Time to Reflect, A – My Story by Noel Congdon





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In January 1979 we walked the Milford Track and during those 4 days we befriended a couple from San Diego, California, Bob and Freddie Driver. Our friendship continued from then on and in 1990 on our return from our trip to Alaska we visited them at their home in Delmar just out of San Diego. When we left, Bob gave us a copy of his autobiography, telling the story of his earlier life, family etc. This brought it home to me that it is something each of us, as we get older should get around to doing, putting in writing some of one’s earlier background for family members to read if they were ever interested.

As regards my forebears – as my own parents died at a relatively young age and well before I became even remotely interested in family history I don’t have much information on them. However there are a couple of distant relatives who happened to have an interest in genealogy and have been helpful in this regard.

A Congdon family tree was compiled by Cecelia Leigh and printed in 1995. A copy is included in the appendix. This has been a painstaking job and we are grateful for the meticulous work she has put in on our behalf. This record of the Congdon ‘Clan” is up to date as at that stage but of course ‘arrivals’ after that date are missing. Our branch starts with Grandfather William at bottom right of Cecelia’s tree.

“Family Heritage International” (Ohio, USA) is an organisation who do family research and publish their findings. I received a letter from them advising me of the “World Book of Congdons” published in 1990. It contains a lot of general information about

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migrations and heraldry etc. The most interesting section in the book is the Congdon International Registry. This lists the names and addresses (at that time) of the Congdons living in USA, Canada, Australia, NZ, Great Britain and Northern Ireland. A copy of the total of these records is included in the appendix. The book lists names and addresses of 42 households in NZ., totalling 212 people and copy of this list is also enclosed. We found this list very useful when we visited Nelson and Motueka and made contact with some of the families listed. The book also lists some of the early Congdon immigrants to North America in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Another distant relative, Alan Tunnicliffe, in 1970 gave me a copy of the family history dating back to the early 1800’s of Grandmother Ada Dick’s forebears if anyone is interested. As regards the early years of our own family I have had help from my sister Fran who has filled in some of the memory gaps for me.


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Here then is my story – up to end of the year 2004 (age 76)

I had always understood that the NZ Congdons originated in Devon and Cornwall in south-west England. When Elaine and I travelled by rental car through there in 1986 from London we stopped for a snack at Looe, a fishing village near the border between Devon and Cornwall. We found a local phone book and there were 70 Congdons listed (and also 20 Wakes) so these origins were confirmed. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to look any of them up as we were on a tight schedule.

Great grandparents George and Emma Congdon would have emigrated to NZ in mid 1800’s. They had a family of 9 – 5 boys and 4 girls. My grandad, William Henry Congdon was the eldest (refer family tree). He married Ada Bird Dick in 1888 and they had 8 children – 7 girls and 1 boy, Albert who was my father. William Dick was born in Scotland, was a farmer in Kilmarnock emigrated to NZ on the ‘City of Dunedin’ in 1863 and died in 1937 at the age of 95. When we visited Blenheim in 1936 we visited my grandparents, William and Ada Congdon and also Great Grandad Dick who would have been 94 then and was almost blind. He died the following year and Grandma Ada a year later. I can only just remember them, being a lad of only 7 then.

When inspecting NZ apples in London markets in 1963 I got quite a surprise when I spotted a carton of USA apples on display with each apple having the label “Congdon”. I took a photo of it and later made enquiries as to the origin of the fruit.

I found that it came from orchards in Yakima, Washington State. From a contact I had in Yakima, Fred Westberg, Secretary of

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the Washington State Horticultural Association we learned that Congdon Orchards were managed by a Charles Boone, the Congdons being absentee owners with mining interests further inland. Subsequently when we were travelling through orchard areas of Wenatchee and Yakima valleys in 1971, with Graeme and Judith Wake we called on Charles who showed us around some of the 600 acre orchard but unfortunately we weren’t able to meet any of the Congdon owners. No doubt they would have originated from early immigrants from England to the “New World” a century or 2 back.

Most of the NZ Congdons seemed to have settled at the top of the South Island but in more recent years have spread further north. Apart from our own branch the only others we have had some contact with is the secondary branch starting with Cecil Congdon (refer to family tree – 2nd branch up on the left, originating from John). Cecil’s family of 6 sons was brought up in Motueka. Fred, the eldest had a furniture shop, Reg worked for a mercantile firm in Wellington and I met up with him when we were both involved on committees to do with the Noxious Plants Control Scheme in the 1980’s. Bevan, the youngest was the NZ Cricket Captain. We met up one day when he was in Hastings playing in a Hawke Cup match. We concluded after some discussion that our fathers were cousins. Occasionally we see Shelley Double (nee Congdon) – originating from the top branch of the tree (Hubert) and father, also Noel. Shelley and John live in Hawkes Bay.

So, getting back to my father’s background he and his 7 sisters were brought up on a small farm in Grovetown, just out of Blenheim. Their home was just across the road from the railway line running from Picton to Blenheim. Dad told us of the pranks

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he and his mates got up to, how they would lie under the shallow bridge and watch the train pass just above their heads. On one occasion they spread grease along the line and watched the engine wheels skidding along as it tried to pull its load. The culprits were found out, taught a lesson and as a result never tried that trick again! I think Dad enjoyed teasing his sisters, playing tricks and spying on them and their boyfriends and generally making a nuisance of himself. But as they grew up they became a very close family and always visited and kept contact with each other as each one moved away from their home to pursue their careers. The last of Dad’s sisters (Hazel and Meryl) passed away only last year (2003) well into their 90’s.

Dad had no secondary education. He had to leave after primary school as was normal in those days, and get a job. I gather he worked for various local farmers and growers and showed a particular interest in horticultural work. It would have been when he was about 20 (1910) or so he moved up to Hawkes Bay where his sister Nell had moved earlier. He worked on nurseries and orchards in the Hastings area e.g. Thos Horton’s Nursery at Frimley. Donald Wilson who later established Wilson’s Nurseries was there also, at that time. Dad managed to save enough to put a deposit on an orchard (with a glasshouse) in Thompson Road, Havelock North, (now owned by Graham Jones). The original house is still there, although modernised now of course. Dad added further plantings of apples and pears with glasshouse crops to supplement the fruit. He married Queenie Sturm who was part maori and grand daughter of Frederick Sturm a pioneer nurseryman whose property was located at the northern end of Napier Road, Havelock North. The Sturmer apple was named after him.

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Frederick Sturm was an Austrian, born in 1809 and arrived in NZ as a naturalist in 1839. He married a maori girl and their son James was Queenie’s father. Queenie’s brother Les Sturm lived in Massey, Henderson and in later years we used to visit him and his wife Gladys. They ran a mixed orchard there (I can remember a big block of lemons). Les was best man at Mum and Dad’s wedding in 1924. Another brother Doug Sturm was manager of Williams & Kettle, Napier, before he retired in 1963. He and his wife lived in Nelson St, Hastings for 68 years! Fran, Bob and I visited his widow in Waiapu House, Havelock North in 1993 when aged 96. Her mind was still good and she enjoyed reminiscing about the past. When I took her some fruit a few days later, she wanted to know who that nice man was (Bob) that came to visit her.

Albert and Queenie had one daughter, Marjorie Joyce (Joy) born 1915 who was about a year old when Albert went off to the 1st world war. He was in the Mounted Rifles and served in Egypt. He never spoke much about his experience’s except to tell us how fond he became of his little horse who was his faithful friend. Soon after he returned from the war Queenie got TB and died leaving Dad and Joy. For this and various other reasons he decided about 1920 to leave Hawkes Bay and go up to Auckland and make a fresh start. He left Joy with his sister Nell and husband Arthur (Thomas) in Ellison Rd to bring her up until he had become re-established up north. He bought an orchard property in Bush Rd, Albany, just north of Auckland. He met and married my mother Amy Elsie Taylor in 1924. She was 28 and he 33.

Joy came up to join them from Hastings when she was 9 or 10. Mum and Dad worked very hard developing the orchard, which also had a large glasshouse. Amenities in those days were extremely basic – a copper for boiling the water, a “long drop”

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at the end of the path, a wood range stove, a rack above the open fire to air the clothes, a scrubbing board and wooden tubs and mangle to squeeze the washing out. Fran, my sister was born on September 30, 1925 and I turned up on Xmas Day 1928. Mother had had another son (Bernard) between Fran and I but he died at childbirth. It was a bit rough on mother, being born on Xmas Day and I guess it was inevitable being given the name Noel, as well as one from Father (Bernard) and one from Grandfather (William). Fran had acquired each of her grandmothers’ names – Frances and Bird (and was not very impressed with the latter).

Our knowledge of the Taylor family background is very sparse. My mother Amy was born in Maryborough Brisbane in Sept 1895. Her mother Frances Hannah Taylor (nee Barker) was born in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. Mother’s father Ernest Taylor was a cabinetmaker by trade. We don’t know when they arrived in NZ but they eventually settled on a small farm at Birkdale near Auckland City. We often visited Nana and Grandad Taylor on a Sunday afternoon and as young kids fed and played with the various farm animals. We sometimes got up to mischief and then into trouble. I remember Grandad Ernest as a gruff old man with a long beard and a short fuse! Nana was a much kinder person who I’m sure saved us from more than a few hidings.

Grandad Taylor used to go around the shows selling a range of toys, dolls on sticks, windmills etc. He kept this stuff in a big cupboard in the house. We would sneak in and have a play around in the cupboard when he wasn’t about. The family had been brought up very strictly and manners were something to watch very carefully, especially at the dinner table. On one occasion we were all sitting up at the dinner table ready so [to] say grace and with

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the table all nicely set. Grandad had made these stools with no backs to them that we kids had to sit on. Fran leaned back forgetting there was no back, grabbed the starched tablecloth and as she fell she pulled the lot with her – not a pretty sight! I’m afraid Aunt Flo, mum’s sister, inherited her fathers strictness. Unfortunately for us kids she usually found plenty of reason for showing her displeasure with us because of all the bad manners we had acquired since her last visit and she would set about correcting them in no uncertain terms in the time she had available with us. Nevertheless we had warm feeling towards her as we grew to understand her and she was kind to us in other ways. Aunt Flo never married and was a nursing sister who was well known for her strictness by the young nurses training under her.

Mother’s 2 younger brothers, Horrie and Wallie were twins, identical even as grown men, but very different in personality. At the outbreak of the 2nd world war Horrie enlisted in the 2nd echelon and fought in Greece before being injured and captured while in hospital and then had 4 years as a POW in Germany. Wallie would not go to war and instead spent the war years as a conciencious [conscientious] objector (on religious grounds) in camps in the North Island. He worked in the building and timber industry and both before and after the war worked closely with the Maoris with whom he built up a very close relationship mainly in the Rotorua district. He was greatly respected in all the maraes and when he died, from asthma at a relatively early age the Maoris took over at the graveside in a very moving farewell to him. After the war Horrie worked in MAF’s Port Agriculture Service in Auckland and Tauranga. In his port inspection work he got to know the crew members of visiting ships from the Pacific Islands and built up a nice little sideline business selling to them old

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treadle Singer sewing machines that he had bought up cheap around the country. He repaired them and then sold them to the Islanders for their women folk back home. We saw a lot of Horrie in later years, as he would come down and use us as a base while he acquired various antiques that appealed to him plus Bentwood chairs that he dismantled, packed in and on top of his car for repair and sale back home in Tauranga. He too developed a strong affinity with the Maoris in his area and when he died aged 87 their farewell to him at the funeral service was as moving as it had been for his twin brother Wallie years before.

My mother was a trained nurse. Before she met my father she had been engaged to a young soldier who was killed in the war. She had been active in the local church at Birkdale, taught Sunday school and played the organ. Later, in Albany she played the organ in the little church to which we kids went with her every Sunday morning. The organ was the old pedal type that you had to really work hard at to get a tune out of.

One experience I can clearly remember as I was very nervous and a very young lad was Fran and I standing up in front of the congregation singing “The Old Rugged Cross’ with mum playing the organ. There is no doubt that mother was the one who gave us kids the introduction to bible teaching and christianity. She would read us bible stories before bed at night in front of the fire, give us verses to learn off by heart and generally to encourage us without forcing religion on us too hard. As we grew older we attended Bible Class and sometimes as a teenager I would go with mum to the Baptist Church service in Milford on a sunday evening.

Dad was very much involved in fruit politics almost from the time he began fruitgrowing in Albany. He became Auckland Director of the Fruitgrowers Federation and then Dominion

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President from 1946-50. I can remember as a lad accompanying him at weekends when he called on growers in Henderson and other fruit districts in the Auckland area looking for their support when election of Auckland Director came around. I was bored stiff waiting out in the car while he canvassed for votes. One of the highlights of his term of office as Dominion President was his trip to the Commonwealth Primary Producers Conference in London in 1946. Keith Holyoake was also on that trip and he being an orchardist himself in Motueka and Dad struck up a long-lasting friendship. He also met some of the Royal Family and was very taken with the young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.

