Powell Family Book

Chapter 1.1

Written by Ina Powell



Arrival in New Zealand

On the 15th November 1859 my grandfather, William Powell married my grandmother, Emma Thomas in the parish church of Hansworth, Stafford, England. It’s the earliest history we have of Dad’s side of the family. As far as we can gather, Grandfather Powell worked in a glass blowing factory in Staffordshire.

In 1885 the family emigrated to New Zealand in a sailing ship with their five children, Mary, Joseph, Herbert, Harriet and Elizabeth. At that stage two of the sons had died in England. The family arrived at the Port of Napier and went to Pukehou in a bullock wagon. Our father, Howard, was the only one born in New Zealand. There was no school in Pukehou, so the children had to walk to school in Kaikoura [Kaikora] (Otane). The classes went to Standard Seven.

After a few years Aunt Mary, the oldest, married John Gibb. It seems John Gibb was a guard on the train running between Napier and Wellington. They had a family of five – our cousins – Ella, Walter, Allie, Elsie and Gordon. We know little about their early history. Aunt Mary died young and the family then moved to Dannevirke. Ella the oldest, mothered the family while they were being educated. Our cousin Elsie lived with us for awhile. Gordon was one cousin who worked with my father in the building trade until he volunteered for service in World War I. Walter was called up at the same time returning home at the end of the War, but Gordon was killed in action. That was a sad day for us as Gordon was like a brother to us and was so full of life.

Our Aunt Harriet married Neils Pedersen who had come from Denmark. Grandma Powell and family had attended the Anglican church for many years while in England so they were married in a little Anglican church in Pukehou over a hundred years ago and the church is still standing today. Uncle Neils ran a very successful bakery in Kaikoura [Kaikora] for many years, but later they went farming in a remote area out of Ormondville. Uncle had a very large dairy herd and everyone in the family learned to milk by hand. They had five children (runs in fives, doesn’t it !) – Chris, Ivan, Nettie, Howard and Eric. Their only transport was a horse and a buggy for five, a two seater gig and horseback. For many years they went to church at the little Gospel Hall in Norsewood with the Nichollison [Nikolason] and Tweedie families and others. Our cousin Chris Pedersen also worked with Dad in the building trade along with our cousin Gordon Gibb. Then Chris was called up for service in World War I as well. He later returned and married Jenny Stevens.

Uncle Joe Powell married Annie Barbara McEwen [McEwan] before the turn of the century. I well remember travelling to Petone by train when I was quite young. We stayed in the family home in Tory Street. At the time that Dad and I were with them the family were all married or away with the exception of Isia who worked in a local book shop. Aunt Annie’s elderly mother, Mrs McEwan Senior, stayed with them quite a lot. Uncle Joe was a very kindly old gentleman with a hearing problem. He used a hearing trumpet. When someone was talking to him he would put the smaller end to his ear with the person speaking into the wider end. As the house in Tory Street was by the sea he used to take a dip in the briny every morning. He continued this early morning dip for most of his life. At the time we visited him he was Secretary for the Petone Meatworks Company. He and his family attended the little Gospel Hall in Petone.

We didn’t visit Uncle Bert Powell as originally he lived in the Nelson District. He was a

Chapter 1.2

builder by trade and married Grace Harrison. Her father, Mr Mark Harrison was a well known evangelist with the Open Brethren. Uncle Bert and Aunty Grace had two children, Stanley and Myrtle. Myrtle was born on the eleventh of November, 1907. We twins were born a month later and when Dad wrote to Uncle Bert he told him that they were calling the twins Una and Myrtle. A reply was soon mailed back to Dad saying that there couldn’t be two Myrtle Powells in the family so my name on the register was changed to Ina Emma. Later the Bert Powell family shifted up to Otane and Uncle Bert worked with Dad. He also built himself a big home on The Terrace. Grace’s parents, Mr and Mrs Mark Harrison came up to live with them. It was when Muriel our sister was ill with double pneumonia that Mark Harrison came, anointed her with oil and prayed over her. The family eventually moved again to Ormondville and Uncle Bert set up as a funeral director in the district.

The Family Home in Kaikoura [Kaikora] (Otane) 1890

The old home that the family moved into from Pukehou just before the turn of the century, was a large wooden house which had many unusual features about it. Grandma Powell and Aunty Elizabeth were to live there until they died.

At the front, part of the verandah was incorporated into Grandma’s bedroom. An unusual feature that intrigued us children, was Grandma’s four-poster bed with its nicely turned and varnished corner posts. Along side the four-poster bed was a large chest of drawers. These were rather cumbersome pieces of furniture that seemed very popular in those days. There was another set of similar drawers in the front room. The guest-room also had a wooden washstand with a large china bowl and jug, a soap container and underneath were two large china chambers. The beds in the other rooms were of wrought iron, painted black with little embellishment of brass on them.

In the smaller withdrawing room, up the front of the house, was an upholstered couch with a back rest and a sheepskin rug on it. We believe that this is where we twins had our first photograph taken at eleven months old. Also in the room was a beautifully polished oval table and five dining chairs which Una has kept. In addition there was a beautifully framed mirror over the mantel which had displayed on it some lovely coloured glass ornaments. These were no doubt brought by the family from Staffordshire where Grandfather had worked in a glass blowing factory. Other furniture in the house were Grandma’s several rocking chairs and in the long dining room, several strong, cane, dining chairs.

Carpets were very hard to get and very expensive too. Grandma made quite a number of the floor coverings with smaller pieces of woollen material which were deftly pulled through a hessian backing. In the long dining room the floor was covered with linoleum in an unusual design together with several of Grandma’s famous floor rugs. The long dining table had a red and black fringed table cover to protect it. This room also contained an old organ with a high wooden back and ornate fittings including a central mirror. The organ was very hard to pedal. When I managed from time to time to get enough wind in the bellows it would play but even then the notes would fade away with lack of “push” as I got tired. There was a bookcase fitted to the wall above the lino dado that ran right around the wall. In it were numerous picture books and travel books from the eighteenth century. Some showed the style of frocking worn by men and women in bygone days. There were many other illustrated books which no doubt would be quite valuable today.

The very large fireplace in the centre of the room had iron rods across it to stand the big black kettle on to boil when the fire was alight. On one side of the fireplace was a two-door cupboard where the good willow pattern china cups, saucers and plates and other valuable pieces of china were kept. On the other side of the fireplace was a long sofa or couch and at the far end of the room, a smaller table.

A hallway ran through the centre of the house from the front door to the verandah at the back. Half way along the passage was a very colourful glass panelled door. The pattern used

Chapter 1.3

crimson reds and royal blues around the sides of a large glass frosted centre panel and all set into the top half of the door. In each of the four corners of the side border was a square of sparkling white glass. All very pretty, glinting beautifully especially in the night time as the lights shone through.

Over the years several alterations and additions were made to the house including the kitchen, a dairy and a bathroom added at the back of the house. Around the front and side of the house Grandma had a real old world garden with a smaller area at the back. In the front garden she grew lavender bushes, blue bells, snapdragons and purple lilac bushes, while at the side of the house grew a field of colourful poppies that came up every season. In the front of the house too was a very large area surrounded by a hedge, a huge pine tree and in one corner a clump of wattle trees. Aunty’s cows were kept in here at night. There were two areas fenced off for growing vegetables. Aunt Elizabeth spent a lot of time in this garden. One year when Aunty had plenty of rhubarb she sent large bundles to us out at the beach at Kairaka [Kairakau] by coach. A placard was nailed to the door “Rhubarb Cottage” as it was coming out of our ears. Today with couriers it wouldn’t be unusual to send things out but for us it was a real novelty. The other place Aunt Elizabeth could be found was the woodshed cutting up wood for both the open fire and the coal range in the kitchen. Out the back she also kept fowls so we had fresh eggs.

Grandma and Aunt Elizabeth

Our earliest memories of Grandma was a dear old lady who wore black gowns or black and white striped blouses with long black skirts. When she went to church she wore bonnets trimmed with white lace and a ribbon tied under her chin. Ladies in those days had small waists which they achieved by wearing laced undergarments. They tied the ends of the laces round bedposts and then they slowly pulled in until they achieved the waist size they thought was fashionable.

Aunt Elizabeth, Dad’s older maiden sister, lived with Grandma Powell and kept two cows called Daisy and Beauty. They supplied our family and several neighbours with milk. She would pour the excess milk into two large, round, tin pans about 75cm across and leave them overnight to settle. In the morning she would skim off the cream. When she had enough she put it in a wooden churn and make it into butter. Aunty had a special taste for salt, so the butter was well salted.

Each morning she drove the cows to a paddock near the Otane school. There was a well in the paddock with an old galvanised hand pump and from this she would fill their trough with water. After school it was our task, my twin sister, Una’s and I to take the cows back to Aunty. We were fearful of a train due about that time while crossing the railway track with the cows. In the cold weather Grandma would sit by the open fireplace. While Aunty milked the cows, Grandma would make toast over the coals with a long handled wire fork and butter it while it was still hot for us two girls. How we loved those times with her.

One of the family jokes came from a habit Aunt Elizabeth had – every time the dishes were to be done she’d disappear out to the toilet. It was strange to note that the dishes were finished when she re-appeared. It became known as the “Aunty Lizzie” trick in the family, a standing joke to this day.

Aunt Elizabeth and Grandma also had three boarders. One, Mr John Hall, a Scotsman, from Dunedin came to Otane to work for Dad. He liked his plate of porridge every morning, especially with fresh cream. Aunty would place a small bowl of cream beside his plate. He would take some porridge on his spoon and then dip the spoon into the cream. Another of his fads was apples and cheese. One night my brother Norman removed the apples from the bag and in their place put two or three stones. John guessed ! !

