Twigg, Douglas Russell & Kathleen Mary (Kath) Interview

Today is the 25th of January 2016. I’m interviewing Douglas Twigg – retired farmer of Maraekakaho. I’ll ask Douglas now to start off and give us the life and times of his family. Thank you Douglas.

My great-grandmother Douglas Mary McKain immigrated from England with two sons and two daughters to accompany her. She arrived in Wellington 20th April 1841. She immediately bought a section on Pipitea Street, twenty eight perches in area. After a while she bought land with a good acreage in Te Aro, Wellington. The two sons built houses which Mary let to new immigrants. You’ll notice from these comments that Douglas Mary was a great entrepreneur even for those times.

Now Douglas Mary left Wellington in 1860 to live in Petane, Hawkes Bay, where she lived alternatively with her two girls. She died in 1873 aged 84. Now Julia, her third child, who hadn’t immigrated with her mother – she’d stayed in England and she married Joseph Andrew Torr. They lived in New Zealand in 1841 where they set up a store in Lambton Quay. He spent most of his time saw milling at Kaiwharawhara. This developed into a shipping business of logs – pit sawn timber. He was in partnership with his brother-in-law William Villers. Early in 1853 the Torr family, now with eight children, moved to the Esk Valley and bought Petane Grange.

Now Joseph Torr farmed and shipped 850 bushels of wheat and 10 tons of potatoes in one shipment. This is probably the first recorded sale of European grown produce from Hawke’s Bay. In 1872 he sold the property to Henderson James Twigg, his son in law who had married his daughter Elizabeth Mary Torr, who naturally enough was my grandmother. They had issue: Samuel, Francis, Ernest, Desmond, Annie, Violet, Garnet and two other children that died as infants.

Now Francis, better known as Frank, was the second son of Henderson James Twigg who was a JP and early settler. He’d immigrated from Ireland and spent his early days in Hawke’s Bay on Maraekakaho Station where he served as accountant, tally clerk, general contact with the staff with Donald McLean who was on … with Maraekakaho Station.

Now Henderson James [this should be Francis (Frank)] farmed Ridgemount with his father Henderson James, and then Mangaruhe, Wairoa in partnership with his brother Samuel. Later in life he farmed Riverina, Wairoa; Glenbrook; Brooklands – not the subdivided Brooklands but the huge property that stretched from the bottom of the Apley Road through to encompass Puketapu back to where Brooklands now is farmed. He also farmed – before Brooklands – Te Aratipi, which he sold to Selby Palmer Senior. And lastly Hukanui was sold to Thomas Cooper after Francis had farmed there for 43 years.

Francis Cassidy Twigg married Olive Edith Russell at the age of 50. They had four children – Russell, died as an infant, Douglas of Ngatarawa, Deirdre Atmore of Otaki and Mary Buxton of Tauranga. Douglas married Kathleen Mary Rawlinson, widow of Donald Rawlinson, a young lawyer – she had two daughters, Kerrin Anne and Jennifer Mary. Douglas and Kath had one daughter, Fiona Elizabeth and two sons, Ernest James and Samuel Victor.

Kathleen, nee Corcoran, had been born in Australia but immigrated to New Zealand as a child. She was brought up in Oamaru and qualified as a school dental nurse, and later in life became an elected artist member of the Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington. Douglas, a now retired JP, farmed at Ngatarawa from the age of twenty four until he reached retirement, when he sold most of his lands for vineyards. Kerrin, the senior daughter, married W W Williams; Jenny married S O Nelson; Fiona married G M R Harris; James is single and Sam married Bronwyn Catherine Barrett.

It’s interesting. Your family must have been amongst the first to come to New Zealand in 1841.

Yeah. And Robina, her daughter that was on the boat with her – she was one of the first white women at Ahuriri. She worked for Villers, looking after his children. His wife was ailing, and she promised on the wife’s deathbed to look after the children ’til they grew up. Well of course In time, she married Villiers who was a lot older than her. But Robina McKain – she will go down as one of the first white women at Ahuriri. ‘Course some of them smirk and say well … you know … but that’s all in these books where they talk in detail.

Yes. So it’s interesting though, when you look back and think how traumatic it must have been to come out on a sailing ship, three or four months, maybe longer, with probably not very good facilities to look after young children. And of course it’s so long ago that not much has been passed on to say what it was like, but we can imagine it must have been very hard.

Well even in the McKain family history, she’s inclined to skirt through the voyage. She’ll tell you what produce was worth in New Zealand to buy. I don’t think it was a hazardous voyage for her, not by reading the notes. But I didn’t mention that Joseph Torr had a sailing boat or schooner, or whatever you had in those days. The ‘Salopian’ and that’s what he and Villers were shipping the cargo from.

Oh, that’s where you mention that the wheat and the … meat …

‘Cause he was a real trader and he had a store on the old spit, Napier. I think roughly, if you just want to look at my antecedents, I couldn’t give you any more detail than that.

No, but you said most of this would be covered in the books. ‘Cause we can copy those books and attach them to that history you’ve just given me, and that gives us the full story, doesn’t it?

As long as you can guarantee that I get the book back.

Oh yes – we guarantee – we certainly do.

I rang the author of the Torr family history and she’d been doing audit work that we … and she said “I’ll try and find someone who’ll reprint you a copy.” So it’s only got a spring binder. Don’t know where my copy is.

It’ll turn up when you’re not looking for it. [Chuckle]

Yeah I know – I thought I’d found it the other day.

Just coming back to your family farming. They farmed some pretty big properties …

Yes he did.

… when you talk about Brooklands …

And he was single.

Riverina – Riverina was a pretty big tough station. I remember when Tony Scotland … and it would have been a lot smaller I would imagine, when Tony had it.

Yeah, well when Dad was at Riverina, Sam owned Mangaruhe. But Sam lived in Napier most of the time, and he popped into … the story goes … to Dad at Riverina and he said “look Frank, I’m off to England on Friday, just keep an eye on Mangaruhe for me will you?” [Laughter]

How big would they have been?

I can’t tell you.

So now the Twiggs of Napier – the solicitors. Are they related to you?

Yeah we’re all … Jock, he was the eldest son of the youngest son. Sam had one boy, Connelly who was killed in the war. And Francis was the second son, so I … being his eldest son – living – I then became the – what we would have called in the old days – the head of the family. But Jock’s son was Peter, and in talking with him, he said “oh, I thought we were the head of the family.” [Chuckle] I said “no”. And Des went broke, and Dad was his favourite brother I think. And Des farmed a block in Kimbolton in Feilding, good stuff but not great acreage. And he had all these boys, so he thought he’d sell there and bought the Pinnacles at Tauranga. And of course soon after doing that, he wrote Dad a letter which I’ve got, saying “wool’s worth a penny a pound”, and wanted Dad to bail him out. So Dad made the mistake of guaranteeing him, and he put £400 in the Dalgety’s account I think, in Napier, and they took that and took my uncle’s equity … whatever stock … took the lot. And then Des lived in Te Puke all his life. And Dad who was still single lived in Roslyn Road in Napier, and his maiden sister lived up Lincoln Road, and the boys boarded with Annie up Lincoln Road. And Dad paid the piper. He paid for their education. The only one I ever thought really appreciated it was Frank Junior.

Now was he the stock agent?

Yeah. You’ll know him – yeah.

Yes I knew Frank very well.

