Price, Peter Gregory Interview

Today is 25th October 2017. I’m interviewing Peter Price of Hastings, a retired clerk. Peter would you like to tell us something about your family in times gone by?

Yes. My great-grandfather was John James Price; he was born in Coopers Court [Cardiff] in Wales on 1st July [June] 1857. He was the first of three children of James Price to emigrate to New Zealand; he came to New Zealand in February 1880. Upon arrival [he] went to work with the Hunter family on their thirty-three-thousand acre sheep station in Porangahau, Central Hawke’s Bay. Now it happened that his cousin, Edward Arthur Price, also emigrated to New Zealand later in the year of 1880, and also worked for a little while for the Hunter family at Porangahau. The question arises, was there some common factor that drew these two people who had travelled to New Zealand quite independently of each other to Porangahau? There was a Frederick Henry Price who was a prominent farmer in Hawke’s Bay but he [there] was no common connection. Incidentally, this Frederick Henry Price had a son, Frederick Ashton Price, who came up and established a farm in Papatoetoe. It was at the end of the Price’s Road which was named after him.

Anyway, after two years John James Price returned to England in 1882 to marry his sweetheart, Huldah Frances Elizabeth Mitchell. She was known to John by her pet name, Fanny, as disclosed by a memorial card in 1892. She was born in Wolverley, Herefordshire in 1859. They got married in Kington in March of 1882 and then both came out to New Zealand later that same year.

Upon return to New Zealand he resumed work at [the] Hunter family sheep station in Porangahau but because of health conditions he needed to quit and they settled in Hastings. At the time there was the Athenaeum Club which provided a library service to the local residents and both John and Huldah worked for that organisation. Now that library was where the old police station was in Railway Road.

John and Huldah had three children – Charles James Price, born 27th August 1887, and he died on 24th August 1887, [incorrect date] so he didn’t live very long; John Owen Price, who was nick-named ‘Dummy’, ‘cause he was deaf and dumb; and he was the world champion box maker at that time; and Francis James Price … Frank … my father, born on 8th May 1892.

On 5th June 1892 John James Price died. At that time his son Owen was aged three, and Frank just aged twenty-eight days. The Daily Telegraph, June 7th 1892, reports: ‘Mr J J Price of the Athenaeum died on Sunday at two o’clock after a lingering illness, leaving a sorrowing widow and two little children, one only a few weeks old. The funeral took place today, Tuesday, at two o’clock. During the period that Mr and Mrs Price had been in charge, the number of subscribers had more than doubled. No more capable secretary or courteous and obliging custodian could be found and his loss will be felt by many besides his family.’

Huldah had a fine singing voice; she participated in local musical productions and church choirs. She gave singing lessons, did sewing and embroidery and continued doing library work with the Athenaeum Club. In 1901 the Mayor asked Huldah if she would become the librarian for the Hastings District Council, and in doing so the Council took over the library functions at the Athenaeum Club. Huldah also gave birth to another child, May Frances Price, on 3rd April 1899; but died three weeks later. The name of the father is not given.

Huldah died at the Napier Hospital on the 24th August, and the Hastings Standard paper reports on 24th August 1910. ‘Death. Price. At the Napier Hospital on August 24th 1910, Huldah Frances Elizabeth Price of Hastings, aged fifty-one years. The funeral will leave St Matthew’s Church, Hastings, tomorrow, Friday at two-thirty pm for the Hastings Cemetery. Friends kindly accept this invitation.’ Tomb and Grubb were the undertakers. The inscription on her headstone reads, ‘In memory of Huldah Frances Price, for many years public librarian in Hastings, and a member of St Matthew’s Choir. Died 24 August 1910.’ The cost of Huldah’s headstone was met by fellow members of St Matthew’s Church.

So in fact she must have been one of the first librarians?

The very first. And she was also the first choir mistress of St Matthew’s Church.


‘The obituary of Mrs Frances Huldah Price. The news of the death of Mrs Huldah Frances Elizabeth Price, public librarian at Hastings, who passed away at the Napier Hospital at four o’clock yesterday afternoon aged fifty-one, came as a shock to the Hastings community by whom the deceased lady was held in the highest esteem. Indeed, besides being generally respected, Mrs Price was held in sincere affection by everyone who had the pleasure of her acquaintance; and her public position as a librarian made that circle a very wide one through the district. She always took a keen interest in music, but more especially in singing, and no local choir was considered fully equipped without her sustaining contralto voice. She constantly appeared on the local concert platform in aid of any deserving cause, and in the old amateur operatic days she contributed materially to the success of the various works staged by the society. She took an active interest in church matters and was an enthusiastic member of the Anglican choir where her loss will be materially felt. Deceased was a native of Kingston [Kington], Hertfordshire [Herefordshire], Wales, and she arrived here twenty-eight years ago as a bride, the late Mr Price having gone home to marry her. She held the position of librarian for twenty-one years with the exception of a short interval, and when municipality took over the institution she held office as the public librarian, discharging her duties capably and with much tact. The deceased lady who had been complaining off and on for about a month, took to her room a fortnight ago; but last Monday it was deemed advisable to take her to the hospital where pneumonia superseded with fatal results. She leaves two grown up sons, and the deepest sympathy is expressed with them and with her sister, Mrs Locke of Dannevirke, in their bereavement. Her coffin will be taken tomorrow to the Anglican Church where a full choral service will be held, and a similar service will take place at the graveside.’

In the obituary it was mentioned that Huldah was survived by two grown up sons and her sister, Mrs Locke of Dannevirke. The parents of Huldah were Charles Mitchell, born in 1822, and Huldah Anne Preston, born in 1837, so this is where the name Huldah came from. Her sister, Mrs Locke of Dannevirke, was Ellen Mary Mitchell, born 1863 in Radnorthshire. She married William Henry Bersen Locke in Kington, Herefordshire in 1882. She came out to New Zealand in 1906 on the ship ‘Kumara’, accompanied by her son, Walter Preston Locke, born 1888. Ellen’s husband did not come to New Zealand, so may have died by that date.

