Sherwood Family Interviews
Today’s the 17th of November 2016. I’m interviewing members of the Sherwood family – Beverley Marflitt, assisted by her brother Rowan, and her other brother, Brick. Beverley, would you now like to tell us something about the life and times of the Sherwood family since they arrived in New Zealand?
Thank you. Well our great grandparents, Abner, and Ann Berry Griffin, arrived in Napier on the ‘Halcyon’ on the 4th of July 1874. They came from Gloucestershire, and they were married at a little church in Lechlade on Upper Thames, where we had the privilege of visiting many of the family when we were over there for Rowan’s son Nicholas’s wedding in 1997. They arrived with four little daughters – Alice, the eldest, was twelve years old; Jane, Emily and Elizabeth, aged two.
Once they arrived in New Zealand our grandfather, Eber, and an older sister, Edith, were born here, so our grandfather was actually born here in Havelock North.
When they arrived Alice, aged twelve, was sent up to the single women’s barracks which were, I gather, up near where the old Napier Hospital is, and the rest of the family were sent up there. Very quickly they were … Alice was sent to a Mr … as a nursemaid – I’ve just lost his name at the moment. She went as nursemaid, and – Mr Rutter he was, in Clive, milked cows. Neither Ann Berry nor Abner were educated people – they signed their marriage certificate with a cross. They were sent, and for seven shillings a day Abner worked we think, on the Railways which they were building at that time.
They eventually came to Havelock. I don’t know how or why but they lived in Middle Road, down near where the Nimon’s lived at the time. Our grandfather Eber, being born here, went to school very briefly at Havelock School. And when they celebrated their 105th anniversary I went and asked if they still had rolls there, which … they had been sent down to Wellington. I don’t think his education was very long or very successful from what we hear. Grandfather Eber then married.
Oh, going back, they had an elder son George, who had arrived in New Zealand earlier. Now George must only have been about twenty and he arrived in Christchurch, and when the family arrived in Havelock here, he then travelled up here and purchased land. And he married Annie Jackson, whose family had also come out on the ‘Halcyon’ with the Sherwood family. George lived here for a while – their eldest daughter was born here and died very early, and she is up in the Sherwood plot up in the Havelock Cemetery, according to records I have. But there’s no cemetery record, because those records I’ve been told by the Sexton, were lost when the Havelock Borough merged with the Hastings City Council. There are two youngsters buried up there that we don’t have any record of officially.
Our grandfather Eber was a labourer, and his father was listed as a gardener. His father Abner, was a gardener and a labourer. And grandfather then married our grandmother, Fanny Jane Cotton, from Ahuriri. Now Fanny’s father – Fanny was one of eight children from the first marriage that her father Daniel had with Jane. [Background sound of tea being poured] We have a handwritten manuscript that Daniel wrote to his sister Martha back in Hitchin, England. And he had jumped ship in Wellington – first of all he left home when his parents died, and stowed [away] on board a ship in London but he was caught and he was sent back. So then he volunteered, and he went to the Baltic and was involved with the Crimean War. And eventually he got a job on a passenger ship that was coming to Wellington, and he there jumped ship and walked his way up from Wellington right up to Porangahau, working on his way up. And he’s written this very interesting diary of his records, which were going to be published by a long-distant relative – it came in Aunt Martha’s belongings after she died. That didn’t actually happen, but I have a transcript of it here, and I’m wondering if it was ever sent to the Hawke’s Bay Museum as had originally been intended. But I have that.
Anyway, Daniel married his first wife, Jane Handscombe, in Porangahau in 1864, and they had eight children. They moved up to Napier where they lived in 128 Waghorne Street, and the building is still there. And I took Dad to visit it not long before he died – he was very miserable one cold Sunday afternoon and I said to him “come on Dad, get in the car and we’ll go over to Ahuriri and the Spit, and have a look”. And I have a photograph of him there in front of 128 Waghorne Street, looking very miserable, with his pipe in his hand; but also got a photograph of him against the tobacconist building over the road where he was sent over to buy sweets. And it still had – it’s now been demolished, but that would have been in ’89 – you could still see faintly under the very dilapidated paintwork ‘Tobacconist & …’ whatever he was there. But I have that photograph. And the people very kindly asked us if we’d like to go and have a look, but we declined. But they said that they often still found horseshoes in the garden – they came up. And in those days – I’ve got a photograph of it – the Spit came right up behind the house.
He had a livery stable, as my grandmother Fanny Jane used to tell us, and because she was the smallest of the family she often had to get in to clean it out before it went off to get a coffin or whatever it was. He was in the Register … he was registered as a taxi driver, and I can remember Dad telling me how he always used to go to meet the ‘Tangaroa’ when it came in from … probably from Gisborne in those days. He was a very interesting character.
Jane died having had eight children, and then he remarried, Harriet Clements, and they had five more children. Harriet was quite interesting – Dad always thought perhaps she was an American, but we don’t think she was. Her mother died and her father was a ship’s captain, so on the first trip that he did after Harriet’s mother died he took Harriet with him, and when he returned she apparently lived with the Blythe family in Napier until Daniel found her and married her – and what a fine looking woman she was. And Dad always said she loved music and loved dancing. And they had five more children there, and some of those I remember … I can remember Auntie Vi who married Otto Valeen – you probably wouldn’t remember – and Les and Daisy. Les married Daisy and they lived in Wanganui – Les Cotton.
So Daniel arrived in Wellington on the ‘Cresswell’. He crewed on that ship from London. Daniel did quite well for himself, because it’s registered that he had freehold land in Waipukurau at the value of £790. He had some in the Napier Borough valued at £600 – presumably that was Waghorne Street, and he was listed as a cab proprietor. He joined the Constabulary, and I have a photograph of him there. He was also on the local Council, and he was recorded … and Dad always said he was a very gentle, nice man who loved children … he would need to wouldn’t he, with eight and five … yes. And he always had sweets, and he obviously got the sweets from across the road at the confectioners … the tobacconists.
Our grandfather Eber, who was the father of our father Roy Sherwood, the eldest son of Eber and Fanny Jane … and Fanny Jane was always called Fan by the family. They were wonderful grandparents who lived near us. They had three boys, our father Roy the eldest, followed by Keith and Ivan, and later a daughter Jean, who died very young – she was in her thirties. Our father, Roy, married Marjorie Aitchison, known as Mardy, and I am the eldest of their five children. I was born in 1938; twins Annette and Rosemarie were born in 1939, and then there was a little gap and Rowan arrived in January 1946. And Brick arrived in August 1948, to the delight of everyone – we did love our little brothers. We did! [Laughter]. Oh, Grandpa Sherwood used to play the piano accordion – oh, he did love that piano accordion, and his grandson John, Keith’s son, now has that piano accordion.
Eber and Fanny lived in Havelock opposite the Nimon family on the corner of Lucknow Road and Middle Road. The three boys were born in Havelock. Jean was born in Napier, presumably because Fanny went over to be with her family there … I don’t know. But the Nimon family tell us that Roy always had a fascination for wheels. He spent a lot of time at the Nimon family, and he was found frequently on a tricycle riding into Hastings, and he would be picked up by Nimon’s carriers and brought back. And so they said he always had an interest in wheels. He had a nasty accident there with the Nimon’s. One of the horses trod on his face and it left quite a scar, which I didn’t really ever notice as a child. It wasn’t until it was pointed out – it just looked part of the architecture of his face. But we were told that he was taken and put on the table of the Nimon’s home, and the doctor stitched him up and attended to him there. He carried that scar for the rest of his life, but that was part of him, wasn’t it?
Well he must have been the Sherwood that my father was friendly with. My father was born in 1874 in the Village.
Rowan: And we often used to laugh about this, because he was always called Mick.
Beverley: Yes, yes.
Rowan: And of course we always used to laugh – our grandparents were Fanny and Mick. [Laughter]
Yes, it was Mick Sherwood my father used to talk about.
Beverley: Yes, they lived in Havelock.
And then grandfather, when the Sherenden settlement occurred, he got a block up there at Sherenden – I’ve forgotten how many acres it was – and they farmed up there, and that is where the family … the boys obviously … went to school – to Sherenden School. Actually Brick and Margaret lived there when you were first married didn’t you, on that property? It now belongs to the Dysarts.
Rowan: It was about four hundred acres – four hundred and twelve, or something like that.
Beverley: Yes. Yes, and the Aitchison property was a bit bigger. So Roy went to school up there at Sherenden where we believe that’s where he met our mother, who was Marjorie Aitchison, called Mardy … known as Mardy. And he said he always enjoyed pulling her pigtails and annoying her. So Roy had his education up there – I think it might have been very short. He probably left school as quickly [as] he was able, and long before he was fifteen as is required of us today. And there he started his enterprise. He worked as a shepherd up there on Glenross, and was it Omahaki too?
Rowan: No, Glenross.
Beverley: Just Glenross.
Rowan: Glenross – and he and Peter Bridgeman. Peter Bridgeman was the cowman and Dad was the shepherd. And Peter Bridgeman came to Dad – Dad’s told me this story – and said “Roy, I don’t think we’re going to do any good here, I think we need to go to town”. And Peter became the builder – started Bridgeman’s – and Dad got a truck and started his transport business.
Beverley: Well he apparently had a truck up there, an old Model T, and used to – I can remember him telling me – he would start doing chores up there and old Mrs Boyd would say “Roy, when you go to town would you please pick up a reel of cotton at such and such”. And some other woman would ask to pick … he sort of started his transport business up there, as a young man. And then, aged twenty, he started R Sherwood down in Hastings, so he was a very young man then, to start what became a very large and successful business.
So that was started in … where the Stirling offices were?
Beverley: As I understand, yes. [Speaking together]
Rowan: Yes, that was one of his first [speaking together] depot …
Beverley: Depot. And I suppose that was where, when he came down from Sherenden, he would run round and do his chores and … yes, based at Stirling, and then travel back. But I remember going to that office quite clearly, and as we became friendly with the Stirling family later – the two girls in particular, Catherine and Barbara – yes. I don’t know how long that lasted and I don’t actually remember him building the big office and garage, which was further west on Heretaunga Street then.
So at that point the family was living in McLeod Street?
Yes, well Roy and Mardy married in 1936, and Roy built that family home that we all lived in and were brought up in with many happy memories. It was a metal road on a stock route. We had two cattle stops – a circular drive and two cattle stops – which was [were] to prevent the stock from coming in. Sometimes it didn’t work, a cattle beast would jump over and you’d hear the drover calling out – “look out, lady!” [Laughter]
Our grandparents, after they came down from Sherenden – Eber and Fanny (Gran and Grandpa as we called them), lived in Hapuka Street. And Gran and her daughter Jean, our Auntie Jean, used to have the most wonderful parties for we granddaughters in particular – well, you boys weren’t on the scene then. Ivan had five daughters and lived in Townshend Street, and they had these wonderful parties. They would dress us up – Auntie Jean was the most incredible, wonderful seamstress – and the cousins would come – Gran’s cousins’ children, Margaret Keith and the Dixons. Vera married Len Dixon who had severe polio and was in an iron lung for many years. Max Dixon is one of that family. And the Keith’s – Hilda married the Hastings, Vera married the Dixon, Muriel married the Keith – and they would have us all there. We were all dressed up – I was the King; June was the Queen; the twins were the ladies-in-waiting; Carol was a fairy; the neighbour’s children would come in and all be dressed up. We’ve got photographs, masses of photographs of us, and then having this wonderful spread. Hapuka Street was a road – it was a metal road with great big stones – and the fairies used to leave messages under big stones for us – it was just a magical childhood. And Grandpa had a big section there and grew masses of vegetables. He was a wonderful vegetable gardener, and every year we’d go out and we’d find pumpkins or watermelons, each with our name that he’d put on – they were ours. I don’t think Grandpa had much to do with the wonderful parties that were given us, but ooh, they were lovely memories. We were so spoilt as children.
So you went to school, mainly from McLeod Street did you?
Yes, well we were brought up in McLeod Street.
That’s right – course you were.
After Auntie Jean died Dad built a home for Gran and Grandpa across the road from us in McLeod Street, so we had a lot to do with our grandparents – we saw them every day. And Gran always had tins full of lovely baking, and the story goes … one day Gran said to Rowan, very young “come on then, we’ll go inside and put on the kettle”. And Rowan said “kettle – I thought them things were horns with a tail”. [Chuckle] It was “I thought them things had horns and a tail”.
You mentioned about the balloon-tyred bike that your father …
… used to ride down to work on, that he later gave to Rowan who treasured it [laughter] forever and a day. [Laughter] Rowan would you like to tell us something about the memories of the balloon-tyred bike?
Rowan: Well the bike was given to me as a Christmas present. It was my Christmas present, and this jolly balloon-tyred bike – hand-painted by Alf Griffiths I think, at the yard.
Beverley: What year was this, Rowan?
Rowan: Oh, gosh – well it must have been …
Beverley: You were at Intermediate.
Rowan: Intermediate, yeah, so it would have been about ’58 … ’57-58? And this bike turned up, painted in army green – hand-painted in army green with huge big balloon tyres. I was disgusted with it. Anyway I had to ride this to school each day.
Beverley: Intermediate, which was a long way.
Rowan: Intermediate … from McLeod Street right down to Hastings Street – the other end of town. And all the other boys had Raleigh Sports and … and I had this huge big balloon-tyred bike. I used to push into the westerly wind coming home every night.
It probably had three-speed Sturmey Archer gears too.
It had no gears.
This was really ancient!
No gears, and a back pedal brake. [Laughter]
Beverley: Yes. I could have doubled you on my Raleigh.
Rowan: So that prompted me to start to work. Every night after school I’d go and help Bruce Malleson at the workshop – at the garage … depot … cleaning the tools and things like that, and for that I got ten shillings a week. And then if I worked all day in the school holidays, I got thirty shillings a week. And that money was … it went into a tin, and it was in the big safe – remember the big safe in the office?
Rowan: And … until I’d earned £27 10s, and I went and bought a new bike from Bob Porteous – a red and white Raleigh Sports with three-speed gears, and the old balloon-tyred bike was discarded then. Well in fact the balloon-tyred bike had an accident.
Beverley: Oh, did it?
Rowan: We’d gone down to Ebbett Park – we weren’t allowed past the corner, but we’d snuck down to Ebbett Park. And I think you were there, Brick, and Jim Scott and I, and we were having races round the netball courts and Jim was sort of leading … who could do the fastest time on this balloon-tyred bike. [Chuckle] And Jim hit one of the netball poles [chuckle] and the bike folded like that, you couldn’t steer the front wheel [chuckle]. That was the end of the balloon-tyred bike. I was delighted. [Chuckles]
Well while we’re on bikes, you also mentioned about you riding the bike with the kids – the boys …
Beverley: No, no that was boys. I started off – I was given a little green Empire bike – that was the first bike in the family. It was given to me, but whoever was on dishes had the privilege of riding the bike to school, otherwise we walked. The twins and I started school at Mahora, and we went on tricycles – two tricycles – one twin on the back of the other, and that twin always chewed the clothes of the one in front. [Chuckle] And Mother was always – having made and knitted all our clothes, she was always mending the shoulders of whoever was riding the tricycle. So they were threatened that unless they stopped they’d be sent to school in a sack dress. And I wasn’t going to have this, so I had clothes hidden further down the road under the pine trees on the corner down by Wylie’s, [someone coughs] in case they were sent in a sack dress, and I could put them into clothes properly.
But I had the first bike, which – whoever was on dishes had the privilege of riding that, otherwise we walked to school. We were then at Hastings West and then I graduated to a … we three girls all got new bikes. I got the Raleigh; Annette got the Hopper; Rosemarie got the Coventry Eagle, so Dad always knew [cough] who hadn’t cleaned their bikes or put them in the shed. And then when the boys came along, I used to – and mother was not well at the time, so I suppose I was with the boys quite a lot. I would put Rowan on the back on my carrier, and Brick on my hip, and then I would bike around with them, visiting friends and people – Mrs Russell, who lived in – what was the name of the street?
Brick: Francis Hicks now.
Beverley: Francis Hicks, yes, around there – who died only about four years ago. Used to laugh when I visited her in Eversley, and say “I still remember you Beverley, coming with the boys on your bike”, and I’d be saying “Rowan: feet out, keep your feet out. Brick – hold on tight, hold on tight”. And so that’s how I got around.
It’s better than walking, wasn’t it? [Chuckles] Okay, well that’s … little family reminiscences. Now we must I guess, talk about the business – the Roy Sherwood business.
Well I’m going to leave that to the boys, apart from saying that Roy started with his Model T Ford. In 1927 at the age of twenty he then started R Sherwood, and that was the beginning of his very successful, well-run business which eventually became a public company known as Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Transport.
Right, well Brick or Rowan: who would like to start this off then?
Rowan: Well I really haven’t got much to add there at the moment. I must admit I’ve been very remiss at doing any research …
No, no, no, no.
… and I’m afraid to tell you that I’ve got to go in two or three minutes, I’m sorry. Brick, have you got something?
Brick: Well I’ve got a little bit on the Aerial Projects side, and that didn’t start ‘til 1951.
Aerial Projects, a division of R Sherwood Limited.
I don’t think it was Dad’s idea to start flying. He hated aeroplanes, particularly ones with only one propeller.
Beverley: [Chuckle] One engine.
Brick: But it was two gentlemen came to visit him one day. One was Keith Ellington and the other Glenn Earl, and Keith Ellington was flying for Bill Reeves I think at the time – oh no, Buster Caro – Buster Caro and … oh, I can’t remember the other chap’s name. But they’d thought it might be an idea to start a business, so they approached Dad. And he said “well – yes”, and told them to go away and find some people that might be prepared to back the thing. So they did, and they came back with five names – Peter Plummer, S M Palmer … I suppose that’s Selby Palmer, Bing Oliver, Douglas McHardy and Bill Reeves. And Bill didn’t stay there very long because he could see that he might be better off on his own, so he pulled his money very quickly. But that was in 1951 the company was formed.