The Powells – My Dad’s Immediate Family

Standing: Dad (Howard Powell), Uncle Joe Powell, Uncle Bert Powell

Seated: Aunt Elizabeth Powell (Aunty Lizzie), Aunt Harriet Pederson [Pedersen], Grandma Powell

Chapter 1.4

In those days life seemed to be on more of an even keel; people seemed to spend more time in their homes and gardens, not like the hectic pace in today’s world. We as children loved to go to Grandma’s place. It reminds me of a poem in “A Versebook of a Homely Woman” by Fay Inchfawn :-


I’m going to Grandma’s for a bit,
My Mother’s got the copper lit
An’ piles of clothes on the floor,
An’ steam comes out the Wash-house door
An’ Mrs Griggs has come.
An’ she is just as cross as she can be.
She’s had her lunch, and ate a lot;
I saw her squeeze the coffee pot,
An’ when I helped her make the starch
She said: Now, Miss, you quick march
What ! Touch them soapsuds if you darest;
I’ll see you in the bluebag first.
An’ Mother dried my frock an’ said,
“Come back in time to go to bed !”
I’m off to Grandma’s for you see
At home they can’t put up with me,
But down at Grandma’s ’tis so nice.
If Grandma’s making a currant cake
She’ll let me put the ginger spice
An’ grease the tin an’ watch it bake.
An’ then she says she thinks it fun
To taste the edges when it’s done.

That’s Grandma’s house – Why, hip hurray !
My Grandma’s got a washing day
For Grandpa’s shirts are on the line
An’ stockings too – size seven, eight, nine.
She’ll let me help her. Yes she’ll tie
Her apron round to keep me dry,
An’ on her little stool I’ll stand
Up to the wash-tub. T’will be grand !
There’s no cross Mrs Griggs to say
“Young Miss is always in the way.”
An’ me and Grandma will have tea
At dinner time – just her an’ me.
An’ eggs, I’spect, and treacle rice.
My goodness won’t it all be nice !

Grandma I’ve come to spend the day
‘Cause Mother finds me in the way.
Grandma I’ll peg the hankies out
Grandma I’ll stir the starch about
Grandma I’m come because you see
At home they can’t put up with me !

Taken about 1900 (or at a wedding of Bert & Grace. 5-1-1903)

The Powell Family – My Grandparents and Their Family

Standing: Uncle Bert Powell, Uncle Joe, Elizabeth Powell (Aunty Lizzie)

Seated: Grandpa and Grandma Powell, Howard Powell (Dad)

William Powell   15-11-1833 – 4-7-1904   70 yrs
Emma Powell   23-8-1936 – 25-7-1929   93 yrs
Back row   Joseph William  15-12-1862 – 19-2-1950   87 yrs
Elizabeth Powell  16-6-1869 – 28-4-1956   86 yrs (buried Hastings)
Back left   Hubert Powell   26-2-1872 – 22-9-1944   72 yrs
Right   Howard Powell   8-6-1878 – 2-10-1945   67 yrs



Around the turn of the century my father did his five year Master Builder’s apprenticeship in Napier with a Mr Taylor. By the time he had finished his parents had moved from Pukehou to Kaikoura [Kaikora], later named Otane as it was getting confused with the Kaikoura in the South Island. Otane was a small village which had grown up as a distribution centre for mail and goods for the surrounding districts. Neils Pedersen, our uncle by marriage, owned a bakery business there. Dad established himself in business in Otane about November 1905 and soon after he and Mother were married in the Otane Gospel Hall in the centre ot the village.

The First Family Home

My parent’s first home was opposite the Otane Railway Station and consisted ot three bedrooms, a moderate sized front room with a sofa, easy chairs, a table and a cabinet for good china and ornaments. All the floors were covered with linoleum and floor rugs. The large family room at the back of the house had a long dining table, a sofa at one end and a built-in unit with sink and running water. Mother had a big wood and coal range with an auxiliary wood burner attached to the front that took extra long pieces of wood to help quickly heat the oven. To the left front of the range a water tank was attached for heating the water. This tank was always kept filled as it was the main source of supply for household chores. Above the stove was an airing rack for clothes or to heat dinner plates. Opposite the stove in the kitchen was a big, walk-in pantry with spacious shelves.

The bathroom was next to the kitchen and had an enamel bath, a wash basin and towel racks. On one occasion after Norman had been bathed, he ran out with a towel around him to dry himself by the range. The towel slipped off so he bent down to pick it up. There was a yell as he touched the heated auxiliary plate. For many years he was branded on his buttocks with ” Aux wood burner” ! Ouch !

The wash-house (laundry) was an out-building adjoining the back of the house. It had a built-in copper, two wooden tubs and a hand wringer. At the far end the coal was stored and at the other end a W.C. with a wooden seat – no flushing toilet in those days.

On ironing days Mother put her Mrs Pott’s irons which were two sizes of detachable irons, on the stove to heat. When they were ready she attached a handle, cleaned them with a cloth and the clothes were ironed. Mother had a wooden clothes horse which she put out on the verandah in the sun to hang the starched clothes on to air, after they had been pressed. One day a lady passing by watched in disgust as she saw two naughty little girls pulling the clothes off the rack and pushing them down into the basket – not the only mischief these two rascals got into!

Dad built a very large workshop with a long work bench. The workshop was used for the storage of all manner of builder’s supplies – paints, putty, nails, glass and a large work kit with hammer and tools, spirit level, saw etc. There were no electric tools at all. One place we children loved to clamber up on to play schools and sing, was the racks of timber stacked across the back yard. The only way Dad could take timber and equipment to his jobs was by horse and cart. Sometimes when the horse was standing in the back yard, our sister Frances would stand between his front legs. We still have photographs of her doing this as well as one with her arms around a big collie dog called Gillie, that belonged to the Miss McNees.

Chapter 3.2

Dad’s timber was ordered and milled from the millers up the main trunk line. They railed it in railway trucks to the Otane railway station. The Hicks brothers, who also lived opposite the station, carted the timber to my father’s yard. Dad did a tremendous amount of building and repair work for the wealthy farmers around Otane and district including Mr A.V Collins and his family and all the Todd families. He also had a licence to import glass and other supplies. He stored large amounts of coloured glass in the workshop to be used in windows, doors and fanlights.

World War I

During the First World War in 1914-18 families in New Zealand were issued with coupons for groceries and many other commodities. These coupons covered only the bare minimum to maintain each family’s daily needs. Mother belonged to the Mother’s Union. Everybody did something to help in the War, but these ladies spent a lot of time engaged in making things for the war effort. All women and girls were called to knit long, khaki scarves and balaclavas for the soldiers so Mother taught Una and me to knit. Many older ladies would remember the fifty pound (50lbs) bags of flour sold in strong calico bags. When they were emptied, these bags were taken outside for a good shake and well washed. They were then unpicked – the thread was snipped at one end and easily drawn out. Then the bags were made into very good sized tea towels. The seventy pound (70lbs) hessian sugar bags were treated in the same way, to be made into oven cloths and aprons, the edges being bound with colourful material. It was possible in some war zones for relatives and friends to make Christmas cakes and goodies to send over to the men. The Christmas cakes were packed into tins which were soldered to keep the cake during it’s long journey. Everything was then packed in cardboard boxes which had to be plainly addressed with the soldier’s names and unit. It always was a real thrill to get a letter of appreciation back from the boys!

Mother was a good dressmaker and made all our clothes until we were about twelve. She would dress us twins alike in white pinafores over our dresses. We girls wore velvet dresses of various colours for best but we wore mostly cotton dresses to school. Frances had one particularly pretty dress made of grey velvet with lace trim on the yoke. During the War effort when Mother was given quite a number of out dated overcoats unpicked them, turned the material and made most into children’s coats. (“Turning” was the term for using the reverse side of the fabric). If the material was suitable, she would cut out and make boy’s trousers, with lining and with pockets. It is surprising how long these traditions last because my boys remember receiving aprons and Indian suits in this manner for Christmas.

In 1915 Mother heard that two of her brothers, Frederick and Alby White had enlisted for service in World War I. She decided to go to her family home in North Pine, Queensland to say good-bye. She took my brother and sister, Norman and Frances, with her on the boat. Mother however was a very bad sailor. She had to stay in her bunk, leaving Norman and Frances with the stewardess. When they arrived in the Port of Brisbane members of her family were there to meet her, and she soon recovered from her ordeal. She was thankful to have spent time with her brothers before they joined thousands of other Australians for service overseas, as both brothers were killed in action.

Fire ! Fire !

While Mother was in Brisbane to say good bye to her brothers, the big Otane workshop caught fire. Our neighbour, who was a truck driver used to keep his big International lorry in a shed attached to Dad’s workshop. It seems a spark from the lorry started the blaze. Our cousin Gordon Gibb had been going home late one night and saw Dad’s shed alight. He ran and called Dad as my father and Una were staying with Grandma while Mother was in

Chapter 3.3

Australia. By the time they got back to the property everything was well alight. They managed to recover the furniture before the whole place was engulfed with flames. Residents in the district had to depend on rain water tanks for supply in the house and garden. That was all they had to put out the fire. There was no fire brigade either so the workshop, sheds and even the house were completely destroyed. The large masses of coloured glass that Dad stored were welded together in one big lump because of the heat from the fire.

After the fire the timber millers and the other suppliers kindly gave my father many months credit until he got his business established again. Dad built a two storied workshop and moved his business there. The top floor was used for making joinery as he made his own benches, doors, and window frame and then glazed them. The lower area was used for storing all sorts of building equipment with a corrugated iron shed to house the large sheets of corrugated iron.