Huldah Frances Mary Mitchell also had a brother, Charles Owen Preston Mitchell. He married Sarah Elizabeth Kirkland in Kington in 1911. [Date may be incorrect] They had one daughter, Huldah Anne Mitchell, born 1894; but she died in 1902 aged eight. The three of them are all buried in the same plot at Kington Public Cemetery.

John Owen Price, son of John James Price – born on 20th April 1889, was known affectionately as ‘Dummy’, because he was deaf and dumb. His nephew, Peter Gregory Price, said that he was a champion box maker, so he was very practical with his hands. He was called up for the army, but presumably declined because of his disabilities. Owen married firstly Alice Mary Berry on the 13th May 1918. She was born on the 2nd May 1895. They had two children – John Joseph Price born 17th December 1918, and Dorothy Elizabeth Price, born 17th September 1922; and you know her, she was Bill Growcott’s wife. [Chuckle] Small world isn’t it? She was Dorothy … Dot.

Gosh, that’s a while ago.

Yeah. They had the little shop by Windsor Park.

Alice died on the 13th April 1926, just six years after they got married, and the two children were aged seven and three. Owen married secondly Susan Jane McKeown – that’s an old Havelock family, the McKeowns – on the 7th October 1927. She was born 1881 and died 15th November 1958. Owen died under the name Owen John Price in Hastings on the 6th December.’

Now this is ‘John Joseph Price, son of Owen John Price – born in Hastings on the 17th December 1918. His mother, Alice, died when he was only seven. On the 6th January 1941 he married Fay Frances Clarkson at the Registry Office in Hastings. She was born on 20th January 1924, so was aged two weeks short of her seventeenth birthday. When they got married his name was recorded as John James Price. This was incorrect – it should have been John Joseph Price. On the 1st February 1941 John went off to war in Egypt. This meant that they had lived together as man and wife for just twenty-five days before he went off to war. John was away at the war for exactly three years and eight months.

‘I would like to place on record that John compiled two photo albums during the war which I have had the privilege of viewing, and been able to scan or photograph the contents.’ This is talking about my second cousin, Rodney Price, who compiled all this.

‘After John embarked for the war his wife, Fay, moved up to Auckland with her parents. At the time she was pregnant with John’s child, and she duly gave birth to a daughter Diann, born 5th September 1941 at Auckland. Again, the name of the father was wrongly recorded in the [chuckle] birth certificate as John James Price. John’s wife Fay subsequently married Gerald Alan Frank Wilby in 1952, and she died under the name of Fay Frances Wilby in 2012.’

So what happened to her husband?

John? He comes into the story again … [Chuckle]

Now, ‘Diann Price was born on 5th September 1941 when her father was away at the war; that’s John Price in Egypt. He was away for three years eight months, and her parents didn’t continue the marriage after he returned. Diann said she met her father, John Joseph Price, only once; that was when he called in and picked her up when she about eleven, and took her out for the day.’ That could have been 1952, not long before he died.

‘On the 22nd August 1959, Diann married Noman Henry Pratt at St John’s Church, Mt Roskill. He was born in Wales on the 15th June 1928. They had three children – Karen Rosina Pratt, born 23rd January 1961; Gregory John Pratt, born 16th September 1964; and Jennifer Fay Veerkamp, born 18th February 1973. Diann and Norman Pratt got divorced on the 30th May 1966.

‘In 1951 John Joseph Price married secondly, Joyce Daphne Sleeman, at the Presbyterian Church in Hastings. Joyce told me that when she met John, they were both working at Watties – he was foreman, and she was involved in putting in a new production line. She began working late at night on this project and John expressed concern at her going home late in the dark and offered to take her home. She thought she would be taken home in a car. She was doubled home [chuckle] on a bicycle. Anyhow, that is how they got to know each other and ended up getting married. John and Joyce had one child, David John Price, born 17th January 1952. John died in Hastings on 15th December 1952; that is, just a year after they got married. He had been suffering a medical condition at work … at Watties … and went home and died. He was buried at the RSA Section of the Hastings Cemetery.

‘In 1956 Joyce got remarried to Norman Wyrlie Astridge, and her son changed his name to John David [David John] Astridge by deed poll.’

So Norm Astridge worked for the Council?

Yeah, that’s right. I went to school with him. He had a sister, Fay, and … quite a crowd of them.

‘Norman Astridge died in Hastings on 14th April 2014, and the notice in [on] his death noted that his wife, Joyce, was still living. I made some enquiries and was introduced to Joyce over the phone, and then visited Joyce in Hastings on 7th September 2015. I also met her son, David John Astridge. It was a most enjoyable visit, and very productive with the information obtained, plus getting copies of key photos.

‘Then there was something very intriguing that Joyce revealed to me. When she married John Joseph Price she was completely unaware that he’d been previously married. Then one day a lady called [chuckle] upon her son, David, at his work, and said that she was his mother-in-law. From [chuckle] his place of work, the lady rang and spoke to Joyce; and among other things, said, “Doesn’t he have Johnny’s eyes?” Meaning John Joseph Price’s eyes. Joyce thought the lady must be ‘nutters’. How could she be a mother-in-law? Johnny had never been married before.