The first job was on the 29th of the 10th ’51, and that was for a Mr K Ellison in Middle Road. And it was a month after that Glenn Earl killed himself in the Tiger Moth. He was a very short man apparently, and he used to have to sit on an apple box [chuckles] in the aircraft to look out over the side. And he’d finished his day’s work at Pokorangi, and he decided he’d give the boys on the strip a bit of an airshow. And apparently, they seem to think he fell off his apple box, and that was the finish of Glenn Earl and the aircraft.
The first Tiger Moth was purchased on September 1951 and the first Fletcher didn’t come along until 1955. And there was [were] interesting people came through – Peter Wolff, he arrived in 1956, but an interesting thing – I didn’t even know it occurred as a young person, but he started Southland and Otago Aerial Topdressing in Gore. And Robinson Air Services Ltd started another business importing Fletcher parts, and they based that in the Hamilton Aerodrome. And they actually built a shed and a premises there, and that went just so well because every Fletcher that came into the country had to get its filter from there, its wheels, servicing – the engine went back there for servicing. And it was going that well that Wendell Fletcher, the American – it was called Fletcher Aviation Corporation in America – decided to let the aircraft be built here in Hamilton. So that worked out very well.
Beverley: And I have a photograph of Mum and Dad with the Fletchers in America at the Fletcher’s home. I have that photograph.
Brick: And there was that interesting newspaper …
Brick: I don’t think it was a newspaper as such, but the Fletchers had it printed. And Mum and Dad went to America to meet these people, and there’s a big newspaper thing: ‘Roy Sherwood’s Arrived – All Bars Closed.’ [Chuckles] Yeah.
The Tiger Moths costs £600 each. I don’t know how much the Fletchers cost, but I remember as a child they had a gale at Bridge Pa, and it blew all the Tiger Moths – and there was [were] Pipers and Cessna’s – blew them all over the fence into the golf course, and a few of them got written off.
There was [were] a number of colourful people flew aircraft for Dad, and it’s amazing ’cause most of them had been cowboys with Spitfires and Hurricanes. I’ve got a list of their names here somewhere. There’s some interesting names. Aerial Projects – that went for seven or eight years and then the name changed to Sherwood Aviation. That was when Keith Ellington retired and Peter Wolff took over. Les Mardon, Ken Parish, Roy Russell – oh, there was Mally Baird, he was the loader driver – Bill Sutton, Bob McDowell, Max McKeown, Des Winters, Copperfield, Hank De Menstra, Peter Wolff, Fred Myers, Gerry Hooper.
Beverley: What about Bill Della?
Brick: Oh, Bill Della yes. Bill Della started with Aerial Projects as a loader driver. He could fly but he didn’t have a commercial licence. Bill wasn’t flying very long before he met his end. It was in a Fletcher. 1st of April 1960 Sherwood Aviation began, and Bill Della crashed a month, two months after that on Mr Len C Lowe’s property at Otamauri, which is just about opposite where Rowan’s farming.
Yes, I know Ken Parish also went down in a Fletcher up near Tauranga somewhere. Those names, you know, they were all part of a new industry. And they were really wonderful days because it came on the end of the wool boom and the farmers had some money to spend, and to allow these businesses to become successful.
And Dad was rather fortunate because he could offer a farmer a total price for the super on the ground, whereas these other people had to arrange – someone had to arrange the cartage, but Dad could offer them the whole bundle at once, you know. They did very well, you know. But I can – as a young fellow – remember my father worrying.
Beverley: Oh yes, it was a terrible worry.
Brick: It was a worry. Aeroplanes were dangerous. [Chuckle]
Ossie James got pretty keen on buying. All he really wanted was the licence. He wasn’t that fussed on aeroplanes, but Dad put him off for a long, long time and word has it … the information I have here … they had four meetings, and Ossie had just about given up. And I’m not sure that it’s … it can’t be true … on the last of this here that I had printed for me, Ossie James approached Dad on several occasions. And he was hopping back on the plane to go back to Hamilton, and – they must have come upon a figure. And Dad said “well, if you put super” … the figure was seven hundred ton – I think it was probably seventy ton … “on our farm for nothing, the deal will go”. So they shook hands, and that was it.
What do they say? Four ‘no’s’ mean a ‘yes’?
Four ‘no’s’ mean a ‘yes’ – that’s right, yes.
And Ossie James – he was the head of James Aviation wasn’t he?
That’s right. When I decided to try and put something together on this – there were very few people knew anything, and I spent a lot of time with old Keith Ellington. And unfortunately he’d just moved house and they’d lost all his stuff – they couldn’t find anything – photos … he had photos … he had all sorts of stuff. And then he died on me, and then she died. Keith’s wife was a McHardy, I think.
So Brick, did you ever work within the transport business? Or you were always out on the … farming was your life?
Yes. I left school and went shepherding.
Once it was sold, that was it?
Yes. That was it. But I didn’t know Bill Reeves until I – I didn’t know he was in the industry.
No. Well I only ever knew him as having some trucks.
Beverley: Have you interviewed John Stovell?
Jim Newbigin has. I’ve interviewed other people from Putere and that area.
Is there anything else you can think of about the Sherwood Corporation?
Brick: No, not really. I think Rowan’s got more of that information. He worked with the company; he was on the Board – if ever we can keep him here long enough.
Beverley: We’ll get him first thing in the morning.
Yes. All right, that gives us a good insight into Aerial Projects. And is there any of that that I can copy?
Brick: You can have the whole lot when I’ve finished. I’ve got to redo this page here. I’m going to get rid of that seven … if you put seven hundred ton of super on my son’s farm for nothing …
[Chuckle] It’d be seventy, wouldn’t it?
… it’s a deal.
It’d bury it, wouldn’t it – seven hundred ton?
Beverley: And the farm then was Selkirk.
Beverley: Oh, of course, I’d forgotten.
Brick: So seven hundred ton at about fifty ton a year … [chuckle] you know.
I can’t … rather than reading the whole thing with the little incidents … There’s one little incident in here where one of the pilots was taken off – they were topdressing Bell’s place out here on the coast at … not Porangahau, not quite that far out is it? And this plane just fell out of the sky. He managed to land it without breaking it, so they got Temple Martin out and the first thing he did was walked up to the fuel filter in the engine, and there’s the glass full of water. And old Temple said “I’ve told you – you can’t fly these things on water”. [Chuckle]
And he would’ve said it in such a dry way.
Yeah. And then he said “you’ve been pumping fuel out of a drum without using the chamois filter”. They had to admit to that. And then they went back to the airstrip to Keith Ellington’s plane, and he went to that water filter and it was so near filled with water that he probably would have lost his on the next trip.
Well thank you Brick, for those reminiscences.
Bev, we’ll come back to your family now. When you left school you went to work?
Beverley: No, I had my primary school education at what was Hastings West, and then secondary school education I was … we were very privileged – didn’t realise it at the time … but we three girls went to Iona. And education was very important to the Scots, and apparently Annette … we never asked why we went to Iona, we didn’t in those days. You did as you were told and that was that. But Annette had been challenged when she went to Training College by Jack Shallcross as to why she … living in town … had gone to boarding school. And she came home and asked Dad and Mum why she’d been sent away to boarding school, which I have to say we all loved. And our Mother had not been well at that time and it was a very busy household, with nurses and cooks, and … Brick was only a baby. And we just assumed it was because it was easier if we three teenagers were being educated out of the way. But he said no – they felt it was important that we had a good education.
So after I finished at Iona – I was just seventeen – I went to Otago University and did Home Science. That was a great three years down there, and I came home and I worked in the laboratory at Birds Eye. It was there at Birds Eye that I met Max who was later to become my husband, because he used to bring in produce … he grew for the canneries … tomatoes and beans and … I don’t think he ever grew peas. And I met Max and we were married in 1960, and we lived at Twyford. Max had cropping land out there at Twyford and he grew potatoes and pumpkins and tomatoes and beans. And that was before the days of harvesters where they used to employ pickers, and I have photographs of Nana, Max’s mother there, out with the pickers. There were big tents – he had thirty-three acres down at the end of Twyford Road which is now all residential – and they had big tents there and they camped on the spot.
And one of Max’s gangers there was George Morris who was head of the gang. And Max had always wanted a sheep farm. He was born in Martinborough, as was our mother, Marjorie Aitchison – she was also born in Martinborough. And the Marflitt family – Max’s father there, had a – like a transport business there. He ran taxis between Martinborough and Lower Hutt and he had a reputation – they were Studebaker vehicles – and he had a reputation of always being on time. And the car was absolutely immaculate, as I can imagine it would be. His name was Walter Marflitt, and there’s quite a bit written up about Walter and his business in Martinborough. So you see we come from a family of transporters. We always had the story. People laughed because I would come down to … when we lived in Wairoa we always had to backload – you never went home with an empty load. My [someone coughs] children inherited that too, they never go with an empty load.
Anyway, Max and I married in 1960 and, as I say, we started our married life. And he was cropping, but he’d always wanted to own a farm and he was very fortunate to purchase this farm, we thought, up in Wairoa [noise in background]. It was the only farm that he could afford, so we went up there very happily to Pakarae, which was extremely steep hill country. When I look back now, it was just amazing. It hadn’t been a success with the Lancaster family who owned it – two brothers – and it hadn’t been very successful. But we went all excited and thrilled to bits to be starting our married life – we then had Kirsty who was aged three. We moved up to Wairoa into this old house that still had scrim on the walls, the old wallpaper hung. It had been strapped up with tape and pinned and when the wind blew it went whooo … whooo … it was completely dilapidated. They used to catch possums and pin the possum skins to dry them out on the old verandah. Brick will remember it because he as a youngster used to come up and stay with us, to shoot probably wasn’t it?
So just where was the station?
Pakarae, which was up at the top of the Waiatai Valley, only ten miles out of Wairoa – as you go north over Te Uhi Hill it was the first turning on the left, up the Waiatai.
Brick: About four hundred miles up there.
Yes, [chuckle] it would have seemed like it.
Beverley: Up a goat track … one way goat track with three gates to open and then a stream to cross, and then we went up the hill to where the homestead was. It was in a beautiful spot. It was all built with heart timber by the Williams family and it was very sheltered spot – we were frost free, completely protected from the south. [Cough]
It was jolly hard work there. Max … there were very few fences. He was one of the first in the district to employ helicopters for dropping off fencing material all round the farm. And we had a wonderful guy, Ron Dean, who’s still alive and lives out at Maraekakaho – he came with his young wife Margaret, and they lived in the farm cottage, and he was our fencer for many years. We became good friends.
Ron Dean? Does he live down behind the Maraekakaho School?
Yeah, he used to work for me too, on the orchard.
Ronnie and Margaret.
He was an absolute gem.
And Margaret was a honey too. We you know, remained good friends. Well this was in the sixties. When they left us they came down and had a house in Pembroke Street in Taradale. I can remember saying to Margaret “ooh, that’s a really smart address after the cottage at Pakarae”.
Brick: I bumped into them at Farmlands.
Beverley: Yes, Margaret told me – I saw her just after that – she told me.
Yes, they were hard years for Max – I didn’t appreciate it at the time, just how much hard work it was, but we had very happy years there. Our second daughter Prue, was born in 1965, and I can remember – as I say, we had three gates to open, and the rush into Wairoa that night and the neighbours coming out and opening the last gate for us down by Steads’. However, Prue wasn’t born ‘til …
Oh, gates to farms. [Speaking together]
And when the children were small, we ceased arguments for who would sit in the front seat because whoever sat in the front seat had to open the gate – yes. [Speaking together]
The gate opener, oh yes.
But we had many happy years up there at Pakarae, but it was extremely hard work for Max. Most of the mustering was done by horse, and I used to go off on the horse that I inherited from their [?gurly?], and put Kirsty in front of me and I’d go off with Max. But Max put in a lot of tracks around the farm, and after that he became a tractor man and off he’d go on the tractor – boy it was steep – “hold on … jump off here, just in case”. And the children would always listen for the tractor coming home at night. It would always be dark and we’d see the lights coming down the hill.
Anyway, we were seventeen years there and then Max had the opportunity – it had become too much for him really, so we were looking for an easier property. We had very happy years up the Waiatai with our neighbours – it was a close-knit community. The Jock Rosses just down the road, the Steads, the Connells, the Joblins and the Jardines at the bottom of the valley.
The McKenzies from Clydebank … Donald, who now farms at Crownthorpe, he was very keen … Forestry had been interested in Pakarae, but it was something that just sort of didn’t happen in our time. So we did a swap, and there was obviously you know, money that had to change hands too, I don’t remember. But then we moved down to Clydebank … Warwick was born in ’68 – it must have been about 1972 … and McKenzies moved up to Pakarae. We did a swap.
Our children … while we were at Pakarae, we eventually got a school bus, because Teddy Ormond was on the Hawke’s Bay Education Board then, and I think there might have been a few strings pulled and we eventually got a school bus. I had started Kirsty on correspondence, and when the school bus came up – because there were four Rosses up next to us, and there were two Alderleys and two Brackens, so it was worth the school bus coming up, and they went into Wairoa to school. But that was an early start every morning, and they didn’t get home until quarter to five. On Friday they used to love walking home the two miles on the track, and over the hill. That was a novelty, it didn’t matter how late they got home.
Anyway we moved down to Clydebank which was a much kinder, gentle terrain there. And it was a little house there, so again we did work on the house and extended it, and we had very happy … another seventeen years there, up the Clydebank. We formed many great friendships up there which I still enjoy. It’s young people’s country up there, and as we’ve all got older the older farmers … many of them have moved down here. And I have a group of very good old Wairoa friends down here which is very nice, and very fortunate.
The children could ride their bikes a couple of ks [kilometres] down the metal road to catch the school bus into town, and they had their Intermediate years there. And when the time came for them to go to Secondary school they were delighted, because they no longer had to catch the school bus at half past seven in the morning, and they couldn’t participate in things after school because they had to be on the school bus to come home.
So we named that property ‘Banbury’, which is where … my great grandmother, Ann Berry, who married Abner, had come from Banbury Cross. So the property we called ‘Banbury’. It had been called ‘Paynedale’, but that didn’t appeal to us so we called it ‘Banbury’.
We were there until Max died in 1992, and by that time we had leased the farm to neighbours – Dennis and his father Neil Munro. Dennis and Neil lived up a branch road, Rotakaru Road, and after Max died we continued on with the lease. I stayed in Wairoa for about four years, and eventually it was decided that I should move down here. And we had a lovely neighbour, Rowan Paterson, who Max had a lot of time for and Rowan had a lot of time for Max, because they farmed in a similar way. And Rowan had spoken to Max a number of years prior to his death about purchasing … we bounded on our back boundaries … about purchasing ‘Banbury’ in the event of Max deciding to sell. So we discussed it, and Max said to me when he was terminally ill … when the time came and I was ready to sell, to please remember Rowan Paterson. So after four years I terminated the lease with … it was Dennis – his father Neil had died. Dennis farmed in a very different way. He was a successful farmer, but didn’t farm the way Max farmed, whereas Rowan did. So when we decided to put it on the market I approached Rowan, and it was left to who made the best offer. Rowan was successful, so he now farms ‘Banbury’, which is lovely.
I moved down here to Havelock and purchased this property. Everything was on my wish list but I did not want to live in Havelock – I wanted to live where I could see the sea and the mountains, the hills, because never in my whole life, except as a student in Dunedin, had I ever lived with neighbours. And it was not easy. There was no garden here, and I used to hide round the back to try and establish a garden, and then I’d creep around the front when I thought there was no one about. Now after twenty years, I love it. I sit out there on the front terrace in the morning in the sun with my cup of tea.
Brick: Can’t wait till somebody comes to talk.
Beverley: I do. And I talk to everyone that goes by. I know where they live, when they got married, what they did. And I’m just extremely fortunate to be here. And until two weeks ago my three children were here. The girls live in Hastings, Prue with her family of three. And Warwick has been here. Warwick has one daughter, Amelia, now twenty-two, who lives in Australia. And two weeks ago Warwick, who’d met a nice young lady, has moved to Katikati. Warwick is an auto electrician and has worked overseas in the mines, and he’s a very handy man. Warwick can do anything, and I’m going to miss him terribly ’cause if anything went wrong I could always ring Warwick and he would say to me “Mum, if you just took the time sometimes to put on your glasses and read the instructions …” And my reply is … [Speaking together]
Oh, that’s telling you isn’t it?
… “Warwick …” And he says to me “if I can’t spell a word, never tell me to look it up in the dictionary – again.” So I will miss Warwick not being here to do all these little jobs for me, but good luck to Warwick and I hope he’s very happy in Katikati with his new lady.
You had mentioned Twyford Road – were the Lancasters there when you were there?
Yes … no, he bought it. He bought it from us. [Speaking together]
Brick: He bought it – they swapped.
Beverley: A swap again. Jim Lancaster had farmed at Pakarae with his brother, and there was a falling out and the older brother, whose name I’ve just forgotten at the moment, apparently took off with Jim’s wife. And they had a son, John, who has died recently. And John was then brought up by his aunt, Jim Lancaster’s sister Kitty, who married Geordie Mitchell, a Scotsman. And they were wonderful. They stayed on with us for a long time and assisted us at Pakarae.
Brick: I was at school with John.
Brick: But he was always Burt at school – Burt Lancaster.
