Centenarian reveals secret
One of Hawke’s Bay’s pioneer women, whose full life has seen extremes of comfort and hardship, Beatrice Heays, turns 100 tomorrow.
Mrs Heays is well known for her farm garden at Te Rangi, her needle craft and tapestries that adorn many hospital walls, her memoirs written in the 1970s, and her unfailing bright outlook.
“My father had a favourite toast – ‘may the devil always chase ye but never overtake ye’. ”
Keeping one jump ahead of him and living by a strong faith are her recipe for longevity, even if “the world is in rotten shape because it’s given up God.”
“Civilisation seems to have taken two steps backward.” Although she can not walk – her legs got to 100 before her brain says a friend – Mrs Heays listens to the news every day.
“The world’s only hope is the second coming of Christ,” she said.
The Gracelands resident of six years was brought up in Queensland and sent to an exclusive school, Armidale, to be “ﬁnished” before marrying in New Zealand.
Mrs Heays’s wedding to Bob Heays in Auckland nearly did not happen. Although she was 21 years old in 1917, she was considered a minor. They needed written permission for a marriage licence because her parents lived in Queensland.
“I refused to cancel our arrangements. The choir was giving us a choral wedding.”
Mr Heays had accepted a job shepherding on Galatea Station in the Ureweras and the newly weds made their way through Murupara in a horse and buggy to their ﬁrst home.
In that time, she often saw the prophet Rua and his many wives passing through the farm.
Won balloted land
The Heays later won balloted land on the Maungaharuru Range, one of ﬁve that were part of Guthrie Smith’s Tutira Station in 1918.
They had two children when they named it Te Rangi, camping in a rough tent with a mud ﬂoor and ﬂour bag and sack walls Their next move was into a lean-to whare.
There was no road to Wairoa then and stock often wandered to Te Pohue on the Napier-Taupo road.
“It was a come-down – I didn’t realise it would be so bad but I’m all the better for it. I was brought up with everything I wanted and it did me good,” she said.
Her home and garden legacy to her son are a far cry from those beginnings.
She has survived three sons – Ian was killed in the Second World War, Colin in a tractor accident in the 1950s, and Deryck died three years ago at 75.
Son Murray now runs Te Rangi, the only one of the ﬁve balloted farms still operating. Her daughter Patricia also lives in Hawke’s Bay also.
Photo captions –
Mrs Heays . . . looking forward to her telegram from the Queen, but glad “none of my boys” are like her’s.
An example of Mrs Heay’s tapestries