‘Joyce then found that there might have been a previous marriage, and that there was a daughter from that marriage, but everything had been hushed up. On one occasion, Diann, John’s daughter, had gone down to Hastings when someone had died – I’m guessing it was when John Joseph Price died in 1952, and Diann was aged eleven. Dorothy Elizabeth Growcott, née Price, was very abrupt with the little girl. It was like she didn’t want someone from the past turning up and laying claim to the estate. Dorothy’s husband, (Growcott), took her aside and apologised for the abrupt treatment. He said, “It’s all about money.” When I related this instance to Joyce, she said, “That was typical of Dorothy.”’ [Chuckle]

‘David John Astridge, born Price, and Diann Price are half brother and sister, but have never met; David is keen to meet his half sister. David has a son living in Auckland whom he visits from time to time, and this may provide the opportunity for them to get together. I hope I am instrumental in bringing about this union.’

Old Rodney, he’s certainly gone into it.

‘Dorothy Elizabeth Price, daughter of Owen John Price. Dorothy was born in Hastings on 17th September 1922. In 1941 she married William Henry Growcott, and they had four children – Judith Suzanne Growcott, born 1942, died 1942; William Ross Growcott, born 1943; Barry John Growcott, born 1944; and Pamela Claire Growcott, born 1946. Dorothy died 21st September 2004, and William Henry Growcott died 21st November 2009, in Hastings.

‘Francis James Price, son of John James Price – Francis James Price was born in Hastings on 8th May 1892. His father died when he was just twenty-eight days old. Frank was in the army during World War I; he went to war as a Private, departing on the SS ‘Arawa’ on 16th October 1914. His next of kin was listed as Owen John Price of Eastbourne Street, Hastings.’ His aunt, Alice Martha Otter, née Price, lived at Eastbourne Street on the corner of Warren Street, so possibly that could have been their contact address. ‘He was just ten days in Gallipoli when he suffered an injury. The following is a graphic description:

‘He was ten days in the firing line before he got a shock, as if he had been smitten to the ground by a sledge hammer. Although he felt no pain, he found himself ‘hors de combat’, and he crawled three hundred yards to the rear where he received first aid before being conveyed to the battleship. He was wounded about ten pm, in the darkness. He, like the rest, speak in glowing terms of the devotion of the stretcher bearers. “Not one”, says Private Price, “but many dozens that I see who deserve Victoria Crosses; yet they will never be mentioned. There are so many heroes in the Stretcher Bearer Corps that it would be impossible to particulise.” He said, “The Turks are fine fighters, and [as] far as his experience went, were on the whole, fair. But there were some, probably snipers, who were not under control and were merely out for a bag, who deliberately fired at and killed stretcher bearers who made good marks, with their broad white armbands.” He spoke highly of the organisation, medical and general, saying that the soldiers were well fed in the firing line, with two hot meals and a third of bully beef and biscuits each day, while they had hot tea three times a day.

‘Private Price was hit in the left shoulder by an expanding bullet which travelled halfway down his back before it came out leaving a hole one could put one’s fist into. The lungs and the vital parts were untouched, and he expects to be fit to return to the front in a few months. He returned to New Zealand on the ‘Willochra’, which was the first ship to return wounded soldiers. He arrived in Wellington on 15th July 1915, and spent the first few days getting some treatment in hospital in Wellington. Then he returned to Hastings [by] train on the 27th July 1915. As he was one of the first soldiers to be returned he was accorded a hero’s welcome. Mrs Ellingham travelled down to Waipawa and accompanied him for the remainder of the journey.’

And in the ‘Hastings Standard paper on July 26th 1915: Private Frank Price, who was wounded in the Dardanelles, and who arrived in Wellington on the ‘Willochra’, will arrive in Hastings tomorrow evening by express. The band will turn out, and a good welcome awaits him.’

Hastings Standard, 27th July 1915: ‘Private Frank Price who arrived in Hastings by the mail train this evening is to be given a fitting public reception. The Mayor and other prominent citizens will meet the train on the arrival, and a procession, headed by the town band, will form and march to the Pacific Hotel’ – you know, my father never told us any of this – ‘where speeches of welcome will be made. Mrs A Ellingham who had generously consented to care for the wounded soldier until he recovers from his wounds, will meet Private Price at Waipawa and accompany him to Hastings. We trust the public will rally round and greet the returned soldier in a befitting manner.’

‘Hastings Standard, 28th July 1915: Wounded Soldier Return – Hastings Welcomed Frank Price. Private Frank Price, who returned to Hastings last night, and who was severely wounded at the Dardanelles, must have felt very proud when he found that such a hearty home awaited him on his arrival. The whole of the population of Hastings must have turned out judging by the tremendous crowd present at the railway station to welcome him. The returned soldier, on stepping from the carriage, was greeted with an outburst of cheering, which was kept up until he reached the car that was in waiting for him. His Worship the Mayor, then extended a welcome to Private Price, [who]’ he said, “with many other brave New Zealanders had helped to uphold the dignity of the British Empire.” He trusted that the soldier they were welcoming that evening would soon be restored to convalescence; and who, in company with many other young men in this district, would shoulder arms and again return to fight.

‘Colonel Goring also addressed those present, and [in] a few remarks, congratulated Private Price on the safe return to the land of his birth. A procession was then formed, and headed by the town band, marched through the principal thoroughfares to the Pacific Hotel, followed by a large concourse of people who cheered all the way to the hotel. After receiving a hearty welcome by the Boy Scouts, the Mayoress pinned on the coat of the returned soldier, the Hastings Badge of Welcome.

‘Mr & Mrs Ellingham, with their usual thoughtfulness, had prepared an excellent dinner over which the Mayor presided. Complimentary speeches were made by the Mayor, Messrs E H Williams, Captain Oldham, Major Calhoun and LF Pledger. Private H Maxwell was also present. Private Price, in thanking them for the magnificent reception they had given him, referred especially to the great kindness given to him by Mr & Mrs Ellingham. He thought, as many others did, that when they left New Zealand they were going on a pleasure trip; but he could assure them after the experience that he had gone through that it was far from being fun. Even after so severe a [?], all those who had been wounded and had been where the shells and bullets were falling were only too anxious to return to the scene of battle. “It was a glorious experience, and worth more than half a man’s lifetime.” Another round of cheers was given for Private Price, and the gathering then dispensed.

