Jane Crosse Interview 2004


Interviewed by Hazel Riseborough

At Taradale 29 Feb 2004

I was born in Napier, in the house I suppose, where my father’s mother had lived and when Dad and Mum were first married they lived in a different house, the top of Seapoint? Road on Bluff Hill, and granny Wood, whom I never met, lived in Thomson Road, which was then to become my home for my childhood and granny’s husband was a William Wood, same as my father, and he was headmaster of Napier Boys’ High School, but died sadly very young, only 49 I think when he died. The Wood family, that was my grandparents, my father, who was William, Aunt May – became Mrs Hadfield, Aunt Kitty, Mrs Wallace, Uncle Cliff, who was really Wilf, Wilfred Wood, and Uncle Dick who was Dick Wood, known as Rakau, and he lived up in Hicks Bay. He was a dentist, but he was a farmer. Dad was a lawyer and lived in Napier, and mother had been born in Auckland and she used to come down to stay with the Catos? who lived at Poraite [Poraiti], I suppose, which eventually was part of the road that we travelled on to go to Patoka. She was there at the beginning of the First World War and had been invited to stay on as a governess/companion to the Cato girls. She was very fond of them and a great friend and I think the family were friends. I think Dad must have met her before the war, then he went away. He was not young when he went to the war, he was already 40.

My grandparents came from England They came because Uncle Cliff was a delicate child. I think he was second youngest in the family and the doctor had suggested they have a sea voyage, so they came to New Zealand! I know there are diaries which we haven’t got, which my grandfather wrote and kept and somewhere in the family these must be. The only story I know of the trip was that Uncle Dick, who was the next one up was a great favourite of the captain’s for a while on the boat and the captain was giving him a ride around the deck on his shoulders and Uncle Dick took the captain’s hat off his head and flung it out into the sea and said ‘Woops, overboard’.

Dad was born in 1876, the eldest of the family, and I think they lived in London. All these things Geoff knows, my brother, and I don’t really know, and when they first arrived in New Zealand they lived in Auckland, and I think my grandfather was teaching at King’s, but whether it was Little Kings? or King’s College, I don’t know. Then he was offered the job of headmaster of Napier Boys’ High School which was then up on the hill where the Girls’ High School is now, not in the position where the school is now. And Dad went into a law firm in Napier and then across to Wanganui, didn’t go to university – you didn’t have to then. I don’t know what the other people did. Uncle Cliff, the one who was benefiting by the sea voyage, became a permanent clerk at parliament, as far as I know all his working life, but he also served at the First World War and was at Gallipoli, then they were taken in their summer kit to Archangel. I don’t think Uncle Dick went away to war, I’m not sure about that. My father and Uncle Cliff went, and I don’t know why Uncle Dick didn’t, if that is right.

T – Uncle Cliff was decked out in summer kit so as to confuse the enemy and finished up in Murmansk!

– Aunt Kitty, who I think was the youngest, married Hugh Wallace who was a merchant seaman captain and at some stage during the war she was going to join him somewhere and she had two children and she was torpedoed – not herself but the ship she was on – but they survived that – and  one was a baby – Hugo, and his elder sister Joan. Geoffrey might know a bit more to all this. Aunt May married Ernest Hadfield who was a son of the bishop and lived in Wellington. And Aunt Kitty, when the Wallace’s finally settled down, lived in Wellington. Uncle Hugh was a big man and he always smoked a pipe, and he put his special pipe tobacco into a paper which was then formed into a ball and then put into the pipe. Similar to cigarette paper – it didn’t flame up. They all smoked pipes, all the Wood men, and there were always little bits of tobacco all over the floor all the time!

Anyway, I don’t remember very much of my childhood. I went to the Bluff Hill school which was only 4 or 5 minutes walk along the road from our house – which  was called Lancing? – after a military college in England where Geoff and I had always thought our grandfather attended or taught at, but Geoffrey has written to Lancing and they hadn’t any record of him, so I’m not sure why the place was called that. The little Bluff Hill school was owned by a Miss Beharold?, and we called her Polly – I don’t know if her name

was Polly Beharold – and it was a little old building which I think had been a little mission school, and sadly somebody who much later had taught at the school, bought the section and pulled the little building down and built a house. I suppose there is some record of that – whether it was a mission school. It was just a two-room little building. There might have been 40 children at it. I taught at it for a year before I went to do my Karitane training – just the infants. They taught me more than I was able to teach them. I used to take drill. I remember I was rather good at drill…

