Rodney Guthrie Goodrick & Judith Ann Goodrick Interview

Today is the 30th of June 2016. I’m interviewing Rodney and Judith Goodrick of Havelock North on the life and times of their families.  Rodney, would you like to start off by telling me something about your family, where they came from and so forth?

Yeah, well the Goodricks sold Springhill in 1919 and bought Cornwood, which is in Lawn Road, Mangateretere. The house still exists, and was sold in early 204 [2004] after being owned by the grandsons of Charles Francis Goodrick – Rodney and the late Winston Goodrick.  At Cornwood they had a herd of dairy cows which was milked by my father and my grandfather I believe, and Grandad won the Hawke’s Bay A & P Society Pastoral Cup and a medal for the Reserve Champion Dairy Cow in 1932.

What breed would that have been?

I think Jersey in those days.  And Grandad bred a Southdown Stud as well, which was taken over by my father I believe.

Grandad always wore black lace up boots and his waistcoat and a gold chain, which is now held by … presumably me, but I can’t seem to find it!  [Chuckle] He died at the age of eighty in 1953. He had family of Ernest Charles Goodrick, Winifred Mary Goodrick and Cyril Goodrick – yeah, I think there was three of them in that family, I believe.

My father, he milked cows for a while and he died after … in those days they had blood transfusions, they didn’t give the blood to the blood bank, they had to go to the person involved.  And he’d been giving blood to a person, and he came home and had a blood clot and died at aged forty-four. So, that left my mother sort of looking after two children and …

You and Winston?

Yeah, and we were only eleven or twelve in those days, I think it was. And so she leased the farm out to George Gray and he carried on milking cows there.  And then we went away to school – Napier High School of course – and studied agriculture, and from there I left school and went and worked on a farm at Crownthorpe for about four or five years.

What years would you have been at Napier Boys’ then? Who was headmaster when you were there?

That was Henderson.

Okay – I was at Napier Boys’ but I was obviously a bit ahead of you.

Yeah.  So that was where I ended up, and from there I went to Crownthorpe and worked on a sheep and cattle farm there of about four hundred and fifty acres I think it was.

And whose farm was that?

That was Geoff Martin.  And of course all those properties now are subdivided into smaller blocks – they’re not real farms any more, so … yeah.  And then after that I came home and worked for my uncles on the Farndon Farm, that’s now owned by Brownriggs I believe.

Were those the Guthries?

Yeah, they sold it to …

Judith:  Just been sold hasn’t it?

Rodney:  Yeah.

That’s where the Guthrie name comes in.

Yeah.  They sold it to Lew Harris I believe, in those days, and then progressed back here to Lawn Road.  When we got married we lived in the cottage of … 206 was it?

Judith:  Mmm, just across the road from our house. Winston was in the …

Rodney:  Yeah, 206.  205 was the old homestead.

Okay, at this point then you have met Judith, and so if we just pause for a minute and Judith can tell us where her people came from.  Just a broad brush, that’s all.

Judith:  Well I was born in Gisborne. My maiden name was Clare.  My father was Arthur Samuel Clare, and my mother was Patricia Olive.  I think Dad’s parents came from … his mum was a Sullivan. She was from – I think it was Scotland.

So you went to school in Gisborne?  [Speaking together]

I went to school in Gisborne, in Te Hapara.  We moved around a few places – Dad was a policeman in Gisborne, and he was transferred to Hastings in my first year of high school, so I’ve been here ever since then.  So I’ve got a brother, Richard – I’m a twin, and he’s in Blenheim at the moment. He’s married, no children.

So your father was a policeman here – your surname was Clare. C-l-a-r-e?

Yeah.  And he left the Police. He was a plumber by trade before the Police, and then he left the Police – I don’t know what year.  And then he went back to plumbing … had his business when he … before he died. He died at fifty-five.  It’s over twenty-five years ago.  And Mum lived ‘til seventy-five I think. She died in – I know the date ‘cause we were overseas – 2004.

Yes.  And do you have any children?  

Yes, we’ve got two, boy and a girl, both in Hastings.

And what do they do?

Michelle’s an accountant, or she’s got to do her AC papers, but she is an accountant. And Andrew’s a computer technician. Not sure of his … got a special name or not.

Well how come he hasn’t encouraged you two to become computer nerds?

Yeah, they do, but we don’t want one.  At least if it broke down we’d have someone to fix it.

So your father would have been in the Police here when Sergeant Adams was in Hastings?

The name rings a bell, but …

So you have your two children, and here you are supporting Rodney in all his escapades.  Do you have any special interests?

Yes, I paint, I’m an artist.

Is that one of yours?

Yes, that was chap when we were in Turkey. That’s three years ago. We did a farm-to-farm tour, and it was a sheep farmer.

