Catherine Downes Interview 2004

CATHERINE DOWNES

At Taradale, 9 March 2004

(end of Jane Crosse tape)

Talking now to Catherine Downes, Tom’s sister It’s so nice to meet you. Thank you for coming and talking to us on tape. I’ve known Tom for years and years of course – we were at Massey together, years and years ago, and when I said I’d like to talk to him on tape he said “Oh, you’d better get my sister – she  knows much more than I do. . .)”

C – of course I’m that much older, so my experience goes back – I remember things that he doesn’t because of being older.

I was born in Hastings and my parents at that stage had a little farm up at Petane – Bay View- I  always think of it as Petane when I think of my parents living there, and that’s where they were living when I was born, but only just, because about six weeks after I was born – Mother had great difficulty delivering me – we  went up to Patoka – yes, only six weeks- it was November and I was born in September. The property was in the family – Grandad bought it in 1902 when he relinquished his farm at Kumeroa and he brought the manager from Kumeroa – a chap called Roil – my  family always called them the Royal Family! – perhaps we shouldn’t put that bit in! – anyway Mr Roil had managed Kumeroa before it was sold, he managed Patoka for the next 20 years, he was getting a bit long in the tooth and the mortgagors were getting a bit restive and they said, “I understand”, to Grandad. “Well you’d better put your son on the property and see if he can do any good because otherwise…”.  This was 1923, so from 1902 to 1923 Harry Roil was managing it and in 1923 the management was taken over by my father, Hugh Edward Crosse, and he remained there for the rest of his life – in the old house up there, the house we were brought up in.

On the way to Patoka, with this tiny baby clutched in her arms they came to Rissington where there was in those days a low-level bridge, but that day it wasn’t there it  had been swept away in one of these storms. Mother’s story is that when they arrived there they had to drive the car onto a pontoon or something, which was towed by rope across the river backwards and forwards with cars on it. So they got across safely. So of course, Mother, an English woman from civilization was a little upset by some of these pioneering habits, and when they got safely to the other side the boatman said to her “Oh, you were lucky, the last time we brought a car over, the thing overturned.

T- Right – the bridge we went over at Rissington was built in 1924.

– I thought it wasn’t built till ’31, after the earthquake… but I may be wrong because I have no recollection whatever of going over the low-level bridge. Although we went to town only about twice a year, by the time I was seven I would remember if that bridge had been in place, so I think I’m mistaken when I think the high-level bridge was built after the earthquake. It had been intended for somewhere else, but it was brought to Rissington… But Thomas may be right – it may be 1924.

H – We were talking about your grandparents – perhaps we ought to go back a generation. . .- Not that you remember, but. . .!

T – Well, she’s much more reliable on that than I am.

– I do remember my grandparents – my grandfather was alive until ’52, by which stage I was, what? nearly 30. My great-grandmother came to NZ in 1840 at the age of 10 and she and her family lived in Wellington. I think her father had a store in Karori, right in the heart of the bush. I don’t know if they were New Zealand Company settlers, or independent. They came directly from England, not from Australia – I think on the Lady Nugent.

H – That could be checked out at the Archives – they have good shipping records on NZ Co settlers.

– I ought to remember where they came from because I’ve just done a potted biography of Grandad for our descendants. – I think they came from Lyme Regis (Sp?) in Dorset, and the other from Bishop Stortford? – rings a faint bell. Do you remember Thomas? – did you read it? – yes of course you did, you commented on it. – Anyway, she came at the age of 10 and her husband who had been in, I think, the Merchant Navy, didn’t come out until 1852. They must have met in Wellington, and in 1855 they took possession of Maori

lease territory at Porangahau, so they came from Wellington to Napier I suppose by boat because there wasn’t overland stuff… and then they set off for Porangahau, by which time they had a little girl of about 18 months and Great-grandmother was heavily pregnant with Grandad, and one of his memoirs states that they went by boat to the mouth of the Tukituk [Tukituki] which was then Clive and they only had a short walk to where they could catch a canoe and Maori took them up to Patongata [Patangata] – the  river was certainly navigable as far as that. Oh, I think I’ve got my rivers muddled – the  mouth of the Tukituk was not at Clive it was at Haumoana, so they must have gone either by canoe or on foot to Clive and then walked to the Tukituk and from there they were taken by canoe up the river to Patongata. And from there they walked – it is a long way! They  stopped at Patongata because Grandather [Grandfather] decided it was time he made an appearance, so they stopped while Grandad was born – they  had, in any case, to disembark there because the river wouldn’t take them in the right direction, even if it was navigable. Grandad’s memoirs are a bit uncertain. They were done for a radio broadcast, and there are two of them which don’t altogether tally, because one lot states that they stayed at Patonagata [Patangata] for some time and they travelled very slowly, staying at pa for what appeared to be weeks at a time before they got to Porangahau, which is really quite a long way from Patongata. And the Maori people must have carried a lot of gear, and probably the children – they  might even have carried Great-grandmother – but  there is no record about that – it  just says that they walked from Patongata to Porangahau, Grandad indicates by easy stages and eventually they got there. They got to the coast quite a long way north of Porangahau, and walked down the beach for the last stages, waiting for the tide to go out when necessary. The beach was quite a highway considering what the rest of the countryside was like and how heavily bushed. So they built a whare there and settled into it. There are two conflicting accounts of that whare, or their being afflicted by another flood. One says it happened the night they arrived and they camped on the side of the Mangamaire? stream which promptly came up and washed their goods away. The other account states that it came some months later and they already had a whare – just an ordinary raupo whare, and that was swept away and they stayed with the Maori until another house could be built, and the next house they built was much more substantial, according to Grandad’s memoirs. So there they lived and another eight children were born, over the period of about 16 years. The youngest was really very small, Great-uncle Charles, when Great-grandfather had a riding accident which carried him off. Yes, it carried him off his horse, but it carried him a good deal further. One story that one of the cousins had the other day was that he was also drowned – that he fell off his horse into a river. I haven’t heard that before – this is one of Great-uncle George’s descendants.

H -You know what they call drowning? – the New Zealand death.

– Yes, it does happen – it still happens, but all those rivers, the way they come up and do things to you. I was at Porangahau only a week, 10 days ago, and I was appalled at the flood damage. I went there on Saturday, and had the family on Sunday, and on that same bus trip was another of these second-cousins whom I had never met before – one of Great-uncle George’s family – – Hamish Fraser and his wife Pat, whom you may or may not remember meeting on Sunday.

T – I think I had met them before, at Puketitiri, I can’t think why.

H – This Porangahau connection explains the Crosse in the churchyard there – Susie wife of ?. . .

– Wife of Thomas Ezekiel of course he didn’t put the Ezekiel on the gravestone. That Thomas is Grandfather to this Thomas – our grandfather who was born at Patongata on the way to Porangahau. Great-grandfather Charles Grant fell off his horse when Grandad, Thomas Ezekiel was 16. He was at school in Napier. There is an interesting account from one of his memoirs, of his ride with his father from Porangahau to Napier where he was enrolled at a school. I think he was 9 or 10 – I recorded it, but I don’t have a good memory for figures. So he was taken to board and by the time his father died his younger brother, George, was apparently still at school. There was another boy in between who died of eating tutu – his name is on the gravestone under his father’s name, at Porangahau – not the Susie and Thomas one. There’s another gravestone at the back of the cemetery – it’s quite a new gravestone. I don’t know why it’s new – Hamish doesn’t know, but he thinks George might know – George lives at Weber, which is quite a long way away. But it’s quite new and it records the death of Great-grandfather, Charles Grant, and underneath it Also his son, Samuel Grant, and the tradition is that Samuel Grant died as a small child of eating tutu. I imagine he was still alive when Latimer [Latima] George was born because George wasn’t called Samuel Grant, but next time they had a son, the 4th son in time and 3rd in survival, he was also called

Samuel Grant, the one who had died. They thought he had come back. The second Samuel Grant lived to quite a ripe old age, but he had no children.

