Australia to play three games. We played Queensland, New South Wales, and New South Wales country.

After managing General tyres for about seven years they decided they would sell the franchise. And while all was going well, it was a time when all sorts of prices and types and makes of tyres were being offered. So deciding the volatile market was not for me, I had to find something else. About this time a rural delivery mail contract became available. And this became my next employment project.

How many children did you have then?

We had four children. Two boys and two girls, who all still live around Hastings or the surrounding districts.

And I interrupted you with the mail.

I was doubtful at the start as to what would become a very … it became a very enjoyable, rewarding job and most satisfying during my working life that I’ve ever had.

Where was your first run?

Clients all appreciated everything you did for them, and there was no trouble with the account collection unlike some of the other occupations I had. Although it was mainly a mail delivery, it was also a paper delivery and a freight service. The freight side of the business increased to such an extent that some days I had to take a trailer and handle the bulk freight. I had to take four wheeler motor bikes to Whittakers for servicing so that I could pick them up at night, have them at Whittakers for eight in the morning, pick them up at lunch time have them back to the cocky by that evening. It saved the farmer spending the day in town waiting for the service of his bike.

I was doing something like 60,000 km a year, and I had five different vehicles during the ten years that I had the run. The run went from Hastings to Puketapu Post Office, and then up the Dartmoor Road to the Waihau Road, from the Waihau Road out to the Patoka store and Post Office as it was then, and then down the Henley and Hururangi Roads and back out to the Puketitiri Road and back home. When I first started the paper was coming out about half past four at night so it was nine or ten o’clock at night before I got home. Then when it started to come out in the morning it was a whole lot better.

Much better. Did Anne used to get up and get your breakfast for you?

Well, she had tea at home when I …


… and she usually had a couple of gins on the counter too when I got in at night, Erica.

Oh good! [Chuckles] Yes … yes.

So did any of the children go with you on some days, in the holidays?

Oh, yes yes, a lot of them … in fact my eldest grandson did the run for me for a week or two when I wanted to go on holiday. I think he was the youngest rural delivery person in New Zealand at the time. But he had the okay by the people that run it – a chap David Bond actually ran it, and he okayed him to do the job.

And did you stop and have cups of tea and that with the farmers or farmer’s wives?

Frequently, frequently, frequently … it was hard to get the job done without being offered a cup of tea. And you had to be … not rude, but politely turn it down, otherwise you’d have stopped at everybody’s place. Yeah, it was great. And I as I say it was the most enjoyable job I had in my working life.

Which was the biggest station that you would have visited on that run?

I went to Mangatutu – I serviced Mangatutu with freight and that, and that was probably the biggest at the time, although Patoka Station, although it’s not that big now, but at one stage Patoka was about thirty or forty thousand acres, but it’s down in size now. But it’d still be five thousand acres, Patoka Station, which I serviced also.

And how did you communicate with your customers as it were? Would you ring up at night, you know, or daytime at all, or not? If they wanted you to pick up something from somewhere.

They’d ring me.

They’d ring you.

That’s a typical two days.

Yes. He is showing me a typical two days of Monday and Tuesday where he’s logged in his book about twenty on one page and twenty on the other page, and all the local names of people who wanted something and were happy for him to bring it out. So did you charge them different … different things?

That was the freight. If I bought it that was the cost of the article.

Right. So logged it all into your diary every day?

Yeah, every day, yeah.

We will say that in another part of this Knowledge Bank, we will put some of those photos of those pages if you’re agreeable.

Yeah, no, that’s good as gold, yeah.

So can you tell us a few funny incidents that happened?

There was quite a few funny incidents, but you know – some of them aren’t relatable, not fit for publication you might say, Erica.


Anne: How about your granddaughter? She said “grandad, I want to drive”. Hannah. And she shot off like anything – she’s still got her foot hard on the accelerator – they were coming down the hill – I’d have loved to have been there, it would have been so funny.

She didn’t end up in the drain at the bottom then?

No. Oh no.

And did you – would you go duck shooting on those places and things or go deer hunting, deer stalking?

Yeah, oh year – back of Mangatutu and that … lot of deer there. I used to go pig hunting and deer stalking on Mangatutu, yeah.

Now we’re talking about what years – from what year?

Well I had the run from ’92 / ’93 right through to 2003.

Yes. And did you take over from somebody who’d been doing it for years before?