Beverley: Well Geordie Mitchell we were very fond of … he was like you know, a sub-grandfather for our children. And my grandson is named Geordie because we held him in great affection. He was a very shy little man but he was energetic, and as he got older he’d come back to help at mustering and shearing times, and he’d say “ooh – them hills are getting higher and higher”. [Chuckle] And he used to love shooting deer, as did Ronnie Dean.
So here you are retired with your garden and your friends and …
And my grandchildren.
Well that’s lovely. Well thank you, Beverley. Now I’m just going to switch back to you, Brick and you’re going to tell me what you did from school.
Brick: Well I was never allowed to do nothing. In fact right back from boarding school days, we’d come home for an exeat, and it might be a weekend, you know. And I’d ring some of my mates I’d been to primary school with, and Dad’d say “don’t make any commitments, son – we’ve got work to do”. [Laughter] So when I left school I pretty much went up to Quarryburn – to Rissington – and worked there for two or three years learning how to do things with a very good teacher, Tony Blackburn.
Beverley: Farming things I hope.
Brick: Farming things. And then I – from there I went up to Gisborne shepherding, and I spent – ooh, I don’t know – three, four, five years up there, just working around Te Karaka, Whatatutu, Matawai. In fact I met my wife at the Puha Sports – it’s just up the Whatatutu Road from Te Karaka. And they were held on Puhatikatika Station every year – a totalisator meeting and all the shepherds would bring their hacks, and it was a great day. And Charlie Gaukrodger lived up the road and he was into racehorses. And he had a pretty fair sort of a colt that raced, and his name was Backfire. [Chuckle] And a lot of the Maori boys were walking their mares up to Backfire’s paddock, and the station hacks were getting faster and faster.
As I said, that’s where I met my wife, there. She came up from Wellington to work at the Gisborne Hospital. And then when we bought Selkirk I gave up the Gisborne job and went home. And I was still single, I lived with Mum and Dad.
That was the farm at Crownthorpe?
Sherenden. And then when I got married in 1973 I lived where my father farmed, in the cottage. And then Mum and Dad could see that you know – I don’t know, they probably weren’t very old when they moved to town.
Beverley: No, they weren’t. Oh, when they came back to town? Well, they went to Lechlade … what happened, when did Lechlade ..?
Brick: Well I moved into Lechlade and they came to town. And I’m not sure whether they rented a house. They did rent a house from …
Beverley: Barlows, for a while, and then they bought Emerald Hill and that was when … Kirsty started at Iona in the 1970s, and they were living at Emerald Hill then.
Brick: Yes. About ’74 … ’75 they moved into town. And I’ve been in the same house ever since, and we’re just in the process now of moving out to come to live in Havelock North with my sisters.
Beverley: Three sisters.
Brick: And my wife’s up there emptying boxes now.
How big is – Lechlade, you called it – was it?
Lechlade. Letchlade is the proper pronunciation.
Beverley: Which is where our great grandparents were married. [Speaking together]
Brick: The old people were married. Nine hundred and thirty-six acres.
And so you programmed for coming to live in Havelock?
Sort of. [Chuckle] Well we’ve still got the farm, you know – I’ll be able to still go back and annoy my son who’s taken it over.
Well that’s good, because you can release slowly.
Beverley: He’s got an out.
You will enjoy living in the village and you will get accustomed to doing nothing. So – oh that’s great, Brick.
Beverley: I’m waiting for that to happen, although my grandson, Geordie says “is that all old people do? Drink coffee and go out for lunch?”
The interesting thing is that most of these stories started when these places like Havelock North and Te Awanga and Hastings were only very small populations. So thanks for your … unless there’s something else you want to say, Brick?
Brick: I don’t think so, in the meantime.
Okay. Thank you both for your contribution to this point. I will talk to Rowan and Annette and Rosemarie and get their side of it too, so thank you very much.
Beverley: Thank you.
Today is the 24th of November 2016. I’m going to be talking firstly to Rowan, then to Rosemarie and then to Annette. Rowan, would you like to tell us something about the times of R Sherwood?
Thank you Frank. I’m going to start with Dad’s leaving school. I always remember just to revert back a bit, Dad being interviewed by his grandson – my son Nicholas, who was at the time at Otamauri School – on what school was like during his time. And so the questions came forward – “How did you get to school?”
“Oh, we … on the horse, or walked”.
“How many were at the school?”
“Oh twelve – I think twelve”.
“What did you like best about school?”
“The holidays”. [Chuckles]
“What was your best subject while at school?”
“Duck shooting”. [Chuckle]
So Dad was never going to be a scholar and he left school at age fourteen, from Otamauri School where he’d attended fifty-three years previously to my son, his grandson. He left school and became a shepherd at Otamauri Station along with Peter Bridgeman. Peter Bridgeman was the cowman, Dad was the shepherd, and after a short while they both decided there was no future for them there; they’d best go to town. Peter went to town and became quite an established builder. Dad, in a Model A Ford truck, started doing deliveries from the district to Hastings, living still at his family home. He delivered anything. He had a tremendous memory for anything. People would ring him up and they’d say “can you get me a reel of cotton, green colour?” And he would remember that and bring it back – he’d cart anything from a reel of cotton to bales of wool and bags of grass seed and stuff.
In 1927 at the age of twenty, he started business proper and established a depot in Hastings. The depot was in Ken Stirling’s garage, which was opposite the now PAK’nSAVE carpark, and he operated from there for a number of years and formed a business founded on reliable service and punctuality. He was a stickler for punctuality – trucks had to be on time. He also believed in providing the same service whether large or small client, you know? I can always remember him saying “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”, which meant you know – the small clients often grew into big clients, so you look after everybody.
Dad had a happy knack of being able to assess his employees and employ good men, and he employed top and loyal employees right throughout his career, and many of them worked for him for the whole of their working life. Consequently he was very supportive of them and their families, and a couple of instances which came to mind were – Ray Davis … now Ray was a young shepherd from Ashley Clinton. He came to Hastings, asked for a job – they had to teach him how to drive a truck – and then Dad found out that he was almost deaf. So after some inquiries he found that if he had an operation it could probably fix this, and Dad paid for the operation and Ray’s hearing was restored. And Ray worked for Dad for the rest of his working life.
And another one was Harry Hill. Harry Hill drove the mail truck out to Maraekakaho and Kereru for years and years and years, until the point where he knew every farmer and when they did what, and what have you. I can remember Jim Sorensen from out at Maraekakaho telling me that he thought ‘by joves, I’m going to start shearing next week’. He said “I’d better get Harry to bring us out a bale of wool packs”, but Harry had already done it. Harry knew that they started shearing at a certain date and he’d got the wool packs from the firm and dropped them off at the woolshed, and they were already there. But on Harry’s retirement, the then management decided they’d give Harry a Lazyboy chair to sit in in his retirement. On hearing this Dad said “well what’s his wife going to sit in?” and insisted that they went and bought another one so his wife had one to sit in too. So these were the sorts of things that he did to look after his employees.
Dave Compton, who managed the Mobil Oil business, and Puru Waerea, who drove trucks for the company all his working life, loved duck shooting, as did Dad. So they were given spots to go duck shooting on the farms. Many of the other employees were given access to firewood from the farms, and that’s how they got sort of – repaid for their loyalty.
Other names that come to mind …
Keith Sturrock – Keith Sturrock started as a driver and eventually became the Operations Manager. Now Keith was renowned for his ability of knowing farmers, knowing their facilities, and making allowances for times when the trucks would arrive and leave properties, and he was a stickler for punctuality himself.
Bert Talbot – now Bert Talbot was the first mechanic for R Sherwood, and he was followed by Bruce Mellis as a mechanic. And Bruce worked as a mechanic in charge of the mechanical side of the business for all his working life.
Alf Griffiths – Alf Griffiths drove the first articulated lorry or truck that they had. And Alf also built and maintained the wooden sheep crates and cattle crates that were made on the site in those days. In those days of course, to unload and load the wooden sheep crate you had to crawl in under the top floor to open and close the gates. And all the crates and that carried their own loading races in those days, which were lifted up and on, and on and off the crates as they did their work.
Billy and Johnny Poor – now Bill and Johnny Poor were very well known. They were two Maori brothers from Te Haroto, and they were well respected by the farmers for their stockmanship and their careful driving. One incidence that I can … well, none of us will ever forget, was Johnny Poor’s funeral. [Chuckles] Now when Johnny Poor died Uncle Ivan, Dad’s brother, and Dad were pallbearers up at Te Haroto. And on walking up to the urupa at Te Haroto, they had to swing in over the grave. Now Ivan was a pallbearer on the other side, in the middle. And … pumice country … the side of the grave collapsed and Ivan fell in. [Chuckle] Two of the Maori pallbearers saw it as a bad omen and left the scene. [Laughter] Dad was trying to stop Johnny’s coffin falling in on top of Ivan, and Ivan was racing up and down trying to jump out, and every time the pumice would collapse on him. His black suit turned grey, and I can remember Dad coming home from that funeral not being able to tell us for laughter [chuckles] of what had happened.
Beverley: And Billy’s daughter Jackie here, who was a friend of mine in Wairoa, remembers that.
Annette: But didn’t they say that Ivan went down to check everything, and it was all right for Johnny to be put in the … put him on the …
Beverley: Is that what it was?
Rowan: Anyway it was very amusing incident, and Ivan being sort of, a little bit superstitious, didn’t think it was a very good idea at all. [Chuckles]
Beverley: Dad said he was like a caged bull.
Rowan: Yeah – roaring like a bull he said.
And other long serving employees, both in management and driving, were Dot Thom, Norma Freyder and Jean Barfoot – they were all office girls, or office administrators, or office staff. Then there was Henry Donkin, Joe Campbell, Colin Frew, Bill Beaumont, Wally Lee, Bruce Gibson, Ian Lewison. Now Ian was employed as the Accountant at aged twenty-one in 1961, and eventually became the Managing Director. Dick Heasley who came from Tolaga Bay as Operations Manager in 1977, and he built up a reputation similar to that of Keith Sturrock’s with his knowledge of the area – much larger area than Keith had to supervise over, and he was a stickler for punctuality and that too.
In these early years, in 1930s I think, Dad made a handshake agreement with the Standard Vacuum Oil Company … later become Mobil Oil … with R Sherwood being the Hastings agents. This branch of the business was managed by Dad’s brother, Ivan Sherwood. All the field deliveries were made to farmers and orchardists in forty-four gallon drums, and the oil in four gallon tins. A big part of the business was the provision of burning oil, I think it was called burning oil, you probably remember it Frank …
Beverley: Frost protection.
Rowan: … for the orchardists for frost protection.
In 1946-47 R Sherwood Limited won the contract to supply fuel over the Taihape Road to Waiouru, and this involved loading an S Bedford with thirty-seven forty-four gallon drums of fuel. And at the Kuripapango Bridge they had a stage there where they had to roll off … unload half the load, go across the bridge, unload the other half, come back, load on the first half, go over and load on the second half, then carry on up over the Gentle Annie. Colin Frew was the main man that used to do this and the whole journey used to take probably eleven and a half hours.
Innovation eventually happened, and the company was first – probably one of the first in New Zealand to have a bulk delivery tanker going around and supplying fuel for their clients. This agency was then managed by Dave Compton who worked for all his life in the company. And the handshake agreement that was done with Dad all those years before lasted right through until the Sherwood Family sold their shareholding in 1983, and Mobil Oil said “well we’d better get something written on paper now”. So it was an amazing agreement that Dad had with them.
Talking about innovation, Dad by then had moved his depot from Ken Sterling’s garage, just a wee bit west of there on the sort of Stortford Lodge side of Tomoana Road and Heretaunga Street, and built a depot there. And communication into the country areas was terrible – the phone lines were unreliable, particularly the further back you went. So Dad erected a pigeon loft in the depot …
… the reasoning being that the drivers going right back into the back country would take a pigeon with them and they’d write their tally, strap it to the pigeon’s leg, and the pigeon would come back. And they would get it out of the loft and say “oh, they only got so many lambs from Omahaki Station” or something. “We can top him up at Ernie Connor’s”. So they would ring as far up the road as they could get communication to … “stop the truck and tell him to go to such and such a place”. [Chuckle]
That’s amazing. You know not many people would know that.
And that was sort of his way …
Beverley: That’s what I had to do.
Rowan: However, the pigeons used to stop and have a feed in a paddock somewhere and inevitably the truck beat the pigeon home. [Laughter] So it had a flaw, and it didn’t work particularly well. [Chuckles]
In the thirties and forties the company grew, and bigger and better vehicles were purchased. In the thirties Dad had purchased some Leyland [?Banks?] trucks, but over the War years these were seconded by the Army for transport. And in order to carry on his service to his clients Dad had to beg and borrow trucks from other people to carry on his business.
In the 1950s Dodge and Fargo trucks dominated the fleet. This gradually changed to Bedford trucks, and they were then towing small single-wheel trailers.
In 1966 R Sherwood Limited offered clients shares in the business, forming the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Transport Limited, a public company.
In 1969 Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Transport merged with Waipawa Farmers’ Transport, and this formed Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings Limited. Other local carrying companies were merged with Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings during this period, and a little bit before. They included C J Wilkie, Dave Walker, Attwood & Reid and Bambry Brothers. With this increased size and the loosening of the transport licensing laws, the trucks and trailers became bigger and more suited to the longer hauls. Atkinsons and ERFs came on the scene, and later Kenworths and Volvos.
Also in 1969, Jim Burnside’s Contracting, which formed forestry roads, was purchased along with, in 1972, the Fraser Shingle Company from Jock Fraser, and this formed the East Coast Contractors Limited, which was a subsidiary of Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings, and it was run by Max Lissette.
During the seventies, various additional activities were added to the rural cartage of Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings. These included fertiliser ground spreading, log cartage, road freighting, a venture into logging in Papua New Guinea – that didn’t last long – and the purchase of orchard land in Twyford and commercial land down Omahu Road.
In 1964 Sherwood Aviation was sold to James Aviation – Brick’s covered all the history of that.
This sale – the sale of Sherwood Aviation – probably what prompted that sale was the fact that neither Brick nor I were showing much interest in the transport industry, and we wanted to be farmers. So in 1959, and I’ve included my mother here, Mum and Dad bought Quarryburn Farm at Rissington. It was six hundred and seventy-two acres, and it was bought off old Marty Druzianic. Matey … Matey.
In 1964 we purchased Lechlade Farm which was nine hundred and thirty-six acres, and that was purchased off Laurie Lowe. That was in the Sherenden district. And in 1970 Selkirk Farm which bounded Lechlade, five hundred and sixty acres, was bought off Bob Doole. Around … I don’t know, must have been in the late seventies then, I think the depot moved from Heretaunga Street to Orchard Road. I just can’t get a … can’t seem … well, I know Ian Lawson, I’ve spoken to him, and he couldn’t quite put it together, but he said “I’ve got a photo of all the staff – the office staff in particular – in 1974 at Heretaunga Street, and there were about eighteen of them in the photo.
But in 1979 Quarryburn Farm was sold to David Bone – that’s the Rissington property – was sold to David Bone, and the Otamauri Farm in Otamauri of twelve hundred and forty-six acres, was bought off Malcolm McNeil. And in 1981 the Otamea Farm which bounded Otamauri, four hundred and sixteen acres – that was purchased from Tom Lamont.
In 1980 – I think it was 1980, Dad was seventy-three, and he retired as Managing Director but remained on the Board of the Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings – I stand to be corrected, but it was about that time. He was about seventy-three I remember. And in 1983 the Sherwood Family sold their shareholding of Hawke’s Bay Transport Holdings, which was fifty-one per cent at that time, to Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Meat Company at Whakatu, and that sort of ended the family’s long association with the transport industry, of fifty-six-plus years.
And of course they enveloped four or five other major local companies … or they weren’t major, but they were other companies – Willkie’s and Attwood and Reid …
Yeah, well they were all Farmer’s Tran… that’s right. And in reviewing what I’ve said previously, it appears that our father was totally focussed on business, but this is not so. He used to take fishing trips to Taupo with his great friend Doctor Roland Cashmore … Ro Cashmore. He loved clay bird shooting and duck shooting, and shot for years with Vic Peterson at Ohiti Lake. Now one of the stories Dad told us about old Vic [chuckle] – they were going for the next year to the shooting and Vic turned up with a great big leather gauntlet, came right up to his shoulder. Dad said “what you got the leather gauntlet for Vic?” And he said “well I put a blooming part whisky bottle in one of these blackberry bushes last year” he said, “it should have grown a bit by now”. [Laughter]
He also shot at Ohinga Lake with Tom Kelly. He was a very good live bird shot, and they used to get Dad along to make sure they did get some ducks I think. And he also shot at Lionel Holland’s at Haumoana until he burnt the whole place down one time by tapping his pipe out on the dry [?rapa?] [Laughter] So that was the finish of that. [Chuckles]
Beverley: There was a scuffle for the case of ammunition.
Rowan: Oh yeah, yeah I know.
Were there any duck pluckers in the family? [Chuckles]
Beverley: Well these two – it was their first year with Dad wasn’t it, going out duck shooting? And didn’t Dad – wasn’t their tucker underneath the vehicle? And you ran over that getting the vehicle out of it?
Rowan: I can’t remember.
I’ll just go on to say that most of all he was a family man. He, along with our mother, loved having their family and wider family about them. As we children were married they welcomed our husbands and wives, and treasured our grandchildren.
Beverley: Their grandchildren.
Brick: But I can recall one … that time he lit the fire at Lionel Holland’s … Eric Wishart was one of the party. And Eric was pretty fragile, and we used to have to row him out to his maimai. And anyway, once the plume of smoke went up we thought ‘oh, we’d better go and get Eric’. He’d walked out. [Chuckle] He was already on the bank. “What the hell happened?”