Susie, the wife of Thomas Ezekiel was Susie Barker. In 1883 or 4, refrigeration has just been discovered, so pretty shortly after that Thomas Ezekiel, who was very innovative, and up-to-the-minute sort of farmer, decided to visit England and have a look at this refrigeration, and at this point he was getting on for 30 – he  wasn’t married. There is a faint rumour of a Maori wife but there is no chance of verifying it, so in 1884, coming back from his investigations he met, on the ship, a family from Scotland by the name of Barker, a large family they were, well equipped with beautiful daughters. Susie was the eldest, and Grandad and Susie fell for each other and got married – I think not for a couple of years, but about ’86 they were married, ’87 Amy was born, and within a few days Susie had died. The child survived, was perfectly healthy. She always said that Grandad got the Maoris to look after her because he didn’t think her aunts were old enough. Within a couple of years he had married her aunt – Amy’s aunt, Susie’s sister, the second of the beautiful daughters. He married before the law change that made it legal to marry the deceased wife’s sister. In English law it was illegal – look at the trouble Henry VIII got into! According to one of my cousins, quoting another cousin’s husband who was a Wellington lawyer, Grandad and Larnach or Cargill, one of other of the Dunedin castle builders who was a member of parliament at the time and found himself in the same situation as Grandad – so in ’96 I think, the law was changed, but in ’89 the wedding certificate of Thomas Ezekiel and David Anne Thompson [sp?] Barker, known as Dolly. Don’t ask me why they called her David. Her father’s name was David. One of her great-grandmothers was David Anne Thompson Barker, so poor little old Dolly was saddled with this string of ridiculous names. Her elder sister just had Susie. Their grandmother was also Susan Barker – she married Charles Otto [sp?]. So when Dolly married Thomas Ezekiel she put as her mother’s name Susan Barker, which was really her grandmother or great-grandmother. It was also her sister, but I think her sister’s gravestone bears the name of Susie, so she may even have been christened Susie. I’m rattling on. Is this alright?

H – Yes this is wonderful. This is the sort of thing that’s very hard to verify for future generations. You need somebody who can tell these stories…

– Oh well, now we have… yes, Thomas Ezekiel running the Maori lease at Porangahau, marrying these two Barker girls and breeding, not as freely as his parents had done. The eldest daughter of the second marriage, Jessie, was born somewhereabout 1890, I suppose. I believe Granny had a miscarriage after that and then the eldest son Thomas Grant Crosse was born and Dolly wasn’t at all well apparently. There exists a diary for this period, up to about ’97 I think, which keeps recording Dolly still very seedy. So by this time they may have moved to Kumeroa. I’m a bit uncertain about this. He certainly bought property at Kumeroa and I’m not sure how long, if at all, they lived there. A little later Dolly’s brother, John Baker [Barker], was managing Mangamaire which was the Porangahau station, and Dolly and Thomas Ezekiel bought a bit of land out of Hastings, between Hastings and Havelock North and called it Woodland after the Barker estate out of Dumfriess [sp?] in Scotland, and built a house there. I suppose they rented a house or something in Hastings while Woodland was building – it was quite a large two-storied house — and then they settled at Woodland and lived there until the late? 1930s. Apparently he still owned or leased land at Porangahau – the Mangamaire estate. It wasn’t freeholded – the leases gradually expired. They must have had quite a lot of separate leases, I think because the historical records that I have been able to get hold of indicate that as leases expired they just gave up that bit of land – probably 21-year leases. So somewhere in the ‘90s Grandad acquired this property at Kumeroa which he sold in 1902. While he was farming that, Uncle Jack was managing the Mangamaire job – this is Great-uncle Jack – and Great-uncle George had his own block of Mangamaire and when his lease fell in he took himself off to Weber where his descendants are still farming. Uncle Jack eventually went to Waimarama – he bought himself a property there. I don’t know the dates of either of those two great-uncles moving out.

I was interested to observe in the little church at Porangahau that the land had been donated on which the church was built by Great-uncle George, I think, and since it was only leasehold how could he donate it? I suppose he came to an agreement with the Maori owners. He may have not! – except that the Maori must have been pretty involved.

H – Well it’s the sort of thing they would donate land for anyway, and in the end it was their land and it was donated for a church, whether it was by him or by them or both.

– Yes, Uncle George takes the credit for it – and when we went and had lunch at the pub and looked at little historical notes, that land had been donated by Great-uncle Jack, who as far as I know was merely managing the leasehold for his brother-in-law. I told these things to Michael Wenley? who is one of our second-cousins. He looked quite shocked – he’s a lawyer.

H – He can’t know much about NZ history if that shocked him!

– Yes an awful lot of that must have gone on! – but he looked as though he didn’t think our ancestors would do things like that! However, I thought that was an entertaining little side light.

Where are we? – yes, Grandad has his main farming business at Kumeroa, he has bought a small block of land at Hastings and built a rather grand house on it. One of the notes in the diary that I remember a – man came to dig the lawn, and it was quite a big lawn I remember. I think – this poor fellow with a spade, digging that big lawn. Well, there was no other way of digging it – oh horse and plough, I suppose. I think it was bare land then. They planted a row of oaks which is still there, but the house has been moved to Bay View, so that a horticultural research station of mammoth proportions can be built on the site a – few years ago – eight  or something… Apparently someone bought the house for removal. I don’t know much about it.

T – Did they replace it? – yes I suppose, because the Fruit Fed place is on the corner, whereas Woodland was down off the road, wasn’t it…

– It wasn’t far back from the road – and the Fruit Fed place goes for miles. As far as I can see it takes in the garden, the paddock in front of the garden, the area on which the house and the stables and everything stood, the area of the large vegetable garden, and for all I know runs into further paddocks on the side. I haven’t looked over it, needless to say, but they have kept the avenue of oak trees that were planted by Grandad and Granny when they first went to Woodland – it  is still standing at the back of the research station. This is on the corner of St George’s Rd and Crosse’s Rd.

T – He planted those oaks from St George’s Rd right down to the river I think, didn’t he? The first 50 or 60 yds [yards] is there and then there’s a gap and then another chunk towards the old Karamu stream. But he bought land before the ’97 flood at Whakatu, I think.

– Yes, I haven’t got to it yet. Having got settled at Woodland he then bought a block of land at Whakatu, another one further down the road at Mangateretere, which was known as the Lawn, hence Lawn Rd. Those are mentioned in the diary and for all I can remember there may have been other small blocks and he did a lot of stud sheep farming, and probably had them in different places, and moved his stock round. During the 90s he was still going very regularly down to Kumeroa to see how Mr Roil was getting on. You read accounts of train journies [journeys]. One [On] one occasion…

Tape 2 side 1

H – [Talking abt grandfather] We were just getting on the train to go down to Kumeroa. ..