I took over from Anne Brown who had been doing it for, oh, four or five years I think. And the last day was the 20th of the 8th 2002/2003 and it was the day before my 69th birthday … 2003.

And you and Anne have been married, I think 60 years in August, isn’t it?

60 years in August, yes.

Did you used to go on any of the mail runs at all Anne?

Anne: Yes I did used to go. Yes, I loved it too.

And did you make him a thermos or tea or anything to take?

Eric: You didn’t need it. [Chuckle]

Anne: It didn’t take that long, it didn’t seem that … a lot of times he was a bit late getting in for dinner, but I always made sure I had something …

For him.


And in your day to day, would you be home then, erratically different times?

Eric: Yes, but not that much, you know, you might be half an hour earlier or half an hour later of a night, but you know … When the paper started coming out at … the morning, but I didn’t get away from here ’til lunchtime because of the freight that I had to pick up and that. And they still had their paper by early afternoon up the road there, and I’d be home by oh, half past 5, 6 o’clock then.

That’s pretty good.

Oh no, it was good, yeah.

And did you deliver bread as well?

Bread, milk, everything. I used to buy the groceries for a lot of people. I did all the …

Anne: Chemists. You used to go to the chemists …

Eric: Chemist – oh yeah. If you go to any number of those pages, you’ll see that. That’s the last day.

Oh, ‘That’s It!’ Eric has put on the last day, ‘That’s It!’ He thinks he’s going to escape but he’s got another sheet of paper here – what’s this?

That’s when I finished.

When he finished the run he got an acknowledgement: [Reading] Mail Service Contract 5348 for the Napier-Puketapu-Waihau Rural Delivery. I’m pleased to advise that the assignment of the above mentioned Mail Service Contract to Glen Sutherland is approved and effective from the 21st August 2003. Now did you take him to get him orientated to the trip?

For a week, yes.

For a week – and did you have your own vehicle? Did he have his own vehicle?

No, I sold the vehicle with …

With the the mail run.

Yeah, yeah.

Did you carry dogs – you know, sheep dogs, and anybody into the Vet or anything like that?

Yes yes.

And did you see pigs and deer – wild pigs and deer – on your trips at all?

Yes – a couple nights, deer ran across road in front of me, yes. And then I’ve seen them just past Sacred Hill Winery up there, up by a pine plantation up there, there was a deer standing on the edge of the pine plantation one day. Next day when I took the rifle he wasn’t there of course.

Oh, he’d gone. [Chuckle] When you dropped off the mail bag – and I’m from a history of having mail bags dropped off – did you toot your horn so that people knew you’d been, or you just ..?

No – no, I didn’t have mail bags, I just had piece mail.

Piece mail – right. So at the back of your van did you have a slot for each person’s mail so you could sort it before you went or you just knew?

I sorted it – it was all sorted at the post office in Hastings and that – I sorted it out and put it all in slots and then put it in the box in order of delivery.

You’d have to do that.

Oh, yes, yes.

And did they provide you at that time with overalls or clothing or anything? Special ..?

No no, you could buy shirts and that from them, New Zealand Post. I don’t think I ever bought them. But they were just t-shirts and that with New Zealand Post on them.

Yes. And tell me a little bit about one of the main stations and then one of the smaller stations. About perhaps … how many houses were on it or not.

Mangatutu would probably be the biggest station and I think it’d have six houses for the shepherds and that, and I think at the moment they’ve got a manager and four other shepherds on the place at Mangatutu now. And they’ve got – I think it’s a nine stand shearing shed there and it’s just on seven thousand acres. It’s a farm that was developed originally … it was owned by the Bell Estate who owned several blocks up there. They owned Te Kowhai, Don Juan, Hawkestone and Mangatutu. And in about early 1940s Sir Lew Harris bought it off the Bell family and they had it ’til early 1990s, and Peter Grieve bought it. But the Harris’ had spent a lot of money on it and developed it to a large extent, and they made it into virtually a model farm. They rode it right to the back, watered … they got springs right up the top of the farm and they – water reticulation right down through the farm. And there’s no gateways between paddocks, it’s all cattle stops so there’s no gates to open if you’re driving out the back. Oh, yeah – no, it’s incredible. Plus there’s a lot of pine planted for forestry up there and that’s where we cut the firewood for the Hawkes’ Bay Rugby team to go to Australia. Yeah, that’s what we did.