The Albany Show was one of the highlights of the year for Albany. It was always well supported with usual outdoor events and the large Albany Hall was used for show exhibits in a wide range of classes. Dad was Show Chairman when the then Governor General Lord Bledisloe and Lady Bledisloe visited the show in 1933. We have photos of this occasion and also still have some of the cups Dad won for his fruit exhibits, some having been won outright after 3 successive first placings.

After a few years on the original orchard, Dad bought off a Mr Collins the adjoining property further up Bush Rd making a total of about 40 acres. This was planted mainly in apples and stonefruit but in addition, on a lighter strip of soil about 3 acres of NZ Grapefruit was planted. The small house on this property was used to accommodate Joe and Nellie Inglis. Joe had worked for us since age 17 and continued on for a total of 43 years apart from a spell of service during WW II. After Dad died in 1951 Joe stayed on to manage the orchard for me until I sold it in 1973 by which time he was ready to retire.

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Fran and I had the usual range of childhood infections, measles, mumps, etc and I can remember having frequent earache. Our mother kept us well dosed with Lanes Emulsion, malt and castor oil and an iron tonic of some sort. Primary school days were pretty normal for country kids. When very young we usually got a lift to Albany School from the headmistress Miss Alice Hunt who lived in Takapuna and collected us at the top of Bush Road. Miss Hunt was a very tall slim lady, very strict in the classroom but a good teacher who, typically in those days put great emphasis on the basics of english grammar, handwriting, reading, arithmetic and spelling. She demanded a high standard and would make us repeat our work until she was satisfied. Fran is naturally left handed but got rapped over the knuckles and forced (without success) to write with her right hand. When we got older we rode our bikes to school, a distance of about 4 miles over very rough metal roads. Intermediate and Secondary education was at Northcote DHS and Northcote College. We caught a bus at the top of Bush Rd after a bike ride of 1 mile from home up the very rough metal road. Joy also attended the Northcote schools but being older had left and started work in Auckland by the time Fran and I started our secondary schooling.

On the orchard we kids were expected to help out during holidays and weekends with fruit picking and packing and we had our normal daily tasks. We had a house cow. Joe milked her and brought the milk to the house every morning where I had the job of separating it and washing the machine before leaving for school. Mother was keen for us to learn the piano and we had lessons from a friend close by and later from a lady at the top of Bush Rd. I hated Tuesdays because that was piano lesson day after school and usually hadn’t done enough practice.

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As I got older I would help Dad with other jobs e.g. picking up and carting prunings, chipping weeds from around tree butts – (no chemical weedkillers in those days). To spray the orchard we had a small tractor-drawn portable sprayer with 2 long hoses and hand guns. I helped by dragging the high-pressure hose around the trees, a heavy job and the common sprays being Bordeaux mixture, Lime Sulphur and Lead Arsenate. I don’t ever remember wearing masks or goggles! Most of the cartage on the orchard in the early days was by horse-drawn trailer, using benzene cases to pick the apples into and wooden trays or 7”x7” cases for the stonefruit.

We had a lot of fun with the old horse “Patsy” and learnt to bareback ride with the inevitable falls. Dad built his own saw bench for milling timber from the pines growing around the boundaries and from this, case timber was produced which meant a big saving in costs. A handy pocket money job for me was making up fruit cases with hammer and nails. Summer holidays were fully taken up in helping with picking and packing the stonefruit crop. Often after work Dad would take all the workers across to Browns Bay, on the truck for a swim – a very welcome treat. At the end of the season during the May school holidays we sometimes had a week at Orewa, staying at Meldrums private hotel. In those days there were very few houses there and Orewa was a very quiet spot and much different today.

Our stonefruit was sold on auction in the Auckland markets. We carted the fruit on our own truck across the harbour on the vehicular ferry (no bridge then) bringing back empty cases on the return trip. Apples, before 1948 were sold directly to the public, sometimes hawked around the north shore and sold off the truck. Then, with the advent of the Export Control Board, Internal Marketing Division and in 1948, the NZ Apple & Pear

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Marketing Board most of the apples were packed for export with lower grades sold at the gate. As Dominion President of the Federation at the time Dad was very involved in the setting up of the Apple & Pear Board. I can remember him coming home from fruitgrowers conferences very frustrated with the lack of progress and the opposition from some delegates to its introduction. However the Apple & Pear Marketing Act did eventually come into being and remained for the next 40 years.

We installed a Benseman screw-type apple grader in our shed, about 1942. The man who came out from the Auckland office of the Fruitgrowers Federation to install it was Bob June who later joined the Dept of Agriculture in Hastings and whose job I was transferred to fill when he left to join Watties in 1952 (a small world!). From then on our work was closely related in the horticultural field and when he died in August ’04 aged 91, I felt honoured when the family asked me to speak about his work at the funeral.

We had plenty of pets when growing up on the orchard. Fox Terriers were my favourite – great mates for a growing boy, hunting out rats and mice nests from under stacks of fruit cases or possums when they got into the shed. We always had a couple of cats. When the figs were ripe on the tree in the back yard I enjoyed sitting under the tree popping off the Wax Eyes with my slug gun when they attacked the figs. The cats had a great feed sitting under the tree gorging themselves on the small birds as they fell until they couldn’t eat any more. We had chooks and a few bantams that were very tame and had the free run of the place. We had a parrot that would sometimes go missing. He would hide from us by sitting up in the gum tree or in the wood shed until he got hungry and then would re-appear after us

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thinking he had gone for good. On one occasion he was perched up on the clothes drying rack above the open fire, gnawed through the cord and down came clothes, Polly and all with a great deal of commotion. And then there were the budgies. Dad had an aviary built and they gave us a lot of amusement, especially at mating time. One day Joe gave us a rabbit he had picked up somewhere, quite a pretty white and grey bunny so until we’d built a hutch for it, we put it on the floor of the aviary. Little did we know it was a female, about to have its babies. When we looked in one morning it had made a nest, from its own fur – so we had several rabbits from then on. We made a good big cage for them, they dug down into the ground and of course there were soon more small noses appearing from the holes. Eventually when there were too many we let them all go in the paddocks across the road and the neighbours’ dogs probably finished them off.

The first 5 years of schooling at Northcote coincided with the war years 1941-45. We boys got introduced to military training, drill, rifle training, use of gasmasks etc and wearing khaki uniforms 1 day a week. Those of us from outlying districts were expected to pair up with another boy living locally so we could use their air raid shelter in the event of air attacks. My friend Dennis Burgess lived in Birkenhead, about a mile from school and invited me to his home. From this time on we became close mates, playing in the same cricket, rugby and acrobatics teams and spending times at each others places at holiday times etc. We were both prefects and in our final year he was Head prefect and I was Deputy. This friendship continued on for the next 40 odd years when his life was tragically cut short at the age of 58.

Two ‘adventures’ that Dennis and I went on as mates are worth

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recounting. The first was a few days in 1948, aged 19 we spent on our own on Rangitoto Island, sleeping in a small cabin and exploring this relatively recent volcanic cone. We were a couple of keen young biologists and collected lots of plants and other specimens. I remember cracking open rock oysters and filling up a big jar to take home for the family. However they turned bad and had to be thrown out on arriving home. On another occasion we rode our bikes from Auckland to Hamilton (84 miles) leaving home early and arriving at Joy and Bills early evening with very sore backsides! We didn’t ride back though. I think Dad came down and collected us.

As young boys both Dennis and I were interested in model aeroplanes. We would pay a visit to the ‘Model Air’ shop in Newmarket at least once a year to stock up on kitsets. I was particularly keen on gliders and would fly them in the paddocks across the road, clear of trees. Get them well up in the air and with the wind behind them they would go for miles and sometimes got lost.

But sport soon began to take up more and more of my life. Apart from rugby and cricket I was also keen on athletics, specialising in high and long jumps and held the school record for the long jump for a few years. Northcote College played annual rugby matches against some of the larger Auckland schools eg, Kings College, Mt Albert Grammar, Otahuhu College and occasionally Auckland Grammar. Being a smaller school we usually got a hiding but could usually hold our own against Otahuhu and Mt Albert – Dennis and I played in the backline and I was usually delegated to take the goal kicks (with varying success!). Banging a tennis ball against the wall of the house became an increasing pastime from early teens on. Being a weatherboard house the ball would often bounce in all directions,

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often running under the house but didn’t seem to put me off. I guess that’s where the interest in tennis started and when I went to college I had the opportunity to learn the game competitively on the school courts.

Belonging to Scouts was a great experience for a boy and still is of course. They were great days, out camping and learning all the practical things that Scouting offers.. Brother in law Bob was our scoutmaster and was very generous with the time he put into it. Bob’s father had been a boxer in his time and taught us the rudiments of boxing for which I was very grateful as it came in very useful later on when needing to defend yourself at times.

The earliest motor car I remember us having was a Model A Ford but Dad had a Model T before that. In 1940 we travelled to Wellington to go to the Centennial Exhibition, on at that time and staying with Ella and Jack Knight (Dad’s sister) in Brougham Ave. We left Albany about 11pm travelling through the night and got to Wellington late the following day, quite an achievement in those days. Aunt Ella spoilt us with lots of nice food and presents. I remember cousin Dorothy taking me up the new escalator in James Smith’s store – an exciting experience for a 12-year old country boy. The exhibition was a great learning experience with lots of booths displaying a wide range of subjects of a technical and educational nature. Then of course there was the playground and entertainment areas with the roller coaster, big wheels etc that I’d never experienced before.

The next vehicle I remember was a Ford 10, which I learned to drive in. Later, in 1947 Dad bought a new Chev Stylemaster (for £729) – his pride and joy and a really smart car at that time.

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The war years had a huge effect on us all in various ways. I was old enough (nearly 11) when war broke out to understand what was happening. Listening to the news on the radio and reading the paper provided frightening impressions of what war was like – I will never forget the pictures that were published of the treatment being meted out to the Jewish people – the queues of them being herded onto trains and trucks and off to concentration camps and the pictures of the death camps and the crematoria were quite devastating to a young impressionable lad over the other side of the world.

I remember clearly when Horrie Taylor was reported missing (in Greece). We were visiting the Taylor grandparents in Birkdale at the time the news was received. All the family were devastated but then a few days later, the relief when he was reported taken prisoner and in Stalag 8B camp in Germany. I remember him arriving back and getting off the train in the Auckland Station, extremely thin and older looking but happy to be home again. The older brother of an Albany mate of mine was killed early in the war. Laurie Hunt was a fighter or bomber pilot, was a great guy and his loss was a great blow to the Albany district, so early in the war.

Rationing of many of the basic foodstuffs and other goods e.g. petrol, butter, clothing etc was something everyone had to get used to. On the orchard we were better off than a lot as we grew a lot of our own produce. Rationing continued for a long time after the war ended, a small price to pay when compared to the suffering the war caused to so many. Groups of American servicemen on leave, or warships arriving at and leaving Devonport Naval Base were a common sight to all Aucklanders. The barbed wire entanglements along the northshore beaches

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and the occasional gun emplacements at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour, looking back were a rather pathetic attempt to protect us from an expected Japanese invasion but I guess we had to do something!

The year 1945 was certainly a momentous year in my life. Firstly, our mum after a period of indifferent health took ill and died suddenly at age 49, from an attack of double pneumonia on New Years Day. I had just turned 16 (& Fran 19) and the shock took a long time to recover from. Dad was in hospital at the time recovering from an ulcerated stomach operation. He had suffered off and on with ulcers for many years, requiring hospitalising when haemorrhaging occurred. So Dad was unable to attend Mum’s funeral which was an added blow. The whole family – Fran and her fiancé Bob, Joy and Bill Dahl (Joy and Bill were married in 1940) rallied around to support each other, with Joy particularly spending much of her time at home busy with the cooking, washing etc and we got through ok. I remember Bill saying – ‘come on Noel you’ve got to learn to drive now’ and gave me enough lessons to enable me to get my licence. The following few months were difficult but my sisters and brothers in law were marvellous in helping Dad and I get into a new routine. Joy and Bill who worked for Seabrooks Motor firm were shifted to Hamilton so most of the housework and cooking fell on Fran’s shoulders. She taught me a few basics of cooking, how to go about washing and ironing clothes and even how to darn my socks – so I was on a sudden learning curve!

That year too of course, the war ended, first with Germany and then after the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasake [Nagasaki], with Japan. There followed much jubilation and celebration and with dancing and partying up and down Queen St, Aucklanders flocked out in their thousands. Despite the emotional upsets

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earlier in the year I did manage to pass School Cert., not with flying colours I might add!