I don’t remember very much about my childhood, except that it must have been a very happy one. Well, I’m sure it was a very happy one and I suppose the happiest things about it is that I was able to wander free. I used to go and visit all my friends. I used to walk there, up on the hill. And I remember when I finally went to another school I could walk across to it – a little school called the Napier Collegiate School. I used to walk down to my dancing lessons in Napier and I used to walk to Girl Guide class or whatever you have, on Friday evening in Napier. A lot of this I’m beginning to get into the war time now, but nobody ever worried about you being out alone. It was just a matter of course. We used to walk home at night. Dad used to walk up for his lunch – I remember him twirling his cane. He always had a walking stick which he didn’t really need.

T – Where was the intermediate school?

– It was always where it is now.

T – On the top of the hill there?

– No, that was the Central School. Intermediate is down on the flat – I didn’t go there. I stayed at the Collegiate School for four years and then went to the Girls’ High School, which was up on the hill – where the Boys’ High School had been when my grandfather was headmaster.

So my life was lived up on the hill. One hill or another. We used to go to Taupo for holidays, or we had a beach cottage out at Te Awanga, and that’s where we were at the time of the earthquake. Mother and Dad were in town – Mother was having her hair done, Dad was at the office, Geoff was at the Central School as a new boy – either his very first day at school, or his second day, and every child and all the staff were out in the playground, and all the staff, at what was called play time at 11 o’clock, and the whole school collapsed and nobody was hurt, not a soul. So it was a miracle, really. Mum and Dad found each other, Dad had just given Mother – it was her birthday, 3 Feb and he had given her a car of her own, a Nash car, and she wasn’t allowed to drive it away, but she said she could have quite easily, and of course it was burnt in the end, it wasn’t shaken on. Anyway, she and Dad met up and they made their way along Marine Parade to try to get up onto the hospital hill where the Central School was, where Geoff was, and they met two little boys – one  was my brother Geoff and one was his great friend Michael Turnbull. Michael had said “We’d better get down and see my mother, or your father” – they were 9 and 9 1/2 and  Geoff said “No, I must get my new books”, and Michael said “No, Geoff, better your life than your books!” Anyway they somehow got down the hill and onto the Parade, which means they must have got through the worst part of the damaged Napier and they met Mother and Father trying to get along the Parade to come and look for them. So that was great, but I don’t remember that – we  were going for a walk – we had a darling? maid – I suppose she was a maid, called May Twaddle, and she had a few of us out walking while our parents weren’t around, because I wasn’t at school yet, and we were out at the cottage at Te Awanga, walking by the lagoon there – it’s  on the way to Cape Kidnappers. I don’t remember the ground shaking. I remember the water in the lagoon, boiling really. it wasn’t a big lagoon, and the fishermen of the area, and a man – he wasn’t the milkman… – called Nicky Burdon [Burden] – and I think you still have Burdon trips out to Kidnappers which his grandchildren now run, I think, and he always used to be cutting river mouths, or lagoon mouths out to sea so he could get his boat out, and the residents or visitors would fill them up again. Geoff would remember that much better than I – everyone used to get pretty wild with Nicky Burdon because he’d cut another mouth out to sea and drain the lagoon, which was fun to boat on. That lagoon boiling is the only thing I can remember about the earthquake – and  the other very strong thing I can remember is sleeping on a wool bale and my cousin Pat Wood, Uncle Dick’s son, who was tall and grown up and his feet stuck over the end of the wool bale – this is on a farm up in the hills above Te Awanga – it might have been Glennie’s? farm, I don’t remember. Everybody in the village was evacuated, moved up to higher ground, out of the way of a tsunami that never arrived. I can vaguely remember the tin town in Napier, which was the little shopping area that was built