– I think on this occasion when he took his bicycle, he took the train right through to Palmerston North to visit his mother who was living there at the time, and then bicycled back, through the Gorge to Woodville, to Kumeroa. I’m bad at dates, but the date is recorded in some of the material I have been looking at. Anyway, it was a road he could get his bicycle over. You’d take your life in your hands if you did it today. But you would even when it was opened. I think after that feat he was quite pleased to take the train back from Woodville to Hastings when he’d finished his farm visit. That’s what sticks in my memory because it sounds such a feat!

So there he was in the ‘90s, living at Woodland, in Hastings or Havelock North, whichever you think it’s nearest, running his little farms round about the area, running Kumeroa by train and possibly telegraph, and at the same time he was sitting on various committees – Rabbit  Board, County Council – you  name it. Attending endless meetings about all these things either in Hastings or Napier, either on horseback or with horse and trap, and travelling around the country quite a lot according to his diary, to judge at Shows – judging the sheep, up to Auckland, Nelson, up to Gisborne, down to the Wairarapa. And most of these journeys were taken on coastal steamers. He was a very busy fellow. From his diaries his activities with his little studs round about Hastings were pretty hands on, but as far as Kumeroa goes, I suppose the manager did most of the work. But he was down there almost once a week as I remember. So all this he was doing and in the meantime our uncle Grant was born, probably about ’94. Thomas Grant Cross [Crosse], his name was. And our father, Hugh Edward Cross [Crosse], ’96. He always maintained he was called Edward so that people would

assume that was grandad’s second name, because grandad didn’t like Ezekiel (?). After Hugh, Audrey was born in about ’98. Somewhere about then Thomas Ezekiel and Dolly made a trip to England. The diary records that they went off leaving her sister Madge – Margaret Otto Barker(?) – the Ottos after grandfather – the other grandfather. The At (?) she was known as – an infant’s attempt to say Aunt. Dolly called her Madge, we all called her the At, and she was left in charge of the existing children. I think probably Audrey wasn’t born then so she had Jessie and Grant and Hugh to look after. Amy didn’t get on with her aunt (?) – stepmother and the diary records that Amy was always paying visits here there and everywhere. Poor little thing, her primary school years. ‘Took Amy to somewhere or other’, ‘Got Amy back from somewhere or other’. So whether she was resident in the house when they went to Scotland or not, I don’t know. Dolly’s children were Jessie, Grant and Hugh. I think it happened between Fathers (?) birth and Audrey’s arrival two or three years later that they paid that visit to Scotland and then Audrey was born – I don’t know – ’98 or ’99. And then there was rather a gap and the final child was Mary who was born well into the 20th century – like 1904 ’05.

By this stage he’d sold Kumeroa. Whether it was a forced sale, or whether he was a willing seller it was sold to the government for closer settlement. I don’t know how closely it was settled in the end, but anyway in 1902 he sold Kumeroa to the govt and bought Patoka station and established Harry Royal as the manager there. And how much land he was then farming round about Hastings I don’t know. The records rather ceased then. Sometime in the early 20th century the whole family went to Scotland and whether they went once or twice I have no means of knowing. I know that Father was at school in Scotland at a primary school where he picked up a very nice Scots accent that he used when we were doing our schooling by correspondence. We used to have to read the works of Walter Scott and he used to read them aloud. That was lovely.

T – He was at Charterhouse as some stage, wasn’t he?

– I don’t know for sure. I don’t know for certain whether there were two visits to Scotland. I think there may have been before the First World War, but I don’t know whether he and Grant were both at Charterhouse, or whether Grant was and Hugh wasn’t, because there were a couple of years in age between them, so Grant may have been old enough for Charterhouse while Hugh was still at primary school. When they weren’t in Scotland they were both at Collegiate, weren’t they? – and I suppose your records will tell you what years they were at Collegiate.

T – Yes. Father was ??? 14, wasn’t he.

– They had a sort of intermediate or they started quite young. In 1911 he was 13 (what?) born ’96, birthday in January. My arithmetic isn’t good! At least part of their primary schooling they received at Woodford House which was then boys and girls.

– I was thinking bi-lingual, but that isn’t it!

– Or bi-sexual – but that isn’t it either!

T – Did Grant go to Woodford too?

– Yes. It was in Hastings, at the Havelock North end of Hastings. It wasn’t very far from where they were actually living. And that ran as a co-ed school for quite a few years, for younger ones. Oh – did they go to Hereworth, Heretaunga, whichever it was, between Woodford and Collegiate.

T – I thought that would have been some of the Scottish ventures.

– Some of it, but I don’t think they spent anything like five years in Scotland. They must have spent a good many months there, for the boys to be at school. I haven’t been able to find any records.

T – Grant was at WCS 1907 and 1908. Those were his only years.

– So he may have gone to Charterhouse from 1908 until he joined the British Army. He was in the British Army for the war. They both fought in France, but he was British Army. And then he went to India and spent the rest of his life… He completed his military career and ended up Lieutenant Colonel I think, with an MC and DSO, did he?

T – Just an MC and Mentioned in Despatches. Sorry, Father was there 1910 to 1914 – at WCS – Collegiate.

– He can’t have been at Charterhouse then, can he?

T – If Grant was at Wanganui 1907 ’08, they may have been 1909 and ’10 in Scotland, and Father came back and went to Wanganui. That would fill the gap for Uncle Grant. He made the British Army his career. He married and had no children. He paid a visit to New Zealand. I saw him. They stayed at Patoka. There

are photos of that. You were only born in ’28 and I think this is before the earthquake. The photos I have are probably dated, so I can tell you. And whether that was when he retired from the Army or whether he was just on furlough, I wouldn’t know. Alter he left the Army he planted – what? – tea? rubber? sugar? – in India. He remained in India where he’d done most of his military service. More likely to be tea in India. Anyway he did that for a while and eventually retired to England. His wife was English, I’m sure, and they had a little sort of private hotel thing in Surrey – I think. In ’49-’50? – ’50, I suppose, I went to England with my husband, and we visited Uncle Grant in this nice little… Midge was his wife, yes. She was a tiny little woman and he was a tall thin fellow – he was taller than Father. So they were there until they both died. I suppose she gave up the hotel when Grant died.

– Meanwhile what was going on in New Zealand?

– Well, in New Zealand, Father joined the Army when war broke out.

T – Which war?

– Both of them, in fact. In ’14 he was still at school.

T – I think he must have gone straight to the Army when he left at the end of ’14.

– I imagine he did, but he was still too young to get to Gallipoli, fortunately. So he went straight to France. He didn’t tell us much about it. He didn’t enjoy it. But he ended up the youngest Major in the forces of the British Empire!

T – He won the MC. Left school in ’14 and won an MC in ’16. Not bad going. So they both had an MC and Mentioned in Despatches. He didn’t ever tell us how he got it. Did you ever know?

T – He took a hand-grenade to a machine-gun nest or something. I think that’s what it said.

– He came home from the war immediately, in 1918?

– Yes, he went right through but I’m not now sure whether he…I think he came back to NZ and then went to India to visit not only his brother, but by this time also Aunt Mary, who must have married very young, was in India too. [handwritten – Wrong, she didn’t marry till 1924.]

T – Father stayed on with the occupation force in Germany. He and Willy Wood were both there.