And he was…well in short, Dad once said to me “why don’t you dress like Frank does? He goes to the sale or goes to buy stock.” I’d been to a ram dealer and bought some rams, you see, and I was in my work clothes. And I popped in to see him in Havelock, and you knew then that he held Frank …

Yes, in high esteem.

… up there as the role model. But those boys – Jock was adjutant to Kippinberger through the big campaigns … and Paddy, he was a hell raiser. He was in a bren gun carrier in the Western Desert with Pat Donnelly and they got hit with a shell. Paddy lost his leg. He was as big as me. How he got round … I often thought afterwards he might have lost more than the leg ’cause he didn’t have a family. Old Pat Donnelly … he got away with it, and they were great mates. So you get an idea of Paddy’s character and lifestyle.

So Paddy, where did he live then? After the war?

Paddy joined the Loan Company as a stock agent and he was manager I think, in Tauranga for a long time. And he lived at Tauranga and he married a widow. And that’s another point. Jock’s – no, my father didn’t marry until he was fifty. Jock married someone twenty years younger than him. I married a widow. Frank married a war widow – he was killed at Tarawa. And even that in a close circle is quite … is quite a thing, I think, anyway.

It is, it is. So coming back to your childhood? What was your childhood like? You grew up in – where was the family home?

In Havelock, Middle Road. ‘Cause I subdivided it.

Where was this?

Did you know where Bogel’s old two storeyed house … old, old one … Middle Road?

Just past Lucknow Lodge?

Well then there was Exmoor Street which was a blind road. But we had – that cattle stop down there – I brought it here. And that went over Middle Rd and we had five acres there. It was in a long neck – there was about three sections in the neck, and then it fanned out. And we had as neighbours Bogel, who was an old Norwegian sea captain. I saw him cutting down pine trees at 92, with a cross cut saw. He had as a tenant, Albie Smith who came out as a bachelor … was a great orchardist, later years.

So did it have a name, the property?

Thorndale. But we’d didn’t plaster it around, but that’s what it was called, Thorndale. And Dad went up to Hukanui on a Monday and came back on a Friday because Joe Tanner managed Hukanui for 30 years. And when he – well he left Hukanui when Sid his son was killed in the air force in England. And he left and we couldn’t get a really worthwhile manager. It was tough for a woman up there – cold as hell, shaded over the house. So Dad went up on a Monday with stores. You know, he’d go to the orchards and get a bit and so on and we usually were lucky enough to have a married couple and perhaps what we called a cowboy. So that meant that mum lived in Havelock with us kids. And we went to St Luke’s kindergarten. Deirdre was dux and Mary was dux in the big room that boys weren’t allowed into. So I – when I turned five I had to leave there and I went up to Mrs Doiley’s, up – oh, what do they call it now? Past Eve’s … up there, she was on the right.

Was it like private school?

Yeah. And there was – I think I might have been the only boy. There was Elizabeth Hassell there, and Dierdre went eventually, and then when I outgrew that, probably after a couple of years. I went to Hereworth as a day boy. That was an absolute disaster, for me. Because remember the eldest brother died as a youngster, and I was the only son left … the age of my father then. And I was told not to jump, don’t climb on that chair, you’ll fall off. And of course being thrust into Hereworth with cross country runs and gymnasiums and … you know, it was just … and the staff – a chap Buchanan. He pick on a boy called – I’ll think about it. But Tony Parker was – you know Tony? He was about five and he went there, and his aged parents went off to England and left him there. Well he couldn’t do his boots … laces up, you know – he was barely weaned, but he got on all right. So anyway, I could sit there and do an exam with any of them. Derek Glazebrook and I were first equal.

Another thing they were doing … I think it was the ‘Pirates of Penzance’ … and John Wenley had the lead and we all had to be sounded out for the chorus, you see. My name came up … “sit over there, you can’t sing.” You know, and these things sort of stick in your mind. You know there was some nice teachers – Elder … Norman Elder – he was a real … and Preston Thomas who’d come from that Portland Island weather station where he’d been stuck with a wolf …

Yes, yes, yes.

… he was excellent. And the chap Dunn wasn’t bad. But boy, they were … some of those were sadists – absolutely. You know, they collected so many detentions and then on a Monday you had so many, you were caned by Buchanan. And I remember being in the classroom and this guy started to really cry or scream, and teacher sneered and said “Oh, Buck’s in good form this morning isn’t he”? You know, he was all right to me, I don’t think I held anything against him, but there was one chap, A J Player, who was another single child of aged parents, and every time detention lists were called – A J Player, two detentions. You know, and he just shouldn’t have been there. And then of course it wound up he was caned and … he was a wee bit different, but you know … I might be the only one who reckons that they were sadists, but … tell who was there with me who was a good bloke – Mark Brody.

Was he Dick Brody’s ..?

Well I don’t know Dick Brody, but Mark had – his first farm was Ellis Wallace Road.

So you left Hereworth …

Went to Havelock North Primary School. Standard 3, and clicked straight away. Charlie Pankhurst – did you know? Charley and I were great mates all through primary, and I used to play down the back of the post office or Charlie was picked up by my mother and driven up to Thorndale and played there. And there was another good guy there – Ken Swanwick. By jove – if there was three or four people I wanted to pick to break out of a difficult situation – Ken. Alec Welsh from Dannevirke High – out at Clive.

So – Havelock North Primary – we used to sing the ‘Marseillaise’ – why I don’t know. We ran up the flag, stood to attention, and old Tommy Thompson was the headmaster. Well – he had a florid face and fist that’d hit your desk and the inkpot’d jump clean out. [Chuckle] But he wasn’t a sadist, you know what I mean?

Yes, I do.

He was hard and fair I thought. Tommy Thompson, Gary Neilson – he used to take those young adventurers like John Phillips and John Nimon and Mac Mathieson and … boating in the Tukituki in the weekend and then he taught them how to make boats.

Did he become the headmaster later?

Not Gary. Garra. Garra Neilson – no, the next headmaster was Donald Stuart McDonald, and he had one kidney. And he had one son Stuart. And he and I were good mates at school. We were good mates when we went to Dannevirke. And Mrs Diana Hugerberg – did you know her?

Yes, I did.

We use to call her mad Doris. [Laughter] She was a clever girl – by God, she was clever. She wouldn’t study – she went to New Plymouth Girls’. She was dux and should have been a dux by a country mile, but she just sneaked in. And she was dux, and co-dux with the head master’s son Stuart, who was also pretty brilliant for a primary school kid. And I was tagging along, probably third. And I did a crayon drawing of war-time – bombers over Leyte Island. And [chuckle] headmaster said “it’s all out of proportion.” I said “well I’m drawing it as if I was in another bomber and I’m looking down on Leyte.” “Oh no, no, no – you’ll lose marks out of this”. And that killed my effort. So that really got me through primary school.

We had a pretty good team of people there and I went on to Dannevirke High as a boarder and so did the Mathieson boys. Mousey’s – deputy head of Hastings Boys. So there was Mac, Graham and Noel, and we all went there and even ’til late in life, Mac and Dorothy always came in here when they were in Hawke’s Bay. And he died of cancer … before he died, he said “you and Kath are our rocks”. They worked for UNESCO in Kabul, and all around.