Next year 1946 saw the sale of the lower half of the Bush Rd orchard to Don Suckling. Don had worked for us in 1941 before entering war service for 2 years. So he took over in 1946 and moved into our old family home, which we left with many fond memories. Dad bought a house at 166 Lake Rd, Belmont between Takapuna and Devonport. We retained the top half of the orchard, which became known as the ‘Red Shed’ orchard with Joe and Nellie staying on in the house. The new home was a bit of a shock and a vastly different urban environment, with diesel buses rumbling along the road outside that made the house shake. I decided to complete my secondary at Northcote rather than change to Takapuna Grammar, which was just down the road. So for the rest of 1946 plus 1947 I biked across to Northcote, a distance of about 4 miles from Belmont. I was accredited UE. and decided to do a 7th form year in preparation for starting a university degree course the following year. That year 1946, Dad did his trip to UK to attend the Primary Producers Conference and on Nov 30th Fran and Bob were married. I joined the Belmont Tennis Club, the North Shore rugby club and also the Bible Class at Takapuna Methodist Church. It was the start of a new stage in my life, of establishing new friendships and interests. Fran would come in regularly to help Dad and I with cooking and household chores and Dad was pretty good at cooking a hot meal so we got by pretty well. Neighbours were very good to us too. Our next door neighbours Eileen and Arthur Message and their 2 daughters, Lynn and Rae were very hospitable and had us over for meals and once a week to play cards. 1947 was my last year at college and was a bit of a breeze with Higher School Certificate being granted so long as you attained a reasonable

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standard in internal examinations during the year. The school year ended early due to the polio epidemic throughout the Auckland region. So we missed out on the traditional farewells for senior students that year.

During 1947 Dad married (for the third time) Netta Parr, from Palmerston North who had been a nurse friend of my mother and had a son, Keith from a previous marriage. Keith was a year or 2 younger than me. Dad no doubt thought this would be a good move for both of us and it was good to have a lady in the house. We certainly enjoyed the improved diet and we all got on quite well.

The next 3 years were taken up with full time university study at A.U.C. Dennis and I both enrolled for B.Sc. but took different subjects with 8 units having to be passed. I decided to major in botany. The eight units required for the degree could be achieved in 3 years. However I was able to pass only 2 units in each of the 3 years leaving the last two to finish part time, if I found a job that would enable me to do that.

Dennis and I were able to get jobs each Christmas holidays at Hellabys and Westfield Freezing Works in Otahuhu which gave me enough cash, along with the student allowance plus jobs on the orchard to see me through the following year. These jobs at the works were mainly in the ‘scrapehouse’, cleaning out and packing sheep gut. Once you got used to the smell and the heat it wasn’t a bad job. To get out to Otahuhu I had to leave home about 6am – bus to the ferry, then by bus from the city centre out to Otahuhu to start at 8am. If there was work available on Saturday mornings it would be time and a half (good money) but I had to start at 6am, leaving Devonport on the night launch

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(about 4am). I would do 6 hours work, get home mid afternoon and in time for a bit of tennis down at the club. In retrospect those 3 seasons at the freezing works were a good experience. It showed me how some men work all year round at a boring, repetitive type of job in an unhealthy work environment where you seldom see the sunshine or breath[breathe] fresh air. It was a work experience that helped me appreciate what some jobs could be like.

The 3 year’s full time at university were a real ‘grind’ for me. I guess I was a ‘plodder’ and had to put a lot of time into swot in preparing for term and degree exams. There was little time for socialising but there was always sport at the weekends, rugby in the winter and tennis in the summer. I got as far as playing second grade rugby for the North Shore and then Takapuna clubs and played tennis in the North Shore senior interclub competition. As well, I joined the University field club and went out on many field trips and after degree camps to places such as Coromandel, Tongariro National Park, Great Barrier Island, Waikaremoana and Mt Egmont. One year, several of us climbed to the top of Mt Egmont which was a learning experience in snow climbing. Near the summit and roped together, with a guide, we had to cut our steps in the ice.

Xmas 1949 was my 21st – we had the family and a few friends in for dinner at home. At the end of 1950, having completed another 2 units I applied for and was accepted as a trainee orchard instructor in Horticultural Division, Dept. of Agriculture on the understanding that I would have to complete my BSc degree, part time. Salary was £353/year with time off to attend lectures and sit exams. I had some good trainers, some keen on ‘red tape’ but most were practical guys well received by the growers. I went

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out on orchard visits, with seniors at first and then on my own. Most of the fruit growers were located in the west Auckland districts of Henderson, Oratia and Huapai. Lincoln Road and Rathgar Road for example had orchards up both sides of the road – all covered in houses now. A big proportion were Dalmation growers. As part of my training I spent 2 seasons inspecting apple and pear submissions at the I.M.D. Inspection Depot under supervision of one of the senior horticultural inspectors. This gave me a good basic understanding of our grade standards for export and local marketing. Having to explain to an irate grower why his fruit has been rejected or degraded was an experience I had to learn very quickly. Learning how to deal firmly but fairly in these situations was important and often the ‘Dalys’ would take some convincing especially from a young guy and they could get pretty hot headed and excitable at times. I never regretted these two seasons on the inspection bench and the experience stood me in good stead when, in a few years I found myself responsible for the fruit inspection team in a major fruit-growing district.
About this time Dad’s marriage to Netta was starting to get a bit strained and not as happy as he had hoped. But he had promised to take her to Canada to visit her sister in Vancouver. So bookings were made to sail on the Aorangi leaving from Auckland in May 1951. This coincided with the waterfront workers strike, which dragged on for weeks and ended up with the government calling in the Army to work the wharves. This restricted public entry to the wharves to farewell passengers but Dad managed to get Fran and I in and on board to see their cabin. When the time for farewells came along and he took me aside I could see he was pretty stressed out. He didn’t want to leave but had made the commitment and that was it. He told me he was sorry and that

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the marriage had been a mistake. I told him to forget it and go and have a good holiday. We embraced, waved our goodbyes and that was the last time I saw him. I learned a few years later that Elaine’s mother and sister (Vera) were on the same sailing heading off to U.K. for a 6-month holiday – what a small world! A few weeks later, on July 1st, 1951 I received a cable at the department office ‘Father seriously ill following severe stroke’. Two days later another cable arrived ‘Father passed away today’. None of us could afford to get over to Vancouver to attend the funeral. Dad was 60 when he died. He was cremated over there and his ashes returned to New Zealand. Netta arrived back some time later. She was adamant she did not want a memorial service and we respected her wishes although we later wished we had gone ahead and arranged one despite her feelings. It was a very stressful time for the family made worse when we learned through our lawyer, John Manning, that Netta was contesting Dad’s will under the Family Protection Act. The will provided for her to live in the Belmont house, rent-free for the rest of her life and with an income for life from Dad’s investments. However she was seeking more than that. Mr Manning and I were executors of the estate and I spent a lot of time for many weeks back and forth to the lawyer’s office. Eventually, after months of delay the appeal went to court who found in favour of the family so Dad’s will remained unchanged, a great relief. Although there were some feelings of resentment over what had happened we as a family did not allow feelings of animosity towards Netta to develop and proceeded to get on with our lives. As I was still living at home with Netta and Keith during the course of this legal wrangle, needless to say it was not a very happy atmosphere.
Under the will I had the option of buying the orchard from the

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estate which I decided to do. Joe wanted to stay on as manager, which suited me, as I had no intention, at that stage anyway, of fruit growing full time. The year’s events were a huge distraction as far as work and study were concerned and I only managed to pass one of the two subjects needed to complete my degree.
Next year, 1952 became another momentous year for me as I was asked, part way through the year if I would consider transferring to Hawkes Bay as a vacancy had come up in the Hastings office. Bob June, who I have spoken of earlier had left the department and taken a field supervisors job with Watties. I knew this would be a good opportunity as Hawkes Bay was a major horticultural district and if I was going to continue with a career in the department this would be one of the best districts to work in and certainly good experience. I really had no definite intention of staying in the department and had been looking at other possibilities in private enterprise once I graduated. I was not bonded to the department either, as were horticultural cadets who had obtained a bursary while at university so I was free to leave if I so desired. Anyway, I accepted the transfer to Hawkes Bay subject to passing my final exam at the end of the year. Without doubt this was the best decision I ever made as it opened up a whole new life for me. It meant though, that I would have to run the orchard at a distance and this was going to create problems. I had to make arrangements with Joe regarding management considerations, arrange for an accountant who lived nearby to keep the books and pay wages etc and for the solicitor and his accountant for legal work, tax returns etc. I could see it was not going to be easy and realising I would have to make fairly frequent visits back to Auckland.

In the department I was given more responsibility, including

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giving talks at grower meetings, involvement with field trials and getting used to giving radio talks. I’ll never forget having to give my first radio talk for 10 minutes over national radio, – with fear and trepidation and much rehearsing. However the feed back was quite encouraging and it was the forerunner of what was to become a feature in Hastings – weekly radio talks for growers from the local Hawkes Bay station. One of the main field investigations I became involved in while in Auckland was with the problem of poor pollination of Japanese plum varieties. Plum blossom is unattractive to bees due to low sugar levels in the nectar and other factors that we investigated. During spring of 1951 and 1952 much of my time was spent on this, with the local apiary instructor and our report was eventually published in the N.Z. Journal of Science & Technology October 1955. During my field advisory work I got to know personally most of the scientists at Mt Albert Fruit Research Station of D.S.I.R. and this proved a big advantage in later years after moving down to Hastings where contact with scientists working in the same field was not so easy.

I sat my final exams at A.U.C. in November 1952, felt reasonably confident of a pass and shifted to Hastings later that month. Leaving all my tennis, rugby and work friends behind was a big wrench, and of course Dennis (or ‘Budge’ as we called him). He had opted out of university after his second year, went into the building trade and took on a small farm near Greehithe [Greenhithe]. But its strange how things work out -a few years later he decided to do a pressure cooker teacher training course. It so happened that a Hastings girl, Margaret Wood who was my regular mixed doubles tennis partner at the Hastings Tennis club went on the same course, met Dennis and they fell in love. Dennis followed her to Hawkes Bay and got a teaching position in Hastings. They

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married, I was Dennis’s ‘best man’ and they settled in Havelock North. – a small world! Another friend that I met at university, Errol Lochead [Lochhead] also gravitated to H.B. teaching at Boys High and Lindisfarne but then moving later to U.S.A. teaching in California. We still keep in touch and met up with him years later during a trip over there. So I started in the Hastings office of the department at the end of Nov (1952) and boarded with the Thomas’s. Aunt Nell, dad’s sister was a great cook and I enjoyed the company of my 3 cousins Geoff, David and Brian. Aunt Nell and Uncle Arthur had other boarders there over the period I was there so there was always a house full. She did not keep the best of health, in fact sometimes I wondered how she kept going.

At the Dept of Ag. Office in Warren St I was welcomed at the entrance on the first morning by Clarrie Napier. He was 10 years older than me but we became close friends over the next few years. In our own time at weekends and after work we did seasonal work together, pruning, picking fruit etc to earn a bit extra. We grew pole beans on contract for local processors on bits of spare land or vacant sections that were offered to us. Tom Conway was the senior Horticultural Instructor, an older man who, during the war years had been employed on the Services Vegetable Production Scheme, for feeding the armed services. In addition in Hort. Division there were several Hort. Inspectors and an Apiary Instructor. There was also quite a team of farm advisory staff and livestock officers, as well as administration staff, quite a large team overall. One of the first big differences from Auckland that struck me was the ease of getting to work and of getting out to the work face. You’d hop on your bike and be at work in 5 minutes compared to Auckland’s – bus, ferry and tram.

Govt. cars were garaged a few minutes from the office or at

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your home if you had a garage. The growers you serviced were located mostly close to Hastings city, usually within a radius of about 5 miles, so different from Auckland where you travelled at least 1/2 an hour through the city before you reached any of the orchards. It was soon obvious that growers were predominantly export oriented and vegetable cropping was on a large scale and mainly for processing for Watties or Birds Eye. This was in contrast to the Auckland region where, because of the high population much of the produce was for local consumption and sold direct to the public. I was soon involved in the full range of advisory work but specialising in fruit crops. This comprised individual grower visits as well as participation in field days, weekly radio talks, articles for local papers, the ‘Orchardist’ magazine and Journal of Ag. Field trial work was being taken on to an increasing extent tackling problems of greatest importance to growers. We were expected to attend grower meetings, give talks on topical subjects and occasionally show slides or films of interest to growers. Regular staff training courses were held each year in different locations where we were brought up to date by scientists and specialist staff.

Not long after arriving in Hastings I received news that I’d passed my final exam with the graduation ceremony set down for May 1953 – quite a relief! The degree subjects were Botany (to stage 3) Zoology (stage 2) and stage 1 in Chemistry, Pure Maths and Geography.