– Of course, there’s that photo of them, isn’t there. That had slipped my memory, and it’s not recorded in my records. So it’s possible he came home by India, and on the ship from India he met a beautiful English actress who was setting out to do a job with J C Williamson in Sydney. Well, she did fulfill her contract with J C Williamson. She didn’t renege on her contract, so she did a couple of shows as the non-singing heroine of the Maid in the Mountains. She was the toast of Sydney.

H – This is your darling mother!

– This is our mother, yes. Her name was Delmira Bokenham (?) but her stage name was Mira Kenham (?), and she was always known as Mira. Her grandmother was Spanish, living in Peru. Peru? Her brother John lived in Chile, but I’m sure her parents lived in Peru. Parents? grandparents. Mother and her sister Jane maintained that their grandmother must have been an Inca because she looked so black and wrinkled. She no doubt claimed that she was pure Spanish. Anyway, they View her as the abuela.

T – I wouldn’t mind being related to an Inca. I’m not so keen on the conquistadors.

– Yes, nasty lot they were. . .. Well, it was a good many centuries back and some of our ancestors we don’t want to trace too far! After all, we had Viking ancestors who wrought a lot of damage along the English sea coast.

T – That’s the beauty of talking to Hazel. We only have to talk about the ones we like

H – We always hear the good stories. Interviewing the musterers they’d say “We only tell you the good stories…”

– So they met on the ship and she fulfilled her contract and they got married in Sydney and returned to New Zealand. Not to Patoka immediately – to the little farm at Petane (?).

T – Grannie wasn’t too keen on having an actress in the family, was she?

– No, she didn’t think much of having an actress in the family! That’s probably why they got married quietly instead of trying to have a family do. She settled in alright, but it was all very strange to her. They must have been there for a couple of years. I think they were married in ’21, and I was born in ’23 just before they left Petane for Patoka. She made a magnificent job of …

T – . . .there was nothing at all up there in those days.

– Grandad had taken it over in 1902 and never lived there. They used to go up there – oh they may have stayed a few days, or they may just have gone up in the morning and back in the afternoon.

T – There is a record of it being on the market, isn’t there – in about 1917?

– Is there? I haven’t come across that.

T – It’s there somewhere, and it never sold. But I wonder if that’s why the bank was getting a bit fidgety. But they did buy and sell land a lot. If you read David Hildreth’s book. . .buy and sell land… bought and sold farms??

– Yes, and they started out with enormous farms and sold bits from them. Patoka started out in 1902 about 7,300 acres, and was still that size when our parents went there, although they leased a block which made it about 10,000. During my childhood I remember it being about 10,000.

T – Grandad backed somebody just across the road from us and he went bust – Morrison? – in  the Slump, the early ‘30s, and so it came back to Father, so it was 10,000 acres at that stage, but by the grace of God somebody came along and bought it – that  3,000 acres. It was old Bobby Peddle’s father.

– You are the oldest – what are your first memories?

– There are two children after me – our sister Susan, who is not much more than a year younger than I am, and Thomas is quite a lot younger!

T – And was always reminded of it.

– I was nearly 5 I think when he was born. My memories of that are muddled, because there were quite a number of miscarriages, and I don’t know which memory belongs to which disaster.

T – What do you remember first – earliest?

– The very first thing that I think I can remember is seeing an eel in the creek. There was a creek not far from the house, and we used to trot across the paddock. Mother of course took us and I’m sure Susan was a baby in arms, but I was able to walk a little way up the creek, so I must have been perhaps 3. I remember seeing this eel in the pool and its big black head. And my recollection of the head is that was [it] was this size – a foot across. But we did catch in the creek some pretty big ones as the years went on. That’s really the first thing I remember. And the next thing I can definitely remember is when Thomas was quite tiny, so I must have been, well, pretty well 5 I suppose, going for a little walk in the evening with Susan while Mother was putting the baby to bed and getting our tea and doing this and that and the other. It must have been in the winter, and we walked down to the creek – there was a path down to the creek. Amazingly there was a proper flushing loo sort of some distance down the path, just standing by itself. Astonishing. There was a perfectly good one in the house, but there was this one sort of beyond the edge of the garden. Anyway, we trotted down this little path to the creek, which wasn’t very wide. It was quite a small creek there, and I was big and agile enough to jump over it, and had done so before, but probably not unsupervised. Susan wasn’t – and she jumped into it. I have a recollection of her lying in the bottom of it and the water running over her, so I took to my heels and rushed up to the house and said ‘Susan’s in the keek, and Mother came tearing down, by which time Susan was standing up in the keek bawling her head off. Yes, the keek could have drowned us both I suppose, it was pretty tiny – but if you stayed lying down… I don’t know if she was lying on her face or her back to be honest. That recollection isn’t very clear –  I can just see this little figure lying under the water. And I can’t remember definitely whether I pulled her to her feet and she couldn’t get out, before I ran up. But I do remember running up through the dark between the bushes. Mother was frantic. What a ghastly thought – all the trouble she’d taken to have all these children. She did very well…

T – She was made of British sterling/steel? stuff.

– My goodness she was, yes. A woman of great character.

T – She used to feed the odd man, as well as everything else. Two? – Arthur Ward?..

– Yes, we had two or three – a shepherd, a cowman-gardener. I remember a ploughman when we were – Jack Campbell. He was a Scotsman too. When he had trouble with his horses he used to say ‘I’ll knock yoo doon’, and one sort of looked at this little man and these huge great big cart horses – draught horses…

Tape 2 side 2

T – Subsequently a cottage was built – originally for single men, and Mother was expected to go on feeding them. When Mother realized the expectations, there was a kitchen put on and a cook employed. I think there must have been a few sparks at that stage (?) – Were you not aware of that?

– I think that happened when I was at school. But you’re forgetting the accommodation house. The accommodation house had been for travellers on the coach from Napier to Puketitiri, which took about three days. There was an accommodation house at Rissington, and there was one at Patoka, and God knows what there was at Puketitiri. Eventually there was a pub which I suppose started out as an accommodation house. The one at Patoka was on our property, but at the stage that I remember it, it was no longer used as an accommodation house. I don’t know who ran it – there was a kitchen, so there must have been people, probably employed by the motor company – coaching company. There was no motor company then.

T – Probably it was there before grandad bought the place. At one stage there were five sawmills at Puketitiri – a lot of timber coming down, a lot of coming and going.

– That’s what the accommodation houses were designed for – the sawmillers being taken up and down to the mills. But after that we were able to house our workers

T – And the shearers’ quarters. The original shearers’ quarters were down by the woolshed – built in 1896, or thereabouts. Sixteen stand shed originally, two eights, blades, and they converted that in 1897 to machines and they shore for two or three years on sixteen, but after it was ??? they went back to one side – eight… Arthur Ward lived in the accomodation [accommodation] house – had a room there.

– And so did the cowman-gardener. Yes, we only had one shepherd – about one sheep to five acres, wasn’t it?

T – Probably ten!

– There was an awful lot of scrub on the property. It was slowly cleared by gangs of Indian scrub-cutters, I remember used to come. And they also used to room there (?) I don’t know when they would have started. I remember them in the early ‘30s – well, before I went to boarding school. Probably in the worst of the depression they couldn’t afford to cut the scrub, so it would be in the ‘30s.

T – Old Jack Campbell was ploughing with his horses in the ‘2Os, wasn’t he.

– Yes, but we didn’t get the tractor till about 1930.

