Ficklings of Fairview, The




1893 – 1993




The Fairview story is dedicated to the memory of my grandparents and parents who by their own dedication created for us who succeed them a heritage of enterprise and creative goodwill, at all times with confident hope for the future.


Data Input   Susie Fickling
Sam Fickling
Type Setting   Wayne Dobson
Printing   Apple Print®
Coordination   John Fickling


Jim & Pam

It is now over 100 years since our common forebears arrived in New Zealand establishing a goodly heritage for those of us who followed them.

While this story makes very little reference to our wider family, we hope it will be interesting to you & yours

Irene & Dudley.


It is most appropriate that the story of the Ficklings of Fairview should be told this year, for it is exactly 100 years since James and Sarah purchased from Bernard Chambers the piece of Te Mata Station which became the home of four generations of our family.

Within recent decades new generations have been anxious to trace the roots of their forebears who emigrated to New Zealand, yet so often those contacts have been lost with the deaths of intervening generations who have tended to neglect their own heritage, thinking it of little significance to those who follow.

It was because my son, John, the fourth generation in New Zealand wanted to have a coherent account of his own family history and prevailed on me, that I have written something of what I know about our past.

At the time I was born, my grandparents were getting old, and themselves had not told me much about their lives, either in New Zealand or in their own homelands. Others who could have enlightened me in later years are now dead, and much of the desired information gone forever.

But with a great deal of searching I have found some records which, added to my own recollections, have helped fill in our family story. It is important that we should remember our indebtedness to those who have gone before and given us not only birth, but the legacies we have inherited. The qualities of life that we enjoy today are in large measure part of that heritage.

Dudley Fickling
JUNE 1993




Calendar of Events   i
Foreword   iii
Beginnings   1
Jack Takes Over   4
Fruitgrowing Politics   5
The War Years at Fairview   6
Christian life   7
The War Years   8
Civilian life Again   9
Jack the Man   10
Irene   11
A New Era Begins   12
New Developments   14
The Church   16
Overseas Travel   17
We Sell Fairview   19
John and Joy
Some Aspects of Fruitgrowing   21
Soil Management
Fruit Packing for the Markets
Hazards   23



1855   Birth of James Fickling
1874   James (Jim) Fickling emigrates to N.Z. and works at Te Mata Station
1884   Sarah Moore emigrates
1887   Jim and Sarah marry
1889   John (Jack) born
1893   Fairview property purchased
1910   Jack marries Lavinia (Dolly) Eldershaw
1911   Dorothy born – Dies age 6 months
1912   Dudley born
1918   Dolly dies aged 28
First car bought – 7 seater Studebaker
1921   Jim dies aged 66
1922   Jack Marries Ruby Speight at Perth Western Australia
1923   Ken born
1926   Western Australia again visited
1927   Noel born
1928   Dudley starts work on orchard
1929   Sarah dies age 76
1935   Dudley removes to Wellington – opens retail fruit shop
1936   Wellington direct fruit sales/home deliveries
1939   Joins the Sunripe fruit service
1941   Dudley drafted into army – marries Irene Hermanns
1943   First tractor purchased
1944   Dudley discharged from air force and starts in Price Tribunal
1946   John born
1949   Joy born
Dudley and family move back to Fairview
1950   Jack dies aged 61
1955   Orchard grassed instead of being cultivated
1956   Irrigation system installed
1957   House enlarged new kitchen and dining room
1963   John starts work – Engineering Cadet
1966   Dudley and Irene’s Silver wedding anniversary
New packing shed completed
1969   Dudley and Irene 7 month overseas trip – UK, Europe, Canada, USA
1970   Ficklings leave Fairview – The End of an Era


1970   John does voluntary service in Papua New Guinea
1971   Joy marries Ashley Windelev
1973   John marries Evelyn Dewar
1974   Anna born
1975   Samuel born
1976   Hamish born
1977   Susie born
1978   John buys hire business – operates from home as Harris Sound and Video
1979   Kaye born
1981   Murray born
Dudley and Irene visit Canada/USA
1982   Paula born
1984   Hire business relocated to 820b Karamu Rd as – “Sound and Video Hire Centre”
1985   Dudley and Irene visit China
1987   Business changes name to Apple Hire
1988   Fickling and Windelev families visit World Expo Brisbane Australia
1990   Dudley and Irene visit UK and Scandinavia
1991   Joy and Ashley’s 20th wedding anniversary, family visit Honolulu
6 September, Dudley and Irene’s Golden Wedding Anniversary
1992   John and family visit Singapore
Dudley and Irene visit Western Australia, Wildflowers
16 September, Dudley’s 80th Birthday.
1993   23 March, Irene’s 80th Birthday
John and family tour South Island
John and Evelyn’s 20th Wedding anniversary
Anna begins studies at Victoria University


1994   Sam Studies at Hawkes Bay Polytechnic.
1995   Anna’s 21st
1996   Sam’s 21st
1997   Hamish’s 21st
1998   Susie’s 21st
2000   Kaye’s 21st
2002   Murray’s 21st
2003   Paula’s 21st

Dudley : 1994

News extract from the Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune dated April 9 1994:


Healthy food prepared by his wife Irene and apples every day are the secrets to the vigorous good health enjoyed by out-of-retirement, Apple picker Dudley Fickling.

Mr Fickling, 81, is helping Longlands Rd orchardists Kevin and Jill Rose pick hail- damaged fruit for juice after the hailstorm devastated many Hawke’s Bay orchard.

The Havelock North resident and former orchardist is one of up to 16 St Columba’s Presbyterian churchgoers who have helped this week on the Rose’s Riverbank orchards. Mr and Mrs Rose are St Columba’s parishioners.

“I have a sentimental attachment to it and for fellow fruit growers. They are kindred spirits.” said Mr Fickling.

He also said that many church parishioners were helping out “kinsmen in a spot” by harvesting their damaged fruit which would otherwise be worth less than cost of hired picking labour. Many growers were leaving their apples on the trees.



The 1871 census of England and Wales records the names of John Fickling, coach-painter, born at Wareham, Norfolk and his wife Emma born at Tottenham, Middlesex and their family of eight sons and two daughters, living at number 6 Artesian Place, Park Lane, Tottenham. James, their third son aged sixteen is described as a “labourer at florists”, employed at Tottenham Nursery, London.

James was our family forebear who emigrated on the Winchester, described as a fine, frigate-built ship which departed from London on 2 May 1874 and arrived at Napier on 26 July, bringing four hundred and thirty seven immigrants. James was “assisted” – his fare of sixteen pounds ten shillings was paid by the New Zealand Government. He came directly to the employ of Bernard Chambers of Te Mata Station, Havelock North, employed as gardener. He remained at Te Mata until nineteen years later, when he bought a piece of land from his employer and named it Fairview. From it, looking across the Heretaunga Plains could be seen Bluff Hill and Napier about sixteen kilometres “as the crow flies”.

Ten years later, Sarah Moore (who later married James), born in Pembroke, Wales, aged thirty-one, described as a “General Servant” sailed for Napier on the S.S. Doric, departing 13 August 1884, arriving in Napier on 17 October and calling also at Auckland, Canterbury, Invercargill, Marlborough and Nelson. She was “assisted” also and came directly to the employ of the Nelson family of Mangateretere. Some years previously, Sarah’s sister Caroline had emigrated and was now married to John Moorcock, at the time a farm labourer in the Waipawa district.

