Graphic description of pioneer living
ONWARDS FROM AN ISLAND
by Frederick Ward, 133 pages, published by Cosmos Publications, Napier $29.95. Reviewed by Sue Thomas.
Hastings author Frederick Ward’s daughter picked up her father’s book Onwards From An Island and couldn’t put it down until she had read every word.”
Although she knew much about her father’s life, she found reading it in its content really interesting and Fred’s wife who also enjoyed the novel. [HB Knowledge Bank note – this title is non-fiction, NOT a novel]
Onwards From An Island is a novel legacy which gives a graphic description of how a boy from an early New Zealand pioneer family struggled from primitive beginnings on Forsyth Island in Marlborough Sounds to a comfortable retirement in Hawke’s Bay.
Among Frederick’s many challenges was arriving in Hastings in 1947, where together with his brother’s the pair broke in a block of land at Waiwhare Station, 50 kilometres from Hastings up the Taihape road. [HB Knowledge Bank note – there were four brothers]
Frederick decided to write the book as a novel legacy for future generations of his family.
He believes his story reflects a lifetime where his family had little but made the most of what they did have.
“They were happy days. We made our own entertainment. Those were the days you could ride your bike to work and know it would still be there when you went to get it afterwards.’
Frederick said he got tired of asking people to type much of the 60,000-word novel so he learnt to type himself. A family member helped put the work on to computer.
Ian Thomson of Cosmo Publications said Onwards From An Island was a record of a “life well lived.” It is an enjoyable account of a young boy growing up. Often one reads the words “we were still learning.
It is also very humorous. Some of our proof readers and myself couldn’t help laughing at certain parts of the book,” said Thomson.
Frederick says of his arrival in Hastings…
“When we first settled in Waiwhare, it was still a fairly isolated area. There was no electricity, telephones were wind-the-handle on privately-owned lines, mail was delivered only twice a week and a slow, winding metal road was the only way to get to the property (4000 acres).
At the time the only means of transport for the four of us was Bernard’s 1927 model Chevrolet tourer which he had used while mustering in Marlborough.
Little or nothing had been done to renew or maintain the pastures before our arrival. Many paddocks were in heavy scrub. Some noxious plants such as blackberry and gorse were showing and on top of this, the rabbits were there in their thousands, with a mass of warrens in every paddock. It seemed to us that every noxious week [weed] inspector in Hawke’s Bay had been waiting the arrival of the new owners – and down they swooped. ”
Six of the Ward brothers including Frederick and their father (also Frederick) served at war. Frederick junior entered camp for Military service when the Third Echelon was already in camp.
“I remember thinking, “All these blokes, so few of them known to me. There is so much to be done and for many of us, five years plus would pass before we again became civilians.
“After another three months at Harewood I was recalled to Army Camp and not long after that found myself posted for overseas service and due to sail with the Sixth Reinforcements.
We had our final leave and sailed from Wellington on the Aquitania for Egypt. Our arrival there was not long after the debacle of Greece and Crete and I remember that the odd bloke would show up in camp having somehow or other made his way back from Crete. Three months after my arrival in Egypt my brother Bernard arrived in camp at Maadi.”
Frederick says he would never have missed the opportunity to serve in the war for anything.
“It certainly makes one appreciate living in a peaceful country. I would never like to see war happen again.”
Photo caption – Hastings author Frederick Ward developed a run-down hill country farm in Hawke’s Bay in the days when rabbits ran riot, scrub was everywhere and topdressing was carried out by hand.