That’s amazing – it’s like a photo.

Okay, thank you. It’s an oil. Rodney really likes it.  So that’s not mine, but that one is, I’ve got a few – I’ve been painting for over thirty years … oh – yeah, it’s thirty-two years I think, while Rodney plays golf – both got our …

Rodney:  Yes, he looks like my …

Judith:  Yeah, my granddaughter looks like him. [Chuckle] I don’t think there’s any relation there though.  [Chuckle]

Okay, well now we have you two married, and we have a boy and a girl who are well established in Hastings …

And they’ve got children.

Yes – we’ll pick up on the grandchildren later. We’ll come back now to – you finished cows, and you and Winston were growing crops?

Rodney:  Yeah, we were growing crops, mainly for Wattie’s.  It started with probably asparagus, yeah – ‘course that’s very labour intensive and people don’t like picking it on holidays and all that, so [chuckle] that got the axe after a while. And then we started to go into onions and we grew them for a number of years, very successfully too. We were probably … there was probably only two or three onion growers in Hawke’s Bay then.

Three.  There were three – you, Emersons and – oh, no – Ron Flowers.

Ron Flowers came into it …

He started later.

Then Emerson came into it, and yeah, we supplied the local market, and ‘course Ron Flowers exported a lot.  But it was pretty well controlled in those day, and you know, we were getting ten, twenty and up to thirty dollars a bag in those days, and I can remember getting forty dollars once in Wanganui. But as soon as the big growers like Bostock and all them came on the market, there became surplus onions and the price just plummeted.  And about that time – I think the last paddock we grew – Winston had a heart attack, and of course he died.  And it’s – you know you can’t do all that by yourself, so I decided to get out of onions then. But we grew beans, green and butter beans, and of course peaches.

You’ve still got that Tatua Block?

No, that’s all been pulled out now. I put it back into plums and for a number of years we harvested [chuckle] plums.

Judith:  We did it all ourselves, didn’t we?

Rodney:  You know – a few of the neighbours and that used to go down there and pick ‘em – we had an old packhouse in the shed there – no, it wasn’t an old packhouse, but it was an old grader – and we just supplied the local market – that was all right. But age catches up, and so I pulled all that out and it’s all leased to Mr Apple now.  And the cottage down there is where we used to live before we built this place here, of course.

So after Winston died – yeah, sold the back block of where I’m living now, to – it was Montana, and they put it all in grapes.  But that was very uneven property down there. The sand, and there was shingle and – I mean you’d grow a crop and half of it shrivelled up, and the other half would be the same.

I used to do contract work for Eric Nelson and of course his paddocks were like that, because it was riverbed once. But it was amazing what it would grow.

Yeah, it was. You had to have the irrigation on it quite a bit.


So that was sold, and I subdivided the present block I’ve got. That’s subdivided into two fifteen acre blocks and it’s farmed as one now, of course, just with corn for McCain’s, and maybe the odd pea crop. Runs about two hundred head of sheep through the winter.

Cornwood down the road, was sold to Mr Apple ’cause it was leased to them – it was all in apples then anyway.

How big was that?

That was fifteen acres – boil that down to hectares is …

Six hectares.

Six hectares … round about there maybe. And it had a house on it, and they subdivided that off and that was the old Cornwood homestead.  And that actually caught fire one night, and it destroyed the sheds – half of it – and the fire got up in the roof of the people who were in it – well, the people who owned it – were still asleep.

Judith:  They didn’t know.

Rodney:  When the next door neighbour got up to go to the toilet – he had a two-storeyed place – about four o’clock in the morning, he saw it all alight, so he rang the fire brigade up and I think the fire brigade woke the people up in it – still asleep. So, somebody reckoned that [chuckle] Winston was still a ghost down there.

Oh, I see – you think he might have been having a sly smoke, [chuckle] or having a lager. [Chuckle]

Yeah, so all that’s all been rebuilt down there now. But it was quite badly damaged.

So you know, Winston and I did a few things outside farming. We built Warren Street behind – you know where Clare had his electricity shop?  Straight behind there there was a guy we knew had a house, and he wanted to demolish it. So three of us got together and we decided we’d demolish it, which we did, and build an industrial building on it. So we got the plans out and in between milking cows and doing the farm chores we …   This guy was a builder – he actually helped us and told us what to do, and all that.  So we built an industrial building behind Graham Clare’s, and it’s still there to this day and being utilised.  We constructed it on the site and made all the steel work up on the site by employing people. It was certainly one of the wettest years picked to build it there and it’s a swamp underneath it, all that in Warren Street, just pugged …

There’s a lot of areas like that.

Yeah – little springs coming up out of the ground, so it was a bit of a challenge, but we got there in the end.