There is no further record of James and Sarah’s lives until 12 December 1887. Bernard Chambers’ diary records that “the Ficklings began to act as a married couple”. “In June 1893 Fickling and I measured off a strip for his orchard”, and finally, dated 1893 “The men had a great dance in the woolshed, a great success given to Jim Fickling (no mention of Sarah) on leaving Te Mata.” At that date, John Fickling, always known as Jack, born on 10 August 1889 would have been four years of age.

There is no written record of happenings at Fairview in its beginnings, but apart from the plantation of trees along the western side, the remainder was bare land.

The original house consisted of two rooms to which were later added a second bedroom, a kitchen with a wood burning range and a scullery where food was

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prepared. At the rear of the house and separate from it, was built a complex of rooms which included a wash house (laundry) with tubs, a “copper” for boiling clothes and heating bath water, a bathroom, bedroom, dairy, another room for storing preserves, a small room used for fowl feed, and a lean-to, later used as a bike shed. Then adjoining the orchard a horse stable was built with a hay loft above it plus a workshop and a cartshed.

The planting of fruit trees would have been spread over several years. Evidence of this is the assortment of different varieties in relatively small numbers and planted either as trees became procurable or could be afforded.

Along with fruit trees, probably between the rows of trees, vegetables and melons were grown. These were sold direct to shops in Hastings and the watermelons to the Maori pa at Paki Paki and probably elsewhere, transported by Jim with his horse and cart. As fruit trees bore fruit in sufficient quantities it was consigned to Thompson Brothers., fruit auctioneers in Wellington.

Jim involved himself in fruitgrowers politics and around 1902 travelled to a fruitgrowers conference at Melbourne. He brought back a frock coat and bowler hat which he never wore for obvious reasons.

He was a good planner of his business affairs which is attested by the development of his property and the fact that by the time of his death in 1921 he also owned a house in Hastings and sixteen acres of prime land in St. Andrews Road.

With no daughters of their own, Jim and Sarah often had nieces stay with them during school holidays. Fairview was a great place for holiday fun and the children loved being there. I have often heard the girls, after they had become grandmothers, say how they enjoyed being with Aunty Sarah and Uncle Jim who provided times they never forgot.

Sarah probably had no involvement with orchard work but was a good housewife and a very good cook. She always provided ‘smoko’ for orchard workers and herself took it to where they were working. Without transport of her own she would have been limited, but they had neighbours who had also worked on Te Mata with them and acquired orchard land of their own. Family transport was either by horse and cart or “trap” in which they visited friends or travelled to the village (Havelock) and Hastings and occasionally to Napier. In 1918 Jim bought a Studebaker seven seater open tourer car, but he never attempted to drive it. Jack was the chauffeur. Although the car had a folding canvas hood with side curtains, if it rained when an outing was planned, Jim would use the horse and cart.

Jack’s life was quiet, being the only child. He walked to school, two and a half

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kilometres distant, where discipline was strict. No sports worth recording. He finished his schooling at standard six and became an orchard worker. During Jim’s lifetime, his son had no opportunity to grow into the responsibility of management, and when his father died Jack was married with a nine year old son and had to learn to manage the business.

As a young man, Jack was good looking and had tight black curly hair and a happy personality. When courting his sweetheart Lavinia (Dolly) Eldershaw, her young sisters would sit on his knees and play with his curls. Among their social interests, Dolly and Jack used to attend the Band of Hope at St. Columba’s Church Hall. Dolly who was very musical was a popular pianist.

On 13 August 1910 they were married at St Columba’s Church. Dolly was twenty and Jack twenty-one. For a wedding present, Jim had a house built for them at 129 Te Mata Road. It was much larger and far superior to the house at Fairview, so large that the bride did not know what to do with it all.

Their first child Dorothy was born on 3 February 1911 and might have been delicate. She died of pneumonia on 6 August, aged six months. Dolly’s health was poor and the baby suffered as a consequence. I (Dudley) was born on 16 September 1912 and on 20 July, 1918, almost six years later, after a long and painful illness in hospital, Dolly died aged twenty-eight.

Jack and I moved to live at Fairview with my grandparents. With no other children to play with, life for me was rather quiet and uneventful. I had begun school before moving to Fairview, but for a six year old, the two and a half kilometre walk to school was a long way. However I was well cared for but I missed the loving care of a mother, though Dad and I were always the best of pals. Jim, too, did everything possible to make my life interesting. We spent lots of time together. He made me things to play with and on Saturdays I would go with him to Hastings in the horse and cart to attend to his weekly business, he would buy me sweets and raspberry and lemonade to drink while he enjoyed a glass of beer.

On Sundays the four of us sometimes drove in the horse and trap to visit friends, near and far. The trip to Napier would take about two hours each way and I would lie on the floor under a seat and fall asleep.

Life at Fairview was very plain and in some aspects basic, especially in household amenities. Rainwater stored in tanks was the sole supply until after Jim’s death. In her bedroom, on a special stand, Sarah had a beautiful washing set comprising a large jug holding about 6 litres, a wash basin, soap dish and two ample potties patterned with roses. A collectors piece today. The toilet was the Dunny set a distance from the house until Jack re-married when a W.C. [toilet] was installed on the same site.

Jim’s health was deteriorating and on 22 December in 1921, aged sixty-six, he died of

cancer of the bowel. I was then nine years old


Jack was then thirty-two. In the belief that he knew best, Jim had hitherto made all the decisions, at his death leaving Jack, as it were, thrown in at the deep end at a time of economic depression following World War One. However the orchard was in good heart, but market prices of fruit were depressed. Shortly after Jim’s death, Jack was re-married to Ruby Speight, a West Australian employed as a nurse aid in Hastings. For the wedding we all went to Perth, travelling by passenger ship, first to Sydney, where we boarded a coastal steamer, altogether taking thirteen days.

Ken was born in September 1923 and Noel in December 1928. In between these dates I went to secondary school at Waitaki Boy’s High School, Oamaru, in 1926 and 1927, where three of my Havelock classmates also went. I could have gone for longer, but neither Dad nor I realised how important education was. So at age fifteen, at the end of the 1927 school year, I became an orchard hand. Boarding school had been a rather spartan experience when I took a good many knocks which helped prepare me for later years.

Ruby had a desire to return to West Australia and when her sister and her husband, Hilda and George Ferrier bought a farm about 300km north of Perth, Jack was offered an adjoining property. It was a State Government settlement project, partially developed and the down payment relatively small.

Without a great deal of information or farming experience and against the advice of his solicitor, Jack raised a mortgage on Fairview and completed the deal with a view to living on the farm, which was a condition of the purchase.

Meanwhile George ran the two properties and attended to the business matters which no doubt absorbed all income at that time. After several years the government forced the issue of residence, and favouring remaining at Fairview, Jack relinquished the farm without recovering anything on his investment.