‘Hastings Standard, August 18th 1915 – A Turkish dagger, a war trophy from the Dardanelles brought back by Private Price, is on view in Mr A Rosenberg’s window.’ Wonder where that is now?

Was Mr Rosenberg a jeweller, or something?

I don’t know what he was, but Rosenberg’s used to be in charge of the Newman’s Bus office at one stage.

‘In the news despatch about his return, it was mentioned that he was well-known in hockey and cricket circles.

‘On 14th December 1918, he went to war a second time, departing on the hospital ship ‘Maheno’. The war had in fact ended by that date, on the 11th November 1918, but he went as a Staff Sergeant for record duty in Egypt.’ Now we get to the interesting part. [Chuckle]

‘On 7th February 1917, he married Ida Jean Rapley in Wellington. Her pet name was Nene. She was born in Wellington on 11th June 1893.’ Now she was a Jewess, and they had a Jewish chappie picked out for her; and they eloped.’


Yeah. ‘They had eight children that survived, plus a couple that lived just a day or two – Francis James Rapley Price, born 1918; Klyta Eileen Price, born 15th September; Evan James Price, born 13th March 1923; Lyell Price, born 6th December 1924; Paul Price, born 25th March 1926; Peter Gregory Price, born 28th March 1928; K Lyell Price, born 15th June 1931; and Gay Huldah Price, born 22nd May 1933.’

So you were one of eight?

I was one of ten, actually, ‘cause two died, yeah. ‘The two children that lived a day or just a few days were Mary Price, who died on 20th September 1921, aged seven days; and Fay Price, born in 1925, who lived one day.

‘Francis James Rapley Price’ – this is my eldest brother. ‘Francis was born on 1st February, I think, 1918. He was in England in during World War II. He married Ivy Elizabeth Edith Susans during 1941 at Chippendale, Wiltshire. She was born 19th March 1919 at Lambeth, in London. They had three children – James Rapley Price, born 9th August 1942, in England; Ruth Alison Price, born 14th June 1944, in England; and Karen Rapley Price, born 6th June 1946, in New Zealand.’ And she’s married to Vernon Maultsaid – you probably know him.

‘Francis died on 15th March 1965 and is buried in the RSA Section of the Hastings Cemetery. Ivy died on 23rd December 1997 and is buried in the same plot.

Rodney’s saying, ‘In 1949 my father had a typist-secretary who went on a trip to England. He arranged for the purchase of a new Vauxhall Wyvern, which she could use while over there and then bring back to New Zealand. The car was unloaded at Napier, and Jack and Myra Price’ … I think that should be Nyree, ‘cause she worked at Baillie Motors; I’m sure that’s the same one … ‘went down to Napier to pick it up. While down there they visited Frank and Ivy Price.’

This is my eldest sister – ‘Klyta was born on 15th September 1919 in Wellington. Her name is pronounced Kleeta – K-l-e-e-t-a. One would [could] just about write a whole book about Klyta. In 1939 she firstly married Albert Nelson North’ … did you know him?


‘During that marriage she gave birth to the following children: Paula Margaret Evelyn North, born 1st September 1940; Norma Eileen North, born 1944’ – but she wasn’t a North. [Chuckle] ‘Robert Lyell Albert North, 5th August 1946; Raymon Derril North, born 1st March 1948; Richard Henry North, born 20th March 1951’ – and he wasn’t a North either. [Chuckle] ‘And then there’s Nigel Philip North, and Valerie Ann North.

‘Klyta had a liason with Tai Haraki Haraki, and they had a daughter, Tarita Jasmine Haraki, born 25th August 1963, and she was known as Jasmin.

‘In 1970 Klyta married, secondly, John Warahi Wallace; there were no children from this relationship.

‘In 1974 Klyta married Eric Henry Kenworthy. He was born 20th August 1909. When she married Kenworthy, I don’t know if Klyta had got divorced [chuckles] from John Warahi Wallace, or whether Wallace had died.’ I can’t even remember that one. Anyway … ‘Kenworthy was very good in helping to bring up Jasmin.

‘Albert Nelson North died in Hastings on 16th July 1991. Klyta Eileen Kenworthy, née Price, died in Napier on 16th October 1995. Eric Henry Kenworthy died at Omahanui Village, Napier, on 15th December 1998.

‘Snippet: Kenworthy, Eric Henry, Second World War Number 47543, on December 15th 1998 at Omahanui Village, Napier, aged eighty-nine. Dearly beloved husband of the late Klyta; loved stepfather of Norma, Robert, Raymond, Richard, Nigel, Valerie, Jasmin and the late Paula. Darling papa of Nadine. A funeral service to be held at St Patrick’s Church Napier, on Thursday 17th December at two pm, followed by private interment. Dunstall’s Funeral Services’.

And there’s a photo here of Paula Margaret Evelyn North; ‘she was born on 1st September in 1960 [1940], and married Colin Henry Ward. Paula died on 1st September 1993.’

Now there’s this one here of Norma, but she’s not Klyta’s; she was only a sidekick. Do you want her in too?

Yes. They all make a family.

Yeah. [Chuckle]

‘Norma Eileen North – The above photo is of Norma on a horse called ‘Halloween’ at the Waipukurau Showgrounds in August 1959. Norma was born in 1944. Whereas Klyta nursed her during the first eight months of her life, she was therefore [?thereafter?] brought up in the Rossiter family. It wasn’t until perhaps her teenage years that she learnt that Klyta was her birth mother. She was taken through to see Klyta when Klyta was sick in hospital, and the two of them got on like a house on fire. Norma married Stanislas Andriczk Predki; he was of Polish origin and became naturalised in 1964. In the marriage record, her name was recorded under the name of both Norma Eileen Rossiter, and Norma Eileen North.