I was given some orchard advisory visits to make in the St Georges Rd area. One visit was to Archie Wake. I think I had met Mr & Mrs Wake earlier, at church as the Thomas’s and Wakes were long-standing Methodists. So I was chatting to Mr Wake when this young, very attractive young lady arrived up the drive

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on her bike from work. Mr Wake broke off the discussion and said ‘Elaine, I’d like you to meet Mr Congdon’. I remember thinking gosh, what a lovely girl. As far as girls were concerned, I had taken a few Auckland girls out but nothing serious had developed. For a start I was far too busy, what with studies, sport, Dad’s estate business and the orchard. And anyway I was too broke to get involved with any girls! Elaine was only 18 and I wondered if she would think me too old – by now a 24-year-old! I was also a pretty shy young guy, so I thought I’d ask Mr Wake first if he’d give his ok, for me to ask Elaine to go out with me. He gave his approval so I plucked up courage and rang Elaine the next night and invited her out to the pictures with me. I was delighted when she agreed so I booked seats, bought a box of chocolates, borrowed Uncle Arthur’s car and off we went on our first date. We dated regularly after that including to the Bachelors & Spinsters dances at Fernhill and we enjoyed each other’s company. As far as I was concerned this was the girl for me and I could see myself spending the rest of my life with Elaine if she would have me. However I wasn’t without competition as she had been going out with a local boy, Bob Cater and she still had a soft spot for him. He was also a Methodist, his father was choirmaster at Wesley and both he and Elaine sang in the choir. One day at work, one of Elaine’s older workmates gave her a little lecture that ‘she’d have to make up her mind who she was going out with – Bob or Noel’. So I guess I got the nod but I wasn’t being complacent and had to ‘play my cards right’ from then on. With the graduation ceremony coming up in May I asked Elaine if she would like to attend the graduation and partner me to the Grad Ball being held in the Auckland Town Hall. I was delighted when she accepted and said her Dad and Mum would drive her up from Hastings arriving in time for the capping. It was also an opportunity for Elaine to

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meet Fran and Bob for the first time. After the Ball we enjoyed a drive (in the moonlight!) around the waterfront to Mission Bay.
During my early days in Hastings I was still unsettled regarding a career. I wasn’t that keen on staying in the department and thought a good job in private enterprise would be more challenging and better paid. But I wanted to stay in Hawkes Bay. I applied for a job as field rep. in Shell Co., dealing in agricultural chemicals, had an interview but was second choice to a Shell Co. cadet, Brian Watts, who later joined M.A.F. in the Ag. Chem section. Bruce Lindeman of McWilliams Wines, Napier who I had met in Auckland and had been Govt Viticulturist was keen to take me on. However I decided not to accept this offer and to stay where I was meantime. Offers of field jobs with Watties and Birds Eye came along at various times and I was very tempted to take one of them but stayed with the Dept. which in hindsight was the right decision as promotion came along in later years without having to transfer from H.B. A research job with D.S.I.R. Havelock North came along in ‘57. This involved cool storage research but I was not that keen on working in cool stores.

In 1954 I was asked to spend the next couple of years concentrating on field trials, investigating a range of production problems of concern mainly to fruitgrowers ie: fertiliser and pruning trials on blocks of Granny Smith, control of some of the worst insect pests e.g. red mites and mealy bug, stonefruit blast and evaluation of new varieties of stonefruits and poor cropping of pears. As well, we started work on new grape varieties by grafting over existing vines on Tom McDonalds vineyard at Taradale and evaluating rootstocks for grapes at the Mission Station vineyards.

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At that time also, semi concentrate spraying developed in Canada using Turbo Mist Sprayers was introduced into N.Z. orchards. I and another chap from Nelson office attended a course in Nelson to train us up in this new technique of spray application so we could work with growers in our districts who had bought these sprayers to ensure their correct use. It was interesting new work. Another project I was assigned to was a study of the relative effectiveness of different spraying equipment used in H.B. and Nelson orchards, comparing dilute versus concentrate spraying in pest and disease control and the economics of each. This involved me in several weeks work in Nelson over the next two years and it was interesting to meet growers in another major district and to observe the differences from H.B. All these projects and investigations had to be written up, recorded in the official manner and of course the results reported back to growers at meetings and through newspaper, journal articles or radio talks. It was very satisfying work and looking back one of the most enjoyable periods of my career in M.A.F.

I joined the Hastings Tennis Club (squash courts were added later) a week after arriving and have been a member ever since (52 years). I played interclub competition from then on, most Saturday mornings and represented Hastings against Napier and Central H.B. Ranking matches for H.B. team selection were always held on Sundays and H.B. rep games were full weekend matches so I chose not to compete at that level especially after the family came along. I never got around to playing rugby again. There was so much opportunity to earn a bit of extra cash doing seasonal work in local orchards during winter, mainly pruning, and grafting often with Clarrie Napier or another workmate, as described earlier. I transferred my church membership from Takapuna to Hastings Methodist Church and soon got involved

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with leadership in Bible Class, church committees etc. Bill Davis who later became an All Black in the 60’s was one of my B.C. members – the discussion often reverted to the subject of rugby!

Elaine sang in the choir and taught in Sunday school. I was usually invited to the Wakes for Sunday lunch and Elaine had dinner with us at Thomas’s on Wednesdays. She worked in the Power Board office and biked to work each day from St Georges Rd. I boarded with the Thomas’s for about a year but when Aunt Nell’s health started to deteriorate I obtained board with Mrs Mason whose house was in St Georges Rd, about a mile from the Wakes – how convenient! From then on Elaine and I biked to and from work together. After moving in Mrs Mason asked me if I like tripe – I said I did which was a bit of a mistake as I was dished up tripe at least twice a week from then on. Peter her son, a bachelor and electrician by trade lived with her, was a bit of a loner and loved a chat.

Keeping in touch with Joe on the orchard meant weekly letter writing or phone call (which wasn’t easy, as he was very deaf). During the coarse[course] of the job I came to know Cyril Barclay of Barclay Motors. He had the Volkswagen franchise and needed people to ferry his cars and wagons down from Auckland. This provided a great opportunity to get up to Auckland several times a year. He would fly me up mid day on a Friday, in time to collect a vehicle from the assembly yard in Otahuhu. I would then have the car for the weekend, have a catch up with Joe on the orchard and sometimes the accountant, stay with Fran and Bob and then drive back to Hastings, calling on Joy and Bill on the way. Elaine’s parents did not want her to be married until she turned 21, so Noel had to be patient and just wait. We became officially engaged on Elaine’s 20th birthday, 18th Nov 1954 so some serious planning

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could now take place!

Before leaving Auckland I had subdivided a block of 2½ acres of land that Dad and I had bought next door to Fran and Bob’s property in View Rd Glenfield. There were 6 sections and I had sold 4 of them early on. In 1955 I sold the remaining 2 sections using the proceeds as a deposit on a small house at 909 Tawa St Hastings and raising a mortgage for the balance. (I won’t quote prices because although they sound ridiculously small they were only relevant to that time),

Regarding transport – I still didn’t own a motor car. I had owned a little Austin in my last year in Auckland and sold it again before I left. It wasn’t a bad little bomb as it got me around ok, even the odd trip down to Hamilton to see Joy and Bill. But it gave me a huge fright one day on the way to Devonport. The floorboards caught alight due to a short from the battery lead rubbing on the drive shaft. I managed to snuff the fire out with an old floor mat but got my hands burnt in the process. On moving to H.B. I had a Govt. car, which of course could not be used except for official purposes. So to take Elaine out I had to rely either on Uncle Arthur’s generosity or later Mr Wake’s car which was much appreciated. Our first car was a little 1954 Morris Minor which we bought about 2 years after we were married.

Our wedding date was set for 28th Jan 1956. This was Auckland Anniversary weekend and allowed the northerners an extra day to come down. As Dennis wasn’t able to come I asked Sam Henry, a Farm Advisor in Hastings to be Best Man. Sam and I continued our friendship over many years during which he served as Farm Advisor in a number of districts including Chatham Islands. Cousin Brian Thomas and Graeme Wake were groomsmen.

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Elaine’s bridesmaids were Ethne Wake, Shirley Land and Merynn Potts. Elaine’s 21st birthday was celebrated 18th Nov 55 but wasn’t a big party as the wedding was coming along 2 months later.

The wedding was at 4.30pm in Wesley Methodist Church and Rev Len Horwood the minister. Eve Bennett, John’s first wife sang a solo. We had a short 16mm film taken of the wedding which we later transferred onto video tape and still have in our library. The reception was in the H.B. Farmers tea-rooms and later a dance followed in the Oddfellows Hall. After the usual high jinks we eventually got away, or thought we had but were chased through to Napier by mischief makers who weren’t going to let us get away scot-free. Our first night stay in the Masonic Hotel, Napier was supposed to be a secret but next morning when we went out to our vehicle (Mr Wake’s Fargo truck), parked not far from the hotel we found the rear wheels jacked up which meant we had no traction until the wheels were lowered. And we made a huge mess on the floor of our hotel room as someone had got into our bags and filled them with confetti. We had a two-week honeymoon at Paraparaumu Beach in a cottage loaned to us by a Wake family friend.

During our time there we flew over to Nelson to call unexpectedly on Aunt Hazel and Uncle Allan Malcolm at Richmond. They were surprised so see us and Aunt Hazel proceeded to play tricks on us being new honeymooners. The first night when we retired to bed we found she had sewn the 2 sheets up the middle so we had to set to and unpick the stitches and then in the small hours there was a terrible noise outside our window – here she was banging saucepans and making an awful din – so not much sleep was had that night – she was a real teaser. We returned to Hastings to find that ‘mischief-makers’ had decorated our house in Tawa St, with large printing over the windows and garage door, a pram

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tied on the roof and toilet paper draped all around the garden. They had got inside and deposited confetti in drawers, toilet etc – we kept finding more for weeks. We were told that the bus used to slow down outside to let passengers have a good look. Elaine went back to work, relieving when staff at the Power Board office went on holiday and continued for the rest of that year.

The first year after we were married we had 19 weddings to go to, of couples of similar ages to ourselves so we seemed to be continually buying wedding presents out of our rather meagre income. Our small house with 2 bedrooms was quite convenient. It had a good-sized section, with fowl house and shed at the back and plenty of room for vegetable garden. However when Peter came along in July ’57 and then Christine 19 months later we started to feel a bit cramped for space. Without a motor car, Elaine would walk to town pushing Peter in the pram but then with 2 we just had to have some wheels. So we bought a 1954 Morris Minor, from a lady we knew and that served us well until we needed something bigger. Peter was 10lb at birth and grew fast. Christine was about 9lbs and born with a shock of black hair that stood up straight like a brush. I called her my ‘little Hottentot’. That year, 1959 Mr Wake purchased a property in Norton Rd that backed onto his St Georges Rd orchard. It had a house and sheds and Mr Wake asked us if we would like to move into the house until such time as Colin, who was working at Baillie Motors was ready to take up orcharding. It worked out well and was very timely as we had outgrown the Tawa St house and the rural environment with plenty of space was good for the children. So after a few improvements to the house we moved out there and settled into the larger house which also had a full sized billiard room and table. On wet days it was a great room

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for the kids to play in with their friends. Mind you – the big kids had plenty of fun on it too! There were plenty of children to play with – the Graeme Wake’s girls from the orchard at the back, the Begleys and Van Drutens next door and the Arlidges down the road. Gary Begley and Peter have been friends ever since and go hunting together each year. A fowl house was built at the back and several citrus trees planted on the large lawn. Vicki arrived on the scene in Sept ‘61. She weighed about 9 ½ lbs with long arms and legs, obviously destined for a sporty future and so it has turned out. About this time we bought a bigger car – a 1956 Vauxhall Velox which proved very satisfactory in transporting a growing family. It was good for the regular trips up to Auckland at holiday times, loaded to the maximum.

Up until 1959 the Hort. Division office of the Dept. came under Palmerston North with Jack Hume the Horticultural Superintendent, responsible for the lower half of the North Is. Jack would visit Hastings regularly and go on up to Gisborne where there were also Hort. Div. staff located. Then in 1959 Hort. Div. established four new Assistant Supt. positions one of which was based in Hastings and covering H.B. and Gisborne. I was appointed to the position which in 1962 became a full superintendancy, so a further promotion had come along without having to transfer. At age 33 I was the youngest Hort. Supt. to be appointed and although grateful for the promotion I realised that with more administrative responsibility I would have to forego much of the fieldwork that was still my ‘first love’. As well, I was appointed over Tom Conway who had been my senior when I arrived in H.B. but did not have the required qualification for the position. Some awkward situations did arise at times but we got on ok as I got to grips with my new role. This involved a lot more travel away from Hastings, attending Directors meetings

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in Wellington and regular visits up to Gisborne. I enjoyed the camaraderie with my counterparts from other regions when we met up in Wellington every 2 months or so. They were a great bunch of guys and we enjoyed each other’s company, especially outside formal meeting times. After these meetings I had to report back to staff in Hastings and Gisborne to keep them up to date. Communication with staff in the field was all-important and I became more and more aware of this as time went on.

For some time I had had an urge to learn modern piano so this same year, 1962 we followed up an advert in the N.Z. Herald saying that the Auckland firm, Atwaters had new pianos, at discounted prices. When in Auckland a few weeks later we bought a new Stanley Brinsmead (for £200) and they transported it down to Hastings at no extra charge. We planned for the children to learn as well as me, when they reached a suitable age. I signed up for lessons, with David Jenkins and as in earlier days, doing enough practice between lessons was hard to achieve. However, some moderate progress was made thanks to David’s patience and perseverance.

