STAN SMALL LOOKS BACK
Carts and traps, and gigs wouldn’t mean much to children today – but team them up with a horse and you have the stuff that memories are made of for Stan Small. Stan was born in 1906 in the family homestead on a property just before the Maraetotara bridge. The property consisted of 1558 acres and was bounded by the top of the Craggy Range and down to the Maraetotara Stream.
Stan recalls the bumpy trips over shingles roads in the horse and cart, and remembers the dreadful trip from Hastings to Taupo.
“lt seemed to take forever – and we needed lots of stops.”
Stan now lives with his wife Joan in Hastings, and has been off the farm for 20 years. After his parents died Stan and his brothers ran the farm as an estate, but then had to sell it. The old homestead is no longer there, but Stan recalls many humourous incidents as a younster [youngster] on the farm.
“I has [had] three brothers and two sisters, and three of the boys were quite close in age. When we were around eight, seven and five years old my father decided we needed a bit of an education so he got us a governess. He converted a shed where the traps were kept into a schoolroom and during the day when the sun streamed in the window, the governess would fall asleep. So off the boys would go – we’d go bird nesting and eeling. Well, it turned out that the governess had something going with the young shepherd on the property and he was keeping her up late at night – that’s why she was falling asleep!‘
Stan says after about three governesses, something happened that meant the family had to move into town.
“My father lost all faith in farm schooling and decided we all needed a proper education when upon being told that my grandfather had passed away, I asked ‘so who will skin him?’ that was the end for my father – he said we needed to get off the farm and go to school!”
The family moved into Hastings and lived on two or three acres on the corner of Pepper Street, and what is now Francis Hicks Avenue. (In those days it was called Joll Road). The site is now occupied by the Rose Haven Rest Home. Stan went to Hastings West School and then on to Hastings High School.
The family used to spend school holidays at the farm and Stan says a highlight was making friends with the men who were carting shingle to build the Makopeka [Mokopeka] Dam.
“They used to let us get up and drive the horse and drays with them.”
Stan also became friendly with the drovers who used to stay in the shearer’s quarters on the farm.
Stan says they were fun days – they learnt to swim in the Mareatotara [Maraetotara] River, they had ponies to ride and would swim at Ocean Beach.
When Stan left school he returned to work on the farm. Farming was hard work in those days, with none of the technological aids that farmers have today. Stan and his brothers were good at entertaining themselves, and Stan recalls making a one valve radio set.
“We heard Kingsford Smith taking off from the Mascot aerodrome in his Fokker tri-plane.”
Stan’s friend had a more sophisticated radio set, and he was able to let Stan know when Kingsford Smith had reached his destination.
In the late 1920’s Stan became the proud owner of a Model-T Ford – bought for around 200 pounds from Johnny Peach’s garage in Karamu Road, between Eastbourne and Heretaunga Streets.
Stan’s wife Joan recounts a tale about his car. “Stan had a wishbone hanging on the front of his car and someone asked his friend one day why the wish bone was there. The friend replied ‘because once you’re in this car, you wish to God you could get out!”
Stan remembers how the old village used to look in Havelock North, and says he used to drive stock through the village centre to get to Pukahu out on Te Aute Road.
“Once, I was driving 300 odd shorn wethers through the village when some of them went into the Chemist shop. The chemist was outside talking to the electrician and he started to panic.”
Stan told him to stay still or they’d be a dreadful mess – and sure enough out trotted the sheep and nothing in the shop was damaged!
The day the Napier earthquake struck, Stan and his brothers were at the farm. First they heard the rumbling noise, and then then [the] shaking started.
“We were out at the woolshed and the housekeeper came out and told us that Napier and Hastings had been wiped off the map!”
The chimneys at the homestead came down and all the preserves in the pantry crashed to the ﬂoor. Stan had to make endless trips with the wheelbarrow to get rid of the mess.
All communications were cut off, and so it was evening before Stan could get into Hastings to check on his parents. In 1993 Stan was named Hawke’s Bay heaveyweight wrestling champion and still has the cup to show for its, along with numerous other cups for various endeavours.
Stan and Jean’s [Joan’s] children attended Havelock North Primary School, and like Stan before them, were baptised at St Lukes.
Stan’s memories of growing up in the Hawkes Bay are still very fresh, and while he’s happily settled into the townies way of life now, the young boy who grew up on the farm at Mareatotara is still very much there.
Photo caption – Stan Small