T – I think the first one was ‘28 or ‘9, 1929.

– It was as early as that, was it. Because I remember the hay being carted on big drays, by the cart-horses. Me sitting on top of the pile.

T – I remember that old dray. . .. haystacks. . .?

– Well if you remember that, the horses must have gone on into the ‘30s.

T – Unless it had already been converted with a drawbar for the tractor. I don’t remember the horses. But Jack Campbell’s stories – he went to town, perhaps twice a year, and the cook had a couple of kids so he came back with a couple of bags of sweets, and he said ‘These are for the kiddies. Don’t tell them where they came from, because next time they might be disappointed.’ Just the epitome of the Scotsman!

– So you had a married cook – no trouble with single cooks – no cook stories?

T – Oh yes. The one fellow who got a snitcher on the cooks and he grabbed two or three handsful of arsenic, for when the dip was made – we made our own dip. You have a barrel of arsenic, and he put so much in the stew that everybody was sick and it didn’t kill anybody. I think he was quite disappointed. He thought he’d get his own back and the cook would get sacked. And of course he didn’t eat any!

– If there were children, there must have been a married cook. They did come and go – and she may not have had a husband. I was just trying to think who did have a husband, because Arthur Ward was a single shepherd. And Harry, Balharry?? what was his first name? – Charlie Balharry. He also went to town twice a year, and that was the end of his salary, every time. He was sleeping it off one heavy night on his summer holiday in 1931. He woke up in the street. He’d gone to sleep in the pub, but wasn’t still there when he woke up.

H – And you went to town about twice a year too, and your mother was perfectly content, from England…

– As far as we could tell, she was, and she found a great deal of interest in… She was devoted to Father, devoted to her children. For our primary school years she educated us with correspondence, PNEU – Parents National Educational Union correspondence from England. She was put onto this business by Duncan McIntyre’s[MacIntyre’s] mother [Esther MacIntyre]. It was based on Rudolph Steiner, I think, and it was in the Lake District, where its headquarters was. So material came backwards and forwards by sea. I went to school when I was 12 – to Nga Tawa. It was a long way to go – I don’t know whether there was any difficulty about my going to Woodford. It was fairly soon after the earthquake – ’36, so the boarding accommodation may have been a

bit scanty still in Hawkes Bay. As far as Woodford went, grandad had been on the board for a great many years, and it is possible, considering the way he was always laying down the law, that my parents thought it would be nicer not to have us at a school where he could lay down the law about us. However, that is pure conjecture and my godfather was a great cricketing friend of my father’s, who lived very close to Marton, so perhaps that was another influence. I was there for six years, coming back just for the holidays. You got the train at Marton junction, changed trains in Palmerston North and got picked up, usually in Napier – or quite often in Hastings. There were a lot of other children on the train. Children came from Gisborne, from Hawkes Bay, and we picked them up as we went down I suppose. My sister followed me to school. We were both there together – we were so close in age. And later Thomas was at Wanganui, but he went to Hereworth when he was about 8. He was completely alone once we went to school.

– And was your father a very hands-on farmer?

– Oh yes. That’s why they could manage with only one shepherd. I think he did all the tractor work, at least in the early days. I can’t remember any other particular farm-hand apart from a series of cowman-gardeners. The single shepherd, Arthur Ward, stayed a long time – until the war, perhaps. Of course once I went to school in 1936 I knew a lot less of what was going on on the farm.

Yes, Father went away to war. But there was a good deal of excitement there because in 1939, some time before war was declared, at last they could afford for my mother, after 20 years in New Zealand, to pay a visit to England where her elder sister was apparently dying. Needless to say she didn’t die. She lived to be 93. So off went Mother to England by ship and she was still there when war was declared. And of course Father wanted to get into the struggle because he had all this wartime experience and one thing and the other, and he was still – 43, I suppose. And he of course wanted Mother back, out of the dangerous British Isles, and her friends had no desire to see her taking a ship and braving the submarines to come out to NZ. So it was March or April 1940 before she got back. Father didn’t join up until she got back, but just about as soon as she did, and a small farmer from down the road came to manage the property, and mother got a job at Wanganui Collegiate as house matron. I think she couldn’t stay living in what was really a very small farm house with the manager and his wife and family- he had three children. She came down to be near her children at school, and she knew somebody – Jane’s mother, in fact, was a friend of the woman who was just giving up the matron’s job at Collegiate, so Mother applied for it and got it. So then she had, I don’t know how many – 30 large boys, instead of just three small children. Thomas didn’t arrive there until she had been there a year, perhaps. He was still at Hereworth. When the holidays came – she only had a wee suite in the house at Collegiate – we all came back to Hawkes Bay – she included. So we borrowed houses, flats, whatever. A friend of Jane’s mother lived quite close to Napier cathedral and she was going away to stay with married daughters, or something – she was a widow. She lent us her house at one stage. My grandparents by then were living in a cottage just across the road from the cathedral(?) and they went and stayed with Grandad’s brother George while we lived in their cottage in the summer holidays, at least twice. It went on for several years. It started in 1940 and Father didn’t get back until 1944. He’d been in Egypt – well he sailed to England in charge of a forestry unit, and then went to Egypt to join the rest of the NZEF and he was Adjutant General and Quartermaster General (?), in charge of the camp(?) there, so he had a lot to do with Freyberg, Sir John White and by 1944 everything had moved on. He was in Italy briefly because he met an old theatrical friend of Mother’s there. He did get to England then, because he met Mother’s family there. But then he was sent back to NZ. I think he was discharged. The war was winding down. He was a lieutenant colonel and in the next year or two he was made OBE for his war services. By then he was 48. While Mother was overseas, Grannie and Grandad and poor little At (?) all came and stayed at Patoka to look after Father. Grandad had sold Woodland (?) I suppose, and hadn’t moved into the cottage in Napier. They moved into that when Mother came back, I suppose. Sometimes we spent summer holidays – one  summer holiday we spent in Wellington in a very posh house in Messines Road that belonged to Mrs Nelson? who had been a Hawkes Bay Chambers [Esther Nelson], and she was a friend of my aunt Amy. So Aunt Amy discovered I suppose, that her friend was going to be away over the summer and was willing to lend us her house. I don’t know where else we stayed. Those three places I do remember.

When Father came home in 1944 he went back to the farm. By then I was at university in Dunedin, and Susan, I suppose, was at Canterbury. I was doing a B.A., mostly in languages. I finished up – I sort of got my subjects juggled to the point where to get an M.A. I had French only to stage 3, so I wanted to do