So Dannevirke High, I was a boarder and I won the Junior speech competition which was something. I wasn’t much good with sport but I remember about the 4th form there was a swimming sports you see. I thought it’s no good me going into the championship class so I’ll put myself later in the day in the long distance race. ‘Course I was fresh, and Colin Moore who was the champion swimmer – they were all getting a bit jaded, and I was fresh. And I couldn’t dive and I wet all the ladies’ paperwork as I plunged in. [Chuckle] And I won by about half the length I suppose, of the bath. It was 9 lengths I think. Well, straight after that, a house master who was damn good to us … Benge … he used to be in Havelock in retirement – Alf Benge. He said “oh, after that effort“ he said “I’m going to put you in the fourth XV.” [Chuckle] He thought I had stickability.

Then Gordon Black, he came to High School, bit later, at Dannevirke. And he and I learned bookkeeping from Hugh Henderson and Alf Reeves, and I was librarian there. And we used to go up and shut ourselves in the library on Sunday afternoon and get the old book one exam papers and sit down and see who could get it out. And Gordon was pretty sharp, you know – he was quick. I remember Don Davidson, who eventually became partner in Brown Webb, he shoved Gordon’s head down the toilet because Gordon said that I should have been a house prefect. Don wasn’t – I never really liked him. Brian, his young brother, was better.

So anyway when I left Dannevirke I applied for a job at Brown Webb. And who else should apply but Gordon Black. And old R D Brown – he chose Gordon, which I would anyway, out of the two, if I was in his place. And I walked down to the Public Trust and they welcomed me there and I took over from Jack Begley. I took him to his first game of golf out here at Bridge Pa. Two different types of people. ‘Cause the juniors in the Public Trust had to get bookies’ doubles charts and fill them in and pass them around on a Friday. And Kevin Percivall was there and – that girl who’s a great squash player – Devoy – her father Jack was there and he was a hell of a nice man. He was cashier – nothing like her, she appears to be pretty tough. Bill Shepherd was there – Aidan was his only son – he’s done well in life.

Then the staff personnel officer came up from Wellington and he said “d’you want to study?” And I said “yeah, I wouldn’t mind going down”. So he said “come down to Wellington – head office – and you can be Wills Deposit Cadet”. So I went down there and I actually flatted in the Public Service hostel with Kath’s husband. I was godfather to Kerrin, eventually. I didn’t mention but at high school Gordon and I got Certificates of Proficiency in Book One and Merc Law I think it was … One … and they weren’t allowed to be counted – you had to sit them again once you’d matriculated. So I was in the Public Trust there a good year I suppose. Dad was still trying to farm Hukanui.

Where was Hukanui?

Go straight up … it’s right on the sky line – you know the Hutchinson Domain – straight up. You went straight on up by horseback to get over the other side to do anything. Three thousand acres up there, and the house was at 2,600 feet. So I went up there to find out the difference between a ewe, a ram and a hogget.

So that was your first farming opportunity?

Yeah. I just went up in the holidays occasionally. I knew how to sit on a quiet hack.

So you were at Wellington still at that stage?

Yeah. So I went … I left them there, and they said “why are you leaving?” And I explained to them. ‘Cause I wasn’t too impressed on Public Trust farming properties as Trustees. I thought ‘better … you know, if you don’t know much practical farming, but as long as you can watch the Lsd.’ [£sd]

So anyway I went up there and I was with Dad for about another year … year and a half. And he was trying to sell it to the government for settlement for £4 an acre. And they wouldn’t take it on. They wouldn’t look at it. Rabbits were … brown on the hills. So Tommy Cooper who’d been at Hereworth with me, but senior – he had all this property and he bought it for £5 an acre. ‘Cause Dad said to me “will we sell it?” And I said “sell it!” Hah! You know, it was – you’d put cattle in the paddock and you might lose five because someone put a standard at the top of the hill without footing it, and the weight of the wires …

Pull it down …and just walk over it …

… walk over into no man’s land. That’s where Dineen is now.

So anyway, then I rode my hack from to Hukanui to the Swamp Road and I went shepherding. Where would I go first … I think I went Tunanui. And Alec Sinclair and I got on spot on.

He used to manage it for the Russells, did he?

Yeah. And Alan Joll was married shepherd, and he – as long as I talked racing, he’d dig the post holes. We got on damn well, Alan, and his very nice wife. She was the war widow from Tarawa, like Frank’s one. And anyway, the General – I lived in a sort of a chauffeur’s loft – have you been into Tunanui? Well it was handy for the garden, you know, and single boys’ [?] And he used to let me borrow books from his library, one at a time or two at a time. One – like ‘The Battle Plans of Ganges Chakan’ – if you took that you were allowed a lighter one as well, but you had to have one heavy one with military history.

Then I left there and Alec Sinclair said “will you go up the road and live in that little whare of mine and look after my block further up the road”. Right next door was Tommy Dysart who’d married D S McDonald’s widow.

Is that Tosh’s father?

No – Tosh’s uncle. Bill was Tosh’s father. She used to have me in for morning tea … cream cakes. It was just half way around my beat. No, that was good times up there.

Was Peggy ..?

Peggy? Well, she’s older than me. She was Bill’s daughter.

She was at Elsthorpe anyway.

Yeah. One of the big families out there. And Sheila was my vintage. And I was at a dance there where Sheila first met Rob Comrie and that was easy to see it was love at first sight if ever there was love at first sight. ‘Cause Rob had been down at Varsity with us in Wellington. And when he bought that bit of land right at the top – Sherenden – no man’s land, his father, the lawyer, put an ad in the Public Notices … “I will not be responsible for any debts incurred by my son”. That sticks in my mind. ‘Cause Rob wasn’t a bad guy. Anyway he married Sheila. And I was up there for probably two years. I had to cross the road to go to the toilet. There use to be a dog’s leg thing there, and he owned the bit of land on the other side of the road and that’s where the long drop was.

And of course David Hildreth was wafting round the district then, and the property he eventually bought was the property of a mental patient. And the Tunanui shepherds sort of did the stock work, and anyway it was put up for sale. And the General had decreed that Stan McAulay would get it. It was a leasehold block … “and that’s for Stan”. Anyway Stan never got a bid. It was David Hildreth and me. And Dad went to 10 guineas for the leasehold and it was going to cost £40 to freehold it. And David got it on 11 – the lease on it. So that’s where Glen Alma Stud – where he started. And then Tuki Hindmarsh was up the road. Incidentally his father was my first bookie. My mother bet with him, and when we were fifteen or so she’d let me have five shilling bets.

So you were corrupted from a young age?

Oh yeah. Yeah, well Irish from my mother’s side. Newrick was there cause his son Des, he was friendly with Charlie and me. So after Sherenden I came down here and I worked at Glen Aros for a lambing beat. That was so so. The manager was a stud Angus man, and unless the paddocks were like that … and then he’d put in lamb two tooth ewes in them, and they popped bearings. Anyway he was a good stock manager, but his head shepherd was a hell of a … Merv McLaren. When he retired he ran the Stortford Lodge office.

At the saleyards?

Yeah. And his son’s done very well in the South Island on stud stock.

And I did a stint at Ocean Beach which was beyond me, you know … dogs had been doing five hundred acres. And Ocean Beach – Haupouri Station was seven miles along the beach.

Well who owned it at that stage?

Ian Gordon. And his wife was a Brocklehurst and her father was Dean of St Johns. And her mother was killed in the earthquake – a beam or something fell on her.

So your dogs found it a bit tough? Seven miles …

Down the beach, and no water. And the manager had – he just had so many dogs behind him, just a pack of barkers and pushers, yet he coped alright with them. He’s dead now. So virtually from there I came here.

So Michael Gordon would be Ian Gordon’s son?