We all went to West Australia again in 1926, staying on the farm with George and Hilda for a month. Their sons Eric and Hubert were at Scots College in Perth. When we arrived at the farm, I clearly remember Hilda apologetically explaining that she had wanted to relinquish their main bedroom for Ruby and Jack. George’s rejoinder was “Not for the Queen of England”. My chief recollections were that I had four cows to milk, for I was a poor milker, also there was a potato famine in the State

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and we ate swede turnips every day! But we all enjoyed being there. Jack worked with George each day and I went horse riding.

A niece of Sarah’s, Emma Monkley, accompanied us on that trip as a companion for Sarah and remained with us until Sarah died of bronchitis in August 1929.

The pleasures of life at Fairview were simple. In summertime meals were out under the willow tree by the back lawn. After the day’s work, swimming at the Tuki Tuki, or Haumoana sometimes, taking our evening meal with us. Our younger fruit pickers would come to the river taking the runabout, a Master Six Buick car with the back seat compartment cut off, converted to carry fruit from orchard to packing shed. By today’s standards life was unhurried but purposeful, lived with enjoyment and good fellowship.

The economic depression of the 1930’s began in 1929, lasting 10 years until the beginning of world war two. On the orchard, Jack was always enterprising in his quest for producing top quality fruit and better marketing.

His first major project was a consignment of about three tonnes of plums to Covent Garden Markets in London, a first for New Zealand. Although harvested in optimum condition and packed with great care and refrigerated in transit they arrived over-ripe, after four weeks in transit, which ruled out further shipments. He became interested in growing new varieties of plums, importing a selection of trees from Burpees Nurseries in U.S.A. From these he grew two varieties, Elephant Heart and Red Ace, which he planted in commercial quantities, and grew for several years. English and Japanese plums were grown in large quantities for jam making. They were supplied in bulk to Thompson arid Hills, fruit canners in Auckland. He also experimented with new types of fruit containers used in other countries, packing top quality fruit for the high class retail and hotel trade. These were very attractively presented. Several years later, a cool store was also built to pre-cool fruit before dispatch to the markets. The new imported plum varieties lacked the qualities necessary to become market winners. However Jack affirmed that our top variety Santa Rosa saved Fairview from insolvency during those depression years. The cool store was invaluable, ensuring longer storage life both to the retailer and consumer. It was indispensable to future success.


Jack was not a politician in the generally accepted sense, but being one of the largest plum and peach growers in the district, he served on the committee of the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower’s Association with approximately 300 affiliated members at the time.

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Also for several years he attended annual conferences of the NZ Fruitgrowers Federation as a delegate. High quality standards and a better marketing were always high on his agenda.


Although the depression years left the fruitgrowers a very lean breed, the war years (1939-1945) brought economic salvation to the depressed fruit industry. Goods of most kinds were in short supply, leaving more money available for the purchase of fruit. Although “ceiling prices” were imposed by government regulation, strong demand provided higher than the average prices of the depression years. Organised export marketing of apples and pears laid the foundation for the New Zealand Apple and Pear Marketing Board which now (1993) operates what is internationally acknowledged to be the best marketing system for those fruits in the world, exporting to most overseas countries.

By 1945 all debt incurred over many years had been repaid but the systematic replacement of ageing trees had not been continued. That was a problem in succeeding years when tree replacements put about half the orchard out of production.

Jack’s ownership of Fairview extended over 28 years, beginning at Jim’s death in 1921 and ending at his own death in 1950. Most of this period was clouded with economic uncertainty with low market prices for our fruit affecting our own standard of living.

My personal needs were very modest and because of Dad’s financial situation the only wages I drew until I left the orchard were “pocket money”.


From my point of view, I believed that I could not expect the orchard to provide a living for both Dad and myself, not to mention Ken and Noel. If there was money to be made. Dad needed it all.

The economic depression of 1929 to 1939 was long and severe for fruitgrowing. I became interested in the theory of fruit marketing, inspired by American trade magazines which depicted a far different ball game from New Zealand.

With fruit growing on the home front at a low economic ebb I had thoughts of trying to get a job at Covent Garden market in London. Perhaps fortunately it didn’t advance beyond that stage. However I felt that there was no future in remaining at home. In

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December 1935 I went to Wellington and opened a small fruit shop in Willis Street. Fruit from our orchard was freighted overnight by road and I was going to feature “orchard fresh” fruit. A Wellington friend compiled a list of all the best people in Wellington to whom I sent a fancy introductory letter, but with lack of experience the business did not last beyond the stone fruit season. I then rented a part of a basement in Victoria Street which I called “Fickling’s Orchard Depot” from where I sold cases of apples to the people on my mailing list. Orders were received by phone and the fruit cases were delivered each day to the city and suburbs by parcel delivery service. That lasted until the end of the apple season after which I got a short term job with a small fruit wholesaler selling to the retail trade.

The positive side of it all was that I learned a lot about marketing fruit which was to be very useful in later years. All of this happened within a period of a year. Then began two years of selling vacuum cleaners on commission. After being schooled in the art for about two weeks my small team of fellow graduates took to the streets of Miramar and started door knocking. It took a month to make my first sale. We then covered several districts, the most distant being Pahiatua after which I was on my own. I started in Petone, then Lower Hutt, bought a 1929 Baby Austin from a friend and was really in business. After two years when I had had enough, I was getting the best sale figures of our sales team.

In Petone I boarded together with Fred Ullrich who became my friend. He ran a small factory making wire products. In my Baby Austin I did a sales trip for him up through Taranaki and the Waikato, opening business contracts. Fred’s business grew to become one of the largest in his trade in New Zealand and Australia. Hurricane Wire Products is still operating. In March 1992 I met Fred at his Christchurch home. We had a good reunion. He is still at the head of the business.

In March 1939 the opportunity arose to join with a firm, Sunripe Fruit Service, delivering small cases of apples, similar to my earlier experience, also bulk tins of honey, but doing our own delivery. We had two modern vans, attractively sign-written and systematically called on our customers throughout Wellington and the Hutt Valley once a fortnight. But the clouds of World War Two overtook us and in 1941 our vehicles were commandeered for army use which spelt the end of the business.


My Christian life began in my late teens, through the influence of my mother’s family. My Grandmother, Polly (Mary Ann) Howse was always very good to me, perhaps because my mother had died so young. I had a good relationship also with her younger sister, Eva Sawyer, whose home was the centre of hospitality for countless teenagers.

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Both Grandma and Aunty Eva and their families were active Christians who at times I accompanied to rallies etc. At a tent mission at Hastings, at age nineteen, I made my decision to become a Christian. A mate of mine at St. Columba’s, Henry Marshall, invited me to join the Bible Class, which helped me set my course, the next stage of which was going to Wellington four years later and joining St. John’s Senior Bible Class. Most members were aged from eighteen upwards, mostly university students or in the Government Service.

St. John’s was a milestone in my life. It was the largest Presbyterian Church in Wellington and had the largest adult Bible Class in New Zealand. Leadership of both young men’s and young women’s groups was very strong as was the attitude towards Christian commitment. Church services were well attended including all members of the Senior Bible Classes. Traditionally St. John’s ministers were very able preachers drawing large congregations. Social life was very active, hospitality being a feature, catering for the many visitors to the city as well as students and cadets in the Government services.