Rowan: No, no – no he wasn’t. No, he was there, and we walked along the bank and he said “oi! What’re you doing out this time of the morning?” It was just at the prime time. [Chuckles] And he said “oh, I’ve started a bit of a fire behind”. And Eric looked round and the flames were leaping thirty feet in the air. And he said “I’ll send Rowan around with a boat to get you.” He was in the back of the boat you see, [laughter] and he pulled his waders out and he walked out. [Laughter] Yeah. So anyway …
Brick: It was a similar story with old Vic Peterson.
Beverley: Yeah, he walked out.
Brick: He sank to the bottom and walked out. [Chuckles]
Beverley: He was short and squat.
The Petersons, did they live in Windsor Avenue?
Yes. [All speaking together]
And they had couple of trucks?
That’s right, yes. [Speaking together]
Rowan: Parkvale. Parkvale Transport I think it was called.
Rosemarie: He was short and stocky, yes.
Beverley: Short and plump.
Rowan: And treasured their grandchildren, as I said.
But Dad was known for his wise counsel when asked for advice. He never really understood the aviation industry, or the pilots. He was never into horse racing except to meet the clients on race days.
Brick: Who were spending his money.
Rowan: And he thought that golf was a waste of good grazing ground. [Chuckles] I can long remember him saying “if you ever see me flying single-engined aircraft, or racing horses, have me certified – I’m sure to have gone mad”. [Chuckles]
A friend of mine recently told me, as a twenty-year old he went to ask Mr Sherwood for some advice. He’d been offered a good job in Australia … “what do you think, Mr Sherwood?” Dad said “young man, if you don’t think you can make it here, go to Australia”. [Laughter] He is now a successful businessman in Hawke’s Bay.
Oh, he had lots of sayings. I remember one – “always tramp the ground firm before you move on”. You know, that way you make sure you’ve got a sound base before you move to the next job.
Rosemarie: And the other one I never forget is – “hurry up and take your time”.
Brick: That’s right.
Beverley: And what about – “if you’re going to ring up someone to complain about something, you always ask them how the chooks are laying first”. [Laughter]
Rowan: And you know, he believed in the value of land, because he used to say “never sell land before you’ve agreed to buy another block”, he said “otherwise the price can move, and you end up doing the splits”. [Laughter]
Rosemarie: But also I – Rowan, I can always remember him saying – that’s when you boys … when he started buying the farms, he used to say “well trucks wear out, land’ll never wear out”.
Just coming back, Rowan, starting with the Model A – how many trucks were in the fleet when Sherwood’s finally sold?
Rowan: Sold out?
Yes. Just roughly.
It was over a hundred. Yes, over a hundred trucks.
You told that story about Peter Bridgeman and your father meeting out at …
I rang Charlie Bridgeman to see if I could interview him for the Bridgeman story and he repeated that story word for word.
Beverley: Did he really? Well, well.
So obviously it was something that they nurtured …
Rowan: They passed on.
Beverley: And ‘course Charlie married a Sherwood – he married one of Ivan’s daughters.
So it’s all in the family … we should have him here too. [Chuckles]
Annette: It didn’t last a long time though, unfortunately.
Beverley: No, but they were good friends.
Annette: Oh, absolutely – right throughout.
Rosemarie: Ivan went … right to June’s 70th but …
Beverley: June died quite a while ago.
Rosemarie: But then, when they came down from Glenross, Johnny Bridgeman built Mum and Dad’s first home which was ready for them to move into in 1936.
Annette: No, not Johnny.
Rowan: Not Johnny – Peter.
Annette: Johnny was too young.
Rosemarie: Oh, Peter – beg your pardon.
Annette: Johnny built our first home. He built our first home. I was … we were at school with Johnny.
Beverley: Well done, Rowan.
Rosemarie: Good job Rowan – yeah, I’ve learnt a lot today too.
Brick: Oh, we’ve all learnt something.
Rowan: It’s just a … it’s not a sort of a … it’s more a personalised sort of approach to it, rather than a … fact – yeah.
Well that’s what we’re looking for.
Annette: No, that was good.
Well when we first started at school we were zoned to go to Mahora School, which was a fair way away from where we lived. And Mum had organised someone on Grays Road … Mum would take us down to Stortford Lodge …
Rosemarie: No, Billy Lynch – would get us across Stortford Lodge.
Annette: Oh, Billy Lynch, was it?
Annette: And then …
Rosemarie: The grocer.
Annette: Someone would see us across the road on Grays Road too, didn’t they?
Rosemarie: No, Dad was there at Tomoana Road.
Annette: Well anyway, we kept on appearing on the wrong side of the road. [Wind noise] And it became a bit concerning, but apparently every time we saw a dog we’d cross over the road – Bev on one bike and Rosemarie and I on the trike. Now one would ride the trike one week and double the other one, and then the other one would swap over. And Mum could never understand how Rosemarie’s cardigan or jersey was always in holes right across her shoulders. And when Rosemarie was peddling and I was on her back, I apparently used to chew her jersey, and chew big holes in it. Well to teach me a lesson my Mother decided that the only way that she could do – and she was a great sewer – but she made me a sack dress. She made me a sack dress. And when I came home from school she made me take my clothes off and put this sack dress on. Anyway the next morning when I was going to school Mum said “you’re not wearing those clothes – you’re wearing your sack dress”. Anyway, Rosemarie and Bev were [giggle] dead scared that I was going to be going off to school in this sack dress, so we had a lady living next door to us, Mrs Millichamp. There was a garage there so Rosemarie and Beverley put some clothes in a bag and hid it out in Mrs Millichamp’s car shed for me to change into. [Chuckle] But by that time … look, I never ever had to change my clothes, I was allowed to wear clothes to school. But Mum had made this sack dress for me. And as I say that was punishment, but we were never beaten – we were never … I can’t ever remember getting a hiding or a smack on the hand or anything, but there was punishment anyway.
So we went to Mahora for a year I think, and then we were rezoned to go to Raureka School.
Rosemarie: Can you remember Parents’ Day at Mahora? Annette and I were nose bleeders. We inherited that condition from our father, he was a nose bleeder. And whenever her nose bled my nose would bleed, or vice versa. And Mum dressed us up in our best frocks. We didn’t wear school uniforms of course, in those days, and she dressed us up in our best frocks to go to school for Parents’ Day. And Mum got a ring from the school just before she was due to leave to ask her to bring us each a change of clothes, and she arrived at school at Mahora and here – we were both in sick bay or somewhere with cotton wool plugs up our noses … nostrils. And our friends said they were all so envious ‘cos we were allowed to have ice cream up our noses. [Chuckles] Yeah, we were nose bleeders.
Annette: We had a reasonably happy time. Rosemarie and I were split up as twins, because we were identical. And Rosemarie – I spent a year in the primers and then Rosemarie spent two years, so we actually went through Raureka in different classes.
Rosemarie: Hastings West.
Annette: Yes, it was Hastings West too – it changed to Raureka. And one thing I really remember was the day that King George died. And we were walking to school and we heard that King George had died. And the thing that went through my mind was – ‘fancy having to sing “God Save the Queen” when we’ve already sung “God save the King”. I mean – that was something that really stuck in my mind.
Rosemarie: As we did first thing every morning at school in those days, the flag went up.
Annette: Yes, I do remember that. And there was something else I was just thinking about … oh, God, I’ve forgotten now. Anyway we had a very, very – I know what I was going to say – we had very, very happy times at Hastings West.
And the one thing I do recall was after the War finished Dad had occasion to go to Wellington. I’ve got no idea what for, but he went to Wellington and he arrived back with balloons. Now, we’d never known what a balloon was and we were allowed to take these balloons to school. Do you remember that? And we were everyone’s best friend, ’cause no one had ever seen a balloon before. Because the rubber was all needed for … yes.
Rosemarie: I remember Marie [?Grieve?] coming with chewing gum.
Annette: Yes. So we had a very happy upbringing really.
Beverley: Do you remember Dad bringing us to sit in front of the big radio when Winston Churchill declared peace, and I’d been the spoilt one in the family because I had two dolls, Dubdow and Wilhelmina, and the twins didn’t have a doll at all.
Rosemarie: We didn’t.
Beverley: They’d always wanted a celluloid doll because little kewpies had come into fashion and when they heard that the War was over they said “can we go to town today to buy a celluloid doll?” [Chuckles]
Annette: And that’s another vivid memory I’ve got of the War. We were made to sit down … Dad was a Winston Churchill fan and he had a big photograph of Winston Churchill in his office, and we were made to sit in front of the radio. And it was a square box, or oblong box with a round thing, and once Big Ben struck we knew then we all had to be quiet and listen to Winston Churchill speaking. He was a real fan. These are just little things that I can remember. Yes, and then really, we went on to Iona.
Well just coming back to family life ..?
Beverley: Yes, well Mum always did the meal – usually did the meal if she was well enough, and we had a slide – we had a kauri bench – we had a slide that went into the dining room area, and we were called. Mum always used to go and put on some lipstick or … [speaking together]
Annette: Brush her hair.
Rosemarie: The table was only set up though …
Beverley: … brush her hair, and she’d come and she sat down, and we were allowed to sit down after Mum sat down – and there was no talking at the table.
Annette: Grace was said.
Beverley: Oh yes, Grace was said.
Annette: [Chuckle] Yes … can you remember?
Beverley: It was “Father we thank thee … [all speaking together] … for these and all our mercies, pardon any sins, and bless us for Jesus sake, Amen.”
And we were not allowed to talk at the table, we were there to eat, and if we did misbehave there was a steeplejack in a cupboard behind where Dad sat …
Rowan: Hot water cupboard.
Beverley: Yeah … and that steeplejack was often brought out and lain on the table. I can’t remember it being …
Rosemarie: It was never really used was it?
Beverley: I can’t remember it very much.
Annette: But it was “sit up straight, shoulders back, elbows in” – and we were taught manners.
Beverley: And we weren’t allowed to speak until we were spoken to. Those days of course are gone, because sitting round the table’s sometimes the only occasion that …
Rosemarie: We used to stand behind our chairs like this and Mother would go out of the kitchen down to her bedroom, put on some lipstick, take off her apron, and when she sat down we were allowed to sit down. But we never sat down before our Mother did.
Beverley: No – but Mum never ever lifted a dish after that, because we used to have to …
Annette: Oh yes, we used to do the dishes.
Beverley: … do the dishes and everything else, and we had duties to do – there was a duty list. And we had our duties to do and it just became a …
Rosemarie: It was routine.
So what were the boys doing while you were …?
Rosemarie: Oh, they were spoilt little buggers. [Laughter]
Beverley: Rowan sat in a highchair.
Annette: Rowan sat in a highchair and Rowan was …
Rosemarie: Beside Dad. [Laughter]
Annette: Rowan sat in a highchair …
Rosemarie: Beside Dad.
Beverley: And he was a hopeless eater.
Rosemarie: And he wouldn’t eat his crusts, and Dad would get up from the table and put his hand in his pocket and his pockets were full or Rowan’s crusts – he’d be putting them in [chuckles] Dad’s pocket. Spoilt little buggers. [Chuckle]
Annette: I’ll never forget … Mum and Dad had a friend who was a captain of a ship – a great friend of my mother’s that she nursed with, and his name was Mr Alexander. [Laughter] And we used to read stories and there was the poem in A A Milne’s book about the beetle:
‘And I had a little beetle
and beetle was his name
but I called him Alexander
and he answered just the same
and Nana let my beetle out
she went and let my beetle out
and Nana let my beetle out
and beetle ran away’
– this is the A A Milne. Anyway, we were waiting for Mr Alexander to come up – Dad had gone over to the Napier Port to pick him up. And Rowan was sitting in his highchair and the car pulled up, and he called out “Oh, there’s Daddy and he’s got Mr Beetle with him”. [Laughter] I’ll never forget that … yes. [Laughter] But no, these are just little things.
And also, bedtime was never ever an issue at our place. We all just sort of went to bed at the right time.
Beverley: We might have gone to bed at the right time but then Rowan and I shared a bedroom. He was my baby, and I’ll never forget the first night we shared a room together – it was out sort of in the nursery part, and we heard a train going by. “Bevie, put-put make noise. Put-put make noise, Bevie. Put-put make …”. “Yes Rowan … yes Rowan”. That was the first night, and every night after that until I went away to school, Rowan would wake during the night and it would be “Bevie, Bevie, I want a drink of water. I want a drink of water”. And unless I got up and got him his drink of water … then he would go to sleep. Or it was “Bevie, Bevie, I want a hankie. Bevie, I want a hankie”. So Bevie would have to get up and get him a hankie. Or “Bevie, I want my blankets tucked in”, or sometimes it was just “Bevie, I want something”. [Speaking together]
Rowan: And I ran out of ideas. [All laughing]
Beverley: And he would not settle until I actually got up and touched him.
So what was the something?
Beverley: Well … never knew – as long as I got up, yes, and just gave him a kiss or I patted him.
Annette: He just wanted attention. [Laughter]
Beverley: Yes. And then Mum and Dad used to say to me “you’ve ruined him, you know – just ignore him”. But if you ignored him it went on ad finitum [ad infinitum]. So when I went away to school they all learnt the hard way. Then – I don’t know what happened to you Rowan, but you survived.
Rowan: I got over it.
Rosemarie: One of the funny things – Mum was pregnant, and we … in our naivety in those days … we didn’t know she was pregnant, and she was sitting out on the back verandah knitting. And she must have been very pregnant with this over here … Brick. And we said “who are you knitting for?” “Well, have a guess”. And we said “Auntie Gladys? Auntie Jean?” As I say, we didn’t know. Anyway she was having Brick, and she had the bassinet all done up in their bedroom beside the bed, it was all draped. And we all went in in the morning to say good morning to them, and Dad said “Ssh, sssh, sssh, sssh, sssh”, and pointed at the bassinet, and here tucked into the bassinet was one of those black Negro money boxes. [Laughter]
Rowan: I remember that.
Rosemarie: “Did you really have ..?” [Laughing, all together]
Beverley: So what a relief it was when we had a redheaded brother. [Laughter]
Rosemarie: And Dad had tucked the money box into the bassinet and covered it up. “Sh sh, sh, sh shush …” [Laughter] We were unaware that you had to go to hospital to have a baby. I can’t remember, but Dad used to play tricks on us.
Beverley: Yeah. We were protected from those sorts of things, and we were sent …
Rosemarie: Well you probably were too, in those days.
My mother used to go away and she’d turn up with this baby – and [we’d] wonder where the hell this baby … [laughter] she was getting these babies. [Laughter] From Sister Cooper’s in St Aubyn Street.
Rosemarie: That’s how … that’s where we were [?].
Beverley: That’s where I was born, and then when my daughter first came down to start work in Hastings at the Herald Tribune she flatted in what was Sister Cooper’s home. Dad remembered that. It was a … like a rough cast …
Beverley: Bungalow. Yes, sort of back … about behind where the old Stationery Warehouse – yes, and Kirsty flatted there. Dad got great pleasure in going to visit her there in her first flat.
Okay, well back to Rosemarie and …
Beverley: You were born at Sister Bryant’s in Tomoana Road.
Yes, so …
Annette: Well, we went off to Iona when we finished our primary school. And I just loved my time at Iona, made some really good friends. Rosemarie wasn’t quite so chuffed with the idea of leaving, but anyway she was given the opportunity of going to Solway …
Rosemarie: We were split up.
Annette: And I just thoroughly enjoyed my time at Iona and made some really good friends. And then when I finished teaching we came home and I met Rodney and we married in 1961 and we had a very fruitful marriage. We had four children, three boys and a girl. And I find now that Rodney’s gone, that my family have been … it’s bit of of payback time – they’ve been very, very good to me. We lived on the farm and Rodney – as I say Jamie spoke at his funeral and he said quite truthfully that Rodney moved three times in his life. He moved from Pakipaki to Pakipaki to Pakipaki – just …
So where did you meet Rodney then?
Annette: Well we had …
Rosemarie: Bob and I introduced them both to their husbands.
Annette: No. We’d known Rodney – known him for ages.
Beverley: Now twins, we won’t argue.
Annette: No. The Scott family lived across the road from us and Mrs Scott’s sister was Rodney’s mother. And they used to visit over there, and we were members of the Junior National Party. And in those days we went to dances, and – you talk about the Druzianics, well Bill Druzianic and Rodney went through high school together and became great, great friends. And when Dad bought the Quarryburn Farm from Matey Druzianic, we caught up with the Druzianics again. And it was really probably through that that we … ‘Cause I can remember meeting them on a Friday night in town. And Rodney had a little green Prefect car, and he always wore a green slouch hat. And I remember standing talking to them one day, Bill and Rodney, on a Friday night in town, and a cop came past. And he stopped and got Rodney out of the car, and he said to Rodney “if I catch you speeding again, boy” he said “you’re in for it”. And Rodney said “when did you catch me speeding? How do you know it was me?” He said “I’d recognise that green slouch hat anywhere”. [Chuckle] And that was the fashion then, he always wore a green slouch hat, and they all did.
Beverley: I still have Max’s here.
Annette: Have you? And we became friends more than anything, and then it developed. We were young, I was twenty-one.
His family … were they farming?
Yes … do you want me to go into that now? Well I never knew Rodney’s father. He died long before I ever knew him, but they farmed at Pakipaki. And Rodney’s grandfather was one of four Thompson boys that lived in Ireland, out of Belfast – they lived in Castle Dawson. And there were eighteen children born in that family. I don’t know quite how many survived, but we seem to think that there may have been a bit of a family feud, or it might have been during the potato famine, I’m not sure, but four of the boys all left Ireland at the same time. And three of them came to New Zealand and the other one went to Argentina.