I soon learned in my new role that matters relating to staff was where most of your headaches would occur. I had a staff of about 20, including trainees in Hastings and Gisborne. Most were good people who worked well together but there was always one or two who made life difficult. I had no authority to sack staff, even if I had good evidence to do so. Someone would have to commit a criminal offence, just about, to justify losing his job. Once a staff member had successfully completed a 2- year probationary period and often this was in another district out of your control, you were stuck with them. Personal reporting was an area of the job that was very time consuming. Promotion

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to a higher grade depended on how they were ranked in relation to others throughout the country and it was my job, along with other superintendents to compile these lists, every 2 years by visiting other regions, going out in the field with staff and assessing their performance in comparison with my own, in each grade.

The year 1963 was an eventful year in my career. Towards the end of 1962 the Director Arthur Greig rang and asked me if I would be available to inspect the N.Z. export fruit in U.K. & Europe in 1963. This job was done each year by someone from our division, usually a horticultural inspector and was an arrangement set up by Apple and Pear Board and Dept of Ag. and had been operating for several years. This call came completely out of the blue. My first reaction was that I couldn’t possibly leave Elaine and the family for up to 5 months which it would involve and she was expecting our 4th child. However it so happened that Gidget, Elaine’s cousin and a karitane nurse was uncommitted workwise and offered to come and live with Elaine and help with the family while I was away. So that made it possible for me to go.

A month before I was due to leave for overseas, Hastings was visited by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during the course of their 1963 tour of N.Z. While in H.B. they had asked to see an orchard and the Wake property was chosen, a great honour and a thrill for us all. We were lined up at the shed entrance and introduced one at a time to the Queen and Duke by Sir Leon Gotz, the then Minister of Internal Affairs. Then followed a ½ hour or so look at apples being picked, then graded and packed in the shed. The royal couple showed a lot of interest with the Duke firing questions at us in quick succession about aspects of

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the fruit growing business. The Queen had obviously done her homework too as during the course of the conversation she asked Elaine if she would be accompanying me on my forthcoming trip to England to which Elaine replied ‘unfortunately no! I need to stay home and look after the children’ but didn’t add ‘I’m expecting our fourth’. Of the many pictures that were taken of the visit, undoubtedly the most prized one is of Mr Wake having a little private joke with the Queen around the side of the shed. We never did learn what that joke was about! – that remained Dad’s secret!

I flew out of Napier on the 12th March after a very emotional farewell at the airport and after stopovers at Sydney and Singapore arrived in London to some very cold early spring weather. I lived in the Strand Palace Hotel for 2 weeks until a small flat became available in St Johns Wood, a few minutes on the underground from the Strand where the Apple and Pear Board’s office was located. I had a desk in the Boards office and I was made welcome by the Board’s European manager, John Watson, Asst. Manager, Neil Guymer, a N.Zer and the accountant, Jim Rice. We still keep in touch with the latter two, and made visits to them when in UK. The Rices visited us, during their N.Z. tour in Nov 2003.

Inspecting the N.Z. fruit was done mainly in the then Covent Garden market, in central London or at the docks on the ships arrival. You were expected to see as much fruit as possible, make individual case reports for growers information back home and a general report on each shipment for our Head Office and the Board. I had a camera supplied to take coloured slides for illustrating to growers meetings later on, aspects that needed to be emphasised. Other ports or cities that I travelled to, to inspect

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shipments from N.Z. were – Hull, Bristol, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Le Havre, Paris, Brussels, Marseilles, Dunkirk, where I stood on the beach and thought about the evacuation of troops in 1940, Hamburg and Stockholm. One of the projects I had on my plate was recording the results of a trial comparing the old wooden box with the proposed new cardboard carton for the packing and transport of our export apples. Often fruit in the wooden box suffered so badly from the shocking handling it received by wharf labour that apples arrived so badly bruised they were often almost square and useless. Fruit packed on trays in cartons on the other hand were able to withstand the abuse a lot better and cartons were eventually adopted by exporters as the standard container from then on.

In between inspecting apple shipments I was able to do some sightseeing and managed to fit in a weekend in Devon and Cornwall, a day trip to North Wales, Whitsun long weekend to Scotland as far as Inverness and a visit over to the Rhine Valley, Germany to meet up with Erhard Haeske. Erhard worked for Bayer Chemical Co. and had spent a year or so doing field trials to evaluate his company’s products under N.Z. conditions, including Hawkes Bay. After showing me through the Bayer factory and labs in Leverkusen we went for a trip up the Rhine River. The vineyards stretching for miles up the steep sides of the river were amazing.

Elaine and I sent message tapes to each other. Playing these in my flat whenever they arrived was an emotional experience as I missed Elaine and the kids so much and hearing them talk to me on tape after being away so long was heart wrenching.

I managed to fit in a bit of sport -a day at Wimbledon Tennis

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Champs – where, when I found my seat on the stand I was sitting next to Eddy Jull from Waipukurau and who I played interclub tennis against. Also had a day at Lords watching England playing West Indies and to Twickenham with one of the Board staff to see a 7-aside rugby tournament. The England versus Scotland soccer match at Wembley Stadium was a real experience. The Scots had travelled down to London overnight and many were completely ‘under the weather’. They were in a real frenzy – they had to win but England won the match 2-1. The Scots took over Piccadilly Circus that night and created havoc and a few ugly scenes.

I had been given approval to visit some of the research stations whose research reports we had become familiar with at work. I was given a list of those that, if time permitted I should regard as priorities. Top of the list of course, as it was the predominant fruit research station in Britain was East Malling R.S. I also fitted in visits to Long Ashton R.S. in Bristol, John Innes R.S. and Brogdale Fruit Trials whose scientist at the time, John Todd later came to N.Z. and became our berry fruit specialist. The only research establishment I got to in Europe was the Hort Research station at Wageningen in Holland. I found the research staff at all these places very willing to show me around and to share their research information. So I came away armed with lots of information of interest back home.

Before leaving N.Z. I had been forewarned by the Director that I may be asked while in U.K. to represent N.Z. at a forthcoming conference of The Food and Agriculture Organisation, meeting in Rome. So, sure enough, in June I was requested to join with two other N.Z. chaps from the N.Z. High commission in London, and attend the conference to represent N.Z. at the first meeting

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of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body set up by F.A.O. to prepare export food standards for E.E.C. countries which, up to then did not exist. I was there to speak on or answer questions concerning the N.Z. Grown Fruit Regulations which we had operated under since the 1920’s and which it was thought we could contribute useful experience to this exercise.

The other 2 N.Z. chaps were there representing the Dairy and other agriculture sectors. The conference lasted 10 days, very little was achieved and was a good demonstration of some delegations, notably the French wanting to dominate the proceedings and lobbying to get themselves on the various sub- committees. I think I was called upon once to give an explanation of part of our regulations, which of course they had copies of to use as reference. While in Rome we travelled to the Island of Capri one weekend and to the Blue Grotto, passing the monastery of Cassino en route where the epic battle involving so many N.Z. troops was fought towards the end of the war. During the other weekend in Rome the new Pope was being inducted in St Peters Square at the Vatican. I went and had a look at the preparations being made and decided, rather than wait for the ceremony I would look at other places of interest. I hopped on a train and went out to Lido Beach for a swim and then made a visit to the Forum and Coliseum which were pretty much deserted as most people that day were attending the ceremony at the Vatican. Returning to London I had a lot of catching up to do, as well as the extra reporting back to N.Z. on the F.A.O. conference.

The time for packing up and returning home in early August eventually arrived and as Elaine was nearing the time for baby No. 4 to arrive I was eager to get going. I wanted to pay a short visit to British Columbia, Canada to meet up with Dr Jim Marshall

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on the way home as I had worked with him on the concentrate spraying project in N.Z. a few years earlier and was keen to have a quick look at the Okanagan Valley fruit growing scene. We had arranged a suitable date for him to meet me off the plane at Penticton. On the way from London to Vancouver I had a 2-day stopover in New York and after a night in Vancouver took the short plane trip over the Rockies and on to Penticton. I was so pleased to see Jim again that I forgot to confirm my return booking back to Vancouver that night. We had an interesting day visiting orchards and meeting some of the local growers. We were having an evening meal at his home when we realised it was getting late and had better get going back to the airport. We arrived just before take off time to find they had given my seat to another tourist as I had not confirmed, was late and tourists were wanting seats. So I had the mortification of watching the plane take off without me – and I had a connecting flight from Vancouver to San Francisco next day and from there to Auckland. However it turned out ok as Jim got me a seat on a Greyhound bus, travelling all night and arriving in Vancouver in time for me to catch my flight to San Francisco and then onto Los Angeles and N.Z. It was a good lesson and I’ve never forgotten to confirm onward bookings as a result of that experience. The flight from Auckland was to Palmerston Nth rather than Napier so Elaine and her dad came through to meet me off the plane – what a wonderful homecoming it was – exactly 5 months away and I was so relieved to be home before baby arrived. And I only just managed it as Grant was born on 13th August, just 5 days after I arrived home. He was a bonny boy of 8 ½lbs and we were delighted we had evened the score – 2 boys and 2 girls – and there were to be no more! It was a bit of a shock for little Vicki though, just barely 2 yrs old – she screamed when I walked in the door, not knowing who this strange man was, trying to give

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her a cuddle!

Having been away for so long there was a lot of catching up to be done on the work front. Jack Hume, my old boss in Palmerston North had stood in for me on important work that had to be actioned while I was away. But in addition to picking up on routine work I had to get around the country and report to grower meetings in the main export districts on the outturn of their fruit. I spoke to growers in Auckland, Hawkes Bay, Gisborne, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and Otago as well as reporting to Apple & Pear Board and our own staff meetings. A full report covering the 5 months away was required by Head Office and I was under pressure to have this done by the required date. It had been a wonderful learning experience and I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to see the marketing end of the apple & pear business as well as the added visits I was able to make to the various horticultural research centres in U.K. Catching up with the family was now high priority, especially now with the new arrival and the extra work load for Elaine. We had said goodbye to Gidget who had been marvellous in helping Elaine and without which we would not have been able to manage. Aunt Vera and Elaine’s mum had also been a great help with housework and babysitting. Peter had started school at Parkvale the year before. He and Christine had had their tonsils out while I was away which helped them over their ear problems, which no doubt they had inherited from me.
A new sandpit was built out the back and birthdays which seemed to come along at frequent intervals were always well attended by friends and cousins. Bicycles were soon out grown and replaced usually by generous grandparents. These were happy times indeed and I have always regretted and felt sad that my own parents

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never lived long enough to have known my lovely wife and children and to share in the joys of watching them grow and develop. Our children too, have not been able to experience the added enjoyment of another pair of grandparents.
Three months after I arrived home news came through of the assassination of John F Kennedy which caused such great sadness around the world. May school holidays usually saw us off up to Auckland, loaded up to the hilt, staying with Fran and Bob and their 2 children, Wayne and Louise and catching up with the orchard business. Summer holidays for the next 3 years were spent at Westshore Beach, renting houses across the road from the beach.

In 1966, as Colin was ready to move into full time orcharding we had to find another home to enable Colin and Betty to live in the Norton Road house. After looking at a lot of homes in the Frimley, Mahora area we were shown a lovely big home on a 1/2 acre section in McLeod Street next to the hospital and owned by Mr & Mrs Roy Sherwood of Sherwood Transport. The asking price was £8,500 and somewhat beyond our affordable range. But we were keen to buy it if we could. With the help of Mr Wake, in arranging an advance to Elaine from her anticipated share in the estate plus a Building Society mortgage and our own savings we were able to raise the necessary finance and we moved in during the Labour weekend and lived there for the next 36 years! It proved to be a wonderful family home with plenty of room both inside and out and handy to schools. Built in 1936, it had been added onto over the years finishing with 5 bedrooms, a large veranda and a terrace at the side entrance. We decided that although the 1/2 acre section lent itself to building a swimming pool or tennis court (or both) we would instead patronise the local aquatic centre and tennis club and keep the

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back yard open. Fruit trees were planted in quick succession – apples along the back fence, about 10 citrus trees, feijoas, boysenberries, kiwifruit on the old tank stand and later a peach, apricot and grapes. The vegetable garden was extended and roses and other shrubs added to the already substantial flowerbeds. We sealed the circular driveway, which had been shingle when we arrived. Much later, when I retired we built a BBQ area with block walls and trellis’s, serviced with power and lighting where we subsequently spent many enjoyable times over the years with family and friends. I also put up a kitset 12ft x 8ft glasshouse and had the house and garage reroofed which cut down the painting work enormously. The same year that we moved to McLeod Street we bought a new vehicle – a 1966 Holden station wagon, purchased with the help of overseas funds, which you had to have then, to buy a new car. I had arranged to have some of my salary while away in 1963 paid into a separate account which then became eligible in satisfying the overseas funds requirement. This proved an ideal vehicle for transporting a growing family on our frequent journeys north.