But I had been walking around with my eyes shut for at least three years before I saw Irene Hermanns, who had been there all the time. It was a rather unspectacular courtship. I was a slow starter, but we were both steady goers. We both played tennis at the St. John’s court and one year we won the Clyde Cup donated as a trophy for lovers, so it seemed. We became engaged after the war started and when I was later balloted for military service, we were married on 6 September 1941, soon after I entered Trentham Military Camp. Irene’s home was the centre of our relationship together. Irene’s brother Ron, was now in the Air Force as a trainee. Their parents, Sebra and William Hermanns were very warm and hospitable, always accepting me into the small family circle. We had very much in common.

At the end of the war, in September 1946, I was ordained an elder at St. John’s. The duties of Eldership including regular pastoral visiting were clearly defined, all of which prepared me for later involvement at St. Columba’s Havelock North.


5 July 1941 saw my introduction to military service and entrance to Trentham Military Camp. Like all raw recruits, we were shouted at, bullied and herded as an introduction to army discipline. Our unit was the 6th reinforcements to the New Zealand forces in the Middle East, based at Cairo, due to embark for overseas in about six weeks. Some of us were to be posted to Waiouru Military Camp as temporary NCOS.

When Irene and I were married I had four day’s leave for our honeymoon, spent at

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Wanganui. After this I was transferred to Waiouru, where we were assigned to the First New Zealand Army Tank Brigade.

Shortly afterwards, I received a telegram from Irene with news that her father had died suddenly of a blood clot to his heart. I had special leave to attend his funeral, after which battle resumed at Waiouru. Irene continued to work at the Head Office of New Zealand Railways.

Japan had just entered the war which changed our programme. Instead of joining the forces in Egypt, we remained at Waiouru in case of involvement with the Japanese. We drilled and marched at Waiouru for over a year. We were then transferred to Pukekohe and then to Papakura Military Camp. Soon afterwards, in July 1943, our unit was dispersed, some of us transferred to an Air Force Unit at Linton, near Palmerston North; then to Air Headquarters in Wellington where I was permitted to live at home with Irene and her mother. In July 1944 I was discharged and became a civilian once more.


Throughout the war years the government imposed price controls on most forms of business. Some goods were in scarce supply and as a consequence, more money was about. Profiteering from these conditions was forestalled by law and the requirement of traders to obtain special permission to increase prices.

On my discharge from the Air Force, I obtained a job as Investigating Officer in the Produce Section of the Price Tribunal, a section of the Department of Industries and Commerce. Staff had been recruited from trade and industry because they understood how the various goods and service industries operated. My job was largely to study applications by firms in the fruit and vegetable trade, also grain and stock food merchants and to report to the Price Tribunal with my recommendations. In the course of all this I met growers and merchants representing their national organizations and sat in on their meetings with the Tribunal and with the Minister of Industries and Commerce. All of this gave me a close insight into the politics of the industries with which I was involved. However I had no ambition to continue as a public servant.

Early in 1949 Mum, Dad and Noel planned to go to Western Australia and I obtained three months leave to return home and work on the orchard during their absence. Dad’s health was deteriorating and he wanted Noel and me to jointly take over the orchard while Mum and he retired to Taupo. Noel decided to go with them and I decided to go it alone on the orchard. When I first left Fairview, I never thought I would return to take it over, expecting that either Ken or Noel would do so.

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They had not been at Taupo very long when Dad’s condition worsened. He went to see a specialist in Wellington and died the day after his arrival there on the 8 August, 1950, aged sixty-one. A bladder ulcer had burst and poisoned his blood stream.


Good natured, absolutely honest, generous, always considering the needs of others; these were the key characteristics of Jack’s nature. Either visiting or being visited he gave gifts of fruit to many. His friends were numerous, his closest being the small group of orchardists who shared his pleasure of trout fishing. For many years at the end of the fruit season, their families combined to spend their May school holidays at Taupo where the men camped on the bank of the Waikato River below the Aratiatia Rapids, while their wives and children shared a house in the Taupo township. Each day they would all spend time together picnicking and fishing around the lake or bathing in the hot baths.

On the orchard Jack was a good employer, sharing many decisions with his permanent staff, two of whom worked with him for about fifteen years until he could no longer afford to keep them in his employ. As is common in fruit growing the same seasonal staff, some retired, worked for him year after year. Fairview was a pleasant place to work and Jack was a good boss.

An indication of the high regard with which he was held in the business community was evident when I succeeded him in 1949. Being not known in those quarters, I only needed to identify myself to be readily accepted as a reliable customer. I felt proud to know that my father and his father before him were so highly regarded. I suddenly realised how precious is the heritage of a “good name” in the community and the importance of preserving it for those who follow us.

Jack deserved well as his epitaph, verses three to five of the twenty-fourth Psalm once sung responsively by Jewish pilgrims.

“Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord?
or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that has clean hands and a pure heart;
who has not lifted up his soul unto vanity
nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

[Photo captions]

JIM 1886   Sarah 1886

1906: Fruit for despatch to Wellington markets
Jim standing on load   Jack standing at left

Jack 1910   Dolly 1910

The old homestead

1930: Plums packed for shipment to Covent Garden
Artie Slade, Noel, Dudley, Jack, Bert Elborn and George Pickering

1936: Ken, Ruby, Noel and Jack

1942: Dudley and Ken in army camp

1945: Noel, Irene and Dudley on the Buick

Dudley   Irene

1948: Before coming to Fairview

1950: Haymaking

The Vulcan 1924 – 1965

1953: Irene at the log cabin

1961: Joy and John on the tandem

1969: Overseas travel

1994: Murray, Sam, Kaye, Evelyn, John and Susie

1994: Hamish, Paula, Ashley, Joy and Irene   Inset: Anna

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Moving from the city to Havelock North heralded a complete change of lifestyle for Irene. The orchard property provided spacious living with neighbours not near enough to be seen or heard. With the help of four other men, refurbishing the house interior including some alterations took about a month. Money was scarce and little was spent on giving the old place a spruce up. Irene, still in Wellington, did not know much about what was happening, lest her expectations were too high and the realization was somewhat less. In fact, she was quite apprehensive about the quality of life awaiting her in the old home. I did not know how she would adapt, so had kept her very much in the dark, in the hope that she would be pleasantly surprised with what she found on arrival.

Removal time came in September 1949. I drove our old Morris Minor while Irene, John, two and a half and Joy, six months travelled by train. A welcome awaited them at Fairview, my Aunty Eva Sawyer and Jessie Read had spruced up the house, decorated the rooms with flowers, made up the beds and had a hot meal already prepared for the new arrivals. It was all a surprise and the beginning of an era of happy family life which lasted 20 years at Fairview.

New friends were found amongst neighbours and the church family at St Columba’s. New interests were established especially as the children grew. The children lived the free and open life of the country with endless space to play in and things to share with their friends. In retrospect, they took it all for granted and didn’t realise then and possibly now, how fortunate they were.

With most of our savings spent on becoming established we lived frugally. By her upbringing Irene was used to making the most of what she had. She was able to make most of her own clothes and those of the children while I converted from dressing for city life to the working clothes of a farmer.

We relied very much on food we grew on the properly, fruit and vegetables and for Irene, budgeting was second nature. She fed the family and clothed them on a budget of three pounds a week while the phone, power and car running costs were my responsibilities. All mothers received a Social Welfare child allowance of fifteen shillings (one and a half dollars) a week for each of her children. We never wanted for anything.