‘Robert Lyell Albert North – Robert was born on 5th August 1946. He married Bronwyn Helen Hayes on 20th April 1964. She was born on 18th February 1947.

‘Raymon Derril North – Raymon was born on 1st March 1948. He married three times; he didn’t have any children. His three wives were Margaret Beatrice Aion Owen, born 1967 [1923] and died 9th July 1971; Diana Frances Lear he married in 1981 – she was born in 1946; and Margaret Janet Rose; she was born in 1946 and she died in 1993. Raymon died in Hastings on 25th June 2004.

‘Richard Henry North – Richard was born on 20th March 1951. He married Susan Atkins in 1971; she was born in 1953.

‘Nigel Philip North – Nigel was born in 1953. In 1995 he married Saya Helen Newton.

‘Valerie Ann North – Valerie was born on 7th November 1956. In 1973 she married David Michael Vesty.’ You’d know him, wouldn’t you? David Vesty?


And he’s a Chartered accountant in Hastings. They have since split up, because David got remarried in 1995.

‘And Tarita Jasmine Haraki – Jasmin was born on 25th August 1963 at McHardy Public Maternity Home, Napier. Her father was Tai Haraki Haraki, and the name of Tarita is a combination of Tai and Klyta. In 1984 she married Shaun Michael Gemmell. Jasmine worked at the Court in Napier, and was subsequently a bailiff for the Court in Perth.’ Quite a clever girl, that one.

She was obviously from Wairoa ..?

Yeah, the Gemmells are, yeah, they were.

‘Evan James Price – Evan James Price was born 31st March 1923 at Kensington Private Hospital, Wellington. He had a career in the forestry industry, at times, managing the plantation at Matakana Island near Tauranga; being the export manager for New Zealand Forest Products; and managing a forest company in Victoria, Australia. The Navy uniform photo is in respect of his serving in the HMNZS ‘Arbutus’. There’s a photo of his wedding – in 1946 he married Jean Lena Manttan. She was born 23rd September 1924. They had three children: Fern Jean Elena Price, 1st October 1947; Gregory Lyall Price, 12th August 1951; Klyta Suzanna Price, 22nd March 1956. Evan died suddenly while in Takanini, on [in] December 1984.’

Well the family’s spread far and wide …

You’re telling me! [Chuckle] There’s a few in there that shouldn’t be there, too. [Chuckle] This older sister of mine – you could write a book about her, fair go!

‘And Lyell Price was born on 6th December 1924. His pet name was ‘Bunny’. On 6th September 1931 he just curled up in his mother’s arms in Hastings, and went to sleep. He’d had double pneumonia.

‘Paul Price – Paul was born on 25th March 1926. He married Betty Brannigan.’ Do you know the Brannigans?

Yes, I do.

‘She was born on 7th April 1926. They had four children: Francis Baden Price, born 18th August 1949; Janet Betty Price, born 20th August 1950; and Gay Frances Price, born 19th September 1951; and John Cecil Price, born 9th September 1953.’ That’s a lovely relationship with those kids. ‘Paul Price died on 25th January 1969 in Hastings, and his wife, Betty, died on 16th November 2015 at Havelock North.

‘Hawke’s Bay Today, 18th and 19th November 2015 – Price, Betty (née Brannigan) – Passed away at Waiapu House on Monday November 16th 2015. Loved wife of the late Paul; dearly loved mother of Frank; Jan and Paul Simmonds; Gay and Arnold Anderson; and John. Friend of Shirley, Marie and Christine. Treasured grandmother of Marie, Natalie and Kyle; Paul and Angeline; Pip and Ant; Katrina (Wales); Reece and Kelly; Bernadette and Carl; Katherine and Graham. Special Gran of Philip, Olivia and Madeleine; Jack, Noah, Baxter, Osian and Dion’ (they’re in Wales); ‘and Zac and Liliy Special sister of Claire Ziegler and the late John Brannigan and Margaret Stevenson. The family appreciated all the love and care the Mum received at Waiapu House, especially over the last two weeks. The service to remember Betty will be held at St Columba’s Presbyterian Church, Napier Road Havelock North, on Friday 20th November 2015, at ten am. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Staff Fund at Waiapu House can be made at the service. Messages to the Price family c/- P O Box 8424. Terry Longley & Sons, Funeral Directors.’

‘Of the children, Francis (or Frank) lives in Australia, Janet lives in Napier, Gae lives in Havelock North, and John lives in New Plymouth.

‘It was with Janet’s husband, Phil, that’ … this is Rodney writing again … ‘that I walked along the Marine Parade in Napier and took a photo of that plaque about the wreck of the SS ‘Northumberland’. Phil has an interesting involvement in managing a barbershop quartet which performs on such occasions as the Art Deco Festivals in Napier. He didn’t attend Peter Price’s sixtieth wedding anniversary in November 2013 because his barbershop quartet were away competing in Hawaii.

‘Peter Gregory Price – Peter Gregory Price was born in’ … I was born in Wellington, not Hastings … ‘born in Wellington on 28th March 1928. Peter has been semi-blind most of his life, and more so in recent years. He has been active in swimming and running, and coaching swimming and running. On 7th November 1953 he married Cecily Margaret Doig, and she was born on 2nd May 1929. Peter and Cecily adopted two children – Anthony David Price, 29th April 1956, and Stephanie Robyn Price on 10th September 1958. On 8th November 2013 Peter and Cecily celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary in Hastings, and there was a large gathering of family members for the occasion. Cecily died on 31st July 2015.

‘Price, Cecily Margaret née Doig – Peter and family sincerely thank relatives and friends for the love and support of [on] the sad passing of Cecily. Our most grateful thanks for the food, baking, flowers, cards, letters, phone calls and visits. Many thanks to the management and staff of Gracelands for their care and kindness given to Cecily. Thank you to the Reverend Craig Kilgour, and Peter Bell and staff at Tong & Peryer. Please accept our humble thanks, as so many addresses are unknown.’