Much later Dad bought a large section of land of about three acres on The Terrace in Otane on which he built a big two-storied home and developed a garden and fruit trees. The house itself withstood the earthquake in 1931 and is still standing. The top storey of the house had three bedrooms and a large balcony which later had sliding windows to enclose it. The fourth room upstairs was a sewing room with an open fireplace. The ground floor had a front bedroom, a large octagon shaped front room or lounge, a bathroom hall or passage leading to the family area. This kitchen-dining room area of the home was a large room with walls which were papered with a white vinyl from ceiling to floor and easily washed down. The bay window of the kitchen area had seats which were around the three sides of it. The seats had hinged lids and any newspapers were stored in them. On the opposite side of the room were two long wood boxes fitted the same way, for wood and coal for the range. At that time a big double chimney served for three fireplaces – the wood and coal range in the kitchen, a small tiled fireplace in the downstairs bedroom and a built-in brick copper in the laundry. There was another chimney on the other side of the house for the fireplaces of the large lounge and upstairs sewing room. After the 1931 earthquake both chimneys collapsed and Dad built a separate laundry area. The former pantry and laundry area were turned into one, long room with a coal range and an electric stove fitted in there. It was all very modern with a sink with hot and cold water and benches down one end. Our big table was in the centre of the room. Eventually it was a very much more practical set-up for the family and the many visitors that came to stay.

When cars had arrived in New Zealand, so two garages were added. One of them housed our big convertible. The car body was chained to the top of the car shed when it was not being used. Sometimes my father would lower it onto the tray of the truck, fasten it securely and take the family for joy rides to Hastings. Dad also built a huge, dry timber shed with a driveway through the centre. He would load the timber on the truck and drive out the gate at the bottom of the yard.

Mother was an excellent gardener. She maintained the big vegetable garden out the back and looked after the orchard of apricot, apple, plum and pear trees. Una and I were given a section of garden with small shrubs and roses in the front of the house that we had to maintain and weed. Mother loved her potplants too and opposite the laundry had a conservatory where she tended all her plants and ferns. Dad had used the masses of glass melted in the fire to build two big rockeries putting the lumps of coloured glass on two of the sides.

Our big two storied home required maintenance from time to time. Sometimes while the family was out at Kairakau Beach on holiday, Dad would stay home by himself. When not busy with other work he would do any repair jobs on the home. One big undertaking was varnishing all the linos throughout and staining the edges around the carpets, the panelling down the stairwell, and when necessary the window-seats in the octagon shaped front room.

In those early days kerosene lamps were used extensively in the living areas of the house, either as table lamps or hanging from the ceiling. Lamps were fitted to the walls of our house and lit by a match or long taper. Great care had to be taken not to touch the mantle. In the

Chapter 3.4

bedrooms candles were used. About a year after we moved into our new house, electricity came to Otane. The streets however were lit with gas. In Otane the gas was stored in two large, round gas tanks situated in an area by the Town Hall. Each evening Mr Spargo would go to the pumping station to fill the tanks with the gas. The pipe lines ran from the station to the lighting system. The street lighting was installed on long black , cylindrical poles with a carriage type of lamp on top which the janitor had to light each evening.

When we were children social security hadn’t been introduced by the government. There were a lot of swaggies on the roads at that time. These were men who moved from area to area to find work with this often becoming a way of life for them as there were no government handouts. They were called “swaggies” because of the bundle of possessions they carried on their backs and the smoky tin billies on sticks. They moved around calling on folks for a billy of tea and something to eat. Mother used to oblige and Dad once let one of them sleep in the timber shed.

Local Personalities

There was Mr J.J, Langridge who owned a large grocery shop. His daughter Ellis with some others, managed the orders and deliveries to the outlying districts. When he grew too hold to work it, the store was sold and eventually became Bruce and Rough’s store. Mr J.N. Barry owned the haberdashery and dress shop. At sale times he used to display his specialities outside the shop windows on trestles – not a new retail practice is it ? Mr Malenoir had a much smaller grocery shop just down by the bakery. His wife later went into the haberdashery business. Forby Minto was the blacksmith and then there was Mr Fletcher, the boot repairer and Mrs Venerables who kept a sweet shop next to the Otane Gospel Hall. Other old characters were Mrs Sinclair, Mrs Asplet and Miss Pringle. The Misses Howard and their brother John lived in a big house not far from Grandma and Aunt Elizabeth. As I have already mentioned, Aunt used to milk two cows and she supplied the Howard sisters with a pint of milk each day. Often at the weekend Una and I would take the milk over to them and to Miss Pringle.

To my surprise a photo of the Howard’s old residence was published in the Hawkes Bay “Herald Tribune” dated 7th March 1995 with the inscription “New Counselling Rooms Opened”. Pleroma House in Otane is a Christian based counselling service. It consists of a one hectare property where people needing “time out” can stay in a cottage amid peaceful tranquil surroundings. In the main house there is a chapel, sitting room and library which guests are welcome to use. Non residential guests visit by appointment to discuss any concerns with one of the trustees or one of the eight part time counsellors. In the last year (1994) two hundred and eighty seven people have sort [sought] assistance and twenty four people have stayed at the cottage. I wonder what the Misses Howard would say!

Father’s Routine

Although our father was a very busy man and had a thriving business in Otane, most evenings he spent in his office busy checking on the materials for each job. He gave a detailed account of all timber and materials used on the job, to each client. What a task ! But it seems it was the done thing then in any kind of business. However in spite of all this work, he still found time for essentials. Of a morning he was always up by 6am. – both winter and summer – when he would go to his office to spend time reading his bible and in prayer. Then he would come to the stairs and call out to us girls to get up. After breakfast Mother would often go out with him to help load timber onto the truck, so that everything was loaded and ready for when his men arrived for work at 8 am. Jobs that they worked at were often out in country areas and sometimes required he and his men to camp out there especially when it was out at Elsthorpe. Mother made ample provisions for them and sometimes Una went out to cook for the men.

Chapter 3.5

The Powell family had been nominal Anglicans but some time after the older generation had settled in Otane a visiting evangelist held meetings in the little township and several were converted. Eventually they joined the group at the Otane Gospel Hall. What a powerful influence this was to have on so many members of the families. Our father was the leader of the services at the little Gospel Hall. He or Aunt Elizabeth led the singing as there was no organ at that time. He quite often preached on Sunday nights, and led the open services in the main street opposite the hotel. A number of the old lodgers used to stand outside to listen to the hymns and message. There were two other churches in Otane, one Anglican and the other Presbyterian. There was no resident Presbyterian minister so one used to come from Waipawa on Sunday afternoons to take a service. The vicar of the Anglican Church was Mr Davidson who had three sons, with Bruce the youngest being born on our birthday – 12th of December 1907. We lost touch with him as his family moved away from Otane. It was our great surprise when on our twenty first birthday Bruce sent Una and I greeting cards. However there was no address with them so we had no means of reciprocating.

In our early years we children used to travel down by car with our parents to attend the “All Day” meetings in Hastings and Napier. These meetings were held by the Brethren Assemblies and speakers were often invited from other areas. There were short breaks between meetings and a light lunch was provided for all who attended. Our family got to know quite a number of young people from these assemblies. As a result a few years later some of the young men who had cars – Reg Eves, the Henderson brothers, Howard Paynter and others – would collect the girls from the church and drive them up to our home in Otane for a fun, games evening. Our large octagon shaped front room with it’s window seats along three sides gave us ample space for indoor games. The boys seemed never short of new ideas for games to fill in the evenings. Our dear Mother provided the suppers with the young people leaving for home about eleven o’clock at night. Later Dad erected a pole at the front gate and placed a big electric light on it so we could spill out on the terrace and play out there too. These evenings were carried on for some considerable time over a period of many years. A few years later Mother catered for us twins twenty-first birthday party. By this time I had been nursing at Waipuk [Waipukurau] so several of the nursing staff were invited and joined with our Hastings friends for the happy occasion.

Mother’s Nursing

Although Mother was disappointed that she hadn’t trained as a nurse she had plenty of experience during her married life giving assistance to people in need of care. There was no resident doctor in Otane so she was often called to give assistance with maternity cases, or when children had accidents. At one time just after we returned from our six week’s holiday at Kairakau beach, I became ill with Typhoid fever. While out there we had been getting milk from the local Maoris and the infection was passed on then. At that time Aunt Elizabeth came out for the last week to care for us while Mother sorted and washed up all the things at home. Soon after we returned home I was very inert and suffered from a form of malaise for several days. A doctor was called from Waipawa who diagnosed the symptoms as Typhoid fever. I was put to bed and the doctor told Mother I was to go on a starvation diet with only sips of water while the infection lasted. He called every few days to see me, but the infection lasted a long time. It was a trying time for my dear Mother keeping the home, looking after the family and disinfecting everything that came from my room. Nothing that came out of my room could escape being disinfected as Typhoid fever could be passed on. Aunt Elizabeth used to come and help at times but it was a joy and relief the day the doctor told us that the tests proved negative. I was allowed a light diet – milk jellies and lightly coddled egg etc. Today with immunisation this killer isn’t so feared. If it had been available, penicillin could have saved the day. It took me some time to recuperate and I missed a full term’s school work in Standard Five. Mother bought a jar of Bovril which I took over to the school house and had hot drinks each morning and afternoon play-break. As a result of having the Typhoid fever I lost all my hair. Mother got in touch with a Mr Mercer – a

Chapter 3.6

hairdresser in Napier who gave her a lotion to gently massage into my scalp. Very gradually my hair began to grow again and eventually was a mop of brown curly hair.

Later Years

Dad and Mother lived a happy productive life in Otane for many years until the business become too much for them. In about 1939 they sold both the business and the house and moved in to Hastings to live at 509 Nelson Street, North. From then on Dad did interior decorating to help the budget.

About twelve months before Dad passed away at the Memorial Hospital in 1945, he and Una came over to Wanganui to do some papering for Frank and I in the old Bell Street house. This wasn’t any easy task because of the very high ceilings and the job took nearly a fortnight. Later that year he commenced the re-decorating of the Bon March [Marche] shop in Hastings. I believe each area was cordoned off so he could paint and it be given time to dry properly. The manager was so pleased with the finished work he presented Dad with a gift from the “Men’s” Department. Soon after when the weather was very cold Dad took ill and went into hospital. He had an operation from which he never recovered.