after the earthquake before Napier was rebuilt. And I think it was in Clive Square and I think it was up Bray’s Bluff/Butt? – it went round a bit of a boardwalk, up a few steps to it. But that’s just a memory… I don’t remember the sea coming up to the sea wall. I can remember being taken walks by the same darling maid who became a family friend, May – and it must have been the winter – gaiters that used to make my legs itch. I suppose I looked pretty smart – gaiters and my hat with a velvet turn-up which I’d inherited from friends. They used to pass all their clothes on, and a beautiful little pink tweed coat, which also had a velvet collar, and the sound of the velvet collar poking against the turn-up brim of the velvet hat was as much as I could stand. And then my gaiters which were buttoned all the way down from the knee to the ankle and May would take me out for a walk and I’d be scratching my legs and bobbing up and down, and before we set out she used to tell me to lick her finger and then she would wipe the spit on my eyebrows to get them into the right shape. Apart from that, and going to dancing lessons – you  remember the dance, and Dad sent us both, Geoff and me to verse speaking, with May McDonald [Macdonald?] – the one who taught us dancing was Constance McDonald and she was known as Connie Mack, and May McDonald who was Mrs Dunne?, she was May Mack, or Miss May – for  elocution, because Dad could never hear a word we said, so he said. And he loved English, he was an English scholar and you couldn’t ever misspell a word because once he’s seen you couldn’t spell it, and it was a very bad thing to mispronounce it. Dad had a little book called Seven Thousand Words Commonly Mispronounced, and sometimes during the conversation with visitors he would get up and pull this book out and have a look at it and put it back and come back looking smug to his guests! He didn’t always correct them, just made sure he was right.

T – He was wonderful, Hazel.

– …. [After the earthquake] Mother and Geoff and I went up to Auckland because our chimneys were down – that was all. The chimneys and the jam were all that fell off the shelves. I don’t know why we went up to Auckland, except that the chimneys had to be repaired – or whether Dad felt that he was more use helping out without the family around. I don’t remember the time in Auckland. We went to Palmerston enough by train and I vaguely remember that.

When I was at the Napier Collegiate School – it only lasted four years, this school. It started off with a great bang – it had some boarders and Mrs Shirley Bicknell was the headmistress and the owner, and we had a very nice woman, Mrs Stranden?? I think her name was, we had Canon Neill who took us for Latin, we had Miss May who took us for elocution and speech, and we didn’t have Miss Mack, we had dancing teachers called Peter and Wendy, two women, and we had a Miss Renouff? [Renouf] who took us for art, and about 2 years later the school was still in place, but I think we only had Miss Bicknell there. She didn’t get on with the staff and I don’t suppose it was four very profitable years at all, but – there were some nice kids at the school and we had a happy time. It wasn’t a good grounding for high school – a good grounding in literature, she gave us that, and perhaps in French if we bothered, but as she was running the school and the boarding part of it, she’d have to dart out and peel the potatoes for the boarders… No, it was a bit of a disaster. Anyway, after four years it just folded up and that was that.

I got to High School in 1939. We had good staff – I don’t know if they were good teachers but I wasn’t disadvantaged by the earlier school. I was just lazy! I got a lot from home – always very strongly towards literature and acting. I don’t know how Mother coped during the war. She did everything. The Repertory must have been continuous through the war. She used to act a bit before, but then she did stage managing and the sets, she was at the patriotic rooms packing parcels, she was National Council of Women, Plunket – Dad said that was his war effort really, letting Mum do it all! She’d be up at 6 o’clock in the morning doing the ironing. And dear old May, who by this stage had got married, came back to us – perhaps at the beginning of the war three days a week and then it got down to one day a week. She could do everything Mother could do. Mother had taught her, and when she first came to us, and I was a baby, my father said she didn’t know anything about meat. She was only about 17, and he’d come home and say Hello May, how are you today, what are we having for dinner tonight? and she’d say Meat. What sort of meat? Meat. She didn’t know beef from lamb. They came from Scotland – they were a sweet family. Her mother and father were quite small, and as broad as – yes, in speech too! There was one called Mattie and one called Jean? and one called Alec, always known as Wee Alec, and one called Bob – and  I can remember all of them, but some had been left behind in Glasgow. They never came out and May never saw them again. She must have kept in touch – years later, Geoff and I used to go and visit her, I asked her and she was a bit vague

about them. I would say to her Did you have brothers and sisters in Scotland? – Oh yes, she knew she had, but she wasn’t going to tell you any more about them.

There was Jenny, pre May. I don’t remember Jenny, but Geoff does, very well, and Jenny was a really nice person, who was cook-cum help-cum everything. She must have gone away with Mum – perhaps she came to Auckland with us. Anyway, she hadn’t seen her fiance – they used to get engaged for years in those days. Anyway, he met the train when we got back from wherever we’d been – presumably it was Auckland, and there he was meeting her. She said Hello – we’ll see you Saturday night. She hadn’t seen him for months, but he had to wait till Saturday night when he came calling! So that became an expression – I’ll see you Saturday night.