Was she related to Trevor Doig?

Yes – Trevor’s one of the younger brothers. [Chuckle] I’m my own grandpa, just about.

This is K Lyell Price – ‘K Lyell Price was born in Hastings on 5th June 1931, just after the earthquake. The letter ‘K’ is his actual name, He married Patricia Marie Steven at St Philip’s Anglican Church in Sydney on 22nd October 1956, and she was born in Ashford, New South Wales on 2nd May 1933. They had four children – Julie Patricia Price, born 19th August 1957; James Steven Price, born 6th August 1959; Bevan John Price, born 29th August 1961, and died on 4th December 2014; and John Llewellyn Price, born 17th February 1968. K, who at the time had come to be known as ‘Ken’, died in Campbelltown, New South Wales, on 11th June 2005.

‘Gay Huldah Price – Gay Huldah Price was born in Hastings on 22nd May 1933. In 1956 she married Luke Coral Brough’ – do you know old Luke?

Yeah, I knew … now this is interesting, because Gay then married …

Rowan, yeah.


Yeah. [Chuckle] Well, ‘Luke was born on the 30th January 1901. They had two children – John Francis Brough, born 6th December 1957; and Megan Brough, born 20th June 1960. Luke Brough died in Hastings on 19th June 1982. Gae remarried, Rowan Philip McNab on 24th February 1984. He was born on 8th August 1931.’ And there’s a photo of the weddings and that; and that’s all the Price history up ‘til there.

Isn’t that amazing?!


Now, we want to hear about you – what it was like growing up in a big family; what it was like going to school; what did you do; what sports … all those things, just off the cuff …

Right. Well, I grew up in a family of eight surviving children; the Depression was in full swing. Money was very short, but we never went without a meal, and I always say that my mum was just a brilliant organiser. She could make a meal out of nothing; I suppose most mothers in those days were the same.

I was born in Wellington; I was two and a half pounds. I lived the first eighteen months in a Karitane Home in Wellington. [They] never thought I was going to make it, and my mother said I always knew when she was walking up the corridor – my fingers would go, wanting to get out of the … they used to keep you in starched sheets in those days.

Yes, yes, yes.

Anyway, we shifted down to Hawke’s Bay when I was two and a half. And we shifted to a house in Havelock, and then we came back to live in Ellison Road in Hastings. We had a lot of fun living in a big family. Water fights were one of the famous things that [chuckle] we did. If any of the other kids picked on one of our family there was a retaliation.

My two older brothers – I thought they were God; they were so wonderful to me. I could swim at three years of age, because they used to chuck me from one to the other in the river, [chuckle] and I learnt to swim at a very early age. We were out at a picnic out at Black Bridge – my brothers would take me on their bikes, and my brother, Paul, next to me couldn’t swim. So [chuckle] he sees everyone else jump … in those days you could jump off the bridge … and he sees everyone else jumping of the bridge so he has a shot. Well – he jumps off the bridge, but he can’t swim! A Māori girl saw him and grabbed him, and pulled him to the side. But there was a lady and her family were there, and they got in their car, drove back to Hastings and told Mum and Dad that Paul was drowned. Mum was in bed with pleurisy; that wouldn‘t stop her. They got out there, and by the time they got out there, here he is playing rounders in the paddock. [Chuckle] Gee – Dad told that lady to get her information right! But anyway, we had a great time growing up.

So you would’ve gone to Parkvale ..?

I went to Parkvale School. And then I got [to] about Standard 4 I think, and they thought I was having a bit of difficulty, and they thought it might be too far for me, so they sent me to Central. And I don’t know why they thought that, because I was in the swimming team the first week I was there, and [chuckle] sport was just … I used to get a note on my report: “If he took as much interest [chuckle] in his studies as he does in sport, he’d be a brilliant teacher.” And one teacher told me one day that I’ll never amount to what my brother Paul did.” Because he was going to be dux of the school. And I said, “Well, he might be smart, but he can’t swim.” Sport was just my life.

Yes – because at some stage you must’ve found that you could run quite well?

Yeah. You know how I could run? With my two older brothers, who’d drag me by the arms and run me to school. [Chuckles] And I always reckoned that was why I could run.

So I joined the Heretaunga Swimming Club when I was nine, nearly ten. And I was there for many years, and I coached swimming for over twenty years, with the kids.

When you think of those very strong women that used to be down …

Ooh …

used to run the club …

Oh, you’re telling me – Mrs Lewis and Mrs [?Murdoch?].

I know – they were strong women.

Oh, they were strong women all right! I still have a big liason with some of the kids I taught to swim. They even bring their grandchildren round to see me, and they say, “Oh, that man taught me to swim.” They look at me … “That old fogey!” You can read their minds, you know. Did you know Heretaunga was the first club in New Zealand to start Learn to Swim?

No, I didn’t.

We started Learn to Swim, and then I said to Mac Mason who was the head coach at swimming – I said, “You know, the country kids are missing out on this.” So about half a dozen of us would bike out to Maraekakaho and teach the kids there; bike out to Haumoana and teach the kids there. It was just in my blood. You know, and people say, “Oh, we’ll pay you to come.” And I said, “No, no. I just enjoy it.” But that was my life with swimming.

And then I got into running, and that was a good kettle of fish, too. [Chuckle] Got to know some great people and that, running. We had a little fellow called Ralph Flint, and he was just barely over four foot. And we’d [chuckle] been running out at Longlands once, and it’d been raining like mad; and we come to this creek and he just goes [chuckle] to run across it, and he can’t swim! [Chuckles] So we had to haul him out. No, we had a lot of fun with the swimming; it’s a great sport.