Mother and Una continued to live in the home in 509 Nelson Street for ten years. Mother came over to Wanganui to stay with me during December. I had made a number of large cushions for my lounge and she helped me to fill them. She loved to sit by the big picture window in this room with a book and either read or watch the ever-changing view. She wanted to return to Hastings soon after for the Children’s Sunday-School Anniversary in Nelson Street Chapel as some of the grandchildren were taking part. As she left the Hall that night after the concert she fell heavily and broke her hip. She was taken to Memorial Hospital and operated on  but never recovered. She passed on to be with the Lord on 2nd February 1955 – just ten years after Father passed away.

“When all my labours and trials are o’er
And I am safe on that beautiful shore
Just to be near the dear Lord I adore
Will through the ages be glory for me”

Photo caption – The Home At Otane Built After The Fire



I’m told that Una and I were the first twins born in Otane and that was in December 1907.

Folks were always curious to see the identical twins whenever Mother took us out in the pram especially as we were identical twins. The years soon rolled by and we commenced school in February 1913. The old school was built before the turn of the century in 1900. Now a new school has been built opposite, and the old school is used as an Arts and Craft centre. We saw many sketches and paintings of Grandma Powell’s old house done by local Otane artists when we visited recently.

Cousin Stanley Powell took us to school for the first few days. Mother would have no doubt been pleasd to see us go. She used to say, “What one twin didn’t think of the other one did ! “ Seems we must have been rather mischievous ! We had long curly fair hair so one day I got out the scissors and chopped the curls off one side of my sister’s hair. No doubt I got the chop-chop too !

Norman was born eighteen months after we girls so our dear Mother had her hands very full. The Otane railway station was almost opposite our home. One day we two escaped as we’d decided to go up on the station platform to watch the train come in. The station master came out took one look at these two runaways and promptly took one in each hand back to Mother.

I remember there was an old cottage opposite the back gate surrounded by a big hedge. An older man who had a drinking problem lived here. He had a faithful old horse that always knew the way and brought him home many a time. Once he was so drunk that he slipped off his horse and lay on the the ground, out for the count, with Dobbin standing quietly beside him. We kids were scared of him. Another way of entertaining ourselves and the neighbours was to play Sunday School sitting on top of the timber stacks. “Jesus loves me” was one of our favorite songs. We sang it with great gusto but I don’t think we ever converted the old man across the way.

During our primary schooling in Otane our teachers in the primers were Miss Woodhouse and Miss Ingleton, Mr Cartwright for standard two and three while for our upper standard classes Mr Davidson taught us. There was an annual excursion by train to Napier for pupils from Waipawa, Otane and Pukehou. It was a tremendous joy for school children in those days – to spend a day by the seaside with all our friends. We had to take our own lunch but the drinks were supplied. The train was made up of a very long line of carriages drawn by two steam engines. What a lot of chatter as we clambered aboard with our teachers. Even on our return journey there were two engines which puffed their way very slowly up the Te Aute Hill.

Frances had one year at High School, while Una, Norman and I had two years secondary education at Waipawa District High School. We travelled by the 9 am goods train up to Waipawa and then walked up the hill past the town clock to the school. We Otane pupils were always a few minutes late. Our teacher in our first year was Miss Irvine Smith a much travelled lady. She was as you might say, one of the old school. She always dressed in high necked blouses with long tailored skirts and button up boots. She had a big head of hair and used to do it in long plaits which she deftly coiled around her head to form a capoline. One day in class when she was sitting at her desk we noticed a long plait of her hair had fallen down her back. There was a snicker around the class so I plucked up the courage, walked up to her desk, and told her that her plait was hanging down her back. As she got up to pin it back in place, she said “Thank you, Child. Thank you.” It’s funny how looking back, that seems such a small thing but at the time it was very important to me.

Chapter 4.2

Prince Edward, King George and Queen Mary’s eldest son paid the first royal visit to New Zealand while Una and myself were at the Waipawa High School. It was the first time any royalty had come to our country. The Prince did a “whistle stop” tour by train to many places from Napier to Wellington. We High School pupils were marched down to the station during the morning and formed into ranks to await his arrival together with the Waipawa citizens. There was great excitement as the engine pulled to a halt almost in front of where we were standing and out stepped the Prince with his retinue. He was greeted by the Mayor and Councillors with a speech of welcome with the Prince replying. At the end of the proceedings there was a call for three cheers for the Prince and then he steppped back into the royal carriage and was on his way to the next port of call.

At High School we took the “General Subjects” for School Certificate – Maths, Science, English and Geography – plus French and Cookery with some of the subjects being taken by visiting teachers. Our “Glee Club”, our class singing lessons teacher was Mrs Daisy Basham from Waipukurau. She was a little person and often dressed in a grey frock with shoes and stockings to match. We really enjoyed our singing lessons singing many of the tunes for years afterwards. Little did we know that Mrs Daisy Basham would become a household name as a well known personality on 2ZB radio station – “Aunt Daisy”. Her theme tune at the beginning of each session was the then popular catchy song of:-

“Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do.
I’m half crazy all for the love of you!
It won’t be a stylish marriage, I can’t afford a carriage.
But you’ll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle built for two!”

Her daily morning sessions were extremely popular with her sing song voice, her programme being very down to earth but full of helpful hints and chat about anything that took her fancy. Each morning she would broadcast practical recipes with all sorts of cheerful comments. These recipes were so popular that they were collected and edited into recipe books – great presents for newly weds as they had all sorts of advice in them.

I was interested to hear her mentioned again in a broadcast on July 2nd 1994 at eight o’clock but in a totally different capacity. The presenter was giving an account of Uncle Tom’s choirs in the early thirties which became another radio “institution” and Aunt Daisy had been a member of one. Uncle Tom was a Salvationist (a member of the Salvation Army Church) who had come out from England. He felt the need to form a choir of young people to sing choruses over the air. The choir became known as “Uncle Tom’s Friendly Road Singers” and went to air at five o’clock every Sunday afternoon. He drew a number of young people around him, auditioned them and trained them with the help of his two daughters. He demanded and got a very high standard from the young voices. He awarded gold medals to any member of this younger choir who never missed a session. Many New Zealanders were involved over the years. David Lange, a former Prime Minister, joined the choir at the age of ten and called to mind singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and other songs. Uncle Tom also formed a choir for an older age group and Aunt Daisy had joined this one. Uncle Tom was well loved for his choirs and the few books he published of the stories he told each Sunday; stories once again using a topical theme of everyday happenings but with a christian message for the children. He died in 1964 and the broadcast I was listening too [to] was to commemorate his life and influence thirty years after his death. It was a real cheer after all these years to listen to this as we used to enjoy it so much.

In our second year at High School our lady teacher was a rather nervous type of person with a delicate fair skin. Whenever Mr Lockhart from the next room came in to speak to her, she used to blush. We pupils noticed this and often took a quick peep at them discussing school subjects while we were seemingly going on with our work. We wondered if he was whispering sweet nothings to her. Young girls don’t change !

Otane was the centre for goods and services for many outlying areas such as Elsthorpe, Patanga, Omakere and Argyle to name a few. In those early days deliveries of some goods came by horse and cart with the butcher and baker delivering meat and bread to the door. We

Chapter 4.3

loved to go out with Mother while she selected and paid for the goods. Our Uncle Neils Pedersen owned the bakery in Kaikoura [Kaikora] (Otane) in the early days. The old shop is still standing today in 1994 and is really an old land mark. At Easter time the baker boy used to drive around calling out :-
“Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns.”

The Town Hall was the biggest building in Otane and was just opposite our home. About 1917 or 1918 there was a dreadful influenza epidemic raging throughout the country. The authorities advised people in local communities to have vapourised medicated inhalations in rooms. The rooms were to be fairly well sealed to avoid the steam escaping and sealed off for about twenty minutes each time. A back room in the Town Hall was used for this purpose and twenty to thirty people were treated at one time. Even so, many people died from pneumonia.

It was 1919 when our cousin Elsa Gibb married Ted Hockley in the Palmerston North Gospel Hall, Una and I were flower girls with Fanny Hockley as chief bridesmaid and Reg Hockley as best man. Aunt Elizabeth went with us in the train. Mother had carefully packed everything in our suitcases or so she thought. However when we arrived, Elsa wanted to see our new frocks made by a dressmaker in Otane. When we got to Elsa’s boarding place and began to unpack, the frocks were missing; still hanging in the wardrobe in Otane. Panic! Elsa phoned mother and she said “Don’t consider the expense, try and find identical frocks”. So instead of having pretty pink frocks we had white embroidered dresses with pink sashes; Fortunately for the record, with only black and white photography the colours were not picked up in the pictures. We two girls were on a win, with two special dresses for the summer. Even today I can recall how we loved to don those pretty frocks, walk up to Grandma’s and wheel her to the morning church services.

Family Holidays

When we were young we used to love spending Christmas with Uncle Neils and Aunt Harriet Pedersen on their farm out of Ormondville. Dad used to dress up as Father Christmas and it used to puzzle us where Dad disappeared to while the party was on. He made a very good Father Christmas and always seemed to give the presents to the right people.

One time while on the farm, the boys persuaded Mother to get on a horse. The rascals gave the horse a whack, and off it went at top speed around the paddock. Mother had to hold on for all she was worth. She had a lovely head of long hair which she had the knack of rolling the strands round her finger and fastening them at the back with pins. As she raced around the paddock her hairpins came out and her hair flowed out behind her much to the amusement of the boys. Once when Grandma Powell was staying at the Ormondville farm she tried to get into the buggy. The horse moved and she injured her leg. It took months to heal.

The only neighbours near the Pedersens were the Thomasons who were a Danish family that had migrated to New Zealand. They lived in a older house which was about 20 minutes to walk over the paddocks from the Pedersens. We loved to go with our cousin Nettie and have afternoon tea with them.

Our family later had a cottage at Kairaka [Kairakau] Beach. Dad spent many a Christmas holiday building many of the other cottages along the beach front. During the Christmas Holidays which was the summer school break, we used to spend six weeks at a time out there, in usually ideal conditions. The beach was safe for swimming, and the high, high hills and cliffs were a challenge to us. We often clambered over the tops and down the other side to the waterfall. Then we would go for a lovely walk through the bush covered track to the other end of the beach, and then back home – a distance of about two miles.