The children went to Frimley Primary School and then Heretaunga Intermediate both handy to home. Peter and later on Grant, joined the Mahora Scout Troop, Peter advancing to Venturers. Both enjoyed their scouting years. Elaine served on the scout committee and also Frimley School committee while the children were there. Christine learnt ballet dancing for several years and Vicki got involved with sport at an early age and progressed into netball and tennis. I continued playing interclub tennis on Saturday mornings and got involved on the committee, organised working bees etc. At Wesley I took on the job, in the late 60’s of Circuit Steward, a senior lay position and at the same time was stewardship convenor. This was quite a big workload,

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having to present the financial reports at quarterly meetings and as stewardship convenor, organise a small group, besides myself to do follow up visits of pledge givers, if and when they got behind in their giving – not a very pleasant job.

For four consecutive years in late 60’s, early 70’s we spent 2 weeks in January at Mahia, renting houses near the beach which was very safe for young children and a great spot to relax and ‘recharge one’s batteries’. Alan and Mavis Hyde and son Stuart had a beach house and boat nearby and very kindly took Pete and I out fishing with them, sometimes going as far as Portland Island. We had also acquired a small pram dinghy with a seagull motor in which we had lots of fun catching small fish not far out from the rocks. Leaving mother to have a sleep in each morning I would take the kids exploring around the rock pools or climbing the surrounding hills and then return for breakfast.

In 1967 I joined the Bridge Pa Golf Club playing on Saturdays in winter and sometimes after work in summer. Elaine joined the Napier Golf Club at Waiohiki with 2 friends after Grant started school in 1968. A few years later I switched my membership to Waiohiki so that we could play together at the same club. We continued playing there until the late 80’s when overseas travel plus some back and shoulder problems intervened and we never got back to full membership. Instead we took up lawn bowls at Kia Toa club joining together in 1990. My golfing prowess never reached any dizzy heights. I got down to about a 16 handicap at one stage. At a sponsored tournament in 1972 I had the best stableford score and came home with the Bacardi Trophy (a silver jug). Elaine won a lot more trophies than I ever did.

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Visits up to Gisborne were made quite regularly, driving up, taking about 3 ½ hours and spending 2 or 3 days with the horticulture staff. Once or twice in school holiday time I took Elaine and the kids with me and we stayed at my usual accommodation, Lincoln House, run by a couple of characters who were very sociable! One of the senior staff I had met in the Auckland office, John Renouf had moved down to Gisborne to the job of Field Supervisor for Watties who had recently opened their processing factory there. John and I had ‘hit it off’ up in Auckland, got on well and this friendship continued in Gisborne. So we always met up and caught up with what was happening in our respective areas. He was very much in the role of pioneering process vegetable production in Poverty Bay – there was little experience locally to draw on.

On one occasion, driving back from Gisborne on a hot February afternoon I had a frightening experience – going to sleep at the wheel. I had a workmate with me, Stuart Kemp and we had been at a growers meeting the night before and were both tired. We were going to stop at Wairoa for a cup of tea. Stuart had dozed off and I know I should have stopped for a break. But I didn’t, lost consciousness momentarily, woke suddenly veering off the road, pulled on the steering wheel and careered across the road finishing up piled into the bank on the opposite side. Fortunately there was nothing coming the other way. The car was badly damaged, Stuart got a cut forehead and I was uninjured. It was a salutary lesson that I never forgot and after that if I ever felt drowsy at the wheel would stop for a rest or hand over to another driver.

During the period of the mid 1950’s to early 70’s both the fruit and vegetable processing industries in Hawkes Bay expanded

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rapidly both in area planted and in the adoption of new technology and production systems. Such things as bulk harvesting of apples and pears, mechanised harvesting of process crops, grassing down of orchards, new methods of pest and disease control and semi-intensive planting systems including introduction of single leader training of fruit trees to name a few were examples of quite radical changes from the past. It was great to have been involved during this era and to be in a position to assist in the adoption of these new advances. A wide range of extension methods were used to provide information to growers – one to one visits and discussions groups (small groups of growers visiting each others properties with one of our advisors and learning from each other). Then there were seminars and field days (large and small), demonstrations and of course the weekly radio talks, newspaper articles and bulletins.

Expansion was also taking place in the vegetable processing industry. With the expansion of fruitgrowing, land on the Heretaunga Plains became less and less available for process crops so Watties and Unilever had to extend their production to other areas such as the Ruataniwha Plains, south of Hastings. In Gisborne during the same period Watties were expanding dramatically and with citrus and subtropical fruits and grapes also increasing in area the Poverty Bay flats were like wise running short of suitable land resulting in production of crops such as sweetcorn and tomatoes being pushed further up the coast north of Gisborne.

The recruitment of advisory staff was a continuous headache during this period of intensive activity. Graduates with even limited practical experience were few and far between. Retention of staff once they had gained some field experience and become

The captain and two of his female crew (of 3) filling the water tanks on “Southland”, our 53ft narrow boat, Llangollen Canal, North Wales, 1996.

Congdon family – taken in Frimley Park, Hastings, Christmas eve 2000,
Back Row: – standing – Grant, Christine, Peter, Sarah, Anna, Brad, Stephanie, Thomas, Vicki, Dave Gay, Grant.
Sitting:- from left – Angie, Timothy, Amy, Matthew, Rebecca, Sophie, Noel, Elaine, Jason.

My father, Albert, with his parents, William & Ada plus seven sisters – at rear – Ella & Dora – Middle Row – Ila. Baby Meryl & Edith – in front – Nell & Hazel.

Fran and I, Mum and Dad (about 1942)

Albany show 1933
From left – Lady Bledisloe, Lord Bledisloe, Harris M.P., Alby Congdon (A young pupil of Albany school, Frances Congdon, presented Lady Bledisloe with a bouquet of flowers).

With my sisters Joy & Fran plus Joy’s daughter, Janice, at our Bush Road home (about 1943)

With my good mate Dennis Burgess, in Queen Street, Auckland, about 1947

Saying good-bye to Dad as he left for Vancouver in May 1951. (He died there six weeks later, aged 60).

We came upon this creek when travelling through Kluane National Park, Yukon in 1990 – so we stopped the bus for a photo.

Trying to look slim, next to Jenny Craig, (the noted dietician) and husband, neighbours of our friends, the Drivers, at Del Mar, San Diego, 1990

Horticulture Division Staff, Dept of Agriculture, Hastings
Taken 1972 just prior to M.A.F. restructuring.
Back Row from left: Paul Marshall, Lloyd Simmiss, Roly Wall, Bill Miller, Don Wilson, (pip fruit specialist, Auckland), Stan Woon, Graham Russell, Karl Jenner, Robert Findlay.
Front row: Chris Ryan, Joe Bell, Phillipa Lewis, me, Frank Wood (U.K. exchangee) John Greenfield, Jim Cullen.

With other members of Senior Management Group, Advisory Services, Hastings Region 1981.
From Left – Terry Donaldson, Bill Crawford, Brian Willis, Liam Spring, Roger Darwin, me, Peter Johnston, Ron McPhail, Barrie Wallace, John Fitzharris.

My first car – Austin Seven – taken December 1952

Hastings Tennis Club – Mens Singles Champs (about 1954). Jack Charters (winner) & me (runner up).

Our wedding, 28th January 1956
Bridesmaids (from left) Shirley Land, Ethne Wake, Merynn Potts
Best man – Sam Henry (left) Groomsmen- Brian Thomas (cousin) and Graeme Wake (Elaine’s Brother)

Queen’s visit to the Wake orchard, Feb 1963.
Sir Leon Gotz (left) introducing the Queen and Duke to family members

Apples on display at Covent Garden Markets, London, April ’63, from Congdon Orchards, Washington State, USA. – We visited these orchards in 1971

At Bayer Chemicals factory Leverkusen, Germany, with Erhard Haeske (right) and lab worker. (had got to know Erhard during his time in N.Z. and have kept in touch since.

With Graeme & Judith on our return from Canada, USA, and Mexico in 1971

Christmas Day always meant a family gathering at the Wake home in St Georges Rd Sth.
Here at Xmas 1972 Nana, & Grandad Wake, left middle row with their family including 11 grandchildren. Aunty Vera Morrison seated front row.

Elaine on Milford Track Jan ‘79

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known was the other problem as they were often sought after by firms with offers of higher pay. With increase in pipfruit production we needed more inspectors to man the Apple & Pear Board inspection depots. The Hastings-based inspection team of 8-10 men was supplemented by staff on loan for the season from other districts. The logistics for a continuation of this system of inspection became more and more untenable and it was a great relief when a new system of quality assurance was accepted by the industry under supervision of M.A.F. This gradually replaced the traditional on-line inspection of growers fruit submissions and consequently reduced our staffing requirements to some extent.

In those days there was plenty of social activity as well. The H.B. Fruitgrowers Association had a very active social committee which organised a number of activities for growers and their families each year. I enjoyed being on the committee for a few years – a great team and we had a lot of fun. We organised fruitgrowers picnics, golf tournaments, fishing competitions, apple packing contests and bus trips to places of interest. The highlight of the social programme was undoubtedly the Annual Fruitgrowers Ball which was always popular and held in the Cabaret Cabana at Awatoto, Napier.

In 1968 the Dept of Ag Hastings office moved to a new 5 storey building on corner of Lyndon & Railway Roads and occupied the top 3 floors, with our division on part of the top floor. We felt pretty flash with new office furniture and a great view out over the city and beyond to Havelock hills. That was, until we felt the first earthquake then it wasn’t quite so flash! The building, constructed by Mackersey was on a floating foundation which made the building sway somewhat especially on the top floor.

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We got used to that sensation after a while but it was quite unnerving especially with big quakes.

The period 1970-76 were eventful and challenging years and brought significant changes to both our family and my working life. In Hawkes Bay there was a growing need in the vegetable processing business for a research area to be established to investigate local problems and needs of processors and supplementing what research they were doing themselves. After meetings with Sir James Wattie and Max Grainer (Unilever) it was decided to go ahead and buy an area of land reasonably close to Hastings for this purpose. I was involved along with Rud Boyce, Director of Levin Research Centre to find suitable land and negotiate price etc on behalf of the Dept. After a few frustrations and let downs we eventually were successful in obtaining land from Doug Agnew in Lawn Road and the research station was established from then on doing a lot of useful work of benefit to the processing industry. Similarly in Gisborne it was decided to convert part of the Manutuke Animal Research Station into a citrus trial area for investigating problems of importance to the citrus industry. Planting of trial trees, mainly sweet oranges began in 1967 under direction of Bill Fletcher, Citriculturist, Auckland with assistance of our staff in Gisborne and Hastings. It was on one of my visits to Gisborne at this time that I took ill with what was diagnosed as nervous and physical exhaustion. It hit me one night in the motel we were staying at with severe heart palpitations that continued most of the night. Next day I was flown down to Hastings hospital and kept under observation for 2 nights. I was advised to rest up for a week so Jock Hosking, our minister at Wesley accompanied me to Taupo where we stayed for a few days in the Bate family house at Rainbow Point where we both had a complete rest. This

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experience was a good lesson for me as I knew I had been pushing myself a bit from a combination of things. One thing I gave up as a result was being circuit steward at Wesley but retained the stewardship role.

In the late 60’s and for the next 12 years our family together with 3 other families with similar numbers of children went skiing to the Ruapehu ski fields during the August school holidays. The Downers, Armstrongs, Halls and Congdons camped each year in the large Whakapapa Lodge near the Chateau. We had a wonderful few days learning to ski in the early years and then progressing further up to higher ski fields as experience was gained and confidence grew in the later years. One year our booking was recorded incorrectly and we had to find alternative accommodation. Fortunately one of our friends Graham Armstrong was a senior in the Justice Dept and obtained permission for us to use a vacant house in the Rangipo Prison complex near National Park. This annual trip to the mountain was one of the years highlights for the family and we all enjoyed the invigorating experience of skiing coupled with the very enjoyable company of our good friends. In all those years our party of 24 or so people only suffered 2 broken limbs, one being Grant who had a greenstick break in his leg on one of his last runs.

There was every prospect that I would be expected to transfer to Head Office, Wellington when the Director of Horticulture Division was due to retire, about 1970. It came as quite a relief however when Director General Malcolm Cameron and State Services Commission decided to take this opportunity to merge the two advisory divisions Farm and Horticulture into a new division, Advisory Services Division, servicing livestock farmers

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and horticultural producers. The old Dept. of Agriculture became Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (M.A.F.). Field Superintendents and Horticultural Supts had to apply for the new position of Regional Advisory Officer in each of the current designated regions in N.Z. I was successful in being appointed to the position covering the East Coast region from Wairarapa to Gisborne East Coast extending as far as Ruatoria. Regional staff of the combined divisions numbered about 70 and included farm and horticultural advisors, advisory assistants, specialists in agricultural engineering, animal husbandry and economics and a team of horticultural inspectors. The regional headquarters was Hastings, other staff being based in Ruatoria, Gisborne, Wairoa, Dannevirke and Masterton. A small office was opened later in Waipukurau. I was pleased to be appointed to this new position and to accept this new challenge realising the responsibilities and work load would be much greater. Elaine though was less enthusiastic!