Now the one that went to Argentina was obviously very successful at what he did. I don’t know what he did, but he went back to Ireland and bought the old family home with the fields, and it – we’ve been there – and it was the old stone cottage with the peat house on the side. And we went in and met Esther, Rodney’s cousin, who was living in the home when we were there. But the uncle from – Rodney’s father’s uncle that went to Argentina – he went back and built a stained glass window in the family church. And there’s a Thompson pew and there’s the stained glass window with the Thompson … when he went back and did all that for the family.
Now the three boys that came to New Zealand – all were off the land I think – no, one was a lawyer or became a Judge down south. Dempster Thompson was the butcher here in Hastings, and Rodney’s father, Gordon, was farming. But the grandfather … Rodney’s grandfather Gordon Ramsay Thompson, obviously was a successful landowner because before he died his three sons – there were seven in the family – three boys, Albert, Les and Rodney’s father Gordon, and they all had land.
So Albert … Albert from over at Meeanee?
Rosemarie: Stock Road.
Yes, well Uncle Albert … and he farmed at Longlands too. And Rodney’s father farmed at Pakipaki, Albert farmed at Longlands and then went to Meeanee, and Les farmed at Bay View. And they were the three boys. And Uncle Albert never married, and I never met Rodney’s father – he died of a heart attack I think, and left Rodney as an eighteen year old in charge of the … in those days ‘course, there was no insurance. I’ll show you this … The first thing Rodney had to do was go to the bank. That’s the family – this is Gordon Ramsay, that’s Rodney’s grandfather, and that was Caroline, and I don’t know what her maiden name was. There’s Uncle Albert and Uncle Les and that’s Rodney’ father who obviously went to Napier Boys’ High – he was the youngest.
He did too – I haven’t seen those socks since I left.
No. [Laughter] So, that was Doris, that was Auntie Elsie and that was Claire …
Rosemarie: But Elsie and Albert lived together.
Annette: … that’s Brian Yule’s mother. You know Brian Yule? Yes. So that’s the family when they … well obviously they were living in New Zealand. As I say, Rodney’s father died young and left Rodney in charge of an ailing mother and two very, very supportive sisters. You would have known Pam at Hastings Girls’ probably – Pam Thompson? Rodney went to Pakipaki School, and the girls did too, and then they went all onto Boys’ High which then became co-ed – no, it was a co-ed, and then it became Boys’ High.
So the farm is at Pakipaki?
Whereabouts at Pakipaki?
Well it was just down Mutiny Road, but there were two blocks, just down Stock Road. There was the block on Stock Road, and there was another block over between Turamoe Road and Anderson Road, and that was what Rodney farmed. Well now when – Rodney had always said that if anyone offered him £100 an acre, that he’d sell. And the Government actually came in one day, and they’d been doing a survey of land that they wanted to start farming trees – like wood lots I think it was. And they decided that this hundred acres of ours was the most suitable and so they offered us money, and we left. Rodney still kept Turamoe that we used to crop, but then we sort of diversed [diversified] and once we sold the house of course we had to come to town to live. We had four children at that stage and we came to town to live and educated our kids in town.
Brick: Where did you live then?
Rosemarie: Behind us in Nottingley Road.
Annette: Well we rented a place in Nottingley Road, and then we bought the place down on the bend, which is …
Brick: Yeah, I remember that, but I don’t remember you being in town.
Rowan: Yeah, well I remember that. [Speaking together]
Annette: Yes – we were next door to Rosemarie and Bob. We just rented a place there. Oh, I can remember renting it. David, our third son – we’ve got three sons, Mark, Jamie and David – and David was one of these kids that loved helping people. And he used to go round the neighbourhood … and of course living on the farm of course, we didn’t have close neighbours … and so he used to go round every night with this truck and take people’s papers into them, until one day it was very windy and he lost everyone’s papers [chuckle] down the street. And, well we had a terrible time – mind you the neighbours didn’t really mind, but we lost all the papers. And then another day I remember – we lived next door to the … who were the people we lived next door to? He was a manager in Williams & Kettle’s?
Rosemarie: Oh yeah, I can’t think who …
Annette: And one day she called out to me and she said … and I hadn’t even missed David … she called out to me and she said “Annette, do you know where David is?” And I said “no, I don’t know where he is”. She said “well don’t worry about him ’cause he’s sound asleep on my couch”. [Chuckle] Yeah, he used to go and visit all the neighbours.
And then when our boys got a bit bigger, Mark went on to Flock House and did his time at Flock House, and then he got a job up at Patoka with John McLeod. And then for some reason he was roped into driving. He – because he could always drive, and our kids always drove, they drove trucks and they drove tractors – and he was called one day by Farmers’ Transport that someone, one of the drivers, had had an accident or had a heart attack or something up at Mahia, and they needed someone to go up and bring the truck home. And Mark was called in to go up and bring the truck home and he’s now – he’s been a truck driver ever since. So he worked for Farmers’ Transport and then he went on to Brownrigg’s, and now he’s with Everfresh, and he’s still a truck driver.
Oh, he obviously loves it.
Beverley: I was going to say … and happy.
Annette: Oh, yes, yes, yes. And he’s a very well respected truck driver. In fact a lot of the farmers say, you know – when Mark’s free they want this done or they want that done.
And Jamie went to University, to Massey, and he was doing Ag Science. But then Mum was in Palmerston at that stage having cancer treatment, and I was down there and Jamie was like a fish out of water. He left school – he was accredited UE and had enough marks, very good marks, to go down without doing a seventh form year. But he was young, and he came round to me one day and burst into tears. And I tell you who was there having treatment, was Roberts, from Murray Roberts. [Speaking together]
Rosemarie: From Murray Roberts.
Annette: Yes, and he had a long chat to Jamie, and he came and had a chat to me and said “you know, I think your son’s chosen the wrong course. He’s not at all happy”. And I said to Jamie “get in the car and come home”. “Oh, they’ll all call me a loser”. And I said “well, we don’t care what they call you”. But anyway, he went back to University after a year and did an Ag degree, and also did a Bachelor of Business Studies, and he’s now General Manager for the East Coast with Ravensdown. He’s from Wellington up to …
And then David our next son, was running the orchard that we planted there in Rosser Road, we were living. And then we were hit with the hailstorm, and Rodney decided – he was a stockman, he’d never been an orchardist – so we bailed out there and David didn’t have a job, and he was married with a child at that stage. So he went up to Hamilton and started coaching rowing. And he started with the Hamilton Boys and he’s now a New Zealand Rowing Coach. So he coached the girls’ eight. And he’s got three sons all doing good things.
And Jamie had twins … identical twins. He’s got two other children, Jake and Renee, so he’s got four children. I’ve got six grandsons and one granddaughter.
Oh – sorry, I’ve got Pip. Our youngest is a daughter …
Rosemarie: The most important one. [Chuckle]
Annette: Course she is. [Chuckle] My youngest one, Pip – I had three sons and a daughter. And Pip’s been a big support to me. She’s actually a trained chef, but she’s with Porse now, doing marketing for Porse Childcare.
Rowan: Pip’s unmarried.
Annette: Yes, Pip’s not married.
And it was this year that you lost Rodney?
I lost Rodney Christmas Eve …
Rosemarie: A year ago, Christmas Eve.
Pat and Graham Gordon – Pat’s my sister.
Oh, I didn’t know that.
Yes. So it’s a pretty small world – we all know what everyone else is doing. [Speaking together]
Rosemarie: We were all brought up in this … I mean, we used to kick around in our youth. Was it Junior National Party we used to go to?
Yes … planning balls and all those things, ’cause it was a very social …
Annette: Yes, yes. Yes.
… Hawke’s Bay in those days.
Rosemarie: Well there was no television, and you used to meet for the – did you come to the nurses’ dances?
Annette: Well of course Rodney used to do all the stock management for [?Penny?] Glazebrook, and of course that was where he met Graham, and then they bought along the road from us.
Yes. No, well Rodney died on Christmas Eve. He died peacefully – he’d been on dialysis for four or five years, and so it wasn’t – he died very quickly – it was expected. And the family were all home for Christmas, and it was just lovely the way it all turned out, and we can’t be at all sad about it. And my kids have been very supportive of me. So we’ve sold.
Rowan: And I’m just looking at this early photograph – Jamie’s the one that looks very much like his grandfather, isn’t he?
Annette: Yeah. But look at the … don’t you love the wicker chair?
Old Gordon Ramsay … Rodney’s father was Gordon Ramsay, the grandfather was William Phillips, with an ‘s’ – Phillips. And Rodney went up to the cemetery one day, and do you know there were two William Phillips Thompson’s buried in the cemetery? And Rodney got the wrong one because he said it was in behind the new … but it wasn’t, because he died William Phillips Thompson, which is a very unusual name. And the aunts … Auntie Elsie that never married, and Uncle Albert, were delighted when we called our Philippa, Philippa – because of the name. And I had no idea what the surname was – it was just a name that we liked.
Okay. Well look Annette, that’s lovely. That gives us a nice picture of your part … Rosemarie, would you like to tell us ..?
Rosemarie: Well I was … Annette’s caught up … [cell phone rings] she’s told you about us until we went off to Iona. And I had a year at Iona and then we were split up, and I went down to Solway, and it was a big effort. I always think of how it must have been a very expensive exercise for our parents to change me after a year. But we were booked into Solway – our Mum’s sister was Matron at Solway for many years, so we were booked in there. But apparently, when it came time for us to go to school, the story goes that Dad and Mum went and looked at both schools and Iona had the better fire escape, so that was why they chose …
Annette: And do you know what the fire escapes were? Just a pipe coming out the window …
Rosemarie: A pole.
Annette: … and we had to go … a pole. We just had to come down these galvanised poles, and they were our fire escapes.
Rosemarie: But they …
Rosemarie: … became slides. However, they asked me if I’d like to go to Solway, and Miss Todd who was the Headmistress at the time – she was there when our Auntie Rene was matron. And a typical old single English lady that came out …
Rosemarie: Presbyterian, yes. And she was on holiday at the time, but she remembered my name through Auntie Rene. And there was a vacancy came up so she rang Mum and Dad during the Christmas holidays and said yes, there was a vacancy for me to go. So I was sent down to – I got second hand clothing, and I went down to Solway. And I made wonderful friends – I had a Solway friend yesterday for the day – and I’ve still got wonderful friends.
However, separating was the best thing they ever did … for me, anyway. I had a very severe speech impediment which – you probably knew a bit of my speech impediment in those days. When I was asked my name when I first went to Solway, I couldn’t even say my own name. And I’ve never stopped talking since, Frank! But Solway was lovely – I loved it. It was interesting, the times that … Iona breakup was always in the afternoon, and the Solway break up was in the evening. And Mum used to go to the Iona breakup and pick up the girls, and I presume she took you home to get changed out of your school uniform, but then they used to get in the car and come straight down to Solway and come to my breakup. They walked in – the breakup had just started … this is my first breakup … and they walked in and the staff grabbed Annette, and said “get upstairs and get changed”. [Chuckles]
Annette: No, it wasn’t then …
Rosemarie: Yeah, that was that.
Annette: We were downstairs talking, and she opened a window …
Rosemarie: No, that was another one. The first time … [speaking together]
Rowan: You never know, though, do you?
Rosemarie: … you walked into the hall with …
Beverley: Here we go – the twins …
Rosemarie: … Mum and Beverley, and you were told to go – and then when I arrived they realised. But they never had the manners to apologise. But that kind of thing happened often at Solway.
Rowan: We often used to try and get them to …
Beverley: Dad used to.
Rowan: to go and …
Rowan: … greet one another’s partners and see whether they recognised them or not.
Rosemarie: Oh, we never fooled Bob and …
Beverley: But Dad always used to say to Annette “you go and go back to Solway – you go back to Solway – Rosemarie, go to Iona”. Rosemarie felt comfortable going there ‘cause she knew …
Rosemarie: I knew Iona.
Beverley: But Annette wasn’t game to go and pretend she was Rosemarie, but no – he’d have you on.
Annette: No, I can remember standing down on the tennis courts and you were all dressed up and I was in my civvies. And some Mistress opened a window from up the top and said “that girl Sherwood – would you go and get back into your school uniform straight away”. [Chuckles] And of course all the girls did was laugh, and she suddenly realised I think, that … then she slammed the window shut.
Rosemarie: They never had manners to apologise.
Rowan: I must leave you. Have we got to do another one about our families and how they went on? Or do you not … worrying about that Frank?
Brick: Oh, we’ll let them do that.
Annette: No – we’re not doing grandchildren are we?
Beverley: No, but Rowan hasn’t done his family yet.
No, we’ve got to do yours yet.
Beverley: We’ll be in touch.
Rowan: Yeah, okay.
Annette: We can tell him all about you and your family. [Chuckles]
Beverley: Thank you Rowan, thank you.
Rosemarie: And it was just interesting Frank, that I knew all Annette’s friends but she didn’t know mine. And still today, people stop us … now that Beverley’s come back to Hawke’s Bay also … people stop me, and I presume … “which one are you?” And I just say “I’m the other one”. We’re still taken … but I knew all Annette’s friends and they knew me, but my friends didn’t know Annette and she didn’t know them. It was interesting because it was the first time that we’d ever actually been split up, and it was the best thing that was ever done, for me anyway.
Annette: Well I used to do all Rosemarie’s talking for her, because I suppose being identical twins I knew what she was saying. And that wasn’t the right thing to do, so it meant that Rosemarie really … it would have been hard for her to have to learn to do it all herself.
Rosemarie: Well I was asked what my name … but …
Annette: But then when Jamie had identical twins – Mum had just died then, and Kim’s big disappointment was that Mum had died when she was expecting the twins, and she wouldn’t have Mum to help her. But all they wanted – Jamie and Kim – was the kids to grow up as independents. So they went to Hereworth together, and then one went to Lindisfarne and one went to Napier Boys’. So they’ve been split up and they are quite different little boys. Or, they’re not little but …
It intrigues me because we used to have the Chrisp twins, and Anderson girls …
Rosemarie: The Anderson triplets, the Chrisp twins, and the Frater twins, and the Sherwood twins.
And of course someone … one would always be dominant …
Annette and Rosemarie: Yes.
… and that was in your case? The splitting strengthened both of you.
Rosemarie: A lot of people say to me “oh, how mean of your parents”. That wasn’t at all, but I think it was a very … a big move that they took to send me down to Solway on my own, away from home. And I never ever got home during the school term – these girls got home once or twice … Sundays after school. But no, my years at Solway were very happy, and I did well at Solway. And I’ve never forgotten what my parents must have sacrificed to send me there actually. And then when I came home – it was about the time that we used to kick around – I joined the Church choir, and I met Bob, my husband Bob, and he was in the Church choir. And over the years – well, it didn’t take long – we kind of got together and …
Brick: Started singing the same tune.
Rosemarie: That’s right, [laughter] but we went together for a long time, and then I went nursing. I came home, I was going to go to Wellington – I sat an Art Diploma to go to Elam at school, instead of doing UE, and I passed and I was … but I didn’t really ever want to go to Elam. So I was going to go to Wellington and join up with … I think it was the Lands & Survey, drawing maps and things. And in the end Dad spoke to Piet van Asch and got me a job at Aerial Mapping. That would have been when I got to know you. And then all my friends were going nursing, and my family … my mother and her sisters were all nurses … and I decided that I’d go nursing. So I went nursing, and I never looked back.
Annette: Could I interrupt just at this stage of it? My father would not allow us to leave school until we’d taken on a career. Rosemarie was a little bit different – you took on something, but I decided that I didn’t want to go back to school again for another year. And I hadn’t had very good health at school, I’d had a lot of boils and things. And so at the last minute I decided to go to Teachers’ College. You went to University – but that was one thing that a lot of my friends at school a little bit older than me – their fathers wouldn’t let their girls go off to University. The girls had to stay home, the boys were encouraged to go off to University, but we three girls were all …
Rosemarie: There was very little that girls could do – you could become an office girl, nursing or teaching. And I decided to go nursing.
Annette: So that was very fore-sighted of my father.
Beverley: I wanted to leave after my sixth form year because my friends had left, and Trish Russell was working in a bank and she was getting £7 a week – yes, I suppose it was a week – and I thought that I could leave school too and go and …
Annette: It would have been a fortnight.
Beverley: Fortnight was it? Oh I don’t know, but anyway … because then you could go and buy a pair or high-heeled shoes for about £2. And I’m so pleased Dad stopped me – he wouldn’t allow me to go and work in a bank, he must have realised I was hopeless at maths. I can’t even keep track of my own money after seventy-how many years. So I was sent back to school for my fifth year which I never regretted. But no, I wasn’t allowed to leave school just to go and work in the bank.
Rosemarie: Well I eventually went nursing and I loved it. And I suffered with a very bad back injury, and when I was told by the specialist that I would have to give up nursing – there was no way I was going to give up nursing. But I had to live in the Nurses’ Home. Our own home was almost into hospital property there, and I had to live in the Nurses’ Home. And when I registered … I’d met Bob and we were going together and singing in the Church choir, but he wouldn’t marry me until I had my medal. He was a bit like our father. He would not marry me, so we were going together for years, and Beverley and Max got married, and …
Annette: Hoping to live together before you were married … my grandsons … [chuckles]
Rosemarie: Yes – in those days you didn’t live together.
Beverley and Max got married, and then Bob was a groomsman and I was a bridesmaid, and Annette and Rodney got married and Bob was a groomsman and I was a bridesmaid, and then the following year … one year, two years and then the third year I got married. And Mum and Dad decided that it was the last wedding they could put on so it was going to be … I was going to be able to … we were going to have everybody. And we had people there … accountants and lawyers … in those days you did.
But when I registered – in those days we had to do various appointments around the hospital, and I was apparently – I was set to work in the operating theatre, and Ineke Bacher and I were chosen, and would we like to work in the theatre? So I went home and discussed it with Bob and my parents, ’cause I was still living almost at home. And I say I started working in the operating theatre.