Chapter 4.4

On our way out to the Kairaka [Kairakau] Beach from Elsthorpe, the unsealed road wound in and out over the hills gradually leading to the highest point. On reaching this spot with its first glimpse of the sea we older ones would break out into song with the chorus:-

“The sea, the sea, the open sea,
The blue, the fresh, the ever free,
Without a mark with out a bound
It runs the world’s wide regions round.
And like a cradled creature lies.
I’m on the sea, I’m on the sea
I am where I would ever be
With blue above and blue beneath
What matters I shall rock and sleep.”

There were three or four toll gates to be opened on our way down the steep, winding hills and we children took turns opening and shutting those gates. What excitement as we drove along the beach front to our cottage. It never ceased to thrill us all those many years when we spent our six weeks school holidays out there. We have so much to thank our parents for in the memory of those days.

Mother used to go over the rocks at the Pourere [Pourerere] end of the beach for crayfish. She would pull the crayfish out with her hands put them in buckets, and bring them back to our area. We would have built a good fire on the beach with drift wood and boiled sea water. When the water was thoroughly boiling we popped the crayfish in. About twenty minutes they were ready for eating. We spread newspapers on the table and enjoyed the tails and legs. Beautiful. The heads of the crays’ Mother would clean and then curry to serve for breakfast ! Mother had a little Dover stove on legs. So when we had school friends staying, all with good appetites, she would make scones for morning tea. All our groceries, vegetables and fruit used to come out by horse drawn coach twice a week. We had to walk a mile and a half to pick them at the big woolshed but it was all part of life at the beach.


My twin sister wasn’t as aggressive as I was. From an early age we played together and did most things together. She did fairly well at school academically and made her own friends. We used to love to play on the big swings at school and when older at basket ball she would be goalie at one end of the court while I would be put on the other team as their goalie. Una used to love Christmas looking forward to opening our Christmas stockings which would be filled with sweets, fruit and useful things for school like perhaps a pencil case and pencils. One thing she didn’t like was to wash up the dishes but rather each night when we had to do them, opted to dry them. She had lovely hair which Mother made her brush well every day. We wore our hair in plaits to school but in the weekends on Saturday night had them set in ringlets by twisting them with rags.

After Una had left High School, she used to work for “Bruce and Rough”, a large grocery business in Otane. She took orders over the phone for people in outlying areas, then she would assemble the orders, wrap them in a large sheet of brown paper and tie them with string. Sometimes one of the partners helped. The truck driver distributed the goods to different areas each day. Una remained with the firm until the family moved to Nelson Street. After a time she then joined forces with Greta Croucher and set up a dressmaking business in Queen Street, Hastings making many bridal and other garments. They carried on for some years and later when Greta was married Una continued the business from the home in Nelson Street. She had a contract to make all the uniforms and blazers for the girls at Queenwood School.

After Mother died, Una’s friend Florence Smith took over the Bible House when the previous owners pulled out. Florence wasn’t very good at accounting so Una joined her as she had

Chapter 4.5

business accounting at her finger tips.


Norman our brother was born on 5th September 1909. He was very small for his age and I can remember Mother having quite a time to make his hair sit down. He didn’t often play with us and at school played mostly rounders with the other boys out in the paddock at the back of the school playground. He was good at school and quite clever. He was Dux of the Otane School in his last year there. Often in the evenings or on Saturdays he would go to the workshop and watch Dad make joinery and fittings. Norman soon learned to use the tools and machinery and picked up the finer points of the art. He was good with his hands and built a small radio from a kit set which worked quite well and his own radio cabinet for it to go in.

He had one or two years at District High School which was at Waipawa. Following that he joined the Telegraph Department in Otane Post Office. It was a hand operated exchange. He spent a year or two there while at the same time working with Dad in the building trade.

His next move was to Waipukurau to help Harry Guillard [Guilliard] to drive the big International lorries to collect bales of wool from the sheep stations in many of the country areas throughout Hawkes Bay. These big bales of wool had to be transported to the nearest railway station and railed to Napier to be stored in the big wool stores before they were sold to buyers from around the world. At times when Norman was going out in the afternoon, Kora Graham, my good friend, and I used to go out with him, that is when we were off duty. We three used to love to sing some of the old ditties reminiscent of the 1914-18 war years:-

“Pack up yours troubles in your old kit bag and smile, Boys smile…”   or
“There’s a silver lining over the dark clouds shining….”   or
“Turn the dark clouds inside out till the boys come home…”   or
“ Its a long long way to Tipperary to the sweetest girl I know….”

We all sang to our hearts content as the miles sped away. With no television and radio in the evenings only we had to make our own fun and these times were very precious.

Norman had one or two seasons with Mr Guillard [Guilliard] before joining Dad in the building trade. When reminiscing with Ralph Hamilton recently over old times past, he told me Harry Guillard [Guilliard] got the contract to put up all the telephone poles right across the Takapau Plains and that he completed this big undertaking by himself – quite a big task as the plains are quite big by New Zealand standards! Mrs Guillard [Guilliard], his wife, was a very good-natured motherly person – a very good friend to Kora Graham and me during the time we were training at Waipuk Hospital. She was quite an amazing person for those days, as she was the business manager for her husband’s firm. The Guillards [Guilliards] had two children – Gwen and Bernard – who were younger than us girls.

The Guillards [Guilliards], the Jordans and others used to meet in the Oddfellows Hall for Sunday morning services. It was a little Brethren gathering and I used to go when off duty otherwise our nursing staff mostly attended the Waipukurau Presbyterian Church with Rev Allister McLean as Minister. He also conducted services in the Hospital wards and occasionally invited the off duty staff to an evening at the Manse. These were chatty evenings – full of fun and laughter and the housekeeper provided a good supper.

Eventually Norman went to Hastings, where he set up his own painting and paper-hanging business. He successfully ran this for the rest of his business life. After his engagement to Rhona Adamson Dad helped him build a three-bedroomed home in Gallien Street, Hastings. Norman designed and made a lot of furniture himself. One of the better pieces was the design and making of a beautiful grandfather clock. He brought the workings of the clock with four sets of chimes. Later as an extra he worked on repairs of clocks and watches. Norman and Rhona were married in 1936. The wedding – a very pretty one was held in Nelson Street Chapel. They had two bridesmaids, Anne Howse and Muriel, our sister, with Gordon Badger as bestman and Colin Adamson as groomsman. Rhona was a very capable person

Chapter 4.6

who had worked in several clerical positions before she married. She was very clever with her hands doing a lot of sewing, knitting, fancywork, and cooking. They had two daughters, Audrey and Cynthia who were raised and educated in schools in Hastings. Both girls followed their mother and took responsible clerical and administration positions. As the years rolled on Audrey met and married Ronald Stuart who was in the teaching profession. They made their home in Upper Hutt and in due time were blessed with the arrival of Craig, Jayne and Philippa.

And what of Cynthia, Norman and Rhona’s second daughter. She fell in love with a young doctor, Ewan Porter whose parents lived in Napier. They married in the Nelson Street Chapel in Hastings but settled in Wellington where Ewan continued in his profession. Later they moved over to Canada for Ewan to gain further experience in one of the bigger hospitals. Today he has his own consulting rooms as a professional paediatrician. They have a family of three, Campbell, Gregory, and Natalie all true Canadians as they were all born in that country.


Frances was born on 10th March 1912 when we twins were five years old. Mother had a terrible time at the birth. The doctors wanted to go to the races so tried to induce the birth. Mother ended up haemorrhaging badly and was quite ill.

I have recorded that Frances had one year at Waipawa High School. When she left she worked at home to keep the books and do the office work for Dad to relieve the pressure on him as he was sitting up to all hours at night to keep pace with the work. Eventually Frances accepted a position in the Roaches big store in Hastings and was serving in the “Hosiery, Glove and Shoe Department” when the earthquake struck in February 1931. She was thrown to the bottom of the stairway and rescued before the fire swept through the building.

After the quake she went down to Wellington to work at James Smiths Department Store on the corner of Cuba Street and Manners Street while she recovered from the shock. After about twelve months she returned to Hastings and eventually married Reg Eves. Reg worked with his father in the brick business running a large kiln at Havelock North. Reg and Frances had a family of three children – Ashley, Malcolm, and Marjorie. The children have all married and have families of their own.

Marjorie married Ralph Hamilton and I count it a privilege to have been welcomed into their home on so many occasions especially birthday and Christmas times when we as a family have so enjoyed happy times together. Marj and Ralph had a family of five children, John, Alan, David, Jeffery and Yvonne. When the children were young Una, my twin sister had more to do with them. She and Florence used to take them out to the beach in Napier for a swim and a picnic. As with the other families they have grown up and have homes of their own.

Ralph has been a councillor for many years, an advisor and lecturer for the Bible College lectures in the Hawkes Bay area. He also has a rural mail delivery covering a large portion of the country area around the two cities. Marjorie is a qualified nurse and is still carrying on her profession at Hastings Memorial Hospital. She is very clever musically, teaches music and is an active member of the Hastings Choral Society. Ralph and Marj have travelled quite extensively and have sent back very interesting accounts of their travels. Recently on a visit overseas they sent us this report of an evening at the opera.

“Went to the Coliseum to the opening night of the opera season of Tosca. Our cheap seat was in the fourth gallery giving a marvellous view of the stage BUT a scary feeling being up so high. The building is enormous and was of most elaborate architecture – Massive ornate domed ceiling and two enormous gold painted life sized lion and unicorn statues up near the

Chapter 4.7

roof. Marble pillars etc BUT very grubby. It looks as though there hasn’t been a duster or paint brush for twenty five years up there and worst of all there is no air conditioning and no fans. An occasional puff of cool air gave respite to the stifling heat of the night. All the well dressed London opera goers seemed to discard their bow ties and black jackets!! On our top gallery were at least five hundred people and we suspect there would be at least two and a half thousand people in the packed theatre. Anyway the singing was superb. The orchestra huge but occasionally the brass (at full blast) was a bit loud for even powerful opera singers. All around the opera house are lots of pubs and restaurants and even at 11pm at night scores of London young society types were sitting at tables inside and on the narrow pavements trying to keep cool and enjoying socialising. I’ve seen nothing like that in NZ. The city and underground were still teeming with people at eleven thirty at night.


