Newspaper Article 2007 – Elsie was mother, friend and homemaker

Elsie was mother, friend and homemaker

The mother of an All Black and grandmother to a politician was this week farewelled in Napier. MANDY SMITH reports



Elsie Maud Tremain, of Taradale, was never much one for sport or politics.

So it was with some surprise that she produced both an All Black, son Kelvin Tremain, and an MP, grandson Chris Tremain.

“Initially, Mum didn’t know one end of the field from another,” son Graeme Tremain said.

“It was Dad who loved his sport and always dreamed he’d have an All Black son.

“She was not a mother who ran up and down the sidelines but eventually she got acquainted with the game.”

Born in south London in 1905, Elsie received a good education, excelling at piano and elocution, but was considered a “delicate” child because of her father’s premature death from tuberculosis. In 1922 Elsie, aged 17, immigrated to New Zealand with her mother, stepfather and two siblings following a short stint in the then “wild and woolly’ Toronto, Canada.

Here she put her shorthand typing training in London to use, working at New Zealand’s oldest newspaper, the Wanganui Chronicle.

The family then moved to Auckland, where Elsie met her husband Bert.

Following their marriage, the couple built a house in town.

However, it was 1930 and the depression had hit hard. Bert lost his job, and eventually the couple was forced to sell their property.

“I think she always carried the pain of losing that house,” Graeme said.

“She loved that house, it was their nest egg and she was instrumental in having it built.”

The couple moved into rental accommodation in Northcote, which they eventually bought to raise their sons Graeme, Kelvin and Ian.

Ian was born disabled, and spent his early years in care facilities which, Graeme said, caused Elsie considerable stress.

At home, Elsie was a disciplinarian, a firm believer that children should be seen and not heard.

But in the public arena, she was an active woman – a Cancer Society volunteer and talented actress with the amateur dramatics society.

Following her husband’s death, Elsie moved to Taradale in 1987 to be closer to family.

A strong-willed and independent woman who “liked nothing better than going to a party or out to lunch with the girls”, she continued to make good friends in her new home.

“I think that’s how she’d like to be remembered,” Graeme said. “As a mother, homemaker and friend.”

Elsie died peacefully on January 9, 21 days shy of her 102nd birthday.

She is survived by her son Graeme, 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Photo caption – INDEPENDENT: Elsie Maud Tremain

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Newspaper article

Date published

12 January 2007

Creator / Author

  • Mandy Smith


Hawke's Bay Today


Published with permission of Hawke's Bay Today

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