11th March 2016
HORNER FAMILY AND THE FLOOD EFFECTS OF 1924.
My Father, Frederic Robert Tatham Horner, known as Eric, would in his later life, never buy a farm. He did have the opportunity a couple of times, but he had angina from the age of twenty-nine and died at sixty- seven. He felt it would be too much of a risk to borrow any capital. In 1924, at twenty-four years of age, he was working with his Father on a farm at Devil’s Elbow down a side road just up the top of the hill above the holding paddocks for sheep at the bottom of the gorge. The family had previously had a farm at Motu and the children had gone for a period of time to the Motu School. My Grandfather, Frederic Thomas Horner had become a friend of Guthrie Smith, from Tutira, who told him about the property for sale just above the Devil’s Elbow so he had sold the Motu Farm and bought the one by Devil’s Elbow. I do not know what it was called. I did see the farmhouse about twice in the 1940s but did not go into it at all. I could see, from the road, it had a veranda on the front but that was about all. It didn’t look very prosperous. Dad just went to look and not to go in at all.
My Grandfather had been to the market in Napier and had bought 3,000 (three thousand) head of sheep to stock the farm. Dad, Eric, was to drive them home. They travelled well the first day and Dad had them in two stock paddocks down at the bottom when a huge twelve to fourteen inch flood came down the Esk river and drowned all but about 20 head of them. There had been showers predicted but not a huge amount. The worst of it was that the sheep had gone into the holding paddocks reasonably early in the afternoon so they weren’t too tired and the showers turned into the flood. The drover with him had not stayed and so Dad had to cope with all the aftermath of the complete disaster and Grandfather, Frederic, went into Napier hospital with a heart attack. The only recompense they got was very meagre from the sale of some of the wool and a flood relief fund. Frederic died back in Napier Hospital 1st October 1926.
Erica Tenquist (nee Horner)