Would you bring it in in the van?

No, we had trucks. Richard Hunt who was the captain of the Hawkes’ Bay [team] at that stage owned HaulageTransport so we had one of his trucks, and somebody else’s – I’m trying to think who the other person was – and we carted it in, dropped it all at my place at Bridge Pa, and at the weekend the boys from the team would come out and saw it up and sold it and raised the money as I say to go to Australia.

Did you strike bad weather where you didn’t manage to get home at all?


Any storms or anything in that period of time that ..?

No, no, I don’t think.

You didn’t get snowed in or anything?

No, no – oh, there was snow – it wasn’t quite high enough to get much snow. I did have snow once or twice but it hardly stayed on the road. I wasn’t up high enough. I used to go through to Ball’s Clearing which is up past Puketitiri on a Saturday to deliver the paper up there because the paper didn’t run on a Saturday – the chap that normally did up to Puketitiri didn’t run on a Saturday so I used to take the paper up there on a Saturday.

Not long after starting to do the run, dairy farming was getting a bit of a good hearing and several farms were converted to dairying while I was doing the run up there. And they of course had a lot of supplies and freight to cart up to them ’cause they seemed to be a lot more intensive than the sheep and cattle farming was. I was just trying to think … quickly count how many farms converted to dairying – twelve, on that run. There was three down the Waihau Road, one down the Price Cockburn Road and two down the Hawkestone Road including Dave Bone, you know, from F L Bone’s – Dave Bone converted his to dairying at that time. And then three down the Hendley Hurangi Roads.

Any wine growing … grape growing? It all started then?

I used to service Sacred Hill Winery, and in fact I use to cart all their – they had at that stage they were running the restaurant up there, and I use to take all the fresh vegetables and supplies up for the restaurant. And several times I had a … I’d make a trip early in the morning to take supplies up there because I had a truckload …

As a separate trip?

Yeah, yeah – and then I’d come back and start my run. Yeah, oh no, they were – and they were very good to me too, the Sacred Hill Winery. I’m still on their list as a family member.

Well that’s good. So you built up a rapport between all these farmers, and farmer’s wives and children.

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

Did you have any accidents, crashes or anything like that in the time you were doing it?

The only accident I had, I bought a new truck – when I say truck, a small, you know, utility – it was a 1500cwt truck, and the front wheel fell off one day just as I was pulling out from the letterbox. And apparently it was … had only done a couple thousand kms at this stage, and the garage who’d – I think the truck may have been in accident before I bought it, although I bought it brand new – and the gargage accepted it was their fault, that they hadn’t tighten up the steering rod.

Oh, that’s shocking.

Yeah, yeah. Oh, the wheel didn’t fall off actually, it just came adrift, but the steering arm fell off. Yeah. So that was interesting. But I think that was the only accident I had – I don’t think I – no, I didn’t have an accident the whole time did I? No.

And you didn’t run over a sheep or anything? Or a cow? [Chuckle]

No, no, never hit a cow, no. Well in the earlier days … like I can remember when my father was carting the timber from Pohokura and there was roadmen at – there was one at Eskdale and then one a bit further on at Te Pohue and there was one on the other side going down into the Mohaka River. And they all lived in little huts on the side of the road and they had wheelbarrows and shovels, and they used to keep the drains clear and fill the potholes in on the road. And then every so often the grader’d go over – about once every twelve months.

And – what years would that be … about?

Oh, that was the early forties, you know. He was carting that timber during the 2nd World War. I think he sold out to – sold it to Russell Pettigrew in about 1946.

So you didn’t go as a soldier at all overseas?

No. No, I wasn’t never old enough. I was only eleven when the war was declared.

And so did any of your family go?

No, no. I had an uncle that went.

Anne: Teddy.

Teddy – yeah, Uncle Teddy, that’s what I was going to say – had an uncle that went, yeah.

What about you Anne, did any of your family go?

Anne: Yeah, I had – my mother had two brothers that went. Uncle Ted and Uncle Shock [Jock?], yeah – they did, and they came home.

So either of your fathers, did they have any – I’m bringing it because it’s war time we’re talking about – did any of them go the IMR, the Independent Mounted Rifles or anything like that?

No but my father’s truck were all what they called the LOC – Lines of Communication – and they were all painted up khaki, and those were the trucks that he was carting timber from Pohokura with. And [chuckle] they were khaki. So after the war I had to do a paint job on them, painted them back into the colours of his fleet.