No, Michael’s son. Yeah – Jean was his elder sister who married John Stovell, and then he had another sister who married an accountant in England and then there was Michael. And Graham Thelwell was manager. He was just married and his wife was a champion swimmer I remember. And what they did – they must have given a paddock or two right in the centre of Taurapa … “and you can farm that, Michael” … and ‘course it wasn’t a unit and it lasted so long and no more, and then he went out and bought in the Swamp Road. But he’s quite a bit younger than me. But his father used to wander around in Scottish plaids and tam o’shanters and …

I’ve known Michael since when they were first married and went out to the farm. He’s not a fool. So over the years I always remember going out to Swamp Road. He had all his father’s trophies in the wool shed, all the tiger’s heads and the lion’s head. I don’t know what’s happened to them now. He married …

Robyn. She was the only child. Kath knows her quite well.

So then you came back to here – into this area.

I must have bought … I came from Alec Sinclair’s to here, ’cause it was just about the start of lambing and Alec wasn’t too pleased. But I got the opportunity – I came down here on a Sunday – Jim Scott drove us round. He said “you’ll have to make up your mind – he wants £100 an acre for it. It won’t last long on the market.” You know, pressurised Dad. I didn’t have anything to put in. Anyway we signed up that Sunday afternoon.

How many acres?

I think there was a hundred and fifty six in the original corner – that was called the Windmill paddock. And then shortly after that his brother Harry – oh I got this block, and I got forty acres down the other side of Wedds’ which was in the deal. And then his brother had thirty acres on the other side against Mac Graham, and he said “if you want to buy it you can buy it”. I said “well give me first refusal, I just don’t want to at the moment.” So over the fence old Derek made the blue, he said “oh, I’ve been looking at a block of land down there and he wants too much for it of course”. I said “I’ve got first refusal on that block”. If he hadn’t have said it he’d have got it. And I paid the same money but it was lighter paddock than the one next door. And Mason Waterworth had leased the two. Mason was my father’s sort of adviser.

Well, he used to come to Napier’s Boys’ High and instruct us in sheep husbandry.

I’ve got three grandsons there now. The triplets are there. Sam’s triplets. Just shows you you got to watch when you’re talking about land locally, you know. He didn’t like it either.

And then when Gary and I were negotiating with Rouse for the Paratu – ’cause Rouse had about 80 acres – well he had some land – no, all on his side of the road was Rouse land. Well Derek, when he heard that Gary and I were negotiating sort of as a partnership, he hopped in, got into Bill’s pocket and got ninety acres. It must have been Rouse land – he must have got … anyway, he got a paddock over here somewhere, and Gary wouldn’t have anything to do with him, ’cause of something. So when the auction came up – I’ve still got Gary’s papers that he drew up that I signed, and no matter what it bought at auction he knew … told me or showed on the paper what I’d pay for a hundred and ten acres, which had the stream in it up there. And all they wanted was the graveyard paddock by the Washpool entrance for their trust. So we got Jim Scott to bid for us. And Klinginder was … he was the auctioneer – Dick Klinginder – and for ages it went pound for pound for pound, and the underbidder was Jeff Russell whose wife had just sold at Elephant Hill. If she hadn’t put that deal through we’d have picked it up for nice money. Anyway that’s how I got that.

But Gary was damn good. When Wellwoods’ “For Sale” up here he took me round it. He said “you should buy this, Doug.” And I said “I’m not going to buy it because of the leasehold of the riverbed”. It made the farm. Gordon Kelt’s got it leasehold upstream. And I said “as soon as I get the lessee to buy it, Gordon’ll get my piece.” So I said “ no – forget about it.” Well Gary got it. I think it only made about £33 an acre or something, you know. I think they were the only bidders but I didn’t go to that auction. But I’m quite glad I didn’t buy it ’cause you’ve only got so much equity … [chuckle] … you know what it is? I’d rather – I always wanted what was known as Jolly’s – that’s where Rouse … I always wanted that, and I thought ‘I’ve got to play my cards …’ Because when it came to buying that, I just had to go to my financiers and say “well – first mortgage on that, first mortgage on this” which had – only owed the family money, and it was hardly any more borrowing involved. ‘Cause they couldn’t dispute that this collateral wasn’t worth per acre what that was. So that roughly – how I got here.

That also was a challenge too because – Ngatarawa was a special area to farm. If you didn’t farm it early there was nothing to farm, was there?

No, it was just like this. And you had to have hay or something to … ‘Cause I always had the sheep on at about five or six or seven per acre, but I had hay or – I used to buy that – chickpeas that they used to feed ducks, and maize, barley. I worked out that you fed barley when it was as hard as this so they picked up every grain. Once it rained you switched to maize. There wasn’t the wastage.

So that means you’ve been farming this farm for … how long?

I asked Kath “when … when did we get married?” She couldn’t remember. I know I bought the farm the year Bosal won the last race at Hastings – paid £70 – led all the way. But somewhere I’ll find it. It doesn’t really matter. I’d say sixty odd years or thereabouts.

And it’s an interesting area, because who would have thought that sixty years ago this would be a prime vineyard area. Yes, it’s amazing how the transformation … you’re living in the middle of a green belt now aren’t you?

Well Gary, he said that once all these vineyards come on we’ll get a lot of passing showers. There’ll be no more thermals – and we do, we get showers we’d never have got.

So mainly it’s been a fat lamb farm hasn’t it?

Yes, fat lamb. But I couldn’t pass a beginners test in farm theory. I wouldn’t honestly. I never learned to shear with a hand piece. My father taught me to shear with the blades.

But that hasn’t held you back has it?

No, it hasn’t. Because this was going to be an irrigation scheme on its own border dyke from the river. The Ministry of Works surveyed every acre and then, when it was all there and we were ready to find out what it would cost us to buy the water, they said “oh, there won’t be enough water in the Ngaruroro River when you want it.” God! And I was chairman of that. The economist from the Ag Dept – he said to me before it was wiped, he said “you know you won’t net anything more off an irrigated lot than you do as you’re doing it.” They had all the figures.

It’s about timing isn’t it? When the grass is growing; when you’ve got the sheep …

I’ve still got the bit on the Swamp Road. You know that paddock? It’s probably the longest – it was my father’s bullock paddock for Hukanui.

So whereabouts on Swamp Road is it?

Coming from Fernhill – you know where the big pine plantation was on the hill, Timms? In front of there it goes right back under the hill, all flat to the stream. The stream’s two sides, and I lease it to Peter Clayton. He bought Henna’s house, and he’s had it probably about six or seven years.

The Henna block … Athol Purvis, McCutcheons, Trevor Taaffe – and of course Michael Gordon bought Trevor Taaffe’s block. Where are you in relation to those?

Well I’m right below Peter Clayton. D’you know where Anne Ferrison used to be? Straight below there. You’ve got a bridge across the drain. There’s no number on the gate ’cause we haven’t got a residence there.

Oh, so you’ve got some heavier country … off farm?

Yes, it was heavy. It used to flood. And I grew thirteen crops of maize in a row with a guy – Maraenui Road, who sort of looked after the workings of it and planting.

Danny Beasley?

Danny … he was my father confessor.

I knew there was someone behind you there.

I stayed here. I said “I’ll write out the cheques, Danny.” So he did it for years. And I leased it to Johnny Bostock. And he took summer crops off, and didn’t do much in the winter with it. But I leased to him for the year. And then he got caught with a crop – it rained at New Year or something – and if I’d been here – I was in Otaki on holiday – I used to go out with a wide mouth shovel and spend the morning just breaking the furrow lines and …

Yeah, letting the water away.