single honours and by that time the professor had died, the poor old senior lecturer was battling on single-handed with a bit of help from a poor refugee who taught us German, but wasn’t much help as far as administration went, so she had all these classes, and she said ‘I’m sorry Miss Crosse’, as we were called in those days, ‘I simply cannot cope with you as a single honours student’, so I did my M.A. at Victoria. I’d gone to Dunedin because in the middle of war Wellington wasn’t a hell of a good place to be – finding  accommodation was ?? very shortly it was – well, it was crowded then with Air Force and Navy and Army officers and administration, and quite a number of my friends from Nga Tawa were going to do medicine or because they were South Islanders, and my most particular friend, who was a South Islander, was going to Otago. So all that made sense. I suppose some of my fellow students were going to Vic, but not a lot of them. I loved Dunedin. It was a great place to be – it was wonderful for students. Victoria was a glorified night school in those days. I had quite a lot of fun with the M.A. – there were two other students doing the same thing and we mixed literature classes and other things with the stage 3s. And the professor was Boyd Wilson. He was actually an Australian. He had been I think, an All Black. He was tough. But he had a most lively mind. He was an excellent professor – French language and literature. I think he spoke French with an Australian accent, which didn’t improve things much! But he was very fluent. He was a good professor. But he used to make his own wine out of whatever he could get – raisins, anything, and after the finals, after each exam, he invited us into his study to sample these improbable brews. Of course none of us was much in the habit of drinking, but the young man – there  was a girl and a young man as well as myself, told us that one day he had been invited to have a drink with the prof before an exam. He passed it alright, but he said he didn’t really know what he was doing! So Vic was fun. My particular friend, with whom I went to Otago, was year or two ahead of me, and she was already in Wellington, in the Prime Minister’s department and another friend of hers, who had been doing massage I think, had family in Wellington. Her parents had just split up. Her father was a town planner who travelled around NZ a lot, so we were allowed – oh, and another medical student, and my friend Annabell and I, were allowed to rent his house, except for his room – his  flat, in Wadestown. So that’s where we lived when I was at varsity, and after I graduated I got a job nothing to do with languages – with the Air Force historical records section. That was quite interesting. So my profession was archivist. What I probably was was a glorified clerk, but never mind. That originally was underground in the museum, but shortly after I joined it went out to Shelley Bay so we had to go out in a bus every day. But I think I was employed not by the Air Force but by the War History department – suppose that’s what it was. I was employed by them and seconded to the Air Force. In Dunedin I lived at St Mag’s for two years and then I and another girl got a flat up on the hill in York Place(?) No, I wasn’t in Studholme – that  was home science hall of residence – nothing but home science girls there. The rest of us – med, massage, arts were at St Mag’s. That was fun – we had a lovely dramatic society, which I of course joined.

Mother died in 1971 and stayed at Patoka all that time. Father had died in 1962. He died in hospital – he didn’t get knocked off a horse, he didn’t like riding. And she stayed in the old house. By then Thomas and Jane were married. Their new house was built just before or just after Father died. They had lived in the cottage before that. When I went to Wellington I joined Unity(?) Theatre, which was – oh, a wonderful outfit. Pretty left-wing, but i… [ends]

Tape 3

– We were talking about Unity theatre and you said Edith Campion was there, and she’d been at school with you.

– Yes, there were two other Nga Tawa women at Unity during the time I was there. When I first arrived a girl who’d been some years senior to me, a homesick farm girl like myself from southern Hawkes Bay, Elizabeth Nairn was married to the chief director of Unity Theatre at that stage, and later on another girl who’d been at school with me, Edith Hannah, who married Dick Campion, also came to Unity. So it was quite interesting. We were the only three, and we’d been rather odd girls out at school I think. But anyway, that was fun. What did we do at Unity? Oh, we did an enormous variety of plays – at least a couple of (Sean?) O’Casey’s plays, which were new and very up-to-the-minute then. Oh, my memory… Not Shakespeare – we were mostly modern.  As I said the outfit was a bit left wing so we tended to do Of Mice and Men was just finishing when I was first there. They Came to a City, by J.B. Priestley was one of the early ones. We sent [set]

out to do the Little Foxes, but I don’t think that came to fruition. T.S. Elliot’s Family Reunion, in which I played Lady Munchensee?? [Monchensey] and we did a lot of rehearsed play readings. Mother only came about once I think, and I can’t what. It was really quite a business to get from Patoka down to Wellington. She might have stayed with – we didn’t always have a spare room in the flat I was living in, so she might have stayed with my aunt who was out at Seatoun. And it wasn’t a very easy affair for her just to come to Wellington to see one play.

How many of us in Unity? – it was very fluid. I suppose there were twenty or thirty probably. We were all stage staff, we were all everything. And one of the funny things about it was this rather overweight little university graduate was one of only about two people who could use a hammer and a saw. I’d learned on the farm. All the boys round the place were town boys – they didn’t know which end of the hammer to hang onto. I think the other one was George Eiby the seismologist, who was very skillful with his hands as well as his brain. They came and went. Sometimes there were some good people. Later on, after I’d been – oh, I worked in Wellington for a couple of years and then I thought I’d go overseas, so I went home for a year.

– Home being England?

– Oh no, when I say I went home I mean I went back to Patoka. Oh, no, my generation doesn’t usually refer to England as home, although of course to Mother it was. No, I went to Patoka and sort of gave a hand around the place, making bread, and butter, and jam – all those nice domestic things. It wasn’t so necessary to weild a hammer then – were you at home then Thomas? Yes, you must have been. When was it? – I’d finished in Dunedin in ’44, at Vic in ’45, and I worked ’46 and ’47 in Wellington, so it would be about the end of ’47 that I came back to Patoka for a year.

T – ’47 ’48 I was home.

– Yes, you were. I went back to Wellington to see the production of King Lear. Dick Campion was directing and he wanted me to play Regan? voluptuous and vicious, he said. Edith was playing General? So I went to see it. I’d decided to come home and I’d given in my notice at work, so I said to Dick I’d love to, but no, my plans are different now. So when it came I went back to see the production and stayed with one of my old friends. The stage manager was new to Unity then. He’d been overseas during the war – yes after the war when I was living and working in Wellington. He was very handy with a hammer and everything else.

His name was Harry Downes, and practically by the end of King Lear we’d made our minds up, but it was a while before we actually got formally engaged. Yes, that’s where I met him. At that stage he was in the army – personnel selection officer. He’d done a degree in languages and philosophy and his main subject by the end of it was psychology, so that’s what he was working as. That was early ’48 and we got married at the end of ’48. He was still in the army and we lived in one room in Wellington, which wasn’t ideal, but never mind. He’d lived at home, he hadn’t been in the barracks, but headquarters were in the middle of Wellington, in Stout Street, or wherever – it is still there. The airforce was in Stout Street and the army was adjacent or just across the street. The administrative branch of Defence was based at headquarters. Shortly after we were married he left the army and we went to England where he looked for a job with personnel selection or whatever and joined the National Institute of Industrial Psychology. He had an introduction from an industrial psychologist who had come out to NZ. It was in its infancy in those days, the profession of industrial psychology. So he joined the Institute and worked there for a couple of years and we drifted from flat to flat in London for a few months and then found a flat in Notting Hill, just up the hill from Portobello Road, where we did lots of interesting shopping. And I met a theatrical dressmaker – I’d been making my own clothes for a long time, and she needed an assistant from time to time so I worked for her. That was interesting – she was Russian. Her name was Elizabeth and Rivka Russian for Betty, I suppose. Her surname was Black? but that can’t have been her Russian surname, and her brother was Misha? Black who designed the Festival of Britain in 1951 – the hall, the festival structure. That was an interesting contact too. She was self-employed, had her own business making costumes, and was engaged by – we made chorus costumes for Sadlers Wells. We made ballet costumes… not Stratford-on-Avon- just London companies – lots of them. Some of them were quite funny little companies, some big well-established companies. There was a Shakespearian company at the Old Vic but I think maybe they had their own costume makers. Ballet Rambert was based in Notting Hill – they came out here a couple of times. They came before I went to England, while I was at Patoka. And we did quite a few costumes for