There used to be an old runner here called Calvin Wright, and his dear old mother, right up until she was well in the eighties, she would go into Napier where the Napier-Hastings roadway was, and get in the bus and follow him home. I can remember going to a meeting at Calvin’s place, and she says, “I don’t touch this room!” [Chuckle] And you could see why [chuckle] … there was papers from one [end] of the place to the other, and so there was nothing touched. It brought a lot of boys, ‘specially young ones, it brought them out of themselves. There’s some young kids, they didn’t want to … just didn’t want to play football.

So are you still a member of the Heretaunga ..?


And what about the Hastings Harriers Club?

I left the Hastings Harrier Club, and then I started the Presbyterian Harrier Club. I’ve been away from the Hastings Harrier Club for ‘bout … oh, ‘bout twelve years. And there were so many kids in my bible class that loved running, and I said to the minister one day, “You know, I wouldn’t mind starting am Presbyterian Harrier Club.” I got hold of Bernie Flack – did you know Bernie?


And Ted Shepherd; we got together and we decided to start a club. And the first day we put a notice in the paper, and there was eight turned up from Hastings; then a car turned up with about seven or eight from Napier, so I said, “Right – we’ve got a club.” We started this club and it was wonderful. And the ministers from the church were interested; we’d go from a different church each Sunday, and have a run, and a lot of these kids, they’d never done sport in their life! And we’d get together and [chuckle] … just hilarious the things that come out, you know, the friendships. But it helped a lot of kids in getting their life together.

So Peter, you went to Hastings Boys’?

I went to Hastings Boy[s’], but I didn’t go there for long because Mum was having a little bit of a struggle with finances, and I had an opportunity of getting a job at the Post Office as a telegram boy. And that had a lot of hilarious things, and a lot of sad things, too, ‘cause we were taking telegrams ‘round to say that their son had been shot, or something – not the ones that were killed – old Harry Hill used to take those ‘round. You know, he got one of his own son, to come to … he was a lovely chap; he was like a father to us boys. We would do things like get girls’ bikes … girls from the phone exchange … put their bikes up on a hook [chuckles] and things like this, and he said, “I know what you boys are doing.” [Chuckles]

And so did you stay with the Post Office?

No. After about two years of biking round telegrams – goodness, you know, so I had a job in McLeod & Gardiner in the timber office.

Now where was their office and yard?

Their office – where Spotlight is now, it was in there. And they were just crazy … falling down … so after that I went to the Works; [freezing works] as a storeman at the Works. And I started in the office, and they found out I had a bit of storeman experience, so … I loved it in that job, I really loved it. You know I used to take home the night watchman’s money; my wife didn’t even know I had it in the house – not a soul knew. I could’ve been banged on the neck [head], going to work. But you just did it!

Was this Tomoana?

Tomoana. Yeah.

We still get together for the Swimming Club; they have little mini-reunions. There’s a big hundredth one coming up shortly, and I think I might be the oldest one there now. [Chuckle]

It’s only ten and a half years ‘til you get the telegram …

[Chuckle] Yes; I’ve already got one from the Queen, for our wedding anniversary, but unfortunately my dear late wife was not with it. It was just a complete … nothing, she didn’t … Everyone said to me, “She’s not too good today, is she?” And I said – I hadn’t noticed at the start, and I thought, ‘Yes. No, she’s not too good.’ But she just loved people; she was a real homemaker.

So then, from McLeod and Gardiner, then to Tomoana; when did you meet your wife?

I met my wife – oh, I’m sorry; after McLeod & Gardner’s I had a gap, so I was working at Yates Groceries … Yates Cash Stores. My wife worked over the road at Bunkers. [Background noise] And these girls used to come in to get a half a pound of butter to butter their scones. And we’d cut the butter in half, scoop it out, put bacon rind, chillies, [chuckle]

In the middle of it …

… and prune stones, [chuckle] and put it back again. [Chuckle] They got their own back on me; they knew the girl in the bakehouse next door, so they got some icing and they put it all over my bike, [chuckles] and it’d set – it was the middle of summer and it’d set like a rock. But that was just fun.

So that’s where you met her, was it?

That’s right, yeah. And we were engaged nearly two years; been married sixty-two years.

And did you go to any dances?

Only the Harrier dances, ‘cause my wife – she was brought up pretty strict. They were real Presbyterian people, and they allowed anything that belonged to the church. But I think I broke the way for the rest of the family, ‘cause I, you know, took her to a couple of Harrier dances.

So you were married for sixty-two ..?

Sixty-two years.

And you didn’t have any children, but you adopted …

Adopted two. My son’s gone a bit wayward; we have nothing to do with him.

Are they still around?

She’s in Wellington, and she’s got the sweetest nature you could ever wish to meet in a child. She had a lovely relation[ship] with my wife, and a different relationship with me. And we ring on the phone – we talk for an hour, hour and a half – she’s just a wonderful girl. It’s a pity she had cervical cancer so she couldn’t have children, but she would’ve made a lovely mother, a grandmother.

So, the first time I knew you when you were working was at Percy Gibson’s …

Yeah. That’s why I got the job at the Works, from being a storeman. And Gibson – that was a great job, working with Percy. He was an old Lancashire man, and he was a real card, you know. And his wife was hit on the head with a brick in the earthquake, and any little tremor or anything he’d ring her on the phone and he’d say [uses Lancashire accent], “Hello Mum, it’s Percy here.” [Chuckle] “D’you want me to come home? You say the word, m’dear, and I’ll be comin’”. [Chuckles] But he was a lovely, lovely old gentleman, and you know, he had stuff in that shop that no one in New Zealand had. Yeah – now crescents … you couldn’t buy a wheel for a crescent; he’d have them.

But he knew where they were, too.

Yeah, he’d put up his hands in the air like this for a couple of seconds, then he’d go and get them. But oh, he was a real hard shot, old Percy.