I’d have lost some crops – I lost one crop of peas when I was away too. But he lost one. And he said “oh, I’m not going to lease it again unless you drain it properly.” So I leased it then to Jonty Moffatt. And Johnny was his father. And he had it probably 5-6 years and he was making noises of – it was too wet. So Johnny’s father said to me “look the boys and I – we’ll organise a proper drainage scheme with two pumps.” So I said “well you do that, and you just tell me what you reckon it’s going to cost”. And he said “oh, about $50,000”, you see. And I said “well do it, but I don’t want to be involved at all. I’ll write out a cheque at the end.” And his son is a qualified engineer, and he looked after the pump. Awakeri Drainage, they did the …


… and put a great centred pipe in like a herringbone with feeler pipes out. And it’s just gone from there. It’s ten miles from here. Years ago John Struthers used to drive a few cattle back and forward, you know, for me.

But you know, I suppose it’s drained – there’s no problem with wetness. And it’s beautiful land when it’s drained.

So Clayton, what he does – he leases back to Bostock for a summer crop, and then he puts it into a winter crop – fattening – and he’s made a hole or a big gate in the fence where he can have cattle going up on the hill to camp, and they come down and graze on it. So he farms it damn well, I’m always happy with him. His mother was a Deardon from Waipuk. Well these Deardon’s up here are his cousins.

So that’s your farming, and over the past 20 years the farm has diminished in size because you have sold to someone local.

I sold the – well you know who, the vineyard. I’ve only got fifty acres left. And the damn council – they say fifty acres is minimum. But I think you can get round it if you sell to a neighbour. You just have a boundary.

There’s ways of doing it, I’ve seen that. So you have had some other interests as well as being a farmer. Were you ever … follow the dog trials, or ..?

No, no – I had my own dog trials here. I was never any good with a dog. No, I

So the dogs were really trials to you.

Racing. Racing morning, noon and night.

Did you ever own a horse?


So you totally were an investor?

I didn’t do much of that. I used to go to Trentham. We’d get a taxi at four o’clock in the morning at the clock tower. Go to Trentham with £4 in my pocket, and there were eight races and that was ten shillings to win on one horse in each race. And I’d never spend any more – I might have a pie at lunch but … Racing was only on a Saturday. You’d spend all week studying up, and …

Well I always remember going to Wellington to the Wellington Steeple Chase.

And you’d miss a race.

But this was in 1959.

Meekel had … huge number. I saw Green Light race down there with Paramour. And Kentucky Flight fell at the last fence. And Green Light didn’t know how to fall but he didn’t know how to race much either. [Chuckle] And he plodded through the mud and he won it.

Waddle jumped on Kentucky Flight as if to … he was so far in front of Green Light, and Green Light actually beat him in the slog end of the mud. [Chuckle] But Meekel’s – they and Howard Glazebook shared some horses – Peas Blossom was one. Nolan … I remember Nolan, he worked for the church.

The monastery down in Takapau. Yeah, he went down there as a silent monk but Nolan had too much talk in him to be silent monk.

And David was his brother.

David’s dead now. Nolan’s dead.

Plowman was their manager.

That’s right. So then … you certainly had some interest in politics over the period?

I’ve been a National Party supporter since my first vote and I’ve never wavered. I pay my sub every year, but I don’t like this chap out of Waimarama. Well, he came here and we had all the organisation – you know how good it was. And I rang him and I said “look, if you want to know anything about the electorate give me a ring, and if I don’t know it, I’ll find out.” He never even rang me.

It’s a funny thing, Douglas … I always remember the day that Tim Symes … he formed a deputation with himself and came to see me when we were living on Thompson Rd and he said ‘would I like to form a branch at Brookvale’? And I said “oh – yes” …

I think I was with Tim that day.

Well you may have been.

‘Cause we had two branches to form – that one, and cutting something in half I think … Anyway…

Well, it’s a long time ago.

My job was was to make sure there was enough money to keeps the dues paid to Wellington. That was my …

There were no books anywhere from Hawke’s Bay electorate. No one knows where the minute books are … all the records.

A lot of them were here and I’ve given them in to his office.

Craig Foss’s office?

Into Foss …

Have you? Were they Hawke’s Bay electorate records?

Right back. They should have known I had them.

How long ago was that?

Well it went back … it was just a small … bound book. And – I think National Party was formed about 1930 – from then.

I rang Wellington the other day and I got hold of James Austin. You remember James?


And anyway he said he’ll have a look and see …in the archives. Nobody knows.

What a fool they were. I had it, sitting in my desk and Kath or someone dropped it in, you know, just over the counter. And I rang them back about a month later. “Did you ever receive those records of mine”? “Oh – yes we gave them to the Hastings branch. We thought … she said “I’ll get them back”, or you know …

Was this in the past twelve months … earlier?

Twenty four months probably.

I’ve been talking to them over the last eighteen months about any records … I’ve spoken to Foss, I’ve spoken to his secretary.

Well we left them into that office on the corner. I couldn’t leave them in so I must have been getting to this stage. You know, I’ve been like this in various degrees for quite some years, and I thought ‘well I’ll follow it up and see if you’ve given them to Foss or …’ Had all my … Mac Menzies proposed me off the floor for chairman when I was new to the district and it goes back … some of the old chaps like Sally Bogard’s father, those sort of people. You know, there’s a page probably for each year. It wasn’t sort of full of ideas and …

It’s just the history. We’ve got idea who the people were. Somewhere, someone will – they will be somewhere.

It’s a black bound book – it’d be about as big as that – might be foreshortened a wee bit, and it’s got ruled paper. I bet I’m mentioned in more than half the pages. It’s at least in their office and whether they … can’t imagine.

Now just coming back to Kath. You made mention that you use to flat with Don, her husband.

Well, her boyfriend then.

and you became …


… godfather to her …

To Kerrin, first daughter.

… and then you became …

Their father. And the godchild’s on the same birthday as mine.

Isn’t that wonderful. So where did you meet? Was Kath a local person, or ..?

She came from Oamaru and she was a dental nurse in Geraldine, and Don was in the Government Law Office in Wellington. He was brilliant, but he had rheumatic fever. They married and lived in the street behind Havelock Primary School, and old Reeves … I think he helped her out a bit, you know, ’cause … he and Dan Hurst House. And I was living in Havelock. When Don died, my mother was very good to Kath and her mother was in Christchurch. Kath’s mother. So we got engaged, and we’ve been married a long time. We’re both pretty stroppy. [Chuckle]

And of course you have a hobby in the horses?


And she plays with paints. She’s an artist.

Of some renown. She hides her light under a bushel.

And so she had …

Two little girls.

… and then you’ve had …

Fiona, James and Sam. Kerrin’s got bioloba [?], and she’s in Waiapu – the eldest.

Oh. What’s bioloba?

Oh … she’s perfectly healthy … keeps herself pretty spick and span, but has to be drugged up for … head, and it’s hereditary and she’s very hard on Kath. You know – if Kath brings her presents, she’s – “oh no I’m not having that, it’s poisoned”. I wouldn’t let Kath go and see her on Christmas day, ’cause we were going to Jen and Sam’s and Kath’s pretty sensitive. I knew if she’d had an ear bashing – spoil her whole day – so I said “no, we’re not going”. And Kath didn’t really object. We went between Christmas and New Year and that wasn’t too successful. Best thing that happened – we were coming out of there and who should be going in but Ted and Shirley. So we had a good chat and Ted livened the situation. He doesn’t really look any different. He and Robin Bell were good mates, they OE’d together. Well Robin Bell … Elizabeth would have been a year older than me – if Robin had been alive, he would be – I think he’d be – Ted and Robin were of an age – I think he would be 83-84. He still writes a sharp letter to the paper.