Muriel Alexandra Powell was born 17 November 1917 in our two storied home on the terrace in Otane. Mother had a private maternity nurse, Mrs Egan. The baby was born while we were at school. We older ones were taken into the front bedroom to see the new arrival. When Norman heard it was a girl he said “Another one of those things! Well you can get a monkey to cut and bring in the wood!” Anyway our baby was a precious child and brought much joy to the family as she grew up. She was the youngest of five children and very dear to us all with a happy personality. She had fair hair and blue eyes.

Our memories of her as a wee girl were when going to sleep she would rub the corner of her cot blanket on her nose and make a murmuring sound. She wore down all the corners of her cot blankets. S [She] had quaint little ways and sayings. One that always stuck with us as she grew older was “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!” She was given a pure white bunny rabbit and Dad built a long pen with a shelter at one end for him. We had lots of fun trying to catch the rascal when he was in the garden or let out under the fruit trees for a run. He also came in the house and loved to bob up and down the stairs. Muriel had him for quite a number of years.

Another memory of those days was when the Hicks brothers were carting timber up from the station to Dad’s yard. One morning when they came in and were having morning tea in the kitchen, Muriel went into the bath room and came out with her wee potty. Old John, the bachelor remarked, “Here comes the kettle drum.”

When Muriel was about three years old she had a very bad attack of whooping cough. It was distressing to watch her go blue in the face. She would give a big “Whoop” and draw in her breath after a bout of coughing. Some years later she developed double pneumonia and mother nursed her at home. At the time of the crisis, dear old Mr Mark Harrison came to the house and anointed her with oil and prayed over her. She made a good recovery. This was prior to the days when children were immunised for whooping cough, measles and mumps.

Muriel had her primary education at Otane School and while she was there developed a real gift for pencil sketches. It was decided to send her to Hastings High School to develop this gift. She did several excellent life-like drawings of King George 5th. Most were of his side face but also one full face with his top hat on. This latter one gave the effect of a shine down the front of the hat. She did several other drawings but the art master kept them. Muriel did a few good water colours gaining first prize for a colourful bowl of zinnias at the Hastings Show.

Muriel had a very gentle, loving nature. After she left High School, she became lady companion to a Miss Gardiner in Havelock North. She lived with this lady until she married Jack Allen in 1940. They had two lovely daughters – Janice and Beverley. Muriel worked with Jack in the fruit packing sheds as they owned a large orchard. They also had a poultry farm and raised chicks. It was a busy life especially during the fruit season when extra staff

Chapter 4.8

were hired to help pick and pack the fruit.

Muriel had the joy of arranging Jan’s twenty first birthday party on August 10th 1964. It was a memorable event with most of the family and cousins there. Jan and Graeme Clarke announced their engagement at the big party which was held in one of the large halls in Hastings. Very shortly afterwards Muriel was stricken with a virus which was later diagnosed as cerebral menigitis [meningitis]. From the information Jack was able to give Dr Alan Berry over the phone the doctor thought she had contracted a “flu” virus. However Muriel gradually got worse and when the doctor came out to the farm he immediately ordered her into Napier Hospital where Drs Alan and Harold Berry had a consultation, decided to fly her in a small plane to Dunedin Hospital. However the doctors there realised it was too late for specialised treatment and she died shortly after being admitted on February 2nd 1965.

It was a very sad time for us all especially for the Allen family with their dear wife/mother passing away just six months before the wedding. As all the arrangements had planned previously, the wedding went ahead and Jan and Graeme were married in the Nelson St. Gospel Hall in Hastings. Graeme was in the building trade so built their first home in Kennedy Road, Napier and both Gavin and Shona, their eldest children, were born there. The family moved to a bigger home at Tauroa Road, Havelock North where Roger and Bradley were further additions to the family. It’s twentyfive years since I came to Hawke’s Bay to live and it has been a joy to watch this family grow and develop into young manhood and womanhood. From my home in Campbell Street I used to watch Gavin and Shona pass on their bikes to school. A few years later Gavin used to peddle [pedal] Roger to school on the back of his bike and Shona took Bradley. In the years ahead Graeme and Jan always kept open home for the young people in Havelock North Chapel. Hospitality was generously given to many visitors. Again how quickly the years have passed and the family have married. Jan and Graeme accepted the position as Managers of Riverbend Christian Camp out of Havelock North. This was a very rewarding work and a wonderful opportunity for the family to “adapt to all classes of community”. Graeme and Janice are now House parents and Manager of the Christian work in the Gospel Literature Outreach Centre in Te Awamutu.

Photo caption – Our Dad with Us Twins



I really miss my four and a half years as nurse at Waipukurau Hospital. It was sad to say “Good-bye” to staff and patients, but looking back on it now, it is amazing that sixty five years have passed since then. The nurses of today will be able to identify with a lot of my experiences when I recount them though there have been big changes in health care in New Zealand. The day to day life for the modern nurse is quite different from how I trained.

After an interview with the Matron, Miss Drummond, in June 1927 I was called up for three months probation as a nurse. A small intake of half a dozen of us were taken on. Waipukurau Hospital or “Waipuk” as it was affectionately called, served a large country community with it being the only hospital between Hastings and Dannevirke.

The two-storied Nurse’s home was not yet completed, so we “juniors” were housed upstairs at the far end of the matron’s quarters. Later, when Kora Graham and I were staff nurses, we occupied a suite of rooms above the entrance to the hospital. These had been built as a new matron’s quarters, but she never occupied them while I worked there.

Our uniforms were provided and were quite different to the modern ones. They comprised of blue dresses, white starched aprons with belts, Peter-pan collars and white starched caps. We had to provide our own black shoes and stockings. The wages were a little different too – our wages were 7/6d a week, ie 75c with the total of two days off a fortnight.

Daily Routine

My first assignment was in Women’s ward with Nurse Jackson as the senior nurse. She put me through my paces. Our days began at five o’clock in the morning when the night nurse called us. We had to be on duty at 5:45 am when we were handed lists of duties to follow. The junior nurse swept one side of the ward while the ward’s maid swept the other. Next we tided [tidied] and dusted the lockers. Down to the sluice room to disinfect the baths, basins and the sluice with Lysol. The bed pans and covers were checked next, and then back to help with the washing of bed patients and finally making the beds. Patients were kept in bed much longer in those days. All this was done before breakfast.

Breakfast was served in the wards from 7:30 am to 8:00 am. The junior nurse did all the fetching and carrying of trays and dishes. Meals were good with light diet for sick patients and a full diet for the rest. The senior staff went to breakfast at 8:00 am and the juniors at 8:30 am. We then were given time to make our beds. If we were doing “divided duty” we returned to the wards and were there till 10:00 am but otherwise we were off duty until 4:00 pm. On returning to duty we again had to help with washing the patients, panning and making beds. Temperatures were taken and recorded with pulses and respiration also put on the charts. All this had to be done before tea. We juniors had to scamper round, as discipline was strict. Usually we spent a month in each ward, with the month following, on night duty. One thing that helped me in my training was the fact that I was a big strong girl and extremely healthy as incidentally I do not remember having a day off for sickness during my four and a half years at hospital.

We went on for night duty at 9:50 pm calling in at the main kitchen as the cook always left out food for the night nurses. As junior nurse it was my job to prepare and cook this meal on a wood and coal range. I then had to serve it and set it out on trays to take to the wards

Chapter 5.2

including the Isolation Block which was some distance away. There were no torches in those days so we had to carry kerosene lanterns to see along the path which ran between the laundry and the near-by morgue. One dark night as I was taking the tray over I got quite a fright as I heard footsteps on the gravel. I ran with things on the tray getting a bit mixed up it didn’t stop there as I had to get back – the return trip was equally scary.

The Staff

Miss Drummond, the Matron had a big responsibility as administrator of Waipukurau Hospital. She was in charge of the selection of the nursing staff, the supply of uniforms, duty lists and the movement of staff through their training. She also attended to the ordering of supplies for the wards, and was in charge of the dispensary. When possible she did a complete rounds of all wards each day. Her day started early with the night sister taking a morning tea tray to her room at six o’clock in the morning to give a report on each ward. During the earthquake she more than proved her ability to cope with emergencies. We, the nursing staff, had the highest respect for our Matron!

Dr J. Louis Reid was the Medical Superintendent and he gave us our weekly lectures up in the Board Room which at that stage was just above the entrance to the hospital. Our senior sisters were Sister’s Turnbull, Cairns, Wagner, Jackson, Verco, and others. They were all good disciplinarians and kept us on our toes.


Nurses had to pass anatomy and physiology examinations at the end of the first year with other tests which were set from time to time too. Our State Final Examinations at the end of three years training included medical and surgical papers, as well as oral examinations. For the oral ones we had to set out instruments for specific operations and answer other questions. The Health Department required hospitals to have a quorum of nurses to do the examinations at the hospital, otherwise they had to go to another centre, and because we were a small number Waipukurau nurses went to Napier Hospital.

The Wards and my First Operation.

The wards were long rooms, having ten to twelve beds down each side. Men’s Surgical however, wasn’t so big, but had verandah beds. There was no children’s ward at the time, so children were nursed in Women’s ward.

By the time I came to work in Men’s ward I was getting “to know the ropes” of the hospital. At the end of our eight hours of duties in the ward we had to scrub everything thoroughly under water before sterilising. We sterilised all the enamel instrument trays, kidney bowls and bowls of various sizes in a large copper. There was a small electricity steriliser for the instruments which we used. The instrument trays once sterilised were set up and covered with a sterile towel.

