Submitted by Jill Downer.

I am very proud of my heritage. My Father was the only son (with six sisters) born to Rebecca and William White who had a farm in what is now called Links Road, Pakowhai. He worked on the farm all his life and had little education.

My Mother was brought up in Dunedin and educated at Teachers Training College and Otago University and she came to Hawke’s Bay because her only sister married and moved to Taradale. She taught at Pakowhai School where she taught some of my fathers sisters. They married and lived on the farm with Dad’s parents and sisters. As the children came along very quickly they had to move to rental properties around Pakowhai so dad could still work at the farm.

However the 30’s Depression caused financial problems and they now had 5 children of which I was the youngest. The Government in 1933 was trying to house young families and my parents were given a 99 year lease on a Settlement located on Karamu Creek. This area is now called Farmlet Road (off St Georges Road North). It was 8 or 9 acres. Of course they had to build a house. At first we lived in a tent until the house was finished. Dad was able to get work at the Whakatu Works which was essential as they had no money to develop the place. He got up very early and milked the two or three cows and then biked to Whakatu. When he got home he again milked the cows and tended to any crop that he had managed to grow.

I was the youngest and 5th at that time – 6 months old. The oldest was six. Of course they didn’t stop there and continued on to have nine children and the youngest was born on the second child’s 17th birthday. My Mother was expert at everything except farm work and not getting pregnant. She was a wonderful seamstress and we were the best dressed and fed children in Karamu Settlement. She always entered cooking, sewing and smocking at the annual A & P Show and most often took the prizes. Every Spring Show the four boys had new white shirts made from old shirts and shorts made from the legs of old trousers and lined with old flour bags. The five girls all had a new beautifully smocked frock. She often biked into Roach’s to sell butter she made for extra cash. If anyone was in need she was always there to help.

We walked to Mangateretere School and to Parkvale School and also walked 1.8 miles to catch a bus to Hastings High School.

Mum died at 95 and Dad was 81.

Recently my oldest sister Bev and her husband Derek celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary. The opportunity was taken to have a group photo of the nine siblings who are all still alive and in reasonable health, plus all wives/husbands are alive as well. It was a great thrill to get together and have this photo taken by my husband Bruce in the presence of numerous younger members. We are all close and have had a wonderful upbringing with as much education our individual intellects could cope with.

It has been great to have had and still have my wonderful brothers and sisters all living so close now. ‘Some of us have lived out of Hawke’s Bay, but for quite some time now we have all been living in the Bay. What a great family to be part of.

(Prepared February 2011)

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February 2011


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