So let’s…

Talking about interests – well really, racing’s first, then the National party, which – I’m not participating at the moment, but voting. And farming would be last. Bookkeeping, accounts – doing accounts – love it.

See that’s a side of you I never knew, that you’ve done all your training. Your mind was focused on accounting.

Yeah, I wasn’t too bad.

But the old story, Douglas, you don’t have to be a precise farmer to be a successful farmer. A lot of good farmers failed because they weren’t good bookkeepers.

No, that’s right. I’d say to a young bloke you must have a bit of capital or equity, and then as long as you’re good with your books and account for everything. I taught Sam a fair bit and he’s pretty good. And the girls are pretty good. But I taught them sort of … like Sam’d look in the paper and if there was two cattle beasts for sale – Jersey Cross down at Pakipaki – we’d go down and buy them for cash and truck them home. And he got the proceeds less the cost of cartage. That sort of thing when he was Standard 5 or 6.

Otherwise – I don’t – didn’t like dancing. I wasn’t really social butterfly. I admired Kay when she was young – one of the best looking girls – she was, wasn’t she?

Well I suppose, you know – here we are sitting in this lovely oasis in the middle of a Ngatarawa …


… summer – well it’s really just another summer isn’t it? So I think that probably gives us a fairly good idea who you are, where you came from and what you did. And if we attach to it these two family books – we copy those and we attach those to that, and that would be wonderful.

Today’s the 10th March 2016. This is an addendum from the other side of their family. Douglas would you like to now tell me something about that.

Yes.  Now Henderson James Twigg, grandfather of Douglas Russell Twigg was born in Thorndale, Ireland.  He immigrated to New Zealand, where in 1862 he applied for a position on Maraekakaho Station.  Donald McLean engaged him as secretary/bookkeeper in 1864. For six years he helped administer the station before leaving in 1870 for Petane, north of Napier.  The following year Henderson married Elizabeth Torr, daughter of James and Julia Torr.  Taking up residence in Petane, he founded the Petane Grange with his father in law.  Later in life he bought the Grange where he and Elizabeth raised Samuel, Francis, Ernest, Garnet, Desmond, Annie and Violet.

Right, now Kath will now tell us something of her family's line. Thank you Kath.

Kathleen's family originated from Wicklow in Ireland.  Her grandmother Alice Manley (nee O'Connor) from Oamaru, was a highly respected resident and early pioneer of North Otago.  Alice's father was an Imperial Officer in the British army for twenty three years. He served in the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny, and at Queen Victoria's command he returned to England where at Buckingham Palace, Her Majesty Queen Victoria decorated him for bravery and distinguished service.  

Kathleen Mary Corcoran lived in Oamaru and spent much of her younger life at her family's farm at Duntroon, Otago.  Later she went to Wellington to train to be a school Dental nurse.  Kathleen eventually moved to Hawke's Bay where for many years she has been a well-known exhibiting artist in Hawke's Bay and is also elected artist member of the Academy of New Zealand Fine Arts, Wellington.  Kathleen and Douglas have lived at Ngatarawa for many years and have three daughters and two sons.  

Where did you go to school then Kath?

I went to the Oamaru South School.  I remember [chuckle] going up the hill, and I knew when I was coming down there'd be this horrible little dog.  [Laughter]  I used to run down the hill to try and avoid him.  But very often I fell and skinned my knees.

So what was Oamaru like those days?

Oh ... boring.

'Cause it was a bustling port once wasn't it, with lots of grain stores down by the wharf?  I stopped off to have a look at Oamaru a couple of years ago. Some beautiful old buildings there.

Oh there are - they refurbish them.  They're all made from Oamaru stone.

And so that was your primary schooling in Oamaru? 


Did you go to a high school?

I went to the high school.  I had a bicycle. My father bought me a bicycle which I use to clean every weekend so that it was shining and beautiful and clean.  [Chuckle]  Like new.  

And so then you went to Dental School - where did you go to Dental School?

Oh they called me up in September - unfortunately, because I was going to be in 'The Gondoliers' play.  So I was torn between the two. But I thought the better of it because my mother was a widow.  I thought well, I would be quite independent because we were paid while we trained. And I enjoyed it.  But when I finished my training I wanted to go on and learn more and be a Dentist.  But somehow it didn't happen. 

And your interest in art.  Has that always been with you or did you develop that?   

Yes.  It was something I had to do, like going to the bathroom and cleaning your teeth.  It was something in me that drove me to keep up with it.  But of course during the years when the children were little, and their father decided I was in charge of the children and he was in charge of the farm, I was either in the kitchen or looking after my children.  [Chuckle]  So I didn't have too much time to draw.

No.  It's interesting, there's an article in this morning's paper about W J Rush, and it was saying about - he was an architect, very busy - but they said there was hardly a day when he didn't paint something.  And some of his paintings do look like that.

Yes, I've actually got one.

I've got two, or three.  But there's going to be a big sale of them soon in Hawke's Bay.  Someone has had a big collection and they're all going to be released and sold.  So that's fascinating.  And that art has carried on right through your life and you're still doing it now.

Oh really, how old is he?

No, no, no, no - I'm talking about you.  I'm talking about your art.  

Oh.  [Chuckle] 

You're still carrying on - your art has followed you right through, and you're still ...

Yes I've got one down at the New Zealand Academy at the moment.

Oh that's wonderful isn't it?   So then you moved…

Mind you, part of it ... part of that painting I had done some time ago.  And I - like a lot of artists do - you don't know what to do next. So I put it - gave it a rest - I put it against the wall so to speak.  And then when this request from the Academy came up for - to do art from the heart, I thought 'by jove, I'll get that painting out'. And you know, it just seemed to fall into place.

It's about mood isn't it?

Timing … more than mood – timing.

So you became a North Islander eventually, and you're still a North Islander.

Well actually I married before, and Don was a barrister and solicitor.  And he unfortunately died.

This was in Wellington was it?

No, we came up to Hawke's Bay.  And we lived in  one of – oh, those cottages in Campbell Street. You know - a certain person used to build those buildings. 

Douglas:  Chaplin was the architect.  [Speaking together]

Kath:  Had thatched – sort of thatched rooves – what was his name?

Chapman Taylor.

Kath:  And – and we bought a section over the road where we planned to - Don planned out the house that we were going to live in.  But it didn't happen – he died.  I had a baby of thirteen months and one of two and two years.

Yes - those Chapman Taylor houses are both still there.  There's the one on the corner, and then there's a small one just down from the corner.

We lived in that little one to begin with.

So then you where left with two little babies, and ..?

Yes, I must remember to remind you of an incident where I used to put the pram.  This was when Kerrin, my first child - I used to put her out in this pram under this tree.  And one morning I must have been a bit late doing it, because there'd been a storm, and a huge bough came down where I used to put the pram. 

Was this off the gum tree?

So – oh, I was absolutely horrified.  I thought how fortunate I was that I hadn't been early.  

And so then you married Douglas?