Yes, there was a school at Waihau which has since been closed. There’s a school at Patoka which is quite a big school nowadays and I’m not so sure that they haven’t got a dental clinic there even now. You know how they had the dental clinics at schools? I think they’ve got one of those there now. And there’s a school at Puketitiri of course.

And did local people use the schools for … meeting halls and things like that, and swimming pools?

At Patoka there’s a hall there, a proper hall there at Patoka. That’s the only – oh, there was a hall at Puketitiri but it burnt down a few years ago, as did the hotel. They shifted the licence from the hotel at Puketitiri to Turangi. That was where the … in those days licences was hard to come by and they had to be looked after pretty carefully. And the one from Puketitiri went to Turangi, to the new hotel at Turangi, I know that, and … shortly after the Puketitiri Hotel burnt down. As did the hall.

At Christmas?

Christmas time was quite a pleasant time on the run. We used to get sheep given to us and … oh, wines and that, yeah, but I think one year we got four sheep in total, you know – four lambs.

Oh, lovely.

You know – yeah. Yeah, it was.

Very good to feed the family.

Yeah, yeah. And then when I stopped doing the run, they put on a show for me at the Patoka Hall and they gave me all sorts of … presents.

Anne: Great turnout.

Oh, it was a great turnout. And I … I got – oh, can’t remember now, but you know … gifts galore.

Anne: Chairs – outside chairs.

Outside chairs and all that. Farmlands gave me thermos flasks, and a chilly bag, and you know … it … something as I say – you were appreciated …

Appreciated everything.

… what you did for them – they did. You know, and you didn’t mind helping them because they appreciated it. And as I say, there was never any trouble collecting accounts, you know – I’d get my accounts out and put it in the letter box and next day the cheque’d be in the mailbox for you, you know, when you put the next lot of mail in. I had a list of my aged creditors, you know – a list like that of all the people I dealt with, and there’s nobody over 30 days.

That’s marvellous.

It was. I don’t …

Over a ten year … ten year time, that’s very good.

I don’t think … I didn’t have a write off.

So the highest point of that, you brought up your family doing that, you were happy in your job and then did you go and do another job after that?

No, well I was 69.

You retired, didn’t have to.

Anne got very sick. We had a place – at that stage we had a place at Bridge Pa and we decided we’d sell that and we went to live in Havelock, and then from Havelock down here.

Do you think that’s a good place to end Eric?

Well. Yes, you know.

Eric and Anne – thank you very much, it’s great. They might call you back for some other part.

That’s all right.

Interviewing Anne Petersen who was married in 1956 to her husband Eric Petersen, and she has come back to tell us about her time as a telegragh lady working for the Hastings Post Office. They both live in Hastings, and they have give us a couple of photographs for the archives, and also Eric’s day by day work book. And Anne has given us a photograph of herself with the car that she drove last of all delivering telegrams to the outer area of Hastings and Havelock North. So over to you Anne. Just start 1969 – you went to the Post Office I think, and you’d deliver the telegrams. So what would you do – you’d put on your grey dress and you’d go to work?

Voice: What hours did you work?

I worked from about eight ’til four.

And you had your shoes provided as well?

As well. Yes, they were.

Voice: And were you delivering all that time? Or did you have a lot of down time when you were waiting for telegrams?

I would have time, yes, ’cause they use to spread them out, write them out on the sheet that I’d have and when they’d finished with that, they’d say “there you are Anna”, and they’d be in envelopes and I’d take them to deliver them.

Voice: So you took them as a batch?

Yes I would. Sometimes when the Works were closed and they were going to open again, I’d probably have fourteen on a pad that I’d have to enter myself – be fourteen telegrams, and then I’d go off with them.

Voice: But normally how many would have been on the list?

Oh, there’d be about fourteen or fifteen.

Voice: That’s the busy time. But would it be the same on an ordinary day?

No, no it would be less. It was always a busy time when the Works sent out notices – ‘no work’ or ‘work’.

And is that the Tomoana Works? The meat works.

Eric: There was two works, there was Whakatu and Tomana.

Anne: Tomoana – Tomoana and Whakatu but … I didn’t go to those places. They were from the head people there saying come back to work.

Voice: You mean to the employees, to say it’s time to start work.

Yeah, time to start work, yes.