We didn’t stay with out grandparents in Auckland because they were in England with mother’s sister. We just stayed with friends I don’t know where Geoff went to school after the earthquake – oh, he was nine – he must have gone to Huntly – he was quite young when he went there – and he went in the middle of the year. Yes. I just had the one brother, 3½ years older. I had four years at high school – and didn’t learn much, I don’t think. Dad let me leave, then I had this year teaching, trying to teach, then I went to Karitane. Dear little kids at that school – mostly from Bluff hill. You know how you have regions where most of the parents are at the same stage and their kids go to school, then they all go on and there’s nobody for a while. Margaret Flemming? [Fleming] – she came down to stay with somebody – she was a bit too much for her parents who were at Patoka, to cope with with so many little girls. She was a weekly – not  a boarder at school – she must have been boarding privately and she came to the little Bluff Hill school. She always had a tear drop in her eye, I remember that. Dad’s office, in the early days, was Ca. . .? [Carlile] McLean, Scannell and Wood – well, I suppose it wasn’t Wood to begin with, just Ca… McLean, and they were the senior partners. Mr Scannell was the Hastings partner, he wasn’t in the Napier firm, and the building was one of the few buildings that didn’t get knocked down by the earthquake, and wasn’t near the fire – which  did more damage than the quake. We were at the Cathedreal [Cathedral] the other night and they were talking about unsung heros. We heard quite a few stories about some of the escapes they had. Dad had a fund of lovely stories and a lot of them were to do with the Hawkes Bay Club of which he was secretary for a while I think, and I’d sometimes go and pick him up after I’d been to dancing and I’d go and press the brass button at the front door and there was a lovely barometer and I’d enjoy watching the little needle on the graph on a drum at the bottom, and then the steward would come and say Just a minute, I’ll go and get Mr Wood. Sometimes I’d be shown into the visitors’ room, which is now the ladies’ room – the  Hawkes Bay Club still exists, and they still don’t have female members, but you’re allowed into it now, to play bridge or have lunch. So I knew the club quite well, but Dad’s stories were mostly from the office and his senior partners, Mr Ca… and Mr McLean, and Mr Ca.. was a Scott, and so was Mr McLean, and they lived quite close to us on the Bluff hill and the only story I remember about that – we  used to go to afternoon tea sometimes, but I didn’t go on this particular occasion and Mrs McLean – he was Pat, and she was Aunty Pat, as far as I was concerned, and Aunty Pat had a little neice staying with her, come out from Scotland, and her accent was very broad, and a lot of ladies went to afternoon tea and Aunty Pat tried to get her to say that she was six and a half, but she said sax and a half, so one lady, who had been primed, said to her Now, whatever the child’s name was, how old are you? and the kid looked at her and said What Aunty Pat says that I say that I’m sax and a haff, but I don’t say sax and a haff, I say sax and a haff.

And one or two quick stories from the office – the Bishop had been in to see Mr McLean and they used to ride, of course, they didn’t have motor cars, this is in Dad’s early times at the office, and Mr McLeans’ office was on one side of the round foyer – it was quite an attractive building on the inside – and  Mr Carlisle??! [Carlile] !’s office was… – no, the typists were upstairs, but Dad’s office was always downstairs and so were the other partners – anyway Mr Carlisle had seen the Bishop arrived and he’d seen the Bishop leave, but he hadn’t seen the Bishop return to say something more to Mr McLean, so Mr Carlisle burst into the office and said Well, McLean, I see you’ve been entertaining the bowlegged son of the Lord’s annointed – and  he turned around and there was the Bishop standing beside him. So Dad said he quit the office and went for a ride for the rest of the day.

T – You can just see it all happening, can’t you – and the gaiters and the bow legs. This is in the 1800s, 1890 or something.

– Well, it could have been at the beginning of the century. And Rose? – yes, I don’t remember that story very well. Rose was a clerk in the office and his house caught fire, didn’t it, in Taradale – no he lived out in Greenmeadows – he’d ride in, and somebody rode over to tell him his house was on fire, and he didn’t believe him – was that what happened?