Yes, he was the godfather of my eldest child.  And we had difficult years, but it was because I think Douglas became sort of ... the cry of the children, you know -  what's that baby crying for, and all this sort of thing … rattled him somehow.

Well, we didn't hear those sounds out on the farm did we, Douglas? 

Douglas:  No, no.

The wives heard them mainly because we were never home.

Kath:  And it certainly was difficult. 

Douglas:  Oh, well dear – it's a two edged sword I suppose.  Takes two to tango.

Kath:  I was the mother of those children. That made the difference.

OK - well is there anything else that you can just think of, and then I'll switch back over to Douglas.

Douglas:  Well you didn't mention Geraldine Kath.

Kath:  Well, I saved his life just recently. Did you know about that?

No.  Geraldine ... 

One day ... 

Oh – Geraldine - does Geraldine come first?

I used to be a Dental nurse there.

Would you like to tell us about your time in Geraldine?

Oh, it was a very happy time.  I was friends with a lady who lived across the creek as we called it.  And I flatted with a girl who was a … oh, she was what you call - I can't quite remember what it was now, but she did a two year course in teaching and we got on fine.  You know, we worked out without any upsets or quarrels or arguments.  But she's not alive now, she died.  Noeline Lindsay's sister, apparently Noel Lindsay was the spoilt one in the family - there were two girls.  And the father and she used to go for trips over to Europe and around and about, and Beverley would mind … look after her mother who strangely enough had a health problem where she ... when she'd had a baby she became quite paralysed.  Yeah, and she was all right during the pregnancy. And what caused it, goodness knows.

Yes, well that would have been a pretty little place to be in – Geraldine - wouldn't it? 

Yes, it's a lovely little place.

Yes, it still is a nice town.  And you said you had to save Douglas?

I was sole charge of the clinic there. And some mornings, it was … in the winter … it was so cold my hands were absolutely numb, and my feet, and I had to you know [chuckle] tap my hands under the tap.

And you would have had one of those drills that you pump your leg up and down on.

[Chuckle]  No, they didn't have those then but they've got them now.  I don't really approve of those.  But anyway, it was a good time. Very good time. What was the next question?

You said you saved Douglas.

Oh yes, well he'd been saying for a few days, “oh I don't feel … don't feel all that good”.  Oh, and I'd say “oh, stop your moaning”.  [Laughter]  I'm sure a lot of women have to say that too.  Anyway this particular day, he suddenly went as white as a sheet and I said “Douglas, Douglas - keep breathing ... keep breathing”, and I started pushing his diaphragm to make him breathe.  And then the next thing he came into a flush, and sweat all over his head, and he told me later his shirt was soaking.  And I called the ambulance and they eventually came and do you know what the driver said to me?  Not the driver but the man that was with the driver – he said “oh, fancy calling us out all this way just because your husband doesn't feel well.”  Anyway they took him in and I went in with him.  And I'd rung Fiona and she rang Jen up the road - that's my other daughter, and we went in and no sooner that he got to the hospital than they decided he had to be flown to Wellington to have a pacemaker, 'cause they don't do it at the Hastings hospital. 

And so I went down on the bus to see the exhibition opening, and my son James in Auckland shouted me a night at Rydges Hotel.  [Chuckle]  And I loved that, it was great. And then the next morning I got a taxi up to the hospital and I saw Douglas.   And he had to be there for, what was it, five days?  And then they flew him back on a hospital plane again when they had enough passengers. Two were coming down from Wairoa. [Speaking together]

Oh, to fill it – yes, sure.

Then he came back and he went to the Hastings hospital.

Oh, to be monitored.  I was saying to Douglas I had a friend from Wanganui who was in Wellington the same time as Douglas was.  And they've put the pacemaker in him and he looks fine again, but he was not very good. He was dog tucker before that.  I must say Douglas looks better than last time I was here. He's quite different actually.

Douglas: It's taken a long time to …

Kath:  But he's really back to normal – grumpy.  [Laughter]

But I mean – yes, but some of us were born that way.  [Laughter] I better make it the plural rather than point it at you Douglas. 

I've got to get the whip out now and again. 'Cause he really should exercise. 

Douglas:  Which I can't.

Kath:  But he also should have his legs up now, and be right back. You know – but he does what he wants to do.

You know - he's obviously feeling better just by the way he looks and his attitude and that, which is neat.  It's great. But isn't it wonderful how quickly they can do things?   You know you're here, and you're down there, and next thing there's a whole lot of these young suited men come and have a look at you, and you think, 'God, these boys are not old enough to be out of high school yet.'

Douglas:  But no more than most older blokes.

If there's anything else you can think of ..?

Kath:  It takes me back to time when my sister and I were children and we decided we'd go for a swim.  And so we took a picnic lunch and we went over … swam over to the other side.  And then my sister, who's deaf - suddenly as we were swimming back she grabbed me around the neck, and I thought “Oh!  I can't talk to her - she can't hear me - I'll just keep going”.  And I noticed that the river was quite swift on the other side and there was a big log there that seemed to be stationed there - it was probably a tree.  And I kept swimming and swimming and the water … oh, I don't know how I did it. It was just determination, power and focused - and we got there. And I don't think anybody else ever knew about it.

Had she had a - was she just frightened, or ..?

Yes she got tired.

So she was holding on to you for support, but choking you.

Just about - we could have been both drowned.

Yes we can all look back and think of little things like that. Some things we never tell anyone about.  And Kath has a few more details. Thank you Kath.

Thank you.  Yes - well my three lovely daughters, Kerrin, Jenny and Fiona, and James and Sam.

And they're all local are they?

James lives in Auckland, Sam lives down off the Porangahau Road in Ormond country it was.  And yes, Kerrin's in Havelock, Fiona's in Havelock and Jenny's farming with Sam - she married again and she's with Sam Nelson. His first wife died in a terrible riding accident.

And grandchildren?

Yes - Fiona and Mark have two sons, one's engaged over in Canada.  And Andrew, or Andy as we call him, is in Wellington and he also is engaged to be married, and he works in the ANZ bank. I think he's in charge of thirty four people.  So we see them from time to time, and Toby – Bron and Sam's eldest boy - is down in Canterbury now at Elam.

Douglas:  No, excuse ... at Lincoln. Toby's at Lincoln College.

Kath:   Oh well - I thought he was at University, but ...

Douglas:  Yeah, but you said Elam, that's an Art School.

Kath:   No - it's a University.  

Douglas:  Anyway – she's ...

Kath:  And Ilam's in Auckland, isn't that right?

Ilam's in Canterbury - that's the boarding area for Canterbury University.  Ilam House.  My son was there.

Well that's Elam. Elam's in Canterbury.

Oh, is it Elam?

And that will be boarding where he lives.  Oh, I'm not sure.  Anyway - you've confused me now Douglas.

He's down in Canterbury.

Douglas:  Lincoln College.

Kath:  And our three other boys who are ... yes, I'm not allowed to call them triplets anymore. That's Joseph, Louie and Issac …

Triplet boys?

… they're pupils at Napier Boys' High School.  And strangely enough Douglas' father went there.

Douglas:   Before 1900.

I went there before 1950.  [Chuckles]  Fifty years later.

Kath:  Were you a good pupil?

Absolutely - perfect pupil.  [Laughter]   But I must tell this. I went there because I was the son of a farmer and Napier Boy's High School had an agricultural course, and so I was duly sent off to do this agricultural course because I had a famous cousin, Mac Cooper, who was a Rhodes Scholar who went to Napier Boys' High School so I was supposed to follow in his footsteps.  Of all the strange things I wanted to be an accountant, and for the life of me when I think of all the accountants I've dealt with over my life, they're the last people I'd want to be. Maybe a consultant but …

I reckon it's a very stressful life being an accountant.