Voice: And they dealt with … the employers, the works themselves, dealt with the Post Office and you just did the delivery to the works.

Yes, yes.

Voice: Now you were telling us before about delivering … having to leave messages at doorways. Would you like ..? If people weren’t home.

If nobody was home, I would leave a little white card and the name of the people and where it was from and I would put it up on the door. And you really were never allowed to leave any kind of telegram in the letterbox. You’d have to take it back, and you might have to take it out three times in that one day.

Oh, so you’d have to go back there again and again?

Yes you would yes, not all the time, but you did have to.

And there was somebody home and the note had gone off the door, would you assume that they’d gone to pick it up themselves?

Well no because … no. The staff would tell me at you know, where I was working – they’d say “oh Anna they’ve been for this one or that”, and I’d say, “good”, ’cause I don’t have to deliver it out again. Yes.

And the ones that you did put in the post box – in their mailboxes – were not the Works ones?

No, no. And a lot of people sent telegrams in those days and I got to know – yes, they live there – she works here – you got to know them after all those years.

Did Eric actually help you with any of the deliveries?


Voice: There would be … some of them would be your neighbours would they not? If you were living in Flaxmere and delivering to the same area?

Yes, well mostly in the lower part of Flaxmere, you know, where the men … most of them worked at the Works, and when there was no work they weren’t doing anything, and then they got called back.

Voice: I’m probably sidetracking here but – what about weddings and things? Did you deliver to church halls and things like that, for weddings?

No, not so much, but to the houses – to the places where the bride might be living or the … yes, I’d have a few of those.

Did they have a different cover for their envelopes, for that?

No, no just the same.

‘Cause later on I think they were quite ornamental. So the Works ones were just plain white envelopes, were they?

Yeah, just ordinary, yeah.

And were the letters stuck on to the … message stuck onto it – on the telegram?

Eric: Yeah, yes. Paper with the letters on it I think.

So it’d come off on a ticker …

Eric: Yeah, ticker tape, yeah.

Ticker tape.

Voice: And did you know what was in all the telegrams?

Eric: No.

Voice: So you wouldn’t know that you were giving a death notice to someone or anything like that?

Anne: Oh, I would be told. I would be told before – in the lorry there was a man. He might say “Anna this one here’s to tell them that their brother’s passed away”. And so, you know, I would know. But they wouldn’t know ’til I’d gone and they opened it. But … yes, I – that was always a little bit sad.

Voice: We tend to think of telegrams as happy, but there must have been a lot the other way.

Yes. Yes.

And so if you were driving about 100 kilometres a day in those cars – which cars did you have first, a Morris Minor was it?

I had three Minis.

Eric: Minis. Mini Minors, yeah.

Three Minis, and then I had the other one – I can’t remember what that …

Eric: Cortina, was it?

Voice: The one in the photo.

Anne: Yeah, I had that little one.

And did you have – were you responsible for filling it up with petrol and everything?

Yes, I had to go … and I had to keep it clean. Yes, had to clean it and put petrol in … check the oil. If I had a problem I’d ask the Post Office men.

Eric: The service stations used to do that in those days, they had people on the pump …

Anne: They did.

Eric: … people checking your oil and that.

And fill it up with water. Everything.

Anne: But any time there was something I wasn’t happy with I would let them know … the manager know … because even if it was nothing really, I used to cover myself by …

Telling him, yes.

Voice: Well you’d have a designated service station you went to get petrol?

Yes, yeah, we had the same one.

Eric: In those days it was all under contract, like – the service stations would tender for the supply of fuel. Yeah, same with … how I know, I was in the tyre service for so long, and we used to do the same thing – the supply of tyres for the government, yeah.

That makes a big difference.

Voice: So what did you do when you weren’t delivering?

Anne: I would just sit – they had a stand there, you know, with a seat thing. We’d just sit there – I would do nothing else inside. I was solely to get the telegrams and deliver them.

Did you do knitting or something while you were waiting?

Oh, no! [Laughter] I’d like to – I nearly brought it today. No.

So would you go in and – so how many would be working in the Post Office at that time in the telegraph part perhaps?

Where the telegrams came through we had an area about that long …

[Speaking together] The length of the room, yes.

We had about four people receiving the telegrams.

Eric: It was big business in those days.