And it’s interesting how times have changed. When we lived in the Nurses’ Home we had to leave our doors unlocked, so that the Nursing Home Matron could go in and check our drawers and our wardrobes to make sure they were clean and tidy.
Annette: Check there no men in your room.
Rosemarie: And … but we had to be in bed by nine o’clock at night. And today … but I wasn’t allowed to live at home. Dad built a house opposite us in McLeod Street for his parents, and they lived there. And Grandpa died, and Gran was still alive and somebody had to live with her. So I applied to the Board – Hospital Board – to live out, to live with my grandmother … well, sleep there anyway. And Dad had a phone put in beside my bed ’cause I did call you see. But I had to apply to the Hospital Board to be able to live out. And I was a registered nurse – I was at that stage in sole charge on certain occasions at night, and on call in the operating theatre, but I still had to get permission from the Board to live out. They did give me permission and I worked in the theatre from then on. And we got married, and of course once you got married you’re not allowed to carry on with your nursing, in those days …
In those days. Oh, no.
That’s something I didn’t realise.
Didn’t you? Oh no, if you got engaged your nursing career stopped.
Annette: And that happened at University – we all had to …
Is that right?
Rosemarie: Oh yes.
Annette: You had to get permission to become engaged to anyone – at University – yes, we did.
Rosemarie: What’s more important – nursing or marriage? And of course all the girls that wanted to get married said “marriage”. So once you got married you never … unless you were single, like all our Matrons and things – they were all single women.
I have another lady I interviewed – Elsie Leipst.
Annette: Oh, yes, yes. [Speaking together]
Rosemarie: I know Elsie. She was in charge of Children’s Ward.
She said to me – she said “people have said, you know – why did you never marry?” She said “why would I spoil a career like this by getting married?”.
Rosemarie: That’s right. We weren’t allowed.
She’s the most lovely person.
Annette: Isn’t she? Yes.
Rosemarie: I still see her.
Yes – I call her once every couple of months, just to have a cup of tea with her.
Well tell her you’ve been talking to me sometime.
I left the hospital, Bob and I got married, we were engaged [clock strikes] for eighteen months and we went together for five years or something before we got married.
Beverley: Dad’s clock.
Rosemarie: And then I gave up my nursing in about December because Frank, in those days if you worked a weekend in the operating theatre you went on duty at one o’clock on Saturday afternoon. You worked your eight hours, then you were on call right through Sunday – you had to work on Sunday, eight hours on duty, but you were on call right through, and then you took the Orthopaedic list on Monday. And you were on call right through until you took the Orthopaedic list, started at – you had to be on duty about half past six – seven o’clock on Monday morning. And I’d done weekend after weekend of not getting to bed at all. So my parents … we had a long talk and we decided that I should leave and have a bit of a break before we got married. I handed in my notice and my last day – I don’t know if you remember Geoff Taine – we only had two Orthopaedic surgeons. And I was scrub for a case in the theatre on the Saturday or the Sunday morning, and he said to me “the theatre sister at Royston has just had a stroke – could you come and help out to keep it going until you get married?” And I had a discussion with my parents, and Dad said “of course you should go”. And our mother said “of course she doesn’t have to go”. So I didn’t go.
But I did go there and help Maureen Grant …
Annette: Yes – Jack’s widow.
Rosemarie: Jack Grant – the Grants … well Jack’s widow came and she took over, but she hadn’t worked in theatre for twenty or thirty years. So I went there after we were married and I helped her. And we did our own washing, we had our own washing machine, we did our own sterilising, our own cleaning, just two of us.
Beverley: Nothing disposable in those days.
Rosemarie: Oh, no. Well, we used to wash all the swabs, and they were all re-sterilised and re-used. All the needles were re-sharpened and sterilised, our gloves were all – you used to wash them and dry them and blow them up, and if there was a hole they were patched. And I tell you what – times have changed.
And from then on Bob and I were married at this stage and I was earning £4 a week. [Background talk] Doctor Moeller was an anaesthetist and he said to me that he was looking for a practice nurse, so I went and worked as a practice nurse for him.
And anyway, Bob and I got married and we adopted two children ’cause I was not well. And then he got ill. Stuart was born in ’63, Anna was born in ’65. Bob was working at Hawke’s Bay Farmers – he started off as a motor mechanic. He was born in Tiko [Tikokino] … well he wasn’t, he was born in Waipawa, but he was raised in Tiko, and then came up and did his mechanic-ship [mechanic apprenticeship] with Hawke’s Bay Farmers. And he rose from there right to the top, and then he became Managing Director of Baillie Farmers Motors.
But just after – Stuart was about two – when he was sent to America, to Michigan General Motors Institute for three … four months. And just how things change – when we adopted Stuart we had an advocate. This is in those days. And the advocate turned down six babies on our behalf before he accepted Stuart. And we had an advocate for … we cancelled our order for our daughter because Bob was away, and he came back the day before our birthday, the 22nd of June, and we re-applied and Anna was born on 23 July. That was how easy and quickly it was in those days. Then Bob got ill and he died in ’84. Thirty-two … thirty-three years ago. Yes. Yes.
Brick: How old was he?
Rosemarie: He’d just turned fifty.
Annette: Fifty – and we had a lovely fiftieth birthday for him, it was an all day open home.
Rosemarie: Open home. Well we had a party for our twentieth wedding anniversary because we knew we wouldn’t get twenty-five. And then for his fiftieth – yes, we had an open day, and John Cornish cooked a great big piece of beef and we had an open day, it was lovely. But you knew Bob.
Brick: Everybody knew everyone.
Rosemarie: We did.
Rosemarie: But he was my husband, but he was a damn fine bloke too.
He was, absolutely.
Yes, yes, yes. And so, you know, we had a good life together. Unfortunately wasn’t long enough.
And so your two children, what are they doing?
Stuart is … he’s in Auckland. He has got a daughter – he’s not married now. He’s got a daughter that’s just had her first year at Otago Med School, and Anna is living in Hastings and she’s married to an Italian and they’ve got two gorgeous kids, Luca and Claudi. And Luca was sixteen last week. Claudia will be eleven next week. And Luca’s flying an aeroplane, and he’s off to Italy on his own next Sunday.
Beverley: Not flying.
Annette: Not flying.
Rosemarie: Oh, no not flying. [Chuckles] He’s going to …
Beverley: He’s learning to fly.
Rosemarie: He’s going to Italy – he’s been there twice before but he’s going on his own this time. And he’s going to school for a few weeks. He’ll be totally immersed in the Italian language. He wants to join the Air Force and he feels that at the moment, apparently they only take about ten into the Air Force a year. The Government have since decided that they’re going to spend more money on the Forces, so it might change. But if he can’t get into the New Zealand Air Force he’s going to have a go at joining the Italian Air Force. He’s at St John’s doing NCEA – he’s got his last exam on Friday and flies out on Sunday.
And Claudia is … rip, shit and bust. She does the lot, and she’ll be eleven next week. Lovely kids. [?] … she’s the office administrator at Raureka School.
Done the full circle.
Yes. Yes, yes – she’s back at Hastings West.
Annette: And my kids all went to Raureka School.
Rosemarie: Where did you go to primary?
Havelock. Yes, ’cause we lived in Thompson Road. Havelock Primary and then Napier Boys’. My father thought I had farming attributes, I should go there. I did become a farmer. [Chuckle]
Annette: Where was that – where was your farm?
In Thompson Road. It was a dairy farm.
Brick: You supplied milk for the town supply?
Yes. We were … butter factory for the first fifteen years I suppose.
Annette: Was that the butter factory down at Stortford Lodge?
Yes, the one that no one knows was even there.
Annette: No, we knew it was there.
Beverley: We remember it. Yes.
Brick: I can remember them opening those big churns and tipping the butter out, and cutting it with a wire.
Beverley: And Mr Tweedie used to deliver our milk. Yes.
Rosemarie: And we had a bucket … billy.
Beverley: Yes – billys.
Rosemarie: And the big ladle with the billy, and we had a circular drive. He used to drive round the circular drive, and we used to go out with our billy onto the front verandah and …
I interviewed Matt Tweedie four or five months ago – I got all the photos and all the stories of early in the morning, these little boys out delivering milk.
Brick: Matt who?
All: Matt Tweedie.
But fascinating to hear those stories of those little boys. And of course they didn’t have areas in Hastings to look after, they delivered all over the place, competing with one another.
Rosemarie: Oh did they?
Beverley: Going back to Raureka, the strong connection still – my daughter is the Public Health Nurse there at the moment.
Rosemarie: That’s interesting.
Annette: But talking about … in those days, you know, with the orphanage, Hillsbrook. When our eldest son was born … we had three years I think, between – four years it might be between Mark and Jamie. And Mark was a … he was a lonely … he was always with his father. But we got a little boy from Hillsbrook out during the Christmas holidays …
Beverley: Yes, so did we.
Annette: … a little Maori boy, and they got on like a house on fire and we used to get him out a lot, and he and Mark got on you know, really well. And then Jamie arrived and Hillsbrook closed. But no, you know, we used to enjoy that.
Rosemarie: Talking about Hillsbrook, our father wasn’t a wonderful guy that went out and bought presents. That was always Mum’s job, but we got for Christmas in those days – you’d know – bananas and oranges only came into the country once a year, and for Christmas we would get a case of bananas, a case of oranges and a case of fizz. But Hillsbrook always got the same. What we got, Hillsbrook got. And also Dad … well he wasn’t a betting man, but he often … and he wouldn’t have a bet unless he knew he was going to win. But the bet was, whoever lost had to give Hillsbrook $100. And there were several people that he’d take a bet with that he knew he was going to win, but the one that lost had to give Hillsbrook $100.
Beverley: Pounds, it would have been.
Rosemarie: Yes. He was very, very caring of little children.
Brick: Yes – sheltered.
Rosemarie: The day that we brought Stuart home – he was born in Napier – and I’ll never forget it. I won’t get into Bob’s family, but we lived at Nottingley Road and we drove into the … Bob’s mother was too busy to see her first grandson at the time, and we drove to Napier to pick Stuart up. And we came home, and in those days he was in a carrycot on the back seat of the car. And we drove into Nottingley Road and the whole family were there. And I can still see it – I’ll never forget. Dad ran out the front doors, he opened the back of the car … door, and he pulled out the carrycot and he looked up and said “thank you for another grandson”. I’ve never forgotten it. He was very, very gentle with babies, and loved little children.
Often … Beverley can’t remember, but sometimes he used to arrive home from work at five o’clock or so and he’d have several little Maori children in the car with him. One of the driver’s wives had done a bunk or something and he would bring those children home, and Mum would feed them and bath them. We had lots of …
Beverley: We often had children.
Rosemarie: … often had children from the Church Mother’s Club. If the mother was sick we had … Brick: Pledgers.
Beverley: Bonnie Maultsaid, Richard Pledger …
Rosemarie: Richard Pledger …
Annette: We had Paul Della.
Rosemarie: [Speaking together] We had – some …
Beverley: His father was killed in the aeroplane, and we had him living with us for a month.
Rosemarie: … some of those children we had for months and months and months.
Annette: And some of them were difficult kids too.
Beverley: Yes, some of them were.
It’s interesting the way he used that reverse psychology with the bets. The person that bet and lost had to pay the piper.
Rosemarie: That’s right.
Annette: And he also … if you ever passed a hitchhiker on the road he’d either stop and say “get your hair cut and I’ll pick you up next time”. [Chuckles] And another thing he used to do was – if he ever employed anyone, or someone came to him for a job, he’d put his hand in his pocket and give them a shilling, and say “go and get your hair cut and come back”. And another day – I’ll never forget this day …
Beverley: Short back and sides wasn’t it?
Brick: Go down to Jack Cave’s.
Beverley: Yeah, yeah, yeah. [Chuckles]
Annette: And I’ll never forget another day – he went down to the yard at the weekend. And he always smoked a pipe, and he used to use the matches …
Beverley: Yes, but he was almost retired … he’d almost given up then.
Annette: But he used to use the matches to check the tread of the tyres. And one day, Saturday, he went down there and he – oh, he lit his pipe one day over an empty drum and ended up with a very, very badly burnt face. But this particular day …
Beverley: That was in the forties.
Annette: Yes. He was – Keith Sturrock had just employed this new guy, and Dad’s talk to them whenever they came for the job was – well if they get job – “if you’re not busy make yourself look busy – grab a broom make yourself look busy”. Anyway this particular day Dad was walking around the yard with the matches checking all the tread on the tyres, and …
Rosemarie: And he kicked the tyres too.
Annette: And this guy told Dad to bugger off. He didn’t know who Dad was.
Rosemarie: “Old man, bugger off”, he said … bugger off! [Chuckle]
Annette: And so Dad took the huff and went, and told Keith Sturrock about it. And the following Monday when the boy turned up at work Keith Sturrock took the young lad up to the top office where Dad was with the big photo of Winston Churchill, to introduce this kid to the old man that he’d sent packing. [Chuckles]
Brick: To the boss.
Rosemarie: “We thought you’d better meet the boss”, he said. [Chuckle]
Annette: But Dad admired him – he said “well good on you boy – good on you”. No, he admired him for sending him packing. He didn’t know he was the boss.
So then after Bob passed, you brought the children up …
Rosemarie: Yes, Stuart went to Rathkeale, and he was just having his first year at home working out here at the National Bank, and Anna was still at Iona. And we discussed with her – in Bob’s last year she would have been in sixth form … fifth form.
Annette: Ah, she was fifth form.
Rosemarie: And we discussed … all of us, Bob including [included] … would she like to come home and have a year at home with us, go to local school? And it was over to her. She said no, she’d like to go back to Iona. So we sent her back to Iona, and half way during the first term she said “I’ve changed my mind”, and we just said “sorry Anna – we gave you the option, you’ve got to stay for the year”. So she stayed. Bob died in August and she finished her year at Iona, and the following year she came home and I sent her to Havelock High for her seventh form, and she stayed at home.
And then she went to EIT down in Wellington, and then they went off overseas. Left me on my own. So I decided after a few years living in Nottingley Road – it was not a half an acre, but it was near a half an acre, with a swimming pool. I went back nursing, and everybody used to love coming to swim in the pool, but it was a big job keeping that place, so I decided I’d …
Rosemarie: Size down. So I came out here. And I’ve been on several trips. The kids … I’ve joined up with the children while they’ve been over there, and Anna’s now married, Stuart’s on his own now. And he’s making … what’s he making?
Beverley: Vodka with …
Beverley: … with huhu bugs.
Rosemarie: Oh, not only with huhu … So he’s in Auckland and Anna’s here, and it’s lovely.
And I believe that you girls are all going to be living within a stone’s throw of each other.
Rosemarie: Well, we are now.
Beverley: We are now – Annette’s roof …
Annette: See my roof? But Beverley’s near me, it’s just over the back.
Beverley: And Brick’ll be moving in just around the corner. We’re going to get you the sit-on ride-up with the tray, with the cart on the back.
Rosemarie: Dad always used to … Dad was born in Havelock. They came to live in Havelock – but he always used to say “if you want to live in Havelock you’ve either got too much money, or you’re stupid”. So I think we must be all stupid. [Chuckle]
No, great choice. Okay, well look I think that probably really …
Rosemarie: Covers most of it.
… covers – yes. Brick I think we covered your family when we did the aeroplanes didn’t we?
Brick: We missed out one or two things I understand. [Interference noise] I think I mentioned the fact that I am a married man with a family.
Rosemarie: And you’ve got a wife, Brick?
Brick: Yeah I have. I have, and we neglected to mention much about her. I met her at … Margaret … she was Margaret Watson from Wakefield, and I met her at the Puha Sports, which is – Puha’s just out of Te Karaka in Gisborne. And the Puha Sports was when all the shepherds would gather for a totalisator meeting … equalisator meeting. And all the shepherds’ hacks … anyway, she turned up – she was staying with her auntie and I knew her auntie, because I knew other shepherds that she knew. But anyway I had lunch with them, and this young girl, she turned up. Anyway, after a long time we were married and I think I mentioned our family in that earlier recording, but I think that was the only piece I missed.
Beverley: Their names – you didn’t give …
Brick: Did I not mention my family’s names? Debbie … Deborah, she came along in 1974. She’s now a busy mother. She has a partner … her partner had two children before they met. His wife unfortunately died, and they’ve had two more since then so they’ve got four under ten. So she’s all of a sudden very, very busy.
And Callum – he came along in ’76. He’s just turned forty. He’s still single although he has got a lady friend at the moment which is encouraging, and he’s going to take over the farm. Margaret and I are moving to town in the next few weeks and yeah, I think that winds up our family. He’s going to farm and I’ll ease my way out of it. I still need a little bit of income – he’ll pay me the rent because my family trust still owns the land.
Good on you. Okay, well look that’s good.
Beverley: Do you want to know what my family’re doing? Because I didn’t tell him what … No I didn’t. I didn’t tell him what my kids are doing.
Annette: Yes you did.
Beverley: Sorry, my grandchildren.
Beverley: Oh no, we won’t get into … no, no. It doesn’t matter – yes, I’ve told you what the children are doing.
Annette: We could go on all day.
Brick: Come back when Rowan … to fill in his family.
History carries on today, tomorrow – there’s more history happening. In another twenty years someone else’ll pick it up and say “oh, we need to put some more stories”.
Okay, well thank you very much for giving me this. It’s great to have – it’s the first time I’ve involved a whole family, but it was about a family. And it’s quite a long interview, taking last weekend – we’ve got Rowan to do still. But it will be quite an exciting thing to listen to, so thank you very much.
Beverley: Thank you, Frank.