The verandah beds in Men’s Surgical were used for TB patients. Later, TB shelters were built with a verandah running the full length of the rooms. About eight patients were housed there. Before this patients from Pukeora Sanatorium were sent to us for surgery. Empyema [Emphysema] drainage or rib reception operations were performed. This meant removing a portion of the rib and penetrating the base of the lung. The patient would give a cough and a greenish, foul fluid would flow out and after this a drain would be inserted. As can be imagined staff needed good masks, but even then the smell was over powering. This type of operation was

Chapter 5.3

the first one I attended, certainly not one I would forget. Strange to say, I was very keen to watch and learn all I could from the methods and positions used for various operations, quickly learning the instruments needed for each operation.

Surgical patients had their wounds dressed daily with Dr Reid usually coming along to remove the stitches. Iodine and fresh dressings were applied, and for abdominal wounds many tailed bandages were applied. All the sterile dressings and swabs were kept in sterile containers on the ward trolley. Night nurses were required to make endless swabs and prepare gauze dressings. These they sterilised in two big steam autoclaves.

Dr Reid was assisted by either Dr Raymond or Dr Fisher. Dr Fisher was the anaesthetist for tonsil and adenoid operations which were performed on Saturday mornings. Miss Drummond was the anaesthetist for all major operations. Afternoon nurses often went to the theatre in the mornings to help clean up and have the linen ready for the laundry as we were “on call” at any time. Morning nurses had to be ready to help with the cleaning up in the afternoons too. The rooms were much bigger than modern theatres with big instrument cupboards and big sinks for scrubbing up in. Theatre walls were always white, so when Dr. Reid did a systoscopic examination the room was never dark enough. To our amusement a big black umbrella had to [be] held over him.

There were four isolation wards with four beds in each with each one having a partly enclosed glassed-in porch or verandah in front. Nurses were “on site” at all times when assigned to isolation duties. The nurses slept on one of the verandahs. If there were a lot of patients two or more nurses were on duty to make some “off duty” times possible. Before going off duty strict disinfecting procedures had to be followed. In the corridor outside each ward there was a basin of cillin (a disinfectant) on a stand with a towel. Nurses had to wash their hands each time after attending patients. It was very hard on our hands making them raw between the fingers if you didn’t wash it off again.

The meals for isolation wards were sent from the main hospital kitchen. They were the same as the rest of the hospital. We nursed a variety of infectious diseases. Typhoid cases were kept in for longer periods until tests proved negative. There was an outbreak of the disease amongst Maori folk from Poranghou [Porangahau] while I was at Isolation. There also was a measles epidemic with a number of staff from hospital being admitted. Scarlet fever cases were nursed at times too.

After patients were discharged from Isolation all utensils had to be sterilised with the wards being fumigated thoroughly. Clothes were stripped off the beds, mattresses placed on their side, and the linen hung over the chairs. Then the doors and windows were sealed, and a big enamel basin placed on a large tray in the centre of the room. Jeys [Jeyes] crystals were put into the bowl with a measured amount of formaldehyde. There was an immediate eruption as the fumes shot up. We nurses rushed for the door, closed and sealed it; otherwise it was a horrible smell. The fumes would sting our eyes as it erupted into a great cloud of smelly smoke. After twenty four hours, we would throw the door open and make a dash through the ward to open the outside doors as well. We left them open for some time before cleaning out the ward.

Pneumonia Patients

The patients with pneumonia were kept in a side ward. They were nursed in a semi postural position on Fowler beds. They had to be watched closely for the “crises”. Each of the patients were given four hourly sponges with soapy water with pressure points treated with methylated spirits and then powdered. Temperature, pulse and respirations were taken four hourly and frequent drinks given at this time too. They perspired very freely and the linen had to be changed often. Frequent nourishing drinks were given in a china mug with a spout to try to keep their strength up.

Chapter 5.4

Some of our Patients.

The nurse who attended to the verandah patients in Women’s ward was also responsible for testing the urine specimens. They were tested in the Laboratory for density, sugar and albumen. One morning it was my task to do the tests. A patient with “D.T.’s (Delirium Tremors) was struggling with the Matron. I went to the rescue and managed to push him back on to the bed. Quickly we closed the door and called for help. Someone checked the patient by looking through the window, which was just as well. He was poised with a chair ready to strike the first person who tried to enter.

Another patient I had while on night duty was screened around and a caged night light was placed over the screen. The cage was used to prevent the heat of the bulb from igniting the chintz screen cover. The patient jumped out of bed, grabbed the night light and over went the screen. By the time I got down there he was searching the wall. “Can’t you see them, the little blue devils dancing up and down the walls?” It was not an easy situation to deal with alone. There was never a dull moment in Men’s ward when I was on night duty !

The Nurses’ Home

I have mentioned the two-storied brick Nurses’ home, and have a photo of the opening ceremony. The Hon. Sir George Hunter opened the building in about 1927. In the photo is a notable figure standing by. She was Mrs Norris, a board member at the time. The bedrooms were reasonably spacious. Each had a built-in wardrobe, dressing table and mirror, bedside locker, and floor rug on the stained and polished floor. We nurses were given made up bedspreads in different colours, and had to work a large centre design in Semco colour cottons. As an incentive, the nurse with the best design and finish was to receive ten shillings ($1) as a reward. Guess who won the prize? I also worked a dressing table set to match for my locker.

We had a grandfather clock in the vestibule which was next to the dining room with its six tables. Each table seated four people and always had a table cloth and a vase of flowers on it. Matron Drummond sat at the table inside the door with Miss Caston, the Home Sister. Miss Caston had been a Matron in Waipukurau, when it was a smaller institution. At meal times we all filed in and stood until Grace was said. The Matron and the Home Sister then served the meal. The two maids on duty brought the plates to the tables and also served the cups of tea.

The dining room and lounge were divided with two sets of folding doors. A corridor ran between them and for any big functions such as dances or any other entertainment, the doors folded right back to make one large room. The lounge had a large carpet square, a piano, comfortable chairs and a long window seat running along the width of the room. The Nurses’ home could be very noisy at times with so many young people together making their own fun! In the evenings we had many good times singing around the piano or mock weddings, mock court proceedings and occasionally a dance. The laundry was opposite the back door of the Nurses’ home. In one of the wooden tubs was a steam pipe which used to heat the water for washing. The steam heating was used all through the hospital and nurses home. We had to use it with care.

Nurses from the hospital often went as a group to attend the evening service at the local Presbyterian Church. One evening when the nursing staff were invited to the Presbyterian manse Kora Graham and I decided to don some men’s clothing and go over to assist the Rev. Allister McLean to entertain them. We borrowed the clothes from Mr Guillard – they lived just across the road from the manse. When we knocked at the door, Allister, as we affectionately called him, invited us in and we settled down to an evening of chatter and fun until supper was served by the elderly housekeeper. One other time when we had been at the manse for the evening I lost a drop earring. When Rev Allister and the choir came up to

Chapter 5.5

sing to the men in the ward he handed me the earring which he had found by the steps. It made quite a stir.


Christmas time in hospital was always a very joyful time. Many patients were allowed to go home to be with their families. The wards were brightly decorated with paper streamers and balloons with a central table which had a large bowl of flowers on. One year a number of silver vases were presented to the Home Sister for the dining tables in the Nurses’ home. The gardener was able to supply sufficient blue delphiniums and gypsophila to arrange in each vase. A special dinner was served on Christmas day. When the plum pudding was brought in brandy was poured over it and light up. It was served with brandy sauce. The nursing staff gave small gifts to each other.

Concert parties came up to the hospital from time to time with excellent programs. The Presbyterian choir and their minister came up once a month to sing to the patients.

I stayed on as staff nurse for eighteen months to help Sister Turnbull when she returned for duty. She was a good motherly type of person and one afternoon decided that many of the men needed their hair washed. She got some ethereal soap and we had a field day cleaning them up.

I always look back with pleasure on those four and a half years at Waipukurau Hospital. It had a good homely atmosphere, something, perhaps, which big hospitals can miss out on. I had applied to Hastings Hospital Maternity Unit to do my Maternity training and was soon off to begin another stage of my nursing career.

Photo caption – Waipukarau [Waipukurau] Hospital

Chapter 6.4

Napier After the Quake



(3 February 1931)

When the earthquake struck Hastings and Napier in 1931 people were going about their usual business. At first folk were wondering what was happening to them. We heard of several people who thought they were having a heart attack and sat down on the pavements. They were soon jolted to their senses and made off as buildings collapsed around them. People rushed from their houses as brick chimneys crashed into their rooms or crashed on to the paths outside. Much damage was done to crockery and preserved fruit stored on shelves as it was thrown to the floor and smashed. Even in our home at Otane a wheel barrow was brought inside and the crockery and fruit shovelled into it as it was so badly smashed. Many folk were too frightened to stay inside and many lived in tents for sometime afterwards.

At the time of the earthquake I was a Senior Nurse in Men’s ward at Waipukurau Hospital. I was in charge of both medical and surgical wards as well as the verandah patients. Sister Turnbull was away on leave, having had major surgery. It was about eleven o’clock in the morning when there was a tremendous rumbling, rumbling noise underground. Then the quake came, rocking and clattering everything. I was in the duty room drawing up morphia into a syringe to inject in to a patient. Down went the syringe – I ran towards the wards and met my junior, Nurse Horton. She called out “It’s the end of the world!” The men were terrified and many of them crying. We were pretty badly shaken ourselves. The earthquake was so strong that the swing doors going into the wards were swinging in and out. I went in and found a patient on a Fowler bed – he had a exophthalmos thyroid – with the plaster from the walls falling off around him. I picked up the end of the Fowler bed and hauled him into the centre of the ward. I left Nurse Horton in there and went immediately into Surgical ward. Plaster was falling off the walls there as well. There were open fire places in both wards and the chimneys had collapsed with all the bricks spilt out onto the floor. It was all a terible mess but thankfully no-one was hurt.

Eventually a meal was served to the patients. It was difficult to calm them as the after shocks kept coming. Extra staff were called on duty. Later we were in the Nurses’ dining room having dinner when a message was given to the Matron. It reported that Napier and Hastings had been devastated by the earthquake and asked that all available senior staff please assemble outside the Nurses’ Home ready to be transported to the Greenmeadows Racecourse. All the emergency services were in action there as the Napier Hospital was unsafe.