Anne: It was. And they would be reading it – like they’d say “Oh, telegram for Anne Petersen” and they’d say what it was about. ‘Cause they were – it was being referred to them so they – that’s how … ’cause I used to listen to them sometimes. Well you couldn’t help it because they were sitting there.

No. Were they taking it down over the ticker tape – was that talking as well as ..?

They were … the telegram was coming … say it was coming from Wellington – they’d say “this is so-and-so, a street in Wellington”, and they would repeat it to make sure they got it right.

Voice: So it was transferred by voice, and then those people would type it onto …

Yes, that’s right.

Voice: Oh, okay, onto the strips that you stuck on the form.

That’s right.

That’s what I’d be interested a bit in what those machines looked like. Was it an ordinary typewriter do you think? On the tapes, or not?

No. They were big things that each one had.

And were they quite quick typing it?

Oh, yes, because they’d been there for quite some time.

Voice: And they were typists.

Yeah. And when you got the hang of it I suppose it was much easier.

You didn’t get called upon to make their cups of tea or something for them?

No – there was one lady that was always sort of busy and seemed a bit shy to get a cup of tea, so I’d say “I’ll get you a cup of tea, I’m going to have one”.

Voice: And you were by car, and there were people who biked. Would you often end up sitting – both sitting waiting at the same time?

Yes, that could happen.

Sounds as though you did sit around quite a bit – at times?

Oh, no. Oh, well there might have been times, but I was fairly busy.

Voice: So how many trips out would you make?

How many telegrams at a time?

Voice: Well you said you did up to fourteen at a time.

Yeah, that’d be fourteen, but then …

Voice: Five times a day, or you only did three trips, or – how long?

Oh, no, I’d be in and out.

Eric: She was on the road most of the day.

Did she wave to you as she went past Eric? [Chuckles]

Eric: I can’t remember.

I remember one day I was in Flaxmere …

Voice: Depends what he was up to at the time.

… and I had my radio going loud, and next thing I looked up and here’s something flashing round, and I thought ‘oh, I don’t know who that is’. So I kept going, and next thing they pulled in front of me and it’s the cops. [Laughter]

Oh, were you speeding?

Eric: Yeah, she was quite quick.

And I said “no.” And he said “you know you were going fast.” And I said “oh, not me”. [Laughter] Anyway, chatted away and he said “Well you work for the government and I do too, so on your way.” [Laughter]

You’d be a bit more careful after that for a while.

Oh, they were pretty good though, you know. And too, touch wood, I never got a ticket for all the years I drove cars, you know.

Oh, good.

Voice: Only pulled up the once.

Eric: Yeah, got stopped, yeah – no ticket.

And then I had my own car and – it stopped, and Eric and … one of us got it going and then – they said “now go like hell and don’t stop it”. So anyway I got stopped that day too, and I said “Look” I said “well my husband … it was flat, and he told me to get in it and go like hell”. He said “Oh, off you go.” [Laughter]

That’s in your own car.

Eric: It had a flat battery I think, and I …

Voice: Oh, and you’re wanting to charge the battery.

Eric: Well I’d got it going, and I said “keep going,” you know – I didn’t mean to go that fast.

Past the hospital.

So who would deliver them after four o’clock then?


Nobody – they’d have to wait ’til the next day.

Yeah, they had to wait ’til the next day.

Did the postman actually take any of the telegrams then?


‘Cause in Masterton, I remember that the postman actually did in Masterton – in the 1940s that would be – the postman delivered the telegrams sometimes – on foot. You know, the postie used to walk? Or sometimes have a bike.

Eric: Never had as far to go in those days though.

Anne: And we opened on Saturday morning, nine ’til twelve.

Voice: And you worked that time as well?

Yes, I did, yeah.

Voice: Every Saturday? Or did you take turns at Saturdays?

No, I worked on a Saturday morning.

So at that stage from 1969 to ’86 you were the only woman driving the car and delivering the telegrams.


So it would be interesting to talk to Russell.

Eric: Russell Anderson, yes.

Anne: I haven’t seen him but I make a point of – Russell worked with me.

Russell Anderson, and he was on the bike.


Yes, we’re going to follow up on him.

Yes, I will.

‘Cause that’ll add to it.

Eric: And he lived in Windsor Avenue … which is now Windsor Avenue, it was Selwood Road in those days. He lived in Windsor Avenue too, and he lived virtually opposite where I was … used to live in Windsor Avenue. So I haven’t shifted far Erica [laughter] – it’s just around the corner.