So how long did you work at the Works then, as a storeman?

Oh, must’ve been ‘bout fourteen or fifteen years; and then they were closing down, so I got out before they closed down.

Michael Sanders, who was a manager …

He was a lovely chap.

I interviewed him.

Did you ever [inter]view Ronnie Knight?


And his wife – she was like a queen, that lady; a gentle, sweet lady.

There were only certain places you could work …

That’s right.

the city wasn’t as big those days.

No, no.

So when you left Tomoana, what did you do?

I went to Wattie’s for about six weeks, then I got a job at the Power Board as a storeman/clerk there. And I finished my days there.

So how long have you been retired?

Thirty years.

Thirty years! Have you?

[Chuckle] Thirty years in March … be thirty years. And the first thing I was going to do was clean my shed, and you know, I haven’t done it yet. My wife always said – she got her wish – she said, “I’m going to die first, ‘cause I’m not cleaning it!” [Chuckles]

There’s no hurry, is there?

No; I do sometimes get a few things out … might still need that, so I put that back.

So any other things that you were involved in?

Oh, I was a foundation member of the Choral Society; I was President for six years.

This is with which church?

No, this was the Hastings Choral Society. They decided that we were going to form … we had a couple of singers with ‘The Messiah’. ‘Cause I thought, ‘I’ve given up sport; I’ll go and help my wife, now.’ And she [had] a beautiful voice, and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll go along with her.’ I could sing like two marbles in a tin. [Chuckle] I went along to support them; they called for a meeting and they couldn’t get anyone to be president. And no one was coming forward, and I said, “Well look, I’ll tell you what – I’ll have a shot; I warn you now, I don’t know anything at all about running music.” But I soon picked it up. And Ron Shakespeare … d’you know Ron?


He helped me out a lot, old Ronnie boy. [Chuckle]

Yeah, he was quite a handsome looking …

Yeah. He always had a nice car.

So anyway, interesting that you should take on a job like that, but I suppose if you delegate the work …

What used to annoy me more is, when you’ve had a meeting and you’ve delegated someone to do something, you get to the meeting and they haven’t done it. I said, “Now why didn’t you ring me?” And my wife could’ve handled it – she was brilliant; if she couldn’t’ve handled it, she’d’ve rung someone else on the committee to get them to do it. But one was – we were borrowing rostrums from the schools, ‘cause we didn’t have our own rostrums in those days – and Girls’ High School were wonderful at helping us, but they hadn’t contacted them. And the concert was on the Saturday; we had the meeting on the Friday night, and the girl says, “Oh, I forgot.” I said, “You what?” [Chuckle] I just calmed down; I did my ‘nana, so I rang one of the teachers I knew at the high school and she said, “Look, I’ve got a key; I can take you down, you can get them out.” But we shouldn’t had to’ve done that – we were doing that two hours before we had the concert, we were still dragging the stuff in.

So you retired totally from the Choral Society?

Yeah, I have now, because my eyes are …

Yes. So when did your eyesight really fail then?

I really think it started when I was at school. Because being a premature baby, the specialist said anything could happen. And I used to get the strap nearly every day from this one teacher, ‘cause I couldn’t see the blackboard. And I said to her, “Can I please sit in the front?” “No. That’s where you’re sitting, and where I look at you.” Ooh she was an old battleaxe; she wouldn’t get away with it now. She would not get away with it. But anyway … Actually it really packed up the day I retired. My wife bought me a small bike; but I had a bike, and she bought me this little bike. And I went to get on it, and I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t see very well.’ So I thought. ‘I’d better go round and see the specialist.’ And they had … what was his name?

John [?Lockford?]

Yeah, John Lockford … lovely chap … love John; love him. Pick him up walnuts from over there every year; he made walnut bread.

I just want to finish this off; you obviously cope very well with your impaired vision?

Yeah; I’ve taught myself … trained myself.

And I notice that even in spite of not being able to see very well, with those spectacles you’re able to read very close …

I’ve got a gem of a chap, Tim Eagle. He is just the answer to my prayer. I broke my glasses; I go water jogging, and I’d come out and I didn’t see the car door open, and I smashed them. And lucky that the glass stuff it didn’t go into my eye, it went straight on the concrete. And so I had to go down there and get something done, and I got Tim Eagle. And he brought another pair of glasses; you know, I can even see the small print on the TV, which I hadn’t … two months ago I couldn’t go near it. ‘Cause this eye’s completely gone, so he just made this magnifying one just for reading, and …

Well, you cope very well. So thank you very much, Peter, for …

That’s all right.

sharing the story of your family. It is a big family.

They were all big families mostly, in those days.

And it was a hard time.

Yeah. My mum was going to work at Wattie’s to try and make ends meet. When I was working … no, I was at school, that’s right … and I said to her, “You know, Mum, this is not right. You shouldn’t be …” She had bad varicose veins on her legs, and I said, “I’ll go and get a job.” “Oh, I don’t want you to do that.” Well, I wasn’t the brightest pupil in the school.

But I mean, some people just take longer to develop; everyone has skills.

Yeah. But I’ve got people skill, which a lot of people haven’t got, and I can make friends with anyone.

Well look, that’s wonderful, and as I said, thanks for sharing …

That’s all right.

the life and times of your family.

I should imagine – what we did when we went to the Shows years ago, Dad used to own the old Tin … we had this Tin Lizzie thing; parked it under a willow tree down at the Showgrounds; put our big hamper down – Mum had been up all hours making sandwiches and different things; and then bottles of drink in the creek; leave it there. Us kids’d all go off; knew to come back at twelve o’clock. Not a soul would ever touch them. Lots of families were the same, and it wouldn’t enter your head to touch someone else’s … No, but it was a great time.

Okay, well look, thank you for that, Peter.

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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