Today’s the 1st of December 2016. Rowan is going to carry on with the times of his life. So Rowan would you like to tell us something now?
Thank you Frank. I’m Rowan Howard Sherwood, the eldest son of Roy and Marjorie Sherwood. I have three elder sisters, Beverley, Rosemarie and Annette who are twins, and a younger brother by eighteen months or two years, Ashley Bruce Sherwood.
I suppose I should probably start by saying – start when I first went to primary school, and I went to Raureka School. My twin sisters, Annette and Rosemarie, used to take me to school and I only went there for just about a year I think, and then I was a first day pupil in 1952 at Frimley School, and I was still in the primers. I can remember Raureka School though because the girls were much older than I was and their boyfriends used to double me home sometimes from school – you know, there was a good excuse that they could ride with my sisters, and they used to double me home. But I didn’t have long at Raureka and then I was a first day pupil in 1952 at Frimley, as I said.
Following that I went to Hastings Intermediate, when I used to bike with my green balloon-tyred bike [chuckle] from McLeod Street in Hastings right up to the Hastings Intermediate. And peddling that heavy old bike that used to belong to my father – he used to ride it to work during the War years – was quite a task, battling back into the westerly wind from Hastings Intermediate back home to McLeod Street.
After [clock strikes] Intermediate I went to Napier Boys’ High as a border. I was actually originally booked to go to Nelson College, and thank goodness a place became available at Napier Boys’ High which was far more convenient as far as I was concerned. And I had five years at Napier Boys’ High.
What years were those?
Starting in 1960 to ’64 … leaving in ’64.
After that I worked on the farm at Lechlade for I think probably …would have been ’65 … yes, it was for a couple of years I think, under a Manager there. I was a shepherd and … all the jobs that shepherds get, cleaning under the woolshed and the likes.
And then in 1967 I decided it was time to get some education. However, I had achieved UE and Higher School Leaving, but I went to Massey University and did a sheep farming Management Diploma, and that was ’67 – ’68. After I’d finished that – back to the farm.
And then in 1969 a good friend of mine, Paul Carney, and I did our OE, much to the disgust of both our parents – or our fathers, who gave strict instructions “if we weren’t back by the time lambing started you might as well not come back, ‘cause there’ll be nothing here”. [Chuckle] So we both had that in mind, so we were away for about – our OE consisted of a trip to Australia for about three and half months, and back in time for lambing. So that was ’69 we got back here.
In 1970 … no, about the end of ’69 … my now wife, Anne McSporran, returned from Japan where her parents were working – Malcolm and Helen McSporran. Malcolm was the New Zealand Meat Board representative in Asia – lived in Tokyo – and returned to New Zealand. And by 1970, the 3rd of January 1970, we were married and lived in the cottage at Lechlade. By about May … in May of that year, 1970, we bought Selkirk. So we moved to Selkirk and lived in the house there and managed the two properties from there.
Just as a point of interest – how do you spell Lechlade?
Letchlade it’s actually … Lechlade is L-e-c-h-l-a-d-e. We’ve always called it Lechlade, because that’s how Dad pronounced it. It’s the place where his …
Beverley: Where his grandparents were married. [Speaking together]
Rowan: … grandparents were married. If you were in England they would call it Leechlade.
Rosemarie: Selkirk was the other place where the …
Rowan: Selkirk was … Selkirk in Scotland – it was a little village that Dad had visited and loved it. So he thought … that’s how that property got named Selkirk.
So we were married 1970. In May of 1971 … I have to get this and make sure I get the right dates.
Beverley: On the 19th of May 1971, Paul was born.
Rowan: 19th of May 1971, Paul Andrew Sherwood appeared on the scene – that’s our eldest son. On the 16th of December 1972 Nicholas James Sherwood was born, and on the 20th August 1975 Sarah Jane Louise Sherwood was born. So that’s our family, two sons and a daughter. So we lived at Selkirk then until 1979 when we bought Otamauri, and we moved up to Otamauri from there.
So just where was Otamauri then?
Otamauri was further up the Taihape Road. It was about probably – oh, about eight kilometres up the road.
Was it your farm?
It used to be the McNeil property … Malcolm McNeil.
Was that down – after the Yules’? Is it the Crownthorpe Road that turns right?
Rosemarie: The Crownthorpe meets up with that road doesn’t it?
Rowan: The Crownthorpe branches off the Taihape Road, meets up with the Matapiro Road. And it was part … or Otamauri originally was part of the Beamish property.
You’re up in the rainfall area.
Yes, a thousand feet above sea level. So that was ’79 we moved up to Otamauri, and we’ve sort of been there until just recently when we … oh, nine years ago … we moved out, and my son now manages that farm.
Beverley: Your son Paul, and Nicholas – remember …
Rowan: Actually Paul went off to school at Otamauri School at aged five, and when he arrived there Owen Hutchison was the headmaster – or the sole teacher there then. He looked back through the school records and he said to Paul “you know the last Sherwood that came here was fifty-two years ago, and that was your grandfather”. [Chuckle] So Dad spent a little bit of time at Otamauri School but not much.
Nicholas went to Otamauri School and so did Sarah, but then the school amalgamated with Sherenden and Sarah had time at the Sherenden School as well. High schooling – Paul and Nicholas both went to Lindisfarne College. Paul, our eldest, went through to the sixth form. After the sixth form he applied and got into Smedley. He did his time at Smedley then he went shepherding up at Te Pohue on Chris Pask’s place, Toronui. And that’s when he decided – well he won a scholarship from Smedley which enabled him, if he took it up, to go to University. And after a year of working at Toronui he decided perhaps that was a good idea. So he went down to Lincoln College and completed a Farm Management Diploma.
Nicholas, after leaving school, did a gap year in England. And he spent a year there and another year after his gap year … we hadn’t realised he’d met his future wife. They eventually came back to New Zealand, and Nicholas went on to University and did a Bachelor of Business Studies, majoring in marketing and business management. And Sarah, his now wife, went to University also here and she trained as a valuer, and subsequently worked for a short time with Snow Wilkins.
Sarah went to Iona College …
Rosemarie: Your daughter Sarah.
Rowan: Our daughter Sarah … went on to Iona College, and having completed there … five years there … she went on to Otago University where she did a Consumer Applied Science degree, and … along with about half of a Wine Science degree. She needed to go to Roseworthy in Australia to finish it, and she never bothered doing that.
Since then, Paul is married now with four children, three boys and stepdaughter. Nicholas is married with four children, three boys and a daughter. Tara was our first grandchild, she’s now seventeen … coming up eighteen. And our daughter Sarah hasn’t long been married, but long enough to have three children … she had three under three. She had Evie and then she had twins, a boy and a girl. So we have now got eleven grandchildren.
My wife was Margaret Anne McSporran.
Yes, that’s a very Scottish name isn’t it – McSporran?
Yes. Her father was Malcolm McSporran, and Malcolm for a long time – they came from the Takapau area originally, the McSporrans, but he moved to Napier and became the head land man for Williams & Kettle’s for a number of years, and had a great knowledge of all the Hawke’s Bay area, mainly farmland. He then became the Asian Director for the New Zealand Meat Board, based in Tokyo.
Anne, having gone to Napier Girls’ High, went onto Ardmore Training College and trained as a teacher, which she did up until the time we got married. Then when the children were growing up she was a full time mother, and a very good one too. She did all the bringing up of the children – I was never there half the time. And then once the children were off her hands she went back to teaching and became a reading recovery teacher and did that for a number of years, which she really enjoyed.
Subsequently, we have now both sort of retired, and my son Paul runs the farm. Nicholas lives in England and he is in the meat industry – he works for a Brazilian meat company which is probably the biggest meat company in the world, called JBS. And they live in York – just out of York in a village called Elvington, but he works out of London for half the week, and from home for the other half of the week. And Sarah is a full time housewife living here in Havelock North. And that’s about the extent of our family to this stage.
As a growing lad you were surrounded by trucks, aeroplanes – all sorts of things. You were never tempted to drive any of them?
No. I can remember my father … Dad asking me “son, do you think you’d like to go into the business?” I think I was possibly … oh, might have been Intermediate age or something – around about then, Intermediate school age. And I remember saying to him “if it means living on the telephone like I’ve seen you do – no I’m not interested”. He used to have his meals with the phone.
It used to cover such … up in the bush, and roads, and the aeroplanes, and the trucks, and stock – there was all this happening. No wonder he and others were by the phone all the time.
Beverley: He had an office phone which was in the hall – that was 4164.
Rosemarie: I was just going to say – and it was on the wall, he had to stand up to use it too. Standing on the phone, and the farmers would start ringing at about three o’clock in the morning wanting fuel for their fires and … yes.
Beverley: We were never allowed to use that. Our number was …
Beverley: Yes, 3601. [Speaking together]
Rowan: I can still remember.
Beverley: And when we were all courting it was a bit difficult. [Chuckle]
Now you must have some sporting attributes – we know that you play golf. Did you play rugby when you were younger? Or any other …
Rowan: Yes – yeah, played rugby through the First XV at Napier Boys’ High, and then played in Hastings for Hastings High School Old Boys here. And then …
Rosemarie: You did rowing.
Rowan: … it got to the stage – oh yes, I rowed at Napier Boys’ High – rowed in the Maadi Cup and Thompson Memorial Shield and things. But the rugby sort of dwindled a wee bit once I went off to Massey University, and then – I was thinking of getting back into it when I got back, and then – I was sort of more managing the property you see. And Dad used to say to me “what am I going to do if you get injured?” So that was the sort of finish of the rugby. [Chuckles]
So, as compared to Brick – I can remember both of us got selected for the Hastings Representative Trials. And we were both up at the farm then, and we travelled back down in the farm Land Rover or something. And it was a cold, wet, miserable day at Nelson Park, and when we got down there I think Barney Taylor was it? Hunt? No, he worked in Hunts. The Selector met us, and he said “how are the Sherwood boys?” And Brick said “[sniff, sniff] I’ve got a bit of a cold”. And Barney said “I don’t think … cold out there, and wet out there – I don’t think I’ll play today – I’m just feeling a bit off-colour.” I thought ‘oh, well that’s him out’. He sat in the stand and I went out there and I played my heart out. And when they announced the team, Brick’s in it and I’m not.
You’re joking! [Laughter]
Brick was a very fast runner, and a big man too, you know, a big boy. And he played on the wing, and actually played for the Hawke’s Bay Juniors on the wing – Brick. So he was a good rugby player until he injured himself and did his knee, and that was the finish of his rugby career.
Rosemarie: He’s still suffering.
And what about the golf?
Well the thing is with – I really didn’t play any sport once I started farming, apart from a bit of social tennis or something. But – can’t remember exactly the date, but my good friend Ivan Grieve was the President of the Hastings Golf Club. And I remember – it must have been about ’87 or … might have even been later, ’93. He was – I can’t remember the date when he was President, but he rang me and he said “Rowan,” – it was a drought, I remember it was terrible when we were on the farm, you know, I was walking round there on dry grass and trying to make the most of a very poor year. And he said “what you need to do is get off the farm.” He said “I’ve arranged for … approved for you to get free lessons from the Golf Pro,” and he said “he’ll give you lessons for six weeks and then you can make up your mind whether you like the game or not”.
So that’s what I did. Once a week I’d come down, and it was therapeutic walking around on the irrigated fairways and that sort of thing. It took your mind off the farm because I was always worried where my ball was going to – you know, what tree it was going to be under and that sort of thing. And as I’ve said now many a time, Ivan Grieve used to be a friend of mine until he introduced me to golf. [Laughter]
I used to play once at Bridge Pa, but the problem was that it was so organised, the pressure of having to go all the time didn’t sit well. Anyway, in the end I gave it away.
Well that’s one of the reasons I didn’t take it up ‘til very late in life – ‘cause I wasn’t prepared to give half a day away in my week when I knew … and I always felt guilty. And it was the way we’d been brought up.
Well, we’ve noticed there hasn’t been any guilt when he slips away from this interview at all … he goes quite willingly. [Laughter, speaking together]
No, no, it’s happening now.
Rosemarie: You are so right Frank. [Laughter]
Rowan: It’s a little bit like you Frank – you can’t let people down. If it’s arranged … we’ve got a rule within the group that play with us – if you can’t play you’ve got to make sure you’ve got someone to take your place.
See that was the pressure.
Beverley: And you were probably younger then too, so you had … there were work commitments, were …
I was in my forties.
Beverley: [Speaking together] Well, that’s considerably younger than Rowan is now.
It used to be over the hill at one stage.
Beverley: I can remember thinking when I was thirty, I’ve got three children and I’m thirty – that’s the end of my life.
But nobody told us that nothing changes – you feel the same, you just find it more difficult to move. So anyway look, can you girls think of anything you can tell on Rowan?
Rowan: No, they haven‘t got anything they can tell on me. [Speaking together]
Rosemarie: Oh, we could go on and on and on, Frank. [Chuckles]
Rowan: There’d be very little.
Rosemarie: You were spoilt rotten. [Speaking together]
Rowan: Apart from being just a perfect brother.
Rosemarie: Beverley was the one that spoilt him.
All right, well on that note …
Beverley: He’s been a good brother. We’ve all enjoyed his company, and we hope he’s enjoyed ours as much.
He’s just affirmed that by saying he was the perfect brother.
Beverley: That’s right.
Rowan: I think we’re very lucky … very, very lucky as a family that you know, we’re all still good friends, you know, and there’s so many families that is not the case.
Beverley: Fall apart.
Rowan: That’s a reflection on our father and our mother in keeping us close-knit. We’re a close-knit family but in getting succession sort of organised too, so that everyone knew where they stood, and there were no arguments.
That’s great … really great to hear those …
Beverley: Our mother was very much the peacemaker. She didn’t like arguments, and so I always think of her as the peacemaker in the family.
Rowan: And Dad was a great family man.
Beverley: Oh, yes.
Rowan: And I can always … different times when things were going harder at his work, you know, at the business and that – he’d come home and he’d say to Mum [chuckle] “got to tighten our belts – we’ve got to tighten our belts, things aren’t going that well down there”. [Chuckles] And Mum was a tremendous provider – nothing was wasted.
Rosemarie: And she was – she was sick for a long time too.
Rowan: Yeah, well that’s sort of before my memory basically, when she was sick.
Rosemarie: Was it? Well you were a little boy.
Beverley: You were so well looked after you didn’t miss your mother.
Rosemarie: You were a little boy – I mean Mum was in bed for nigh on a year. And he was … you would have been what – three?
Rowan: Probably, yeah.
Just on the fringe of your memory. All right, well thank you Rowan. Now we’ll hear about Mother, and are you going to lead the conversation now ..?
Beverley: Yes, I’d like to just say a little bit about how our mother’s side of the family. She was Marjorie Aitchison, known as Mardy, and her parents – two sisters married two brothers. Sam Aitchison, the eldest, married Elsie Sanders who was our grandmother’s older sister. And our grandmother, Rosanne Sanders, was the youngest in her family and she married a younger member of the Aitchison family. So there was Aunt Elsie and Uncle Sam, they were the eldest of the family, and then there was our grandmother Rosanne, who married William.
And they had both arrived in the South Island. The Sanders family – here’s a photograph of the old people – they arrived in Dunedin on the ‘James Fleming’, and they paid their own way. They were a family – an educated family – and they had means. I gather that Grandfather was not a very good businessman, but however they paid their own way.
But they were booked to come and it was found that Grandma was pregnant with our grandmother, Rosanne, so they waited until Rosanne was born. They lived in Hoxton, England. And then they came out on the ‘James Fleming’, and our grandmother was just a toddler. Imagine the trip with a toddler in those days.
And they settled in Dunedin – they bought property. I originally thought it was at Opoho, but in actual fact I think I’ve discovered it was at Crookston. And I looked it up in my Wises New Zealand Index, which has been a wonderful little book that Dad gave me for my eighth birthday, because during the War he probably thought I was lucky to get a book. And at the time … I don’t know remember what I thought, but it’s been the most invaluable little book, that I refer to it so frequently now, and any place name in New Zealand that’s mentioned I can find it in that Wises New Zealand Index. He gave it to me … he’s written in it … yes, for my eighth birthday. Anyway, I think it was at Crookston, which is south west of Dunedin in the Tapanui / Heriot area because that’s where they lived.
And then on the Aitchison side, great-great grandfather Archie Aitchison was a bit of a character. He was a Scotsman born in Edinburgh, and he went to Australia after the gold – I think he was sort of sent off by the family. But that family it was reported, made the first paper money … note. And it was all very secretive, but it’s understood that Archie sort of was going to give the secret away, so he was sent off, and he went to Australia. He was a blacksmith and cartwright, and he went to Australia. And there he met his wife Margaret Henderson, who was an Irishwoman from Northern Ireland. And the children were all born over in Australia including our grandfather, William. And he was a bit of a wanderer, also – he decided to come to New Zealand seeking gold and he arrived in Otago, and he left Margaret his wife behind in Australia with the children. Now I’m not sure how many, but anyway Margaret got sick of waiting for him and apparently she arrived over in Dunedin with the children and wanted to know where he was. But everyone knew Archie ’cause he still wore a kilt, and they knew that the Scotsman was in Dunedin. But he went gold prospecting, and it was said that he had a cart and that was where he hid his gold when he found it, he’d put it in the wheels of his cart. So they were in Dunedin and he was quite a colourful character.
Our grandparents were married down there in Tapanui, and then Uncle Sam, the eldest of the Aitchison boys who married our grandmother’s sister – the two families moved to Martinborough and they set up business in Featherston. They were blacksmiths, cartwrights and wheelmakers – well I suppose that is a cartwright, isn’t it? Wheelmakers. And Uncle Sam and Aunt Elsie lived in Featherston, and William and Roseanne settled in Martinborough, where our mother was born. And we’ve seen in recent times … I was in Martinborough for the High School Centenary – my husband Max went to Martinborough High School.