Anne: If I had a lot of telegrams – they came out usually ’bout half past three, four o’clock – I’d get this big list of them and I’d have to take them, and then when I’d come back the staff would have gone home – the rest of the staff.

Oh. Did you have a key to get in to put them back in if there was any left or any brought back?

Yes, yeah.

Eric: Never got overtime though, Erica.

No, you didn’t get overtime – no.

Anne: And I went up and down the stairs – oh, I don’t know how many times a day and oh, the St Johns man was there. And I was saying “oh, this’ll be the death of me, I’ve been up here so many times.” And he said “Anna”, he said “you keep walking, ’cause” he said “it’s good exercise.” [Laughter]

So it was situated upstairs?


That room, where they came in. Down below – were the counters down below for people to drop in a telegram they wanted sent, or something?

Oh, yes I suppose they could, yes, I suppose so.

In the Post Office, ’cause you would go into the Post Office.


Eric: Yes, that’s right, yeah, yeah – they’d … there was a slide there for the telegrams and that.


Eric: And phone boxes too, you used to go into them and say you wanted to ring Waipawa or Waipuk or Dannevirke and that – you’d go in and say “I want to ring such-and-such a number in Waipuk”, and they’d put the call through. And then they’d say “your call’s waiting in box 1 or 2 Mr Petersen”, and then you’d go in and answer.

Was it separate building and separate stairs to go up, or part of the Post Office?

Eric: No it was part of the Post Office and Savings Bank too.

Voice: Well I don’t know – we used to go in – that way was the banking bit and this way was the postal delivery bit.

Eric: Yes, yes.

Anne: And out the back where I was they’d have all these men – staff working putting …

Voice: Sorting them.

Yes, sorting them, and putting them in the … and if there was a new street that I was not really aware of, they would always tell me. I’d go through and I’d say “Oh, whereabouts is this street – I really don’t know”, and they would look straight away – they’d been there a long time, and they’d tell me where to go.

Voice: Now can you still remember where all the streets are?

Eric: No.

Anne: Oh – you be quiet, the lady’s asking me. [Laughter] Well most of them, most of them, yes.

So you wouldn’t get lost like we do sometimes – I do sometimes.

Can you explain a bit about when your shoes wore out?

Well, if the backs went down, or you got a bit one-sided, you’d just go up to the manager, ’cause there was one above everyone, and say “my shoes have had it”. And he’d say “Oh, well then, here you are”, and he’d give me a bit of paper to purchase a pair from Hannahs.

Hannahs in Hastings? And where did your dresses come from?

Well I think they … I was just trying to think about that before … I think you ordered them through them.

Through the Post Office. And your coats?


Did you have a hat?


And no gloves or anything for the cold weather?

Oh, I would have had gloves of my own.

Yeah it wasn’t part of your uniform?


‘Cause the banking uniform now that my daughter in law had was quite … she had raincoat as well as woolly coat – this was when she was working for National Bank.

Can you tell us that story … ’cause I love that story about taking that telegram into that man?

In Lowe Street. Well, the guy that I worked for – he knew where it was going, and I said “Oh, I don’t know about this”. He said “that’s your job Anna – that’s your job”. So I go round there and there’s all people … mostly dark people standing there. And I got the right number so I got out and they were all looking at me. And I said “Oh, I’ve got a telegram here for Mr So-and-so”, and they said “I’ll give it to him – I’ll give it to him”. I said “I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed to – I have to hand it to him myself, and he’s got to sign for it.” So anyway, that was all right, and he said “Well he’s in his bed – in there, in the bed”. [Chuckle] Okay. So I go through, and I said “Mr So-and-so” I said “I’ve got a telegram for you, and I couldn’t give it to anyone else, ’cause that’s the rules”. And anyway, so I turned to go out, and I thought ‘any minute now I’ll get a bop on the head.’ [Chuckles] But they were so helpful, they really were, but I was so nervous. And you know, really, the guy that gives you out the telegrams – I said “Oh, I can’t do this”. He said “Anna – that’s your job”. [Chuckle]

Did they actually generally call you Anna, all of them?

Oh, they … yeah. One used to call me Annie, but mostly Anna.

Do you call her Anna, or Anne?

Eric: Anne.

‘Cause that is your name.

Anne: Yes.

Eric: Oh, I call her lots of names [laughter] but usually Anne, you know.