So that was – I actually sold my share in that to build this house here so … and Winston did other things with his. The other guy – he carried on building. That was just a sidestep from farming.

Were there any other things you did?

Well, yeah at this stage I can’t remember, but probably the odd thing, nothing as big as that, and I wouldn’t go back to do another one quite frankly.

Golf has always been an interest of yours hasn’t it? You’re still golfing?

Yeah, I’m still golfing today.

And you play at – where?

At the Hawke’s Bay Golf Club, which was the Flaxmere Golf Club. So I started playing golf probably when I was ‘bout thirty – no, twenty-five … ‘bout twenty-five – and I met Judith out there actually. She was the caterer at the Golf Club.

Well, that’s very convenient, to marry a caterer.

Judith:  Well no, it was …

Rodney:   It was. [Chuckle]

Judith:  No, it was just – a girlfriend and I … they were looking for someone and we just … it was just toasted sandwiches and sausages because they didn’t have anything, and it was fun on a Saturday. We both worked and on Saturday … Sunday that’s what we did to earn some extra money, it was fun.

And do you play golf too?  

No, I tried.  But my Mum and Dad played golf out there, and that’s where I met Rodney.

Yes, I used to play golf but I didn’t like it. [Chuckle]

Rodney:  Some people are not very good and others get into it straight away – you soon sort yourself out there.

Golf you know, you are playing with yourself aren’t you?

[Chuckle] Yeah, it is really, it’s a one man game. Yeah, so keeps me fit and met a few people, because you don’t meet a lot of people round the farm much.

Well, you socialise don’t you, and that’s really quite important.

Yeah, I hope to be going for a few years yet.

Yes, well there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

If you can’t walk you just get a cart. [Chuckle]

I know, well Jim Newbigin helps me – he also does interviewing.  Jim’s at a stage now where he’s got to use a cart.

Yeah – one guy pointed out to me the other day – he was – he’d just turned sixty-five, and he said “it’s quite funny – I’m the youngest one in the group of four every time we play”.  Sixty-five. [Chuckle]  So we’re actually living a bit longer I think, and playing golf a bit longer.

And so you’re carrying on with the cropping, and obviously – you still do your own work don’t you? Still got your tractors and so forth?

Yeah.  Oh well, I get contractors in to do a lot of the work now, yeah.  So it’s just a matter of doing something with the land and make a little bit out of it. I don’t take it too seriously but it does always – farming always monopolises your life.

One thing you mentioned earlier when we started, and that was the Lawn. Now I’ve heard bits of it over the years – would you like to tell me about the Lawn? What was the Lawn?

Well, the Lawn was an old house just over the road from me, and it was occupied by William Nelson, was it?

Was this the Cambridge house?

Yeah, and you can still see where the Lawn was ’cause there’s one, two, three oak trees … right across there, and that’s where the original Lawn was.  And – so in my days all I knew about the Lawn was that it was haunted, for the fact that whoever lived in it at the time tipped his wife down the stairs and killed her, and then put her in the …

Judith:  In the well.

Rodney:  In the well.  [Chuckle]

Judith:  Well that’s the story.

Rodney:  So all these people that used to drink in the Clive Hotel used to hear stories about that.   And for a bit of entertainment when the pub closed, they used to get on their horses and ride down to the Lawn at night and sit outside and see if they could …

Judith:  Inside.

Rodney:  … see the ghost.  And they reckoned they could hear the piano playing, and the doors opening and shutting, and sometimes they just took off in fright and galloped their horses back down to where …

Well see, that story I haven’t heard.  But I’ve heard about the ghost, but I haven’t heard of the people coming down from the pub and hearing the piano playing.  Yes I do remember, that old house must have gone in the fifties or …

Judith:  They chopped it in half, remember the story?

Rodney:  Yes, chopped in half and pulled across the river, over to Coops’.

Judith:  To get rid of the ghost, go over water, and that became the Coops’.

Rodney:   So it was pulled by horses across this area here, straight across the river.  And that was to get … I think it was traction engine, or horses anyway, and that was supposed to get rid of the ghost, so – ended up at Coops’.

And that was the base of their homestead that was burnt down some years ago?


So there’s the story – it’s quite a story.

And I think part of the Ridge where Dave is – Dave Cox over there in the Cambridge house – I think there might be a bit of that old place in there somewhere. Built by James Cambridge. So, yeah – that’s a story in itself.

Judith:  And that’s where Lawn Road is named after – The Lawn.

Cambridges had quite a lot of land here too, did they?

Rodney:  Well they had similar block to what we had, yeah. That was sold to Doug Agnew on this side of the road where we are anyway, and yeah, the other side went to – well there’ve been several people in there – Cockburns, Huttons.

Was that Athol?