Until I left Fairview for Wellington in 1935 I was an orchard worker with only a

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limited understanding of administration and the techniques of orchard management, so when I returned in 1949 I had a lot to learn.

The economic depression of the 1930’s had been a long hard one for fruitgrowers but the war years brought better prices and the reduction of debt. Fruit trees which had passed their peak production had not been replaced. Our first years crop was severely reduced by heavy frost, which gave us a bad start. Our standard of living was very basic but Irene was a good homemaker and we never wanted.

When Dad died I purchased Fairview without a cash down payment. I made an annual payment to the estate during Mum’s lifetime after which I received a share and bought out Ken and Noel’s shares.

Whereas at first, annual income did not fully cover expenses, gradually the period of my bank overdraft to tide me over the winter months became shorter each year, until eventually I no longer needed to borrow and instead invested surplus funds in replacing old equipment and improving the property.

In 1951, I purchased the Vulcan, a 1924 Vintage truck, complete with hydraulic hoist at a cost of 100 pounds ($200) for the main purpose of carting fowl manure and threshed hay for mulching the orchard. She was already twenty-six years of age. The engine was well worn and the back axle assembly needed replacing, there was no electric starter, but a crank handle sufficed. The generator had been removed, which meant no power for the lights.

I decided to drive it to Wellington to get Irene’s mother’s possessions. She had sold her Wellington home to come and live near us. However the truck needed a warrant of fitness, also a mechanical checkup, to ensure it was roadworthy. When testing the engine, evidently the mechanic revved it up, it backfired and demolished the muffler. We had already given her a coat of green paint and she looked quite smart.

To help Mum with her packing, Irene, with the children, had previously gone to Wellington. The night before my departure was freezing cold so, being on my own, I slept on the carpet in front of an open fire, arose at 4 am and was on my way at 5 am. The open sides of the cab were screened with sacking to keep out the cold air. The frosty morning developed into a gloriously fine day, and I settled down to a leisurely journey, picked up a hitch-hiker and arrived at my destination 180 miles (300km) distant at 3 pm, averaging 18mph (30 kph). Next day I loaded, so we all spent the night at the People’s Palace.

My return journey began at dawn, 5.30am. In half an hour we (Vulcan and I) reached Johnsonville, having crawled up the Ngauranga Gorge fully loaded, in low gear. After that, with another fine day as a bonus, the going was easy. The others caught the

Page 13

Napier Express Train at 8.30am. My objective was to surprise the family with refreshments in the early afternoon at Waipukurau which was then a refreshment station. Time was slipping by, so I gave the old girl full throttle across the Takapau Plains, seeming to float along with a rolling motion. Over a measured three miles she averaged 28mph (47kmh), arriving at Waipukurau just in time to take food and drink to the travellers in their carriage as the train arrived. By the time I reached Fairview at 4.30pm, the others had already arrived, having been met at Hastings by Tim Higgins, one of our orchard workers. Altogether it was a very smooth operation with no mishaps on the way.

The Vulcan, which had many and varied uses, including Gala parades, became well known in the community and ended her term with us to be bought by a Vintage enthusiast, the first of many who would like to have owned her.

I had arranged to buy a building section for Irene’s mother on Te Mata Road on which a house was built for her, all of which was a very happy arrangement. As our children grew older our house which had only two bedrooms was becoming too small. We had little money so decided the best option was to remodel and enlarge it.

Irene’s mother agreed to pay for the cost of the alterations, about three thousand pounds, which quite transformed the old house. Originally in 1893 when Jim and Sarah bought Fairview, they built the first stage: one bedroom, a kitchen-living room and a leanto scullery. Later a second bedroom and sitting room plus a veranda were added. About forty years later a bathroom was added but still with an outside lavatory. Probably about 1905 the outbuilding described earlier was erected larger than the home at the time. We renovated and converted it into self-contained living quarters for seasonal workers.

With the recent developments of the house, the whole layout was changed, including a third bedroom, the sitting room doubled in size to include a dining area, an office and a brand new kitchen facing the morning sun plus an inside toilet. The garden area, hitherto mostly vegetable garden, was redesigned to include a large front and side lawn, altogether changing the whole living environment.

In the fruit seasons when labour was sometimes hard to recruit, the offer of accommodation always enabled us to make up our labour force. On a few occasions it was occupied by Fijian Indians who proved to be satisfactory workers anxious to earn money to take back home.

In the height of the fruit season we worked quite a lot of overtime including nightwork and for this, staff living on the property were always willing to work. Fruit picked during the daytime was immediately pre-cooled in the cool store and as required was packed for dispatch to markets. With a full staff working night shifts,

Page 14

usually 6.30 – 9-30 we packed large quantities of fruit which were returned to the cooler ready for final dispatch. Fairview fruit had a high reputation at the markets we supplied as being of top quality.

Any fruit not up to marketable quality was graded out and cool stored for sale to the public at appropriate times. The first such outlet was the “log cabin” built of half-round pine logs milled from pine trees on the property and installed at the roadside. This was open during the summer school holidays and staffed by Miss Cato, a near neighbour living on the Arataki sub-division. Irene used to relieve her during her lunch break. This was not the success we had hoped, so later, leaving the “log cabin” as a landmark, at selected times particularly Saturdays we sold the fruit at the packing shed. In this way we sold quite large amounts of fruit which was well advertised in the newspapers and drew large numbers of customers many of whom came from other districts to buy preserving fruit and, later in the season, apples and pears.


The area of our property was originally 24 acres (10 hectares) comprising a plantation of trees, pine, macrocarpa and gum, covering about four acres along the western boundary, a three acre paddock for grazing two horses and later two cows, the orchard sixteen acres plus an area for the house and sheds.

The plantation had no productive use but shielded the whole properly from southerly and westerly weather which made living and working conditions much more congenial. The horse paddock with a clay pan subsoil under it was unsuitable for fruit growing so an area bordering Arataki Road was surveyed off and sold for housing. That yielded a sum of about £1200($2400) which helped finance the orchard operation.

The motivation behind our moving to Fairview was firstly to enjoy the freedom of the country life on the property that was very dear to me. I was the third generation of my family to occupy it and I wanted to leave my mark by developing it into a place my forebears and my family would be proud of. The whole of my energy and resources were devoted to this end.

The land was not highly fertile. Fruit trees did not grow as quickly or produce as heavily as on the Heretaunga Plains. We also had to work harder for a lesser financial reward, but over the years as old trees were replaced with new and the standard of management could be seen to improve, the property was developed and my ambition gradually realised. Production progressively increased though even at the time we sold

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in 1970 its full potential had not been realised.

Several major developments absorbed our seasonal surplus of cash. In fact the first was installed before we had the cash.

Soon after our arrival it was apparent that the land needed something done to improve its cropping capacity. Since first being planted as an orchard it had been clean-cultivated by being ploughed in spring and autumn, primarily to keep weeds under control and secondly with frequent cultivation to a fine tilth, supposedly to retain the moisture in the soil. With this type of husbandry for fifty years the humus had been burnt out by repeated exposure to the weather.