them, and various little one-off companies – not like our Unity, which was all amateur small professional companies. I think we did something for Unity in London. Anyway, we were there for two and a half years and when there was a job to do I worked for Rivka and when there wasn’t I – no, we couldn’t afford to do much shopping, but we did get some nice things. And we saw London and when we had – well in Harry’s leave periods we – one time we travelled round England with a Land Rover which he’d bought for Father, which we brought back with us. It was a second-hand Land Rover, but it was good. I suppose we had a month and we went as far north as we could. We got as far as – not John-o’-Groates [John o’Groats], Fort William, and I got to Inverness much later in the piece. We went to Italy. Harry had been in Italy during the war where he was with the Army Education and Welfare Service, dealing with returned prisoners of war and soldiers who were about to be de-mobbed and wanted to know what openings would be available to them when they got back to NZ. It was quite a busy unit, but not a very big unit. He was in Italy for a while, based in Florence and then in England based on the coast of Kent – I can’t remember the name of that particular little town. So he knew Kent, and the city of Canterbury, what was left of it – a lot of it was badly damaged. The cathedral was standing, but the curious thing is when we were there the cathedral was standing among green fields. When I went back 10 or 15 years(??) or whatever it was later, all the houses that had been right up to the doors of the cathedral, had been rebuilt as far as possible in the same style as they had been in before. So when I went to see Canterbury in ’93 or ’86 or whatever it was and was dropped by my hostess and walked up to the cathedral, expecting to see it still in its green surroundings, I was flabbergasted to see there were houses huddled up right against it. As soon as they could they rebuilt, as in all the other cities. London was full of holes when we went there in ’49. It’s a very different place now.

T – Jane was there in ’49 – were you there together?

– Yes we bumped into each other once or twice. That Xmas of ’49, I think. We were going to visit Harry’s relations. Jane was working for a family and we met her pushing a pram down the street up which we were going to catch a tube. Incredible. We were living in London in ’49 to ’51, and we went back to Italy – I don’t know how much time we had. We spent a few days in Paris on the way to Italy. We didn’t go to Rome because it was holy year and Rome was swarming, and Harry said he hadn’t liked Rome as much as Florence anyway. So we went to Florence, which was lovely – we had 10 days, a fortnight, there. We went to Milan, and there was a great big important service going on in the cathedral, all in Italian [Latin?!] so we didn’t join that one, but went up on the roof instead and the roof of Milan cathedral is covered with little marble buttressy things – it’s  like walking on top of a wedding cake or something. And right there on top of the cathedral, with this important service going below us, we were able to buy a can of beer. There was a little kiosk there selling beer, and for all I know ice creams – on the roof of the cathedral. So that was Italian. Mind you, the Irish are also – but we won’t go into them just now. … And souvenirs everywhere. I suppose there are a lot of people who have to make a living somehow. And even discriminating and poverty-stricken tourists like me will buy something or other. And when you move house you wonder what you’re going to do with the. However… We saw that amount of Italy, we toured around England, then Father suggested that we might like to take up a bit of the farm because he was selling some of it for rehab settlement and we thought about it for a while and then decided, yes. Really, crowded England, five floors up in an uncomfortable flat was no place to start a family. Open air and wide open spaces, paddocks and trees and things were far more attractive.

It was the beginning of ’52 we came back, having stopped off in Australia to spend a week or two with an aunt and uncle – my father’s sister Audrey – who were living out of Sydney then. He was a business man and they lived in Burradoo? I think it was. One of the little towns out of Sydney. Bowral? – Bowral and Burradoo were adjacent I think. Anyway, that’s where we went for a week or so, and another week in Sydney, then back to the farm. Travelling by sea, of course. We went over by a funny little cargo ship in 1949 which had six or eight passengers, all sorts of ports, and swam in – not Suez – Panama canal. The thing stopped at the Atlantic end of the canal where there’s quite a large area of water. We didn’t have many stops, in fact. We went on a cargo ship because it was the only ship that had a berth, but when we stopped in that large expanse of water at the Atlantic end, the ship was so small and so low down, that some of the crew started diving off, just to have a swim. So, I don’t know if I said something to the captain, or he said cheerfully, Would you like to go for a swim too, and I said Oh yes, I’d love to. So he put a ladder down. I wasn’t up to diving that distance. It wasn’t really very far, so I climbed down the ladder and swam round,

and some of the other people who weren’t game to dive went down too. Probably crocodiles around the shore – alligators, they are there. Then we came back via Suez on a ship crammed with immigrants to Australia, and we stopped at odd places. We went ashore at Malta, Aden, Columbo [Colombo], Fremantle – not Adelaide. I think from Fremantle we went straight to Melbourne. Then we had to wait all around Sydney for a couple of weeks and got onto the Wanganella.

T – When did they start flying people from NZ and Australia to England?

– Mid, late ‘60s? Or were they changing to jets at that stage? Yes, that was it… They were flying much earlier… the great air races. . . 1953…

– I flew from Wellington to Napier in 1946 or 7. Father thought I was mad. He hated air travel.

T – Had he been on one? Maybe when he was in Egypt, or when he flew up to Italy perhaps.

– Yes, or from Italy to England. And I think at some stage they flew to Australia – to John Barnicoat’s? wedding. But I’m not sure about the date of that. It was probably later… [discussion about flying. …] Anyway, we came back by sea, and went back to Patoka and lived in the cottage and Harry got some farming training working for his father-in-law and we built ourselves a house on our bit of property, just down the road a bit from the family house. We’ve just sold that bit. I passed it on to my son, and he’s sold it, just this last week.

The children were brought up there…

Tape 3 side 2

…yes, it’s a secondary boarding school. There was a perfectly good school at Patoka by this time. They needed it and it had been going for a few years – so the next generation did their primary schooling at Patoka. Then Peter went to Lincoln and Alan to Massey to do Dips in Ag. Peter left school in ’71 and came home for a year and then went to Lincoln for a couple of years, and subsequently went dairy farming. Alan went to Massey, which was a shorter diploma course, 1 year, and that must have been ’73 or ’74, and they both went overseas shortly after they came and worked at home. No, they came and worked at home after their diploma, first one and then the other, and then went overseas. They were both overseas in ’78 when their father died. He had taken to farming life very well, and was quite happy for a few years. Then he took to farming politics and after that I was a grass widow for quite a lot of years. He was very good at it. That’s what he was good at, so he got involved, like my grandfather – on practically every board in striking distance – and striking distance was Wellington, more often than not. Federated Farmers, Environmental Council, Agricultural Training Council, Standards Council – I can’t just reel them off, but there were more than that. And when the Community College started he was appointed by the local Federated Farmers as their representative on the Board, and was the chairman at the time of his death. He was 60.

By then Peter was involved with a Swedish girl whom he subsequently married. And Alan came back to Patoka and ran the farm. Peter really didn’t like sheep very much, so when he came back some little time after Alan and already married he worked for Thomas for a while. He was good with machinery – driving tractors and things, and then got into dairying and went up to Waikato, and share-milked and went on doing that for several years. They had a son and …?? and eventually gave up dairy farming and bought a liquor shop in Morrinsville. I think it’s quite funny to move from milk to alcohol! – and that’s where he still is. There’s a large rural catchment there, and farmers and farm labourers have as big a thirst as anyone else, and there are retired people there now. So the business is flourishing. And he goes fishing and diving. He had a boat for a while, but it’s really just too far from the sea to tow your own boat. He has enough competent staff to give him a reasonable amount of time off. There’s only the one grandson up there, and he and his wife have parted. She is back in Sweden – a good many years ago. He has another partner, and that seems to be going well. Modern life… a huge leap from my early years… I think we’ve leapt further in my lifetime than in anybody else’s, any earlier generation. And I used to travel up there several times a year for long weekends. So that was nice. But I myself got involved with the Country Women’s Institute at Patoka which kept me quite busy. They were very strong then – they are not now. But we even had a little drama group going. Every year we used to do a one-act play and enter it in the Country Women’s Institute festival. We didn’t often win – the town institutes were able to get professional directors, and I had to cast it with what I had. A lot of the town institutes as of now – nasty phrase – Meeanee was in the country 50 years ago.