And an old family friend … it was Aitchison & Tyler. And Mrs Tyler the daughter, Mil, was still alive and I visited her there again. Rosemarie and I also visited her later. She was a great friend of our Auntie Win’s, who was the eldest in Mum’s family. And she took us – and we could just still see, faint under the paintwork, “Aitchison & Tyler”.
And then Grandfather Aitchison, William, obviously got – when Sherenden was subdivided they’d moved up here, and I can only assume it was because he applied for land here, and he got acres at Sherenden, which had been … his son Bill, Wilfred, carried on with that, and then Brett also – his son farmed at Kainui for many years.
Mum was born in Martinborough and when they moved up here, her sisters – they were all nurses, and they bought Eversley … and old Eversley is still in Pakowhai Road, and it was a private nursing home. And that’s where all the girls were at the time of the earthquake. And Old Eversley is a wooden building and it’s still standing. The boys were up at the farm, and I remember hearing the story that the coal range bounced out of the wall and across the room during the earthquake.
Our mother was going to be the first in that family to go secondary school, and I have just recently found a photograph of her in her Napier Girls’ High School uniform. But she was only there a very short time, a matter of weeks I think, or months, when she developed polio, so that was the end of her secondary education. [Clock strikes]
But she carried on with her nursing. And then they moved to where Eversley is now, on the corner of Nelson Street and Cornwall Road I think it is. And that was still a private nursing home, and all the girls worked there. Our parents were married from there and that’s where Rosanne died at the age of sixty-two. She had throat cancer. Now you know, when you think – they never smoked … you know … can’t help but wonder why. Perhaps it was all the coal from the coal range – who knows? Anyway … so we really grew up without our maternal grandmother, but her husband, William … we called him Grandpa Chips, as opposed to the Sherwood Grandpa … and he was cared for by his daughters, and he moved around all the daughters … was cared for by them. And I can remember – I think the twins would probably remember Grandpa Chips …
Rosemarie: Oh, yes.
Beverley: … he would come every now and again to stay with us and he had his own nurse, Clancy – what her name was I’ve no idea, but she was just Clancy, and she moved around with him when he went to families. And he was a dear old gentleman. There are many photos of me with him, as the first granddaughter in the family. And I have a very lovely nursery rhyme book – again, it’s dated 1938, given to me – oh, it must be ‘39 for my first birthday, and they’ve written in it. And it’s got … it’s a linen cover, and all the nursery rhymes are photographs, beautiful photographs. I’m going to have it restored – it’s quite precious.
So they farmed up at Sherenden then later moved into Eversley. And when Eversley was sold to the Presbyterians for an Elder Home I think it was then – when that was done the Presbyterian Social Services invited us to go and have a look through Eversley before it was completely handed over, to see how it had been done up. So we’ve got – I know that Dad thought awhile about purchasing Eversley as a family home. Must have been a large area of land there because Grandpa Chips kept his cow in the back paddock and he used to milk the cow there, and grew the vegetables. And I see that’s still an empty section. Well it was when I looked a few months ago. It’s probably been subdivided now for … housing.
Rosemarie: There’s all those units at Eversley now, in that land.
Beverley: No, the land at the back – there’s still an empty section there.
Rosemarie: Well there was also land at the end of Roberts Street there, backing onto …
Beverley: Yes … to the park, Cornwall Park. Yes.
Rosemarie: Cricket Pavilion.
Beverley: Yes. Anyway, Mum and Dad were married in 1936, and I think you’ve heard the story from us all. It was obviously a very successful marriage – they worked hard, we had a wonderful, secure and happy childhood. We were never cold, we were never hungry and we were loved. Although they didn’t say ‘love’ a lot, but we knew we were very secure and loved. So we were extremely fortunate.
And your Mother was unwell?
Yes. Mum … obviously while she was pregnant with Brick it was discovered that she had TB, and so Brick was born at … not Sister Cooper’s …
Rosemarie: Yes he was.
Beverley: No, no – he was not. He was born at … I told him the other day. It was in Grays Road.
Rosemarie: Well we were sent away, Annette and I were sent out. We didn’t know, you stayed home. [Chuckle]
Beverley: Anyway, so Brick was sent home, and that’s when Kathleen came to look after us and Mum was put in isolation. And it was very fortunate – Dad sent her to Royston where she had her own room there, a balcony room, and she was cared for there, because we could bike there after school and talk to her through the window, which was nice.
But Kathleen came principally to look after the new baby. But Kathleen was a very loyal … she came [became] a very loyal member of our family, we call her our other mother. She had a cup of tea with me just two days ago – she’s now in Waiapu. They farmed out at … they had a property … she married David Ross out on Longlands and after David died she sold that, and she built a charming little home on the corner of Campbell Street and Chambers Street. She was there for a few years and then her three daughters decided it was time she should be moved to Waiapu, which she’s not at all happy about. But she’s still at ninety-two, a fit old lady. She hasn’t got good eyesight and she doesn’t hear well, but she’s still fit, because she walks every day and invariably comes here, or to Rosemarie. And I was backing out the other day to go and get the children and there she was. I said “jump in here, Kathleen”, which she was able to do. I said “we’ll go and get the children, then we’ll come home and have a cup of tea”, which we did. And she was an amazing loyal member of our family for many, many years.
Rowan: She babysat us as young boys …
Rowan: Brick and I …
Rowan: … many times.
Rowan: I can remember – she must have been courting at the time of David.
Beverley: Oh, yes.
Rosemarie: Well she – they got married from McLeod Street.
Rowan: And we’d been put to bed, and … ‘course I think I remember getting up one night and going down there wanting something – remember how I’d want something, and …
Beverley: Yes. [Chuckles]
Rowan: … went down there [chuckle] and they were having a canoodle on the couch.
Rowan: And Dad said “you kids! You go back to bed”. [Laughter]
Actually I remember Dave Ross.
Beverley: He was a builder.
Rosemarie: He’s got the [?bay?] where the maze is now. That was their home.
Course he was.
Rowan: Originally they lived in Ada Street.
Beverley: The first house he built in Ada Street.
Rowan: He was carpenter or a builder.
Rosemarie: The funny story is that when he bought that property and it had an old cottage on it – Kathleen is meticulous … absolutely meticulous. And he did up this cottage and put the family in the cottage, and he built a big new kitchen and he promised her a new house. Well, she waited and waited and waited and waited, and then he built his big shed. And it had everything in it – it had a toilet and a shower, and she still waited for her house. So she went off – she decided, she never said a word – she went off to an architect and she had some plans drawn up. And one day David came in from the back of the farm somewhere …
Beverley: Their eldest daughter was going to be married.
Rosemarie: Oh. Anyway, he came in, and there were some men in the front paddock and he came up and he asked them what they were doing. He said “we’re just getting all the sighting done for the new house that’s going to be built here”. And he didn’t know a thing about it. [Chuckle] And anyway, she got crack… and she got her house, and it was beautiful.
Beverley: And created a beautiful garden, yes.
Rosemarie: It was beautiful, yes. And I’ll never forget the day … Dad was obviously under great pressure, and with five kids and a busy bus… and it’s the first time and the only time I ever saw my father in tears. And he was quite tall, and a big man, and Kathleen was all of about five foot two, and I can remember so well, she went up to him – and it was always “Mr and Mrs” – and she put her arms round his face and she said “Mr Sherwood, I will never ever let you down”. And she never did.
Rosemarie: She’s been an amazing person.
Rowan: Oh yeah.
Beverley: And then when Dad was ill at the time Bob died …
Beverley: … and for Bob’s funeral, he wasn’t able to go, he was very unwell. But he just wanted Kathleen, and Kathleen came and sat with him. But then we had Mrs Vagg.
Rowan: Oh, yes.
Beverley: And Mrs Vagg came to …
Rosemarie: Cath Vagg.
Beverley: Yes, Mrs Vagg came to also help in the house, help Kathleen out, and we used to watch she and Mr Parker canoodle in their little car. And there’s a photograph of one of you sitting … Mrs Vagg was another very loyal, loyal …
Rowan: Mr Parker … he drove a taxi?
Rosemarie: No, he drove a bus.
Beverley: The Motor Company bus between …
Rowan: Oh, that’s right.
Beverley: … Hastings and Napier. Ernie Parker, and then eventually they got married – they were lovers, we said. And when they got married …
Rosemarie: They lived together – that was very rare.
Beverley: Dad gave Mrs Vagg away to Mr Parker, and then they lived in Tokoroa, didn’t they?
Rosemarie: Tokoroa – I took Mum up for her funeral.
Beverley: And Mrs Vagg always used to say “oh, it’s corking … it’s corking”. [Chuckles] That was an expression …
So did your Mother recover from ..?
Beverley: Yes, she did.
Rosemarie: She was the most wonderful person in that she did have a lot of illness in her life but she always made … she never went on and on about what she’d … But she had polio, she had tuberculosis, she had …
Beverley: And then she had cancer.
Rosemarie: Cancer, she died … she never ever complained. She was wonderful, she really was.
Beverley: So dear Kathleen, our other mother – I always introduce my grandchildren to her as “remember, this is our other mother”, and they sort of look at me. But Geordie was very interested the other night when we took Kathleen back, and taking them home, asking … he said “but Grandma, you might be like that one day”. I said “yes, I might be. And that’s where you’ll be coming to visit me”. [Chuckle] But I showed him a photo, ‘cause at Kathleen’s eightieth we had a lovely photograph taken of us all with Kathleen … little wee Kathleen, and great big us. And she always refers to us as her first family, yes.
That’s a lovely story.
I can see Dave Ross …
Rosemarie: He’s a little man.
I can see him as clear as anything.
Everything’s that long ago.
Rowan: Oh, I know.
Beverley: Well David always said – he had three sisters, or four sisters was it? He had four sisters …
Rosemarie: Jessie, Edna …
Beverley: Kath and Flora. And he looked after Flora too. He had four sisters and three daughters. He didn’t ever have a son.
Rosemarie: Well he did actually, but he died.
Beverley: Yeah, but – yes.
So we’ve still got our other mother here which is lovely. We look after her.
Rowan: He was a keen fisherman, David.
Rowan: And I remember one time he took us fishing off Clifton. He had an open boat, he had a flash motor, it had a Scott Atwater, and oh – out we went fishing. There was Bob Williamson, Rosemarie’s husband, me and David. And we got out there and the swell was going. We had our lunches and that packed. Anyway, I’m looking at Bob, and I’m not feeling the best myself, and I’m looking at Bob and he’s going “ooh …”. Next thing he’s over the side – Bob’s over the side, and David thought it was quite a joke you know – Bob’s over the side being sick. And … the worse thing “if this gets any worse I’m going to be over the side myself shortly”. And next minute, David, the skipper, he took his false teeth out [laughter] and he’s over the side. [Laughter] That made me feel a lot better, because the skipper had gone over the side. So he said “I think we’ll go in to sheltered water”. [Chuckles]
Beverley: But Mum – we loved Clifton … she loved Clifton. And Dad would go out there before Christmas and pitch the big tents – the old Army tents – and set it all up with the canvas beds – what did you call them? Camp beds …
Rowan: Camp stretchers.
Beverley: … and put the ice box down in the sand, and we’d be out there for all the Christmas holidays. Dad would come out once a week to check on us. We got milk from Gordon’s farm, we lived on fish, we had a lot of fun in the cookhouse. And as we said later, we were all good swimmers, we three girls. We never went to swimming lessons, our mother taught us to swim in the sea at Clifton.
Rosemarie: I think we were thrown in and told to swim. And we all swam for Hawke’s Bay, and we all got … I’ve still got a record at Solway.
Rowan: Yeah, well you were told to swim that way, but you always had to come back to shore. [Laughter]
Rosemarie: I can’t ever remember learning to swim. We were just put in the …
Well, see when we were married we had a caravan, and so the family had a holiday at Clifton.
Rosemarie: We had very … super reunions, of all … John Purdie and all the people that used to camp there together, and we used to get into the cookhouse every night. Brick … we all had ukuleles and guitars, we used to have big singsongs. All the kids in the camp used to come along – the fun we had.
Rowan: They used to have open air movies, remember? On a Saturday night.
Beverley: I can remember Pauline Campbell saying they used to camp … But even after we sold Westshore – the house that they’d built then and was sold for the top dressing business – Dad still went out and pitched the tents. And as young adults … I’ve got photographs of us all out there when we were courting, having great fun out there at Clifton using the tents.
Rosemarie: Yes. And then they were given to Annette, ‘cause she had the biggest family.
Beverley: Oh, that’s right. [Laughter] Oh, Annette got lots of things ‘cause she had the biggest family.
But it was a catalyst for really good family times.
Beverley: Yes. How fortunate we were. But Mum loved it too. She managed.
Rosemarie: You know, I can’t remember ever being … we used to climb that hill. We used to be gone in the morning, and we …
Beverley: We’d walk round to the Cape every holidays, could be twice – as long as you checked in with Mr Stanley at the store, and all that was done. But there was no trouble. And even at High School – I can remember in my fifth year at school we had an English geography teacher – and taking her, Miss Hailey, for a walk round there. She was absolute – I just learnt more about geology and the movement of the earth from her on those walks round to the Cape. Now, they go by tractor.
Rosemarie: Well, I mean when you think what was there, which has gone.
Where all the toilets were, where all the cooker … that’s way out in the sea.
Beverley: Yes – yes.
Rosemarie: And the road down to the end where Stanleys used to live – yes, it’s gone.
Beverley: Very happy times, we were very fortunate. And the other Sherwood family were there too.
Rowan: And Uncle Bill … Bill Aitchison.
Beverley: Yes, Uncle Bill. He had his caravan, yes.
Rowan: He had a caravan … he was flash!
Beverley: Yes. He only had two children though. [Chuckle]
Rosemarie: And he had a boat, we didn’t have …
Rowan: He had a boat, yeah.
Rosemarie: … oh no, we did end up with a boat, but it never went in the sea did it?
Rowan: No, no never had the boat …
Rowan: ‘Raunene’ was a sort of a … inboard speed boat.
Beverley: Oh, that was a speed boat, yeah – that was on the Clive River.
Rowan: Clive River, for you girls to …
Rosemarie: To ski on.
Beverley: Water ski on.
Rowan: Howard and Ro Cashmore had that.
Beverley: I remember my Auntie Win saying “deep freezes have made people very selfish”, because in those days the fish would come in and it would be shared by all the campers. Now people go out fishing and have a big haul and bring it all home and …
You never see it.
Beverley: … put it in the deep freeze – no.
Rosemarie: Well, Beverley – they had a bach at Mahia, and we used to go up there every year … we were lucky … and we used to stay with them. And we had a boat – Max and Bob both bought the same … exactly the same boats with exactly the same motors on exactly the same day, and neither of them knew they were buying them. And we had crayfish to burn, really, but we used to give it … what we couldn’t eat … we gave it away. [Speaking together]
Beverley: We always shared. And our good friends out there still share it – they always have crayfish ready for me when I get out there, which is nice.
Rowan: This one little story – I’m going back a bit, the 1931 earthquake. And Beverley was talking about Kainui which was the Aitchison farm at Sherenden. Right next door were the Connors – Ernie Connor. But Mick Connor was Ernie’s father. Oh – and I can remember my Uncle Bill Aitchison telling me this story. The day the earthquake struck, old Mick Connor had about a quarter draughthorse that he used to ride round – it never got out of a walk. He rode round the farm every day, had his shepherd’s crook resting on the pummel and sticking up like an aerial, and the horse’d just plod, plod, plod. The day the earthquake struck Bill said he’d got off his horse and he was hanging onto the grass, the ground was moving that much. He was hanging on and he thought the end of the world had come. He looked up and Mick Connor [chuckle] had his quarter draught in full gallop [laughter] and hitting it with his shepherd’s crook, heading for home. [Laughter] He said “never seen the horse go so fast”.
Ivan Sherwood … my Uncle Ivan, was driving a truck and he was out by Pukehamoamoa, just on that straight up by the Lowrys’ there. And when the earthquake struck they found the truck on the side of the road still idling, and no sign of Ivan – he’d taken to the hills. [Laughter] He’d headed across country. [Laughter]
Rosemarie: I think he used to head to the hills quite often didn’t he? [Laughter]
Rowan: The old truck was sitting there idling away and he’d gone. [Laughter]
Beverley: Talking about the Connors, Mum’s younger brother Ted married a Connor, Auntie Marge, and they lived for a while up at Otamauri where Rowan and Anne were.
Rowan: They did, mm. He managed the farm for them …
Beverley: Yes. Yes, Gus.
Rowan: … for the Bayleys.
Beverley: Yeah, he was Gus.
Beverley: He was coming home this morning at half past six with his plastic bag, he’d been down to get something, yeah.
Okay, well I think we probably have most … if something comes up that you want to add to it – ‘cause this history will never finish, you know, in ten years’ time some more history’s happened, and can be added.
Beverley: Right, in ten years’ time we’ll have you back again Frank, okay? That’s a date.
Can’t guarantee it.
Beverley: It’s a date.
I’d like to be here.
Beverley: Right – Christmas in ten years’ time. [Chuckle]
Now … so thank you very much for giving us this really very wide coverage of the Sherwood family, and I’m sure in time to come your friends and some of your great, great grandchildren will treasure to hear your voices with your history. So thank you very much.
Rowan: Thank you very much Frank …
Beverley: Thank you.
Rowan: … for putting the time in with us.
Original digital file
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Interviewer: Frank Cooper
- Beverley Irene Marflitt
- Annette Thompson
- Rosemarie Williamson
- Rowan Howard Sherwood
- Ashley (Brick) Bruce Sherwood
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