Without a very full knowledge of soil husbandry but following the fashion of the time, I bought threshed hay and mulched it around the trees, covering most of the ground. We also entered into an arrangement with three poultry farmers to clear the fowl manure out of their fowl houses. For these purposes we bought an old Vulcan truck which we spruced up and erected sides about the height of the cab to transport the baled hay and fowl manure loaded into benzine boxes. This material was later worked into the topsoil with a tractor-mounted rotary hoe.

Notwithstanding all this, dry weather conditions in summer put stress on the fruit trees so in 1955 I decided to install irrigation and sow the whole orchard in grass. But we had to find water for irrigation, hopefully by sinking a well. Finding the best spot to sink a well was a difficult decision. First I obtained advice from a geologist who advised putting it at the lowest part of the property which would put it close to the water table, but a water diviner said that we needed to locate an underground stream which he divined as flowing close to our packing shed and, incidentally, close to electric power for pumping. I took his advice but we had to bore to a depth of 230 feet (approx. 70 metres) to find water. It had to be pumped 90 feet to the surface and the volume was insufficient for direct irrigation into the orchard. So a dam was formed, the water pumped into it 24 hours a day and a second pump used to pump water at pressure, into the piped irrigation system. We had sufficient water to cover the whole property with 1½ inches (4 cm) once in every two weeks, but it was enough. Sinking the well was paid for but the irrigation pipes were bought on extended credit and paid for over three seasons. That whole project cost about 3000 pounds.

Irrigated grass transformed the working climate of the orchard, maintaining a green cover all summer, but systematically shifting the irrigation pipes every three hours was a major job from 6am to 9 or 10pm, usually 6 days per week.

Another project in 1956 was the erection of a 1200 sq ft implement shed, large enough to house all of our machinery. The next major project in late 1960 was the erection of a new packing shed. This was an addition to the shed built by Jim around 1900 as a

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horse stable with a hay loft above it plus a cart shed and workshop. We had sufficient good clean pine trees to mill into timber and arranged with Dave Knight to build a 2400 sq feet (240 sq metres ) extension which would accommodate a new fruit grader and provide sufficient storage for enough fruit cases for a whole season. Dave erected the shed, built the grader plus bulk bins for apples and pears. The two sided grader could handle fruit of any shape or size, from plums to pears. The entire cost of the job was 3000 pounds ($6000 when converted to decimal currency). I considered it to be one of the best packing sheds in the district.

By this time we could have been overcapitalised for we had sufficient equipment for an orchard twice the size, but it made for wonderful working conditions.


Both in Wellington and now in Havelock our lives were closely associated with our church. Both of us became involved in teaching. Irene was asked to relieve in the Sunday School for two or three Sundays which became extended far beyond that. In fact it was twelve years before she retired. The Sunday School had a large roll which grew increasingly and at one stage there were 18 teachers in the youth department when the roll was over 200.

My involvement in the youth department was much shorter. About two years after arriving I was invited to join the Session which was suffering from old age. Of the five elders, only one, Artie Slade, was under 70 years of age. Other and younger elders together with a new Session clerk were appointed. He served about two years then resigned in 1953. I accepted the position on condition that I gave up Bible Class leadership. Then began 12 years as Session clerk. Up to that time elders duties were confined to doing door duty one Sunday each month and serving at quarterly communion. The elders districts with the attendant parish visiting were almost unheard of. While Session now met monthly, in earlier days they were called to meet at longer intervals when the minister wanted formal decisions to be made, in some cases, six months apart.

When we first arrived the state of the parish was at a low ebb. Attendances at worship services were small, but by steady work and a lot of planning, congregational life was gradually revived. Over a period of ten years we organised a series of programmes each of about a week of a special theme led by an outside guest speaker, usually a Presbyterian minister with a progressive parish. Results were not always spectacular but over that time church membership doubled and a new spirit prevailed.

At this time of writing (1993), we have lived in Havelock for 43 years. Of course the

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population had grown, probably trebled, and though not keeping pace with the population increase, the vitality of the church has markedly improved. Both Irene and I are both actively involved but leadership rests with much younger people.

Within the social life of St Columba’s, the Women’s Fellowship was formed about 1950, comprising mostly women with young families, meeting on the fourth Tuesday evening of each month. Many of the same women, Irene among them, still belong to it, but now they are grandmothers. Their place had been taken by the Young Wives Group which probably serves the same purposes as the Women’s Fellowship did 40 years earlier.

Living at Fairview provided the opportunity of flower gardening. From the time of our arrival we had a small flower garden, but when the house was enlarged and the garden extended the scope for growing flowers was considerably increased. From this Irene developed a love for flower arranging in the home and lessons in the art extended her field of interest. She became convener of the flower roster, of twenty or so women arranging the church flowers. In St Columba’s, flower arranging has become a highly skilled art form which adds greatly to an appreciation of the services of worship. Flowers are a part of most church functions. On countless occasions the old church hall also has been transformed with arrangements made possible by the flower and garden lovers in the congregation. Irene served on the flower roster for 42 years.

The Opportunity Shop is another institution for which Irene has helped for the best part of twenty years, selling at nominal prices clothing and other goods donated by the community at large under the umbrella of Presbyterian Support Services and serviced by women from the wider community also. Proceeds are used largely to provide amenities for Support homes for the elderly in this area. This is one of the many local activities performed by older people for others needing community help, without which our society would be much the poorer.


In 1969 Irene and I travelled to England on our first major holiday. We departed in March, halfway through the apple season and with Eric Daley in charge stayed away with an easy mind. We travelled by ship via Sydney, Durban, Capetown Las Palmas and Lisbon to disembark at Rotterdam. A voyage of six weeks. We were met by Harry and Pia Koenders who had worked with us at Fairview. They showed us some of the beauties of Holland in the springtime. The tulip fields in bloom were glorious. The British Isles, too, were beautiful, and we saw a large part of it visiting our relations in both England and Wales, as well as Scotland. On our arrival in London, Irene’s

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cousins, Rose and Wallis Pettit invited us to make their home our base in between our excursions to various parts.

Our first excursion from London was to our cousins, Evelyn and Syd Moore and their family at Penhriwceiber, near Cardiff in South Wales. Syd is my blood relation whose grandfather was my grandmother Sarah’s brother. Ever since her emigration to New Zealand, Sarah had regularly corresponded, with Jack in his time, and I after Jack’s death. Altogether about 85 years. None of us had met before. We were all greatly excited to meet and the hospitality awaiting us had to be experienced to be believed.

Relations called to visit and we were taken by car to see much of South Wales. Penhriwceiber is about 30km from Cardiff and Syd who had recently retired, with coal dust on his lungs, received early retirement on account of his health. The whole village comprising row upon row of tenement houses was owned by mine owners and occupied by mining families. However the mines were becoming uneconomic and were progressively being closed down.

After Wales, we visited Cynthia and Ray Cattell, who had once operated their own mill, grinding flour and stock-foods. The mill had ceased operating but they now owned a retail shop, selling pet food, fishing bait and sundry animal requisites at Willingham, in Cambridgeshire near to Over, where Irene’s mother was born. They drove us around Cambridgeshire and Essex, and then Cynthia took us by car through the Midlands to North Wales for a few days. We climbed Snowdon, visited Caernarvon Castle and happened to arrive at Llangollen during the National Eisteddfod.