For the second time in my career I found myself appointed over a contemporary but much older man in the same office. Frank Collin was the Field Supt and I respected his vast experience in the pastoral farming scene in H.B., and for his popularity among his staff. As time went on Frank and I developed a good understanding and as he realised that no way was I going to alter or over-ride his leadership role among the farm advisory staff. In fact, inevitably my job became more and more administrative and less involved directly in the horticulture scene. But I did have to get out with the farm advisors and animal husbandry specialists to see how they operated, how effectively they were doing their job and how well they were accepted by their farmer clients.

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Going out visiting farmers and looking at sheep, cattle, deer and sometimes goats was certainly a bit different from horticultural crops but the advisory job done by our farm and horticultural advisors had obvious similarities. I tried to show a genuine interest in their work, asking plenty of questions and giving them encouragement and support when I felt it was due. Throughout the region as time went on I sensed a good feeling of co-operation being built up in the new organisation. I was very lucky in the calibre of senior staff in each of the regional offices. We came together as a senior management team at regular intervals and were a very happy group. Elaine and I always had them for an evening at our place when they came to Hastings for meetings – they were great company even if sometimes they didn’t know when it was time to go home! Since I’ve retired we’ve kept in touch with most of them especially at Xmas time and visit each other when the opportunity arises. Since M.A.F. restructuring most have now moved to other locations.

In 1971 my one months long service leave (20 years) came due. It so happened that that year Graeme and Judith were travelling over to Europe so we arranged to meet up with them in Vancouver on their way home and then travel down the west coast together, renewing contacts with Canadians and Americans that he or I had met over the years during their visits to N.Z. On our way over Elaine and I had a few days in Fiji and Hawaii and visited Vancouver Island and Butchart Gardens. Then the 4 of us flew over to the fruitgrowing area of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia where we were met by Frank Morton who was a Canadian Dept of AG adviser that I had met earlier. He and his wife looked after us and showed us many places of interest in Kelowna and took Graeme and I out to visit several growers and packhouses. Private transport was kindly provided to drive

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us down across the Canadian, USA border into Washington State where we were met by other industry people, taken out to a growers field day and then onto the large fruitgrowing districts of Wenatchee and Yakima where at that time 40 million bushels of apples were grown annually. From then on it was a mixture of sightseeing, visiting and being looked after by the people we had met earlier. Graeme and I took every opportunity in each place we stopped at to see either orchards, orchard equipment manufacturers or research centres. It was very educational for us, we took lots of notes and photos and of course were impressed with the scale of operation as compared to N.Z. but in many ways felt that we were better off and could even show the Americans a few things! We came on down through Oregon and California then flew down to Mexico City for a couple of days which was an interesting contrast and our first experience of Spanish language. We returned home via Acapulco where we saw the famous divers in action and then a day in Tahiti which we explored by taxi before boarding that night for our return flight to Auckland. Graeme and I stepped off the plane at Napier wearing our Mexican sombreros. I wrote an article for the ‘Orchardist’ when we got home, published Dec ’71 giving some of our observations recorded for interest of N.Z. growers. We had arranged a babysitter for the family and Mr & Mrs Field did that for us, living in at 115 for the month we were away. It was Elaine’s first trip out of N.Z. she enjoyed it immensely but says at times got sick of seeing so many orchards! It was good to have had that break away as on our return, with the new regional organisation I had some catching up to do.

So 1972 was very much involved with setting up the structure of Advisory Services Division in our region that would be able to deliver the most efficient service as possible to growers and

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farmers with the resources of money and people available to us. It was important also to make sure that each staff member had the necessary administrative support, transport, equipment and other essentials to enable him or her to function as effectively as possible. Job responsibilities and lines of control had to be understood very clearly by each staff member. Hastings was traditionally regarded as a training centre for new recruits so when trainees were allocated suitable training officers had to be identified and training programmes organised.

During the Christmas holidays in Jan 1973 we were staying in John and Betty Deyell’s home in Wellington when we got a phone call from Mrs Wake that Elaine’s dad had had a heart attack. So Elaine went back to Hastings for a day or two to see him. He seemed to recover well and soon assumed his normal life around the house and doing light work about the orchard. Then on Mother’s Day May 13th we had all been out to St George’s Road to see Nana and Grandad, returned home and had just sat down for tea when the phone rang. It was Nana, to say that grandad had just died suddenly from a severe heart attack. We were all devastated and couldn’t believe it as we had just left them to return home. The sudden loss of Elaine’s dad was a terrific shock to us all. He was a much-loved father and grandad and greatly respected by all who knew him. He never had a harsh word to say about anyone and never got rattled when frost or hailstorms damaged his crops. His funeral at Wesley was conducted by the new minister, Edgar Hornblow, this being his first funeral since arriving in Hastings. Mr Wake was 77 when he died.

A bit later that year I received an offer for the Albany orchard from an Auckland businessman. It came at a time when Joe Inglis, my manager was ready to retire and I was finding it more and

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more difficult to spend the necessary time to run it at that distance. It was barely holding its own financially and needed a lot of money spent on replanting some of the older trees and upgrading buildings and equipment. I drove up to Auckland, negotiated with the purchaser with no agents involved, signed an agreement through my solicitor, John Manning on the basis of a deposit then and the balance to be paid off over 4 years. Not having to worry about the orchard was a great relief after 22 years of struggling to keep it viable, 20 years of which were more difficult by being at such a distance.

With the funds from the orchard sale we were able to rebuild the kitchen and renovate the living and dining rooms at 115. We bought a 17ft Lightweight caravan which was the start of 8 years of enjoyable caravan holidays. The Holden wagon proved to be underpowered for towing a rather large caravan and we needed a more powerful vehicle. At that time Graeme was about to trade his 1972 Holden Statesman so in 1974 we did a deal through the agent and acquired the car which proved an ideal vehicle for the many caravan trips we made around the North Is. Sometimes we travelled with friends John and Betty Deyell and Vic and Betty Welch and sometimes with Barrie and Shirley Wake who also had vans. We held onto the Statesman for the next 10 years, as long as we had the caravan and traded it in, in 1985 for a new Toyota Corona. We had sold the caravan by then, to a friend Ken Osborne who took it off to the Wairarapapa. It was sad saying goodbye to the van which had given us so many happy holidays at camping grounds around the North Island. The biggest and most memorable trip we did with it was about 1976 when we travelled up to the Bay of Islands with the Deyells and the Barrie Wakes and camping at a small beach near Coopers Beach where we had hoped to stay but found no powered sites

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left when we arrived. On the way home we did the round trip back through Waipoua Kauri forest and while up there took the bus trip up to Cape Reinga via 90-mile beach.

In 1974 I managed to win the men’s singles title at Hastings Tennis Club (there couldn’t have been much competition that year!). Anyway, it was cause for celebration so Pete and Jill Frizzell, who were our neighbours across the road then, came out with us that night to dinner at the Apple Inn restaurant. The veterans’ tennis tournament at Waipawa in Feb each year usually attracted a large entry from around the North Island. Some of us from Hastings entered for several years during the 70’s and ~80‘s. One year Vic Welch and I were runners up in the mens doubles. Another year, at the Wanganui Veterans, another tennis mate, Dick Gray and I were again, runners up in the men’s doubles – couldn’t quite make it! We made lots of friends playing in the Vets Tennis tourneys and still keep in touch with some. Most of the tennis from about late 70’s on was with a group of us men playing on private courts on Saturday afternoons. This continued for many years until Elaine and I started, in 1990 playing bowls on Saturdays. So tennis from then on has reverted to mid week, playing twice a week with other retired guys. I intend to keep playing tennis as long as possible – it is an enjoyable form of exercise and helps to keep me reasonably fit.

The mid 70’s saw some big changes in our family. Firstly, early in 1975 Christine informed us of her pregnancy which was understandably quite a shock at the time. Jason was born in August, Chris and Grant where married the following year and Anna came along in May 1978. At the same time Peter was accepted for a 2-year farm-training course at Smedley Station. So we were reduced from a family of 6 to 4 within the one year

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which took some adjusting to.

As a result of the sale of the orchard we had been thinking of investing some of the proceeds in a holiday house in Taupo. We looked at various houses for sale and attended some auctions but eventually decided to build our own place. A section was bought at 4 Hyde Ave and we began making plans for building the following year. We approached Tom Wilson, Taupo builder and husband of Jenny, Elaine’s cousin. Tom took us to see a house he had built for a Hastings chap we knew.

We liked the design and said, yes that will do us – a simple open living layout on a block basement with 3 bedrooms upstairs, 2 down stairs with separate shower and toilet. Building commenced in 1976 and was completed by Easter ’77. Then followed a busy few months, 3 coats of polyurethane on the floors, laying paths, levelling and sowing a lawn and erecting a concrete block fence with the help of Barrie and Shirley Wake. Then we had to look at how we would furnish it. Many visits were made to auction rooms and gradually we got together enough second-hand furniture to accommodate the family. Elaine did most of this buying up – she became pretty well known around the auction rooms of Hawkes Bay. Most of the furniture was carted up to Taupo from Hastings on our small trailer and not without several ‘close calls’. On one occasion we arrived up at Taupo with the china cabinet just about to drop off the end of the trailer. On another occasion, at night and in the rain, approaching Taupo on the plains a motorist pulled alongside us and informed us that ’some of your load is on the road about a mile back’! – The tarpaulin had blown off, we were dragging it along behind and we had lost a couple of mattresses from the top of the load. So we turned around and found the dirty and battered mattresses near the Rangitaiki Bridge and continued on our journey. We’ve

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called that spot ‘Mattress Bridge’ ever since. The Taupo house has, over the ensuing 30 years provided many opportunities for family get togethers and has enabled us to see our family much more than would otherwise have been the case. As it turned out all of our family eventually moved away from Hawkes Bay, thankfully still in the North Island but nevertheless far enough to make frequent visiting unrealistic. Having the Taupo house has helped greatly in providing a ½ way house.

One Saturday approaching Xmas 1978 I returned home from the usual afternoon of tennis at Dick Gray’s home in Havelock North to find the back yard full of friends and ‘relies’, including some guys I had just been playing tennis with. It was approaching my 50th birthday and Elaine had organised this party which came as a complete surprise – quite sneaky really!

In January 1979, Elaine, Vicki, Grant and I walked the Milford Track, a wonderful experience we will never forget. Rather than to ‘freedom walk’ we opted for the comfort and good food provided by the huts along the way. The scenery was spectacular and the weather fine for most of the time. However on the 4th and last day of the walk the heavens opened, the heavy rain filling the streams and rivers and setting waterfalls flowing which we were pleased to experience, being a feature of Fiordland with its regular and heavy rainfall. We enjoyed the company of several overseas couples, one of which were from San Diego, USA – Bob and Freddie Driver. Bob, aged 70 was suffering from leg pains and Grant helped by carrying his pack on the last day. Bob was grateful for the help and when he returned home posted out to Grant a flash back pack that he used on his scout camps and then later when he went to Massey. We kept in touch with Bob and Freddie and visited them in San Diego in 1990 on our

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return from the Alaska trip.

Peter and Nicki Barnett had set their wedding date for April 1981 but unfortunately it had to be postponed until July owing to Nicki’s dad, Dave taking ill with cerebral thrombosis. After they were married Pete and Nicki took on a series of farm managing jobs. Brad was born in Feb ’83 and Sarah came along in Jan ’85. During 1981 Elaine had to have a hysterectomy operation and while convalescing, our friends, Vic and Betty Welch who had been working with their son Neil in Queensland were back in N.Z. for a short time. They invited us to go over and spend a few days with them on the Gold Coast. We accepted their kind invitation and the fun we had with them helped Elaine in her recovery. It also gave us an introduction to this attractive part of Australia and an incentive to return for another visit in the future. We fitted in a few days in Sydney on our way home.

On the work front a great deal of importance was now being placed on work planning – ‘management by objectives’ and on manager development. MAF contracted the services of consultants in this field and every staff member of our division had to attend a course on MBO and achieve the required standard. From then on everyone was expected to develop their personal work plan each year with achievable goals that were expected to be met. Those of us in management positions with staff control responsibilities had to go on and attend manager training courses working progressively through more complicated modules and having to achieve an acceptable standard before moving onto the next stage. It was pretty exhausting stuff but extremely useful and very applicable to any position involving control and leadership of people. Flock House, Bulls was the usual venue for these courses.

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For several years especially while John Stewart, former All Black coach was the Principal, Flock House was upgraded and developed into a wonderful facility for courses and conferences as well as its traditional purpose of farm training. John himself was a real character and with his persuasive nature had managed to persuade government to spend the money to upgrade accommodation and build a flash gymnasium and indoor heated swimming pool, squash courts and many other innovations to make it as attractive as possible to many organisations as a conference centre. The meals were huge and of a high standard, even if they were mass-produced! Some of us were selected to become tutors ourselves, in these courses and I was asked to participate in this during the last few years of my service. So the road between Hastings and Flock House became pretty familiar especially in the last 2 or 3 years.