Anne: Yes.

And the boys on bikes would be college boys who would work after they’d been to school?

They were young men, like Russell – he worked full time. And then we’d get somebody after school that would come in and like, ride from three to five, or three thirty or something, four thirty, whatever.

Voice: Just to help out at the end of the day.


Voice: Was there other women?

Well yes there was. Stephanie Reeves I think, but there was a lady that had the job before me.

Of taking the telegrams …

She had the same job, but there was only I think one other lady and – or it might have been a couple to start with, and then they sort of left and got married and that.

What about Christmas time – did they have a bonus or anyting for Post Office workers, or anything like that?

No, no – but I always remember the Christmas with this horrible boss, the head one. I reckon he used to pick on me, he thought he was smart. Anyway, I couldn’t stand him but I was polite. Anyway, we had a Christmas party once, and … here he is, half liquored up, and he was saying “Oh, come on Anna”. And I thought – yes, I could’ve swore … you know …

You wished Eric was there to look after you.

Eric: No, I didn’t get invited to the Christmas …

Oh, so you didn’t take partners to the Christmas things?

Eric: Just the one upstairs, you know, yeah.

Anne: I think it was like … the Albert Hotel, or couple of hotels …

Eric: Oh, you went … no, you went to the RSA Club I think.

And no partners? You weren’t allowed to take Eric?

It was just the staff … a staff one.

And what about the children? Did they have a children’s Christmas party for the staff’s children?


Nothing like that?

The Heretaunga Club did – used to.

Eric: Yeah. They always did.

Voice: Right, now when we were chatting before you told me that you were amongst the first to move into Flaxmere. Can you go over that again Eric?

Eric: Yeah. Well they had what they called a ‘Parade of Homes’. All the builders, you know, built a home down there, and we bought one of those. And our builder was – or the builder that built our house – was Fred Phipps. I think he’s still even building houses round Hastings. It was a nice house. And then we were there for a short while, or a while, and then I bought a block of land out at Bridge Pa which we later built on, and shifted out there. But we were in Flaxmere Avenue for – oh, I suppose twelve …

How many people would have been – or how many houses perhaps, or people, would have been there at that stage?

At that stage?

And what year approximately?

They were all virtually contained in one block, you know, from Omahu Road, but not in the same way, to Flaxmere out to Chatham Road.

Would there be twenty houses, or fifty?

Oh, somewhere in between there.

Voice: And the school – was the school there?

[All speaking together]

Eric: The school – no, the school wasn’t there then, no, Flaxmere School.

Voice: Where did the children go to school?

Anne: The youngest one went to … Pakowhai Road – Frimley.

Eric: Yeah, Frimley, yeah.

Anne: She went there.

Voice: Yeah, I know, but I would have thought Twyford School was closer.

Vicki went to … Marie, where did they go to school?

Eric: Well they – Marie went to Hastings Girls’ High.


Voice: But as a primary school?

Eric: Percy was at Hastings Boys’ High and then he – then of course he left there. Peter went to Hastings Boys’ High too. All from Flaxmere.

Anne: That’s right.

Did they come in on their bikes? [Speaking together]

Voice: As for primary school, they went to Frimley.

Eric: How did they go to school, Anne? Did they catch a bus?

Anne: The bus, I think.

Voice: Oh, okay – so the children were bussed from Flaxmere.

Eric & Anne: Yes.

And over a period of time, how long would you have been at Flaxmere before you moved out towards Bridge Pa?

Voice: Ten to twelve years.

And which part now would you rather live in if you weren’t in the Village?

Eric: Out at Havelock. We shifted from Havelock to the Village.

Anne: Havelock was all right – I did like Bridge Pa. We never had neighbours for twenty seven years.

Eric: Oh, yes, that was the best – we had land out there, you know. It was excellent.

But then I got sick, so when I got sick we had to put it on the market. Yes.

Eric: We built a house in Havelock, yeah.

The Village is lovely, I like it.

Thank you vey much on behalf of the Knowledge Bank, and we’re going to catch up with Russell Anderson.

Yes, I’ll be in touch with Russell.

And he’ll add a bit about … on the bike, and meter reader. Yes – and we’ll tell him Anne sent us. [Chuckle]

“Oh, yes, I know Anne,” he’ll say. Yeah – no, I’ll talk to him.

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Interviewer:  Erica Tenquist

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