Athol Hutton.

And so now, grandchildren?

Judith:  Yes, my daughter’s got two girls, Michaela and Chloe.  Michaela Stewart – she’s just turned nine and Chloe’s six.  And she’s married to Aaron Livingston.  And my son has got two boys with a partner and Dominic’s ten and Spencer’s seven. And they’re both in Hawke’s Bay.

It’s interesting – your surname Judith, Clare – I guess you probably asked Graham Clare?

No, they used to live down the road from us before I was married. I lived in Napier Road and they lived in Napier Road, and our mail used to get …  No relation at all, but I knew Marie because she was an artist.

It’s not a common name – Clare. Obviously they came from the Country Clare in Ireland or something strange like that?

No, no, my grandmother was a Sullivan, but no – she married Grandad, he was from here.

Rodney:  Yeah – my mother was – she was a Guthrie, and she had – I think she was the only daughter and I think there was four sons – four sons and they had three boys, and none of those boys have married and so there’s no Guthries left [?to have kids?]

And Gladys in Havelock, she didn’t ..?  

She was a great aunt – she never married, she never had any children.

No, and yet Guthries historically were here from day one in Hawke’s Bay.

Yeah, they were, yeah.

So Gordon Guthrie …

Laurence Guthrie, Keith Guthrie, Godfrey Guthrie and Noral Guthrie.

Yes.  We used to do some work for the one that used to grow peas in Elwood Road.

Yeah, that was Godfrey. He married late in life – went to the war.

Had a big lease block over at Riverbend Road – a hundred and forty acre paddock.

Oh did he?

I always remember Bob Wilson and I went over there and mowed it, and we baled it all and stacked it under the macrocarpa trees, and there wasn’t a bale ever fed out. It all went rotten. He used to drink a bit, old Godfrey.

He did, yeah.

And Gordon – he lived in …


Judith:  And he’s just sold that hasn’t he? Alan – the son’s just sold it.

Rodney:  Oh yeah, they just sold the Farndon … just sold his – Gordon lived, yeah.  So Alan lives in Havelock somewhere, and so does the daughter.

Yes, most of the families have all dispersed.

So, you know Lawn Road, I’m probably the only full-time farmer. Most of them go to work somewhere and come home and do it as a hobby. I’m a retired full-time farmer now.

Well I’ve put you down as a farmer, I haven’t mentioned retired.  [Chuckle] Don’t want to encourage that too much.  [Chuckle]

So is there any other thing you can think of, any other highlights? Do you both travel at all?

Yeah, we travel quite a bit. We travelled on Farm to Farm Tours, which is a company in the South Island, and we go through a lot of farms. The first one we did was UK – England, Ireland and Wales.

Judith:  Scotland.

Rodney:  And we ended up in some marvellous spots.  And Ireland …

Judith:  Oh yeah, cow sheds [?] when it was cold, and oh, it was wonderful. And we did Europe.

Rodney:  Yeah, then we did one in Europe which went through France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland – yeah so that was an eye-opener. Farming in the EEC, which a lot of people thought were only small farms, but that turned out to be huge farms and the farmers were very up-to-date and very [?]

Rodney:  And the last one we did, we went to Turkey.

Judith:  That was three years ago.

Rodney:  And that was an eye-opener too.

Judith:  It was fabulous.

Rodney:  It’s a huge country and yeah – bit of history in that country all right, with the Romans and all that. Well, the Romans were there of course.

They were everywhere.

They were everywhere, yes.  So they’ve got all that history that we don’t have.  That makes that interesting doesn’t it?

And round New Zealand?

Done most of New Zealand.

Judith:  Yes, we’ve done most of New Zealand.

Rodney:  And been through most of Australia, so yeah, we’ve done quite a bit of travelling and we just going to do another one …

Judith:  Once the children left home we were able to do that, weren’t we?

Rodney:  Frees you up a bit.

Well, they’re different sort of holidays aren’t they?

Well, if there’s anything else you can think of?

Yeah, I don’t think there’s too much more. Just carrying on with a bit of the farm we’ve got here and still going to do our travel next year, a bit of golfing still and a bit of painting for the wife and … bit of drinking still.

It’s a shame the old lager bar’s gone, isn’t it?

Well, everybody says that.

Just remember those days when old Bette was behind the bar, and it was terrible beer.  We used to drink it!

Well it used to knock you over pretty quick.

That’s what I mean, we used to drink it even although it was terrible. We must have had powerful constitutions. ‘Cause we used to work it off, because we were quite …

I mean next day, it wasn’t too good. [Chuckle]

No, I know.

Especially if you were milking cows …

Well on that, I’ll just say thank you Rodney and Judith, and I’ll have this processed and eventually it will go online and be there forever and a day.


Original digital file


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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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