T – Yes, Rose thought ha ha, and didn’t take any notice, so the fellow was very agitated and went in to McClean – he was the most abrupt, was he? – no Carlisle – and said Sir, Mr Rose’s house is on fire and he won’t believe me, so Carlisle jumped up, stepped over to Rose and roared Rose you silly old devil, your house is on fire.

– And the other story about Rose – of course they had an outside privy and Mr Rose used to disappear frequently during the day down to the privy – to smoke. So I think one of them said to him one day Rose, you’ve been working for me for twenty years and six years of that time has been spent at the privy. These are the stories Geoff knows properly and I’ve only heard Dad only tell at dinner when we had visitors. One thing I do remember Geoff and I used to do. We had an old house, with quite a big hall, sitting room off one side, known as the drawing room, and the smoking room out the other side,
12 ft stud and it was jolly cold, but the smoking room was lovely, lined with books, and then you’d go out of the hall through a sort of arch and down a long long passage, and it was great for playing cricket in if you were a boy, and the dining room. And Mum and Dad used to entertain quite a lot and Geoff and I used to pile up cushions from an old cupboard in the hall, against the door. And we’d find out the time when they were going to be finished and when they would be coming out – we didn’t dine with them, no… Have they had their pudding yet [whisper]? They would know jolly well this was happening, all of them, and then the great consternation – they’d open the door and all the cushions would fall into the room. We must have done this dozens of times – we thought we were hillariously funny – and never dreamed they knew. Normally we ate with the family, but not at the dinner parties. It wasn’t that they had that many, but I do remember this.
It was a big kitchen, and then it had what was known as the maids’ quarters – a little sitting room and two little bedrooms – but mostly in my day the maids’ sitting room was the ironing room, one bedroom, because we perhaps did have one resident maid quite a lot of the time, and the other was a boxroom. May didn’t eat with us, I don’t think, but we probably ate with her.

T – You used to take meals-on-wheels to May, didn’t you? No? – Mattie? No?

– No, I just used to go and visit her.

T – And Jane you remember you had that beautiful oak Kelvinator refrigerator, a d [and] before that the ice man used to come…

– No, we didn’t have an ice box. The Kettles did – my great friends the Kettles had an ice box which was oak, and I suppose once a week the ice man came with the square of ice on his shoulder which he would put in, so the Kettles always had ice cream. But Mother and Dad go [got] a Kelvinator refrigerator and it was an enormous thing. This must have been pretty soon after the earthquake I think – and it used to go with us out to Te Awanga, to the beach, on Mahoney who was the carrier. He used to move us out to the beach – well, not every summer because we didn’t always go to Te Awanga, and this Kelvinator used to go with us and it made an awful noise, but it always went. Mother’s delicious pudding was caramel icecream, which she made for parties, and if I was lucky they wouldn’t eat it all and there’d be a little bit left. And she painted the refrigerator. It was oak framed and somebody – it had the motor underneath – and I think somebody must have put in a freezing compartment when we first got it so she could make icecream. When it went, when she eventually got a new one, they wanted it back – Kelvinator did. Perhaps they were the ones who painted it, which was a stupid thing to do. Anyway – we lost touch with it and didn’t know what happened to it. Nivens I think imported it – coolstore people.

The Mahoneys were one of those wonderful old firms – they still exist in Napier. Geoff went off to Huntly School at Marton with trunks and things and they used to come at the beginning of term and take the trunk down to the railway station – I suppose it wouldn’t fit in the car we had – and  they’d pick him up when he came home. Then he went on to Collegiate. I didn’t go to boarding school because Dad didn’t approve of boarding school for girls! I did become a weekly boarder for a while at Girls’ High School during the war because Mother was so busy with patriotic work – Yes, doing Dad’s war effort! And he was quite a lot older than Mum too, but he was quite fit. He went to the First World War, but he was already 40 – he was General Andrew Russell’s aide, but he wasn’t it for all the war, I think. He never ever talked to me, or to

anyone else that I heard, but he did talk to Geoff and the one story I heard him tell quite a few people, he was with the general and they were joined by an English general with his aide, and General Russell was a fatalist and he didn’t ever worry about his safety, or anyone else’s come to that, and on this particular day they walked up onto some little height to look at the battlefield almost, I suppose, and I think it was at Paschendale, but I don’t know that it was – Geoff would remember – and while they were standing there, these four men, a shell whistled over and the English general threw himself onto his face and so did his batman. Dad said he got down as low as he decently could without getting down onto his face, and his general stood looking up and then the two Englishmen got up and they were embarrassed to see General Russell on his feet, and General Russell said I think it was going the other way – and  the English general said What does it matter which way your head is blown off?