Now it’s more or less part of Napier/Taradale. The Pakowhai institute was very rural once. Pakowhai’s… Rond [Round] the edge of Napier there were dozens of what were once little country districts. People who had been Country Women’s Institute members in the country and moved into town, were able to make a sort of refuge called a town centre which functioned… was part of the institute. It didn’t have accommodation or anything like that, but people who were living in town joined that club instead – well, if they’d come in from Papraparaumu [Paraparaumu] and they didn’t want to go back to their own institute, they joined the Wellington town centre. And it was those town ones who did well in the drama and the choirs. But what the hell – we had a lot of fun doing it, and it led into other things because I got involved with the NZ Theatre Federation – I got onto the national executive of the CWI – the year Harry died, I think in fact, so I represented them on the Theatre Federation national council and got involved in administration there and in the Hawkes Bay district, and eventually became the chairman of the Hawkes Bay district of the Theatre Federation – organizing the Theatre Federation festivals. I’m on a funny little committee that belongs to EIT – educational advisory thing. It was a committee that ran interests of people attached to the Community College, it was then. We started a cafeteria and a creche and eventually a bookshop. Those were activities that Community College councils were not allowed to run, so they appointed this little committee the Otatara? Trust, they call it to run those activities and I’m still on it, and they appointed four people from the community and four from the council I think.  The chairman was with the council – and gradually councils have been allowed to run their own.  The cafeteria is separate, but we still look after the bookshop and creche.  So that’s something I’ve gone on doing, and all this sprung from being involved in the administration of the Country Women’s Institute.

T – Have you filled the tape in with our delightful Aunt Amy?

– No – have we got any room left?  Amy was the one who was parked here and there as a child… Yes – she was the daughter of Susie, whereas the rest of them were Dolly’s children.

H – Oh, she was the one who was born within a year of the marriage and lost her mother immediately?

– Yes, she was that one.  She trained as a nurse – she was a real character.  She eventually married a doctor way up north at Mangonui, then they went to Kimbolton, then to Wellington.  Her married name was Barnicoat.  The Barnicoat was a cousin – Charles – a cousin of Humphrey’s.  She became involved with the Country Women’s Institute [handwritten – Nelson].  I’m not sure it was established at Mangonu, but certainly at Kimbolton.  She became national president during the war and was very active with that.  She had gone away to school – to Mardsen [Marsden].  She went to Miss Fitzherbert’s School, which became Marsden – and in the history of Marsden there are photos of her.  I think she was at the Woodford Primary and went to school in Wellington to get away from her step-mother, I imagine – who was her aunt.  Most irregular.  They didn’t get on, and that was that.

T – She was a dear, though, wasn’t she.  Lots of fun.  I remember her well. She used to come and stay at Patoka.  She got on with Mother, and she and Father were very very fond of each other.  They were half brother plus cousin!  Out of the same gene pool totally.  Both had a long upper lip!  And a terrific sense of humour.  They did bounce off each other.

– She had a sort of knack of getting involved with comic incidents which she would then develop into wonderful stories.

T – She had a fairly tough life, with the doctoring when there was no money for doctors, so they were paid with fish at Mangonui and something else – pumpkins, at Kimbolton.  It wasn’t until they went to Wellington that they had two brass razoo (?) Of course it was through the ’30s.

– Yes, a difficult time.  But John, their only son was sent to New Plymouth, the high school there.  I never did know why.  That would have been from Feilding, not Wellington.  And it was a very good school then.  John was dux of it, so he did quite well.  And then he went into the airforce, presumably just about when he left school.  He was 6 months older, or younger, than I am, so by the time we left school war had broken out, and he was in the airforce, but he didn’t go overseas.  I dare say he had some medical problem.

T – He had other problems too, didn’t he!

– Yes, poor man.  Never mind.  He had a wife – two wives.  Two nice wives – and a couple of quite interesting daughters.  Nice girls.

T – I think we became their guardians when Betty died.  She was a good girl, even if deaf as a post.

– Yes, she was dreadfully deaf. But I remember when we were staying in Mrs Nelson’s house in Wellington – Messines Road – in the holidays, I remember visiting the Barnicoats, and John was on leave from the airforce, in Blenheim, I think, and I think he stayed there, in administration or something.

T – Then he was with Williams and Kettles, then Bryant and May, for years.

– Yes, an administrator of some sort. Company secretary, I think, at Bryant and Mays. But that was before he came to Hawkes Bay. But from Bryant and Mays he went to Australia for some reason. And he met Betty, and got married, and came back to NZ and was with Bryant and Mays for many years then, and eventually his father had a stroke and was cared for by Aunt Amy. He was a big heavy man and she was a trained nurse, but neither of them were young and it was a bit much for her, so periodically she would put him into care and come and stay with Mother and Father. So we saw quite a lot of her, one way and another. Sometimes she would stay there and sometimes come over and stay with me on my farm, depending on how full the other house was.

T – Patoka was a good base for all the branches of the family. Of course it had been the base for grandads’ family, even if they never lived there. They all liked to come.

– Yes, the next generation came. Aunt Mary, as I’ve said before, Aunt Mary Dewar? as she was then, was married and living in India, and came back for a visit and left her five-year old daughter at any rate in Hastings with the grandparents, and she stayed with us on and off. She must have been there for at least a year.

T – Wasn’t it Mary and Sally?

– Yes, but they were later. When Margaret was staying at Woodland as a little child and going to school – her father was still at home? Margaret and Sally were…?? [handwritten – Wightwicks], weren’t they – second husband. John Dewar was the first husband. He died, in the late 1930s, I think. And his daughter, Margaret, was born what, ’29 [handwritten – 1940], but her brother wasn’t born till another 5 years later. So they came and went and when John Dewar died, Mary and her children went down to Paraparaumu, and she eventually married an old friend from India who had two daughters.

I’d better go. I think we’ve got enough. Yes, we had visits from, well then Aunt Audrey Hewat?, her husband decided to go and live in Australia, instead of staying in NZ, so we had Hewat children for a while in the 1930s and I’ve caught up with them since we were adult, which was rather nice. They’d all been to Patoka, and spent a bit of time there. All very fascinating – it’s for the grandchildren. . .fills them in, if they are interested, and if they’re not that’s their look out. [ends, and goes back to Tom]

Original digital file

DownesMC817_CatherineDownes.pdf

Description

Surnames in this interview –

Balharry, Barker, Barnicoat, Black, Campbell, Campion, Crosse, Dewar, Downes, Eiby, Fraser, Hannah, Hewat, Hildreth, MacIntyre, Nairn, Nelson, Roil, Ward, Wenley, Wilson, Wood

Accession number

471365

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