Other cousins, Peggy and Ian Few, then motored down to Willingham from their home at Derby and, after showing us their part of central England, we shared part of their six-monthly holiday in Scotland with them. Ian was a research scientist at the Rolls Royce jet engine factory at Derby.

While I had thoughts of seeing some research stations in Europe, we realised that travelling independently would be quite impracticable with problems of transport, currency and language, so we settled for a ten day tour of Austria. My purpose in visiting research stations was to see new developments in fruitgrowing which were being researched. We had visited two such stations in Holland, and on our way back to New Zealand we were to visit two more in the USA and one in Canada with which NZ scientists were already familiar. Little did I realise that within a year I would no longer be a fruitgrower.

For the return to New Zealand we had air tickets with unlimited stop-offs. We planned to fly to New York and then by Greyhound bus overland, for which we had thirty day tickets. Winnipeg Canada where Irene was born, was on our plan. We flew there from Toronto and visited the house her father had built and lived in 60 years before. We

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flew on to Calgary and then by bus to Banff and Vancouver, down into USA, visiting the Okanagan valley in Washington, the largest apple growing state in the USA, to San Francisco, then flew to Honolulu where we stayed for three days and Fiji. Then home, thankful to be back after a tremendous experience extending over seven months.


Although I had no thoughts of selling the property, by the end of the following fruit season, feeling the pressures of work and managing the orchard, I decided to sell. Work had dominated my life and at fifty-eight I felt I wanted the freedom of doing things for which I had never the time.

John had no interest in fruit growing, but he loved life as he lived it on the orchard. He enjoyed eating fruit but had no inclination to grow it. His chief interests were mechanical, beginning with designing a tandem pushbike, through a moped and several motorbikes and a Morris Mini. He had a small part of our workshop to himself. His hobby was made much more enjoyable by having 16 acres of orchard land around which he could ride.

By the time we returned from overseas, John had almost completed an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. Joy was in her first year as a Home Economics teacher.

The decision to sell Fairview was made very reluctantly. We had all enjoyed the lifestyle it had provided. My personal attachment to Fairview was not only of longer duration, but I treasured it because it was our family heritage, passed on to us by my grandparents and parents. It was a beautiful place, which it was our privilege to own and grow as a family.

Of course we had to move off the property and soon afterwards bought our present home at 11 Exmoor Street to begin yet another phase of our family life.

God had been wonderfully good to us.


Both John and Joy received their entire school education while at Fairview, but at different schools from each other.

John’s primary schooling was at Havelock North School where both his father and grandfather attended, followed by Hastings Boys High School. On leaving High

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School he was apprenticed as a fitter, turner and machinist to Birds Eye Foods, a branch of Lever Brothers at their Hastings factory, qualifying also for a NZ Certificate of Engineering in 1968.

Joy was a foundation pupil of both Te Mata Primary School and Karamu (co-educational) High School. After leaving Karamu she moved to Auckland Teachers Training College to study Home Economics. She returned home for her probationary year (1969) which coincided with our overseas trip, then took a teaching position at Levin where she met Ashley Windelev and married him the following year, on 18 December 1971. They then transferred to Upper Hutt where Joy continued teaching.

Ashley was an electronics research technician who trained in the NZ Airforce and was later employed by the Ministry of Works. He later combined his computing skills with his interest in the share market. Now as a professional share market analyst he publishes a fortnightly share letter mailed to a growing clientèle.

They have three children, Anna 19, Hamish 17, and Paula 12. At this time of writing Joy teaches part time at St. Orans College Lower Hutt. Anna is now at Lincoln University, Christchurch studying for a Commerce degree with a special interest in the tourist industry.

Following our return from overseas John volunteered for a year’s service in Papua New Guinea. On arrival there in the following year he was assigned to Kwato Island, a mission station very near Milne Bay on the eastern tip of Papua. It was a very difficult year for him.

After returning to New Zealand he married Evelyn Dewar on 8 December 1973. Evelyn was Primary School teaching. Her family went to Vanuatu in 1958 and she returned to NZ for her High School years followed by Teachers Training College. Her father, a carpenter and Jack of All Trades, served mainly under the auspices of the Apostolic Church constructing houses and church buildings in mission communities. After their wedding, John and Evelyn spent six months ‘on station’ with Evelyn’s parents. Her brother Nigel was working with his father while sister Dorothy was involved with Bible translation into a local language, later heading a project for the Bible Society translating into Bislama, the trade language of Vanuatu. This service is widely used for a variety of translation work.

In 1978 John bought a small business which he renamed ‘Apple Hire’ renting out sound and video equipment. He still continues in that business as the main operator in Hawkes Bay. They have four children, Sam 18, Susie 16, Kaye 14 and Murray 12. Sam is now studying Business Computing at Hawkes Bay Polytechnic.

Grandad the ex fruit grower keeps both families supplied with local fruit.

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In my lifetime the methods of orchard management have been revolutionized. Manual methods once very simple and hand operated have become highly sophisticated, first to become mechanical and now electronic.

My grandfather’s spray outfit was called a “Bonanza” hand powered reciprocating pump supplied with a 40 gallon barrel of spray, mounted on a sledge and hauled by a horse. The horse driver hand pumped while the man on the ground walked around the trees with a “bordeaux” nozzle. Then a one cylinder petrol driven engine with an 80 gallon tank mounted on a chassis and drawn by a horse with one or two men spraying, as before mentioned, later improved to a larger model with more power and greater output. At the time I returned to Fairview, sprayers had become mechanically self-propelled, and capable of travelling at any speed, with a driver and two men riding on a platform behind, later to be replaced by a spraying mechanism, displacing the two men. The latest type, now in use for 25 years has been an “air blast” sprayer which carries the atomised spray right through the trees.

Chemical spray materials are now much more complex and much more lethal, requiring operators to wear protective clothing and respirators.


This is now quite different from early days. On my leaving school, using horse-drawn implements, I ploughed and cultivated the orchard, both in springtime and autumn. In summer, surface cultivation was continued to a shallow depth to control weed growth and also to retain moisture in the soil.

After the autumn ploughing, blue lupins were sown to add humus and provide nitrogen for the soil, all implements up to this time being horse-drawn.

By the late 1920’s, tractors were in common use with larger ploughs and disc cultivators. What had taken us six weeks of ploughing with horses could be accomplished in three days with a tractor. In the late 1940’s, tractor-drawn rotary hoes were introduced, doing the whole job in one operation.

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But constant fine cultivation exposed the soil to sun and wind, which destroyed soil humus necessary to provide natural food for worms and other soil organisms. Hawke’s Bay grew plentiful supplies of hay, grown for grass seed, threshed and used for mulching around fruit trees to retain soil moisture in summer, but soil scientists reported that 35 tonnes of hay per hectare per year were needed to maintain the humic content of the soil.

The present system is to grow grasses and clovers as ground cover. Humus is maintained by the combined growth and decomposition of grass roots and grass mowings both of which also feed the soil and its crops with natural elements, for example clovers translocate nitrogen into the soil. With sufficient moisture either from rain or irrigation, soil organisms convert these elements into forms which plants can assimilate. The natural fertility of the soil is thus maintained.


At Fairview the quantity of the fruit progressively increased over the years. While simple methods with minimal equipment once sufficed, methods became much more complex to handle large quantities efficiently.