T – He was a little toughy, Sir Andrew Russell. He was in charge of the occupation force in Germany after the war and Father, although he was 20 younger than Willy Wood, was part of that occupation force and we have a picture of them both in this occupation force with General Russell. And yet they were wonderful friends, but Father was born in 1896 and Willy was 20 years his senior.

– Yes, a lot of my father’s friends have been his father’s friends, and they were a bit older than he, and then he became a friend of his friends’ sons.

T – He was a wonderful man, Willy.

– They had a good life. They lost a lot of money through one of his clients in the Slump, and not only just in the Slump. I don’t know a lot about that but I do know he lost a lot of money and times were quite difficult. I even know the name of the man who lost him his money, and whom we continue to call Sir!

T – Jane, do you remember Willy as a lawyer had a bit to do with the magistrates, and a lot of the magistrates were pretty ordinary. Do you remember old Harlow? – really very ordinary – but they were always Sir and Willy was twice the man that they were.

– He was twice their age too! They gave Dad a dinner. I get a bit confused about this – I said the other night it was for his 80th birthday and he was still practicing – but I think it was on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his admission to the Bar. They gave him this big dinner, and he made very good speeches, Dad, really really very good and he used to drink a bit too – not a lot. And yet looking back now, it was probably the war…

Side 2

…they had all the courses, you see, at the Hawkes Bay Club and I suppose they had other speeches and apparently some of the staff were standing behind the screen when they weren’t rushing around serving and waiting, listening to the speeches, and finally Dad made his speech – we have a copy of it somewhere, I think, which was very good, he delivered it awfully well. He used to walk around on the lawn before he made a speech… anyway he made his speech and then he drank all his drinks, and this magistrate, Mr Harlow brought him home, swaying quite noticeably and Mr Harlow got him through the door and Mother and I were there and Dad said Not a word from you two!

T – He was wonderful. Oh, yes, I remember him. Because our families were so closely involved I have a picture of me and Jane together in 1938 – so we’ve known each other for a while. I’d see Willy, and Willy and Gwen? would come up and stay with us at Patoka.

– They were both alive for the birth of all our children, which were all pretty close to each other, but the kids sadly don’t remember them really.

T – Willy died in 1961…

– No that was Mum. No, she didn’t die first – Dad did. He died the year Christopher was born – oh, beg your pardon – that was ’61. Sorry – yes, yes, yes

T – My father got gassed in the First War, and cancer gathered him up in 1962 when he was only 66, so the two grandfathers both went within a year.

– William and Sarah vaguely remember because Dad told them lovely stories…

T – Awful stories!

– …all about eagles that took children from the ground and popped them up in eagles’ nests – and I think William vaguely used to remember that but the two younger boys didn’t. Mother lived another fourteen or fifteen years after Dad died. She went on living in Napier. Dad and Mother built on the lawn of the old house and

the house was sold and now was sold three times I think, even while Mother was still alive. And the last inhabitants sold it a few years ago to an Australian woman who moved it in five pieces – it  was just a bungalow, but it was a big house – and went out on H’way 50, and it was dumped down and nothing happened to it for ages, but I think it looks as if somebody might be caring about it now. It had lovely outhouses – we had a washhouse which was separate, and then we had a strip, down the back path, of toolshed, an apple shed, a glass? shed, there might have been two or three little sheds – storerooms, that we [were] all part of it, and then the garage that went in behind. And somebody had lived in the garage, called Gypsy Meg, that Geoff, I suppose, had made up and I wouldn’t ever go into the garage at night. Go and get something – go on Jane – No, I won’t – Gypsy Meg will be there. All those outhouses went – I think the washhouse is intact but I think… Oh, yes, the children know where it is – just beside the road really and two or three old houses were moved into that area… Just before you get to Taite? Road, just below the level of H’way 50, but you can see it and it still looks quite the same, but they spoilt it. It used to have a nice verandah that went round two sides of it, one of them looked out to sea, but they’ve filled in one end with glass and – well it’s a long story what they did inside the house – while it was still on the hill. But the nice story about Geoff – we had a dear old gardener, just known as G? – Mr.  G., I suppose, and Geoff and he must have had a brush-up about something, ’cause Geoff used to go and potter around in the garden – this is before I can remember them. In due course Geoff went in to have his tonsils out and G came up to Dad and said Mr Wood, I can’t find my spade or rake or the hoe and Dad said Well I haven’t used them G. Well, perhaps Geoff knows where they are, said G. So that night Dad went in to see Geoff in hospital, who cdn’t speak because of the tonsils, so he said G can’t find his tools, Geoff, do you know where they are. Oh, no, he didn’t know where they were, so Dad went again the following night to see his little son – Dad  [in a hoarse whisper], I dreamed a dream last night – I  think I saw G’s tools underneath the macrocarpa tree!