And do you see them regularly?

Oh, yes we do.

You can always send them back though, can't you, the grandchildren?

[Chuckle]  Oh, now we've got great grandchildren too.

Have you, goodness, how many?

Yes, we've got four. Two in Hastings and two over in Perth.  Sarah, my daughter Jenny's eldest daughter.  She has Madeline and Oliver.

Perth's not so easy to visit.

We were all delighted when she had a boy.   And he's bonny, and he's just the spitting image of his father.  And Maddie is just like her mum.  There's a photo of them up here.  And the two at the bottom there - those are Rachel and Henry's two little girls, Ruby and Poppy.  And just the one above is Maddie and Oliver.  Yes, but he's walking now.

Yes - we've got - our grandchildren range from twenty two down to three.  

Douglas:  Well the two little girls' mother is head of Art at Lindisfarne – Rachel. And her husband is sports teacher and he's a house master, so they've been granted the use of the Lindisfarne house.

Kath:   And it's a two storeyed house.   And they've got a little garden, and they've even got a little coop to put chooks.  [Chuckle]  And they've got this wicker basket which is about that tall, and long handle and narrow - and you can image the two little girls going to the little coop picking up the eggs.

So any of the children arty?

Rachel isn't … it's not the art that I do, it's computer art and I don't call that art. I think hands on art is art.  But she was four years at college in Palmerston so she learned everything there was to learn.

Well it's a huge field art, isn't it?

And her mother use to say she was institutionalised. [Chuckle]   But anyway, she met this chap, he actually came out as a – Henry - as an exchange student, and they just clicked these two.  We've met his mother and father - they both married different people again.  All quite involved really.  He has aunt that lives further up the island here, or a half-sister I think – yeah, a half-sister.  He's a very good cook – he's amazingly good at cooking.  And very quick, you know. He gets the cushions puffed up and the curtains tidy and it's all done in ... and Rachel's the opposite.

All right, well I think that gives me a fairly … is there anything else you can think of Douglas?

Douglas:  Not really, but I think Kath'd like to know where all this is channelled. Wouldn't you Kath?

[Recording stopped while interviewer explains.  Re-starts next section mid-sentence]

Douglas:  In the hall Kath, didn't you?

Kath:   Yes, it all happened in the hall.

This is the Maraekakaho Hall?

Kath:  Yes the Maraekakaho Hall.  And I'd considered, because I had extended myself, I thought well what about all the other farmer's wives up here?  They're just sort stuck at home and having cups of coffee, and cooking and baking and all that sort of thing, and sending children to school and ... And they haven't got anything to extend themselves, so I decided I would … as I've told you, I would get someone to come and show them how to do knitting, patch work quilt making, all different kinds of sewing and also to make bread. I got someone else to come out and show us how to make bread and buns and … and we did all that.  And then another thought was - did I say a butcher?  

You need to tell me about the butcher.

And - but it did start up people going to the hall more, and playing badminton.   You know, it - then Kereru started doing things. So it sorted planted a seed really.  It made people happier and they got to know each other.

The butcher - you said you had a butcher come in and teach you how to cut meat up as well.

Yes I did.

That's a good idea because no one ... most wives or husbands have had - unless you're a farmer - they had to find that out for themselves. 

Douglas:  Well Kath got the butcher - he was quite an identity in Hastings. 

Kath:  I can't remember his name.

Douglas:  He had something to do with Richmond's. Do you know him?  No, he use to conduct cookery classes, butchery classes in Hastings. 

Yes I know who you're talking about but I can't remember his name.

I can't tell you. But he was pretty good at - he was probably the best commercial butcher we had at the time.

Well he did a lot of fancy cuts too didn't he? Stuff we'd never heard of it, or seen.

Kath:  I know when we go down to see Sam and Bron - we often – we haven't been for ages 'cause they're really busy with their horses, and Sam's busy with his real estate.  We used to buy meat at the Waipawa butchery.  A very good butcher there.  A really nice man.

Makes great sausages and saveloys. I've got friends in Havelock that go down there to buy their savs and sausages.

Douglas:  I used to go in and behind the counter he's got a freezer. I said “what have you got hanging up?”  I'd say “well I'll take the hind quarters of that one”.  [Chuckle]  I didn't want the full quarter.  But I bought a lot of meat at that time. $40 worth or something ... and he never gipped, I'd buy just the loin chops, not the ... what they call shoulder chops and rubbish that they have now. But he was quite happy with it.  We bought meat here for years. You know - I used to get reject lambs from Whakatu. That was good stuff, and there was low weighted ones.

Kath:  They might have had a bruised leg or something.

Three-legged ones. We used to buy our meat there too.

Douglas:  And then when I sort of eased up on farming, I did home kills. I never killed cattle, but I sometimes went to the chain at Whakatu when I was killing cattle off the Swamp Road, and said “keep me a hind quarter off that one”.  And they'd present it to me as a hind quarter, and I'd bring it back and - it wasn't that kitchen table.  It was a bit of an ordeal, you know, breaking it down. But it was nice meat.

Kath:  He'd hung it down at the tree down there with a guillotine thing.

What do they call them, not guillotine ... 

Kath:  We used to have a safe where we used to make butter too.

What do they call those things that you put – hang the meat on?

Douglas:  Got a little hook and spreads the hind legs.

I've got several of those still.

Yeah – gambol.

Gambol, that's right.

All right, well I think we've probably got a pretty good … that was just a nice quiet little chat.

Kath:  I think if you can have a chuckle when you're reading something.

Today’s the 22nd of April 2016. This is the history and life of Douglas and Kath Twigg of Ngatarawa. This is just a small add on about Douglas’ family. Douglas would you like to tell us that now please?

My father Francis Cassidy Twigg was born at Petane in 1874. The second son of Henderson James Twigg and Elizabeth (nee Torr) Twigg an early settler from Ulster, Scotland, who farmed the Petane Grange in the Esk Valley. Here Francis spent his boyhood. He was educated at the Petane School, Napier Boys’ High School, Lincoln Agricultural College. He farmed Ridgemount Station with his father before joining his brother Samuel, as partners in Mangaruhe Station in Wairoa. In later life, he farmed the Hawke’s Bay properties of Riverina, Glenbrook, Brooklands, Te Aratipi and lastly Hukanui. He married Olive Edith Russell from Gisborne. Together they had two sons and two daughters. Russell, his eldest son died in infancy. His surviving son, Douglas Russell Twigg, farms at Ngatarawa, while his daughter Florence Deirdre Atmore lives in Otaki. His youngest daughter Mary Olive Buxton, has retired to Tauranga. There are nine grandchildren, Ernest James Twigg, Samuel Victor Twigg, Kerrin Ann Williams, Jenny Mary Nelson, Fiona Elizabeth Harris, Paul Atmore, Graham Atmore, David Atmore, Susan Wilson. The great-grandchildren are, Tobias Twigg, Joseph Twigg, Louis Twigg and Isaac Twigg, Benjamin Harris and Andrew Harris, Sarah Ivanof, Rachel Harland and Rebecca Collins.

[Further information on Douglas Mary McKain who emigrated to New Zealand in December 1840 at the age of 51 can be found at]

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Interviewer:  Frank Cooper

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