In the days of my childhood, our crop was harvested mainly by two fruit pickers who would carry their picking baskets of fruit to the end of the row where Jim packed it on a hand portable bench. Jim would stencil the appropriate markings on each case, it was then hand hauled by the men up to the shed on a lightweight cart and loaded onto a horse drawn cart to be taken by Jim to the railway for dispatch to the Wellington markets.

Then under Jack’s management, fruit was mechanically graded in the converted horse stable which become the packing shed, and later still, in my time, when the shed had been more than doubled in size, much more sophisticated equipment was installed.

Freshly picked plums and peaches were pre-cooled in the cool store which firmed them for mechanical grading and packing. The new grader was double sided, enabling a different type of fruit to be graded and packed on either side, or alternatively, in the case of apples, for two grades or qualities to be packed simultaneously.

Whereas in earlier times fruit when picked was transferred to boxes then hauled from orchard to shed on a horse drawn trolley, eventually it was emptied by pickers into bulk bins, then transported to the pack house by fork lifts. Manual handling gave way to mechanical, all of this increasing the efficient throughput of the fruit.

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Packing sheds and their equipment have now become pack houses with all of their equipment maintained at a high standard of hygiene and efficiency.

Almost inconceivably, within a generation, because marketing requirements were to dramatically change, the packing shed and it’s equipment became obsolete. Peaches and plums which were once our main crop became uneconomic and were to be replaced with apples for the export market. In 1991 countries importing from New Zealand demanded strict standards of hygiene which could only be efficiently applied in large packhouses. Whereas almost every orchard once packed its own fruit for both local and export markets, present day growers are now able to concentrate on growing their fruit to high standards of perfection with packing and marketing being undertaken by packhouses each of which handles the fruit for several growers. One co-operative packs for over sixty growers. This is a typical illustration of how orcharding practices are constantly changing.



The morning of 3 February 1931 was fine and calm. Dad and I were spraying with Joe Higgins sitting on the spray outfit driving the two horses which hauled it. It was eleven o’clock. The spray tank containing 1800 litres (2 tonnes) had just been refilled and we had begun spraying again when, without warning the violent earth movement began, throwing the horses from side to side in a frenzy. At the same time there was a subterranean roar which added terror to the scene, lasting a full half-minute. We calmed and unharnessed the horses, then ran to the house about 200 metres distant to find everybody safe. The chimneys were shaken to the ground and in the packing shed, the entire contents were strewn on the floor.

Anxious to see the extent of the damage elsewhere we mounted the orchard runabout, drove to the village where the whole community were outside their houses in a state of wonderment. Brick chimneys had collapsed leaving holes in roofs and shattering ceilings. The only brick building in the centre of Havelock had also collapsed. The bridge on the Hastings road was down and people who worked in Hastings were making their way home with accounts of widespread destruction of brick buildings in the town, with the attendant injury and the loss of the lives of many people. This quake was of far greater severity than anything experienced in this district within living memory. For days afterwards there were smaller earthquakes with different movements, some sideways others up and down, but all rather terrifying.

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Transport to and from Hawkes Bay was disrupted. Railway lines buckled and roads were impassible.  Harvested fruit ready for the markets could not be dispatched so was given to whoever wanted it and though picking was continued, much was given away until transport out of the district was resumed.  At Fairview we carried on without a great deal of interruption, restoring order out of chaos in the packing shed, and clearing up rubble from the chimneys, which were located on the outside wall of the house. Cooking had to be done outside until the chimneys were restored two months later, but otherwise our mode of living was markedly unchanged. Fruit harvesting and marketing reverted to normal within a week.


Unusually heavy rain had fallen in the winter of 1945 when high wind blew over many mature tries in the softened earth. To save them they were stood up and wired to heavy wooden stakes which gave them stability.

What was named the Wahine storm took it’s toll by blowing fruit off the trees in Easter 1968. The gale, accompanied by heavy rain travelled south through the Bay of Plenty, down the East coast, eroding hillsides, wrecking shelter belts of trees and devastating buildings, then through Wellington blowing the S.S. Wahine onto Barrett’s Reef at the mouth of the Wellington harbour.

It hit Fairview during the night, breaking large branches off brittle macrocarpa trees which formed part of the plantation bordering our property. Morning light revealed the wreckage of one such tree, which brushed our house, whose top had been completely twisted off. At this time the orchard was grassed and the ground soft with the heavy rain. We picked up most of the Granny Smiths which we sold throughout the winter.


Hail, too was a danger which hit us from time to time. Hail storms are usually of short duration, but can do a lot of damage leaving the fruit partly, sometimes totally unsaleable. In recent years autumn hail storms have become more frequent causing widespread damage to apple crops. Hail insurance has been taken out by many growers but could become too costly if storms become more frequent.


Because it is slightly elevated, Fairview had not often been subject to severe frosts in

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springtime. However there is always that possibility. October 1949, the year we took over Fairview was one such occasion when our plum crop was almost completely destroyed dealing us with a loss which we could ill afford. Thereafter I procured about 2000 firepots which we filled with used engine oil and which each spring, before the trees came into blossom, we distributed around the orchard. Thermometers were placed at strategic points and on frosty nights when temperatures reached danger levels we would systematically light the pots to raise the temperature. Smoke from the oil polluted the atmosphere. Nowadays firepots have been superseded by wind machines which draw down warmer air from higher levels. Instead of oil pollution, we now have noise pollution. In today’s money, one wind machine costs about $50,000 and effectively protects about four hectares.

All farming has it’s cycles of profits and losses and it is generally accepted that overall success or failure must be gauged over a period of at least ten years. The winning formula is to maintain the highest possible productivity of clean fruit at all times. Fruitgrowing well conducted is a satisfying way of life. It requires constant work and a very high level of management skills in order to succeed.


For many years housing development in Havelock North has extended towards Fairview. When we sold in 1970 it was obvious that our land would someday be incorporated in the residential area. My guess was probably 25 years hence. In 1994 a housing plan to include Fairview has been prepared by the Hastings District Council. By the year 2000 this land which has been growing fruit for a hundred years will have become part of the Havelock North urban area.

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Other surnames in this booklet –
Cato, Cattell, Dewar, Ferrier, Few, Monkley, Moore, Pettit, Ullrich

Format of the original


Date published



  • Bernard Chambers
  • Wayne Dobson
  • Bert Elborn
  • Dudley Fickling
  • James (Jim) Fickling
  • John Fickling
  • John (Jack) Fickling
  • Dorothy, Kaye, Ken, Murray, Noel, Sam, Susie Fickling
  • Evelyn Fickling, nee Dewar
  • Lavinia (Dolly) Fickling, nee Eldershaw
  • Irene Fickling, nee Hermanns
  • Sarah Fickling, nee Moore
  • Ruby Fickling, nee Speight
  • Joe Higgins
  • Mary Ann (Polly) Howse
  • Harry and Pia Koenders
  • Henry Marshall
  • John Moorcock
  • Caroline Moorcock, nee Moore
  • George Pickering
  • Jessie Read
  • Jill and Kevin Rose
  • Eva Sawyer
  • Artie Slade
  • Anna Ashley, Hamish and Paula Windelev
  • Joy Windelev, nee Fickling

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