Mother’s cousin, the one who has just been staying with us, is an architect and she designed a very nice house [when we subdivided the section]. It wasn’t too small and it still left a bit of land round the old house – yes enough for it still to be comfortable because they had quite a big back yard and this lovely sea view. This was before Dad died, before we were married in fact – 1953? 1952? and Mother lived there until she died. She spent the last two months with us at Patoka. Both our mothers died at Patoka, which was nice for them – your [Tom’s] mother firmly in her own house.

T – Yes, mother died in her own bed at home at Patoka and she was 84 – 83 – and had been driving herself up and down the road until within a few months. What a way to go.

– She’d driven to town the week before she died. She was going to the dentist and she said It felt a bit funny going upstairs – you had to go upstairs to the dentist – so I sat down on them for a while and then I was alright and I went on up.

T – Wonderful way to go.

– And my mother drove – she never had her own car again after the earthquake. Well, of course she did in the end, but they were never a two-car family again.

T – Things were pretty tough around the earthquake time, the middle of the Slump, and a professional people, a lot of them didn’t get their bills paid.

– Dad used to be paid very often in stock – a couple of quail or a pheasant, eggs – but country people were always very generous. They always gave them something at Christmas time anyway in the way of food. Not that we were hungry for food, but that was a present. Instead of giving money they would give produce.

H – I lived with a lawyer’s family in Italy in 1961 and he was often paid in kind – a rabbit, a live rabbit, a live chook. They always came live. Well, what did they die of? if they brought them dead, you see!

– New Zealand children of my age, our age, I think there were very few of them that didn’t get onto a farm for holidays.

T – There was always an aunty or someone around on a farm. And I think it was a great bond between the town and the country.

– Yes, I remember farms from my young days – not just the ones at Te Awanga where we’d go visiting, we used to go up to Wairoa quite often to friends, the Glendinnings. And darling Aunty Mabel Glendinning used to cure her own bacon, and it was absolutely terrible! Rancid, salt, awful – and  Mother was always given her breakfast in bed and she used to wrap up the bacon in a bit of paper and hide it and get rid of it during the day somewhere! But apart from that it was – I can remember getting stuck in the cow bail in my

gumboots and screaming and yelling. Geoff and I were there on our own without Mum and Dad that time and the cows were coming into the bail and there was I got stuck, couldn’t get out, so the nice cowman lifted me out and left my boots in the mud…

[continuing the conversation at Taradale on 9 March 2004 -with Catherine Downes – ( to her transcript)

Original digital file


Non-commercial use

Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ)

This work is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand (CC BY-NC 3.0 NZ).


Commercial Use

Please contact us for information about using this material commercially.


Other surnames in this interview –

Carlile, Cato, Harlow, Kettle, Mahoney, Scannell

Format of the original

Typed document

Creator / Author

  • Hazel Riseborough


  • Polly Berharold
  • Mrs Shirley Bicknell
  • Nicky Burden
  • Jane Crosse, nee Wood
  • Tom Crosse
  • William, Sarah and Christopher Crosse
  • May Dunn/McDonald
  • Margaret Fleming
  • Mabel Glendinning
  • May and Ernest Hadfield
  • Constance McDonald
  • Pat McLean
  • Canon Neil
  • Miss Renouf
  • Sir Andrew Russell
  • Mrs Stranden
  • Michael Turnbull
  • May Twaddle
  • Hugh, Kitty, Hugo and Jean Wallace
  • Cliff Wood
  • Dick Wood
  • Geoffrey Wood
  • Wilfred Wood
  • William Wood

Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.