Some of our staff were driven down in the Mayor’s car. We tried to make our way into Hastings from Pakowhai Road. By that time fire had swept through many of the big buildings and fire hoses were lying in the gutters. I could see that Roache’s Building where my sister Frances had been working, was flattened but we had to press on. I learned later that she had been thrown down at the bottom of the stairs of the two storey building and was rescued by Mr Roach himself. Frances had been serving a customer in the Hosiery, Glove and Shoe Department on the ground floor. The top floor was held up by concrete columns which gave way, flattening the whole building like a pack of cards. At the first rumble of the ‘quake she had stepped out from behind the counter and was flung down at the bottom of the stairs. She blacked out for a time and when she came to she was smothered in dust. Ahead of her she saw an aperture of light and gradually crawled towards it. Fortunately Mr Gordon Roach was standing on a portion of the roof. He took her hand and helped her out. She remembered walking over to a pole and clinging to it as she was in a real state of shock. News spread fast – Cyril Eves was walking his bike from High School saw her and contacted her husband-to-be, Reg Eves. The roads were in a dreadful state but people including our cousins Stanley and Nell Powell from Ormondville, rallied to bring supplies and food. Frances eventually

Chapter 6.2

found her way to Mrs Adamson’s (Norman’s mother in law) home and by some means our cousins picked her up there and took her home to Otane on their return journey.

In the meantime on arrival at the racecourse, we were escorted to one of the big grandstands. It was an amazing sight. There underneath the grandstand, lying on mattresses which were closely packed together, were patients waiting for attention. We immediately got to work to find out what their injuries were, often cutting their clothes off them. The seriously injured were carried into another room where three sets of doctors were working furiously to attend to as many as possible and quickly as possible. I helped to carry a man into the improvised theatre and found Dr Raymond and Dr Fisher from Waipukurau. They asked me to stay and attend to the instruments for them. These were to be placed into lysol and rinsed in sterile water ready for use.

Once attended to, the patients were taken down to small tents at the lower end of the racecourse. They were made as comfortable as possible by voluntary workers. When I went out for a breather at some stage during the night I could see the lights flickering in the tents along the fence line lower down. We worked on till well after two o’clock the following morning. It was a long day but not over yet. The call came round for Waipuk nurses to be ready to return as ambulances were taking patients to our hospital.

It’s hard to describe that ride home. The scenes are etched on my mind. Bridges were holed out and there were great crevices along the roads. As we looked back we could see the Napier Post Office burning furiously. We arrived back at Waipukurau and went to our wards. Fortunately the Isolation Block happened to be empty at the time so Miss Drummond with the consent of Dr Reid, authorised all patients from surgical wards to be taken there. The porters helped with the transfer of patients and many others, particularly medical patients were discharged. All the beds were freshly made up for the influx of patients coming from Napier and Hastings. Eventually extra staff came to our assistance as some of the nurses from Napier Hospital were transferred to us. Dr Harold and Dr Alan Berry from Napier also came and helped Dr Reid. We also had help from many voluntary organisations that came to our aid.

Many were the stories as the badly shaken patients arrived with every type of wounds imaginable. One young boy from Hastings High School had been standing outside near the flag pole which snapped off and a large splinter pierced his buttock. His face was cut also in several places. For several days he had to be given a whiff of anaesthetic when his wound was dressed to extract the splinters from his buttock. Toby H. was in hospital for long time. We had several people with spinal injuries who needed extra care especially in the treatment of pressure points. One patient from Greenmeadows Seminary was very sick with a fracture in the lower spinal area and had to be catheterised. We worked long, hard hours but it was sad when some of the people we worked on, died. We nurses had a big responsibility, as the doctors’ time was at a premium. With so many patients arriving in that short period of time we just had to do what we could to help each patient.

Even when we were off duty we were reminded of the earthquake. Cracks were discovered in the Nurses’ Home so we dragged our mattresses out under the trees and slept there. It’s just as well it was a hot dry summer that February. There was a vacant house opposite that had a wide verandah which was boarded up a few feet all round. We used it as accommodation until the Nurses’ Home was examined and declared safe to use.

Una my sister was in the grocer’s shop in Otane working behind the counter when the ‘quake struck. At the first rumble and jolt, she ran outside and fell flat on her face out on the footpath. As she picked herself up many other folks of the village joined her. When the first big rumble was over they went inside to find the open shelves of the shop had shed most of the stock. There was a massive job to clean up especially with the continuous after shocks.

At home at the time of the earthquake, my mother had been inside ironing. She rushed to the back door but it wouldn’t open so she ran to go out the front door and was just missed by a big picture that crashed down from the hall wall. Outside it was chaos. The three eight

Chapter 6.3

hundred gallon water tanks were flung down onto the concrete at the back of the house. Fortunately there was a deep well and a windmill to draw up water for the family. The town water supply was connected up to Otane soon afterwards but the well did for the time being. Dad erected a tent on the lawn and the family slept out there for some time. Being the local builder Dad had to help many people so our house was one of the last to be attended to. We couldn’t live in it as it had to be rebraced to make it safe. Mother did the cooking in an open fire outside. Luckily as I have said already February weather was kind, being fine and warm.

My Dad was kept really busy and had many calls from around the neighbourhood. Damage was extensive but the stories people shared did have some funny sides to them. One farmer out inspecting his property before the earthquake, was examining a big drain. Suddenly he noticed the water moving and thought there must be an eel there. He bent forward to get a better look and was promptly thrown into the water. People said it was peculiar to see the trees swaying and the rolling movement of the hills.

Anyone who personally experienced the Napier earthquake will never forget the sensation of the ‘quake, the aftermath and most of all the human tragedy. It was a day that left a lot of sadness and in many families won’t be forgotten even with the passage of years.

Photo caption – Hastings After the Quake




In 1932 I moved on to Hastings Memorial Hospital Maternity Unit to do my maternity training for six months. This was a smaller hospital which served a very large district and included both general and maternity wards. Sister Owen was in charge assisted by Sister Bruce. A doctor was on call for any difficult or abnormal cases, however some doctors preferred to deliver their own patients. Most mothers preferred to have their babies in hospital in those days.

Ante Natal Clinic was busy as women were required to be checked regularly during their pregnancy. Measurements were taken of the pelvis, specimens of urine were tested on each visit and they were shown some exercises. Forms were given to the mothers for baby clothes, napkins and their own hospital requirements. Only five or six nurses trained during the six month period, so we nurses had the advantage of delivering more babies than the required number before sitting the examination.

It was routine practice to administer chloroform to all patients during delivery. At that time patients were placed in left lateral position as soon as the baby was born, the cord was severed and tied, the baby examined and routine procedure carried out. The baby then was warmly wrapped and placed in the bassinet until the nurse on delivery could bath it. A plastic wrist band with it’s surname was put on each infant and the birth weight and measurements recorded. Caesarean sections were performed for some difficult deliveries and a warm bath ready for any blue babies. All the babies were kept in the nursery and only went out to their mothers at feeding times. In those days mothers were kept in bed for ten days before being allowed up. One patient I delivered – a Mrs Craven – had twin boys so I named them “Craven A” and “Craven B”. Sisters Owen and Bruce gave us our lectures each week with our final examinations being held in a hall away from the hospital. My registration was dated 19th January 1933 with my registration number being 1667 – the six months passed very quickly.

[Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank note – “Craven A” was a popluar brand of cigarette at the time.]


For a time I did some private nursing under the direction of Dr Walker in Waipawa – an ex naval officer decorated with a number of medals. One patient I nursed for him was Mrs Bibby who required understanding and patience. I was on constant call for the month I was with her. Even when the doctor said she could sit out to have her bed made she needed to be encouraged to do so, though eventually I persuaded her on to a couch on the verandah. It was surprising what a change of scenery and fresh air did for her. Her brother, Doctor Fox, who had just returned from the islands with a bad dose of flu was another patient. The housekeeper kept his room immaculate, polishing the whole floor including under the mat. One day when taking the tea tray in, the inevitable happened – I slipped on the mat !The tea tray flew on to the bed but I landed on the floor. When I left, the good Doctor gave me a nice walking stick with set-in mother of pearl. I wonder why?

My next assignment was Mr Rathbone, Mayor of Waipawa, a big man who required two nurses. The Rathbones had a lovely home on the hill just above clock tower. As Mrs Rathbone had plenty of help in the house, our duties were light.

William Powell m. Emma Thomas
15 November, 1859.
Staffordshire, England.  Emigrated to N.Z.  Six children.

m. John Gibb

Ella Gibb
m. Wilfred Badger

Allie Gibb
m. John Badger

Elsie Gibb
m. Edward Hockly
Brian (twins)
Ian (twins)

m. Annie McEwan

Douglas Powell
m. Ida
Christina (twins)
Colin * (twins)
Ewen *
Ron *

Ischar Powell
m. James Finn

Alan Powell
m. Mirrie Cody
Ian *

m. Niel Pederson [Neils Pedersen]

Christian Pederson [Pedersen]
m. Jean Stevens

Nettie Pederson [Pedersen]
m. Jens Palliser

Howard Pederson [Pedersen]
m. Emma Mears
Faye [Fay]

Eric Pederson [Pedersen]
m. Ann Romerance

m. Grace Harrison

Stanley Powell
m. Nell Smith
Mark *

Myrtle Powell
m. Harry Price


m. Lily White
Ina (twins)
Una (twins)

Ina Powell
m. Frank Hunter

Norman Powell
m. Rhona Adamson

Frances Powell
m. Reg Eves

Muriel Powell
m. Jack Allen

Powell Family Line
* to 5th Generation

Original digital file


Format of the original


Accession number


Do you know something about this record?

Please note we cannot verify the accuracy of any information posted by the community.

Supporters and sponsors

We sincerely thank the following businesses and organisations for their support.