The Noxious Plants Scheme of the 80’s which provided subsidy finance to farmers undertaking approved weed control programmes took up a considerable (and I think disproportionate) amount of time. Regional committees were set up and it was my job to chair the H.B. East coast committee and to ensure the scheme was run effectively in my region and within the annual budget. One of the members of the national N.P. committee was Reg Congdon, my ‘cousin twice removed’ who represented mercantile firms. We met up occasionally when the national committee came out to the provinces.

The family was reduced down to 3 when Vicki, after a period of working in Hastings moved to Christchurch where she met Dave Beattie who was doing a course at Lincoln. They were married

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in 1984 and headed overseas to Australia and then U..K. on a working holiday. And then Grant went off to Massey and studied for a Horticultural Science degree between 1982-86. So from 1982 on we were ‘Darby and Joan’ rattling around on our own in a large house. In Feb 1985 Elaine went to work, part time at Harvey’s Giftworld and that year we traded the old Statesman which had served us so well for 11 years for a new Toyota Corona. We had this car for the next 12 years so you can see we were not renowned for changing our vehicles very often.

Early in 1986 we were bottling fruit one day and I said to Elaine, ‘how about we hop over to England while Vic and Dave are there’. They were working for a couple, Rob and Sue Montague in their large home, south of London, Rob being a businessman involved with shipping containers and transport. Vicki looked after the children and Dave was the gardener and handyman while the parents were at work. So we made contact and were delighted when Rob and Sue offered us some accommodation in their large home. I had accumulated leave due to me and this plus the usual annual leave gave us about 2 months to travel from May to July. Then on Anzac weekend we received a very distressing phone call from Vicki to say she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, cancer of the lymph glands and that she would be going into London hospital for initial chemotherapy treatment shortly and then would need to return home to N.Z. for ongoing chemotherapy. We were very distraught with this news but decided we would still go over as we could be with Vic and Dave for her first treatment and then if she was ok to travel home we would continue on and do a few short trips around Britain and Europe before returning home. This worked out ok as Vicki came through her treatment well enough to travel back to N.Z. and we completed the trips as planned and returned

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home via a stop over in Honolulu for a few days. The day we arrived home, July 19th , we were met at the door by Grant with the terrible news that my old school mate Dennis Burgess had just died that very morning following a freak accident in the backyard of his home in Havelock North. He had been chain sawing a branch off a large tree when another dead branch broke off and fell on his head causing fatal injuries – what a homecoming! Dennis’s family came down from Auckland to attend the funeral in Wesley Church and Margaret, his wife asked me to give a eulogy along with others. It was a very emotional time having to farewell a friend I had grown up with and had shared so many experiences with. It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that he was gone.

Grant had met Gay Ansell at Massey as they were both doing a Hort Science degree. Soon after we arrived home from overseas they informed us they had become engaged and wanted to get married – in December – we said, ‘that’s great’ – what year? They replied ‘this year!’ They were married at the old St Paul’s church in Wellington where Gay’s parents were living at the time. So December ’86 saw our youngest married. It sure had been an eventful year. After a period in Australia and then back in H.B., Grant and Gay went to Christchurch, where Grant completed a teacher-training course and after a spell of teaching there, was appointed to Coromandel Area School. Matthew was born in Oct ‘91, Amy in Sept ‘93 and Sophie in Feb ’97. So the grandchildren tally had increased to 11, including Angie’s 2, but we were informed that there would be no more! What a shame! Incidentally, when Amy was given her name I was delighted because it was also my own mother’s name.

Vicki’s first period of chemotherapy treatment had been

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unsuccessful so she was put onto a stronger programme of 7 months which thankfully eventually arrested the growth of the cancer but had damaged her internal organs. She was told that, as a result, she would never be able to have children – but she was alive and that was the main thing.

Early in 1987 I had a prostate operation, a surgical job in those days. I had been on medication for some years and our old GP Dr Masterson decided it was time for me to ‘get fixed up’. What a great relief that was, after the period of recuperation.

The late 80’s saw a radical restructuring of MAF. Charging for services had come in and all possible services that could be charged for were expected to do so. The Research Division merged with related divisions of D.S.I.R. to form Crown Research Institutes. The consultancy arm – our hort and farm advisory officers group was sold off to Wrightsons to form a new business – ‘Agriculture N.Z.’ However quite a number of the advisory staff opted instead to form their own consultancy businesses throughout N.Z. including H.B. The regulatory arm of M.A.F including the horticultural inspectors, livestock officers and vets joined to form the ‘Agriquality Business’, still within the M.A.F. So Advisory Services Division disappeared and my position of Regional Advisory Officer no longer existed. I still had just over a year of service to run before being eligible for retirement in 1988. I was offered either early retirement or another, lesser position for my final year. I had no hesitation in opting for the former and my farewell was arranged for Sept ’87. The function was held in the lounge of the D.B. Heretaunga Hotel, attended by a cross section of industry people and many of my M.A.F. colleagues including John Hercus, Director of A.S.D. It was great to have the family also present including Vicki who was still

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undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time. I found it a bit disappointing not to have completed my career as anticipated but with the changes being made I had no real regrets in retiring early and after 37 years in M.A.F. could now look forward to doing something else.

On Dec 19th, ’87 three months after my farewell from M.A.F. Nana Wake, at the age of 90 passed away peacefully in Duart Hosp. Havelock North; the end of a long and busy life. Helen Melling, life long friend, gave a lovely tribute at her funeral at Wesley.

Later that year I was asked if I would take on a co-ordinating role for Hawkes Bay for the Budwood Selection Scheme. This was a national scheme run by the fruit industry and administered by a board and with a local committee to oversee the operating of the scheme. The principle was to make selections of the best producing trees with the highest quality fruit in commercial orchards and to take budwood and graftwood from these trees for nursery propagation thus ensuring that the best genetic material available was going back into the industry. I welcomed this opportunity to get involved in this very worthwhile scheme and to put back something into the industry I had been so involved in especially in earlier years.

It was great to be out in the orchards again after so many years behind a desk. I had a small office at the Apple & Pear Board (later ENZA) but the job was mainly out in the field with a small group of mainly retired orchardists doing the selection of the best blocks, mainly apples, marking with paint and then allocating blocks to nurserymen who had put in orders for buds. It was a self-funding scheme with charges for budwood sufficient to cover the cost of running the scheme. The job was seasonal with most

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of the work being done between Jan to May and I continued in this role for the next 12 years. The scheme is still continuing but in modified form.

I also became involved, after retiring from M.A.F in the H.B. Horticultural Cadet Scheme. Cadets were required to complete a 3 year course of training with local growers and my involvement was in organising and conducting the annual examinations, held each October. It was enjoyable watching young people develop their skills leading to their full time employment in the industry or as an introduction to gaining further tertiary qualifications. I continued in this role for several years until the H.B. scheme became absorbed into a national scheme.

In 1988 the World Expo was held in Brisbane. Dick and Joy Gray, long time tennis friends had gone to live on Norfolk Island owning holiday apartments. They had been after us to go and visit. So along with Vic and Betty Welch who had also been invited, we decided this would be an ideal time – to visit them and go onto Brisbane to see the Expo. It worked out very well except for the delay getting to Norfolk Is. We were coming in to land but the fog had closed in and we had to return to Auckland where we waited for 3 days cooling our heels in the Airport Hotel waiting for the weather to clear and another aircraft to become available. Although at no expense to us it was very frustrating as it reduced our time available on Norfolk Is. However we had 5 enjoyable days with Dick and Joy there and then a few days at the Expo and exploring a bit more of Queensland’s Gold coast.

Peter gave us an awful shock one day in 1989 when he rang to say he and Nicki were separating and that Nicki was returning

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with their 2 children, Brad and Sarah to live in Tauranga. So Pete was left on his own, managing farms in the King Country, not a very happy situation. Later he joined Wrightsons in Taumarunui as a company rep with us wondering if he would ever find a wife in Taumarunui but he was very lucky to meet Angie Doyle, a Taumarunui born and bred girl and they were married when our family were all together at Xmas 1994 in our back garden at 115. So our family was enlarged by 2 as Angie had her two young children, Stephanie and Tim from a previous marriage.

During my career I had met many fruit industry people including some with similar jobs as my own and whom I had kept in contact with. Ted Swales was a Canadian Dept. of AG. adviser who I had met when he was on a visit to N.Z. and again when we were in Canada in ’71. We had struck up a friendship and one day in 1989 Ted wrote to say he and his wife Cay were planning a trip up north in 1990 to Alaska and Yukon and ‘how about joining them’. We wrote and accepted and when some of his friends heard about it they wanted to go too and Ted finished up with a bus load all involved with the fruit industry in some way either in Canada or U.S.A., and one or 2 couples who were friends from college days. We were the only kiwis on the bus and were constantly ‘ragged’ when we were the only ones who had to present passports at border points. Ted and Cay met us at Vancouver and after a couple of nights with them in their home in Kaledin in the Okanagen Valley took off from Penticton for 3 weeks up north. (Vic and Dave and friends Jo and Buster had a night with us in their van while touring Canada).

The first 3 days was spent travelling through the wilderness of northern British Columbia and then into the Yukon, visiting the old gold fields of the Klondyke, Whitehorse and Dawson City with its ‘permafrost’ (permanently frozen ground) and 20 hours

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of daylight, being their summer time. In fact, we took photos at midnight of the views from the top of Dome Hill near Dawson City. Then across the ‘top of the world’ highway into Alaska. At Tok we saw dog sleds in action, then on to Fairbanks, Anchorage and a trip across Prince Williams Sound where the huge glaciers and icebergs were awe inspiring. Back on the bus and on the way south we suddenly came across a small stream with the signpost ‘Congdon Creek’ and a bit further on the ‘Congdon Creek Camping Ground’. Of course we had to stop the bus for a photo! – We never did find out how it came by that name – an old pioneer settler no doubt. Denali National Park was a highlight with wonderful scenery and animal life. We saw a few bears, buffalo, moose, caribou and various deer and native sheep during the tour through Alaska  -would like to have seen more bears, especially as seen on T.V. feeding on Salmon – but not so lucky. We boarded the ferry at Skagway and sailed down the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert calling briefly at Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan on the way. Then we were back on the bus returning to Penticton after a memorable experience and with great company. We made many friends some of whom we keep in touch with mainly at Xmas time.

Ted and Cay were keen to show us more of British Columbia so they took us on a 5 day tour in their large station wagon to the Rockies, Banff, Lake Louise and then on a circular route through Kootenay National Park and S.E. British Columbia to just above the U.S. border at Creston and then back to Penticton. The scenery was spectacular and the vastness of the State of B.C. impressive. We were sad to leave our Canadian friends, Ted and Cay plus a few others who had gathered at the Greyhound Bus terminal to farewell us for our return to Vancouver. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to reciprocate their hospitality in

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the near future now that Cay and Ted have sold their Kaledin property and moved to a condominium in Penticton. As we travelled across to Vancouver on July 6th this happened to be the 39th anniversary of my dad’s funeral in Vancouver and here we were, on our way there, quite a coincidence.

We were met at Vancouver by Bob and Betty Norton. Bob was a scientist, based at Mt Vernon Research Station and involved in apple breeding. He and Betty had recently spent a year in N.Z. working at Havelock North Fruit Research Station. So we had got to know them and hence the invitation to call on them when travelling over there. We enjoyed our short stay, meeting family and friends and seeing something of their countryside. The next day Bob and Betty drove us on to Seattle where we renewed contacts with Fred and Doris Westberg and their family who we had known and shared visits with for over 20 years. They showed us the attractions of Seattle and neighbouring Olympia, the capital of Washington State and where Fred and Doris had come to live in a retirement village. From there we flew to Sacramento to stay a few days with fruit grower friends Betty and Ted Horskey and daughter Ann at Walnut Grove. We had a more restful time with them, relaxing in the swimming pool, walking along the riverbanks, wandering through Ted’s orchard and socialising with their friends. We had included a visit to Yosemite National Park in our itinerary. Betty drove us to Stockton where we boarded the train to Merced and from there by bus to Yosemite. We had a night there, joined a conducted tour and then hired bicycles to do some more casual exploring of this amazing valley – ‘awe inspiring’; would be a better description. Numerous photos were taken of this extremely photogenic place and we would love to have had more time to explore further. Next stop was San Francisco where we had a couple of days, mainly in and around

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Fisherman’s Wharf and a visit to Alkatraz Island and a tour of the old jail and its history.

We flew to San Diego to have a few days with Bob and Freddie who we had met on the Milford Track walk 11 years earlier and kept in touch with since. At age 82 Bob still headed his insurance brokerage business in San Diego and they lived in a lovely home right on the beach at Delmar, 20 miles north of the city. We were put up in their guest accommodation right by the pool and got ‘real spoilt’. They had their own volleyball court on the beach in front of the house where their grandchildren came to play. As it was Freddie’s birthday we were able to meet some of their friends and the family members. Their neighbour, next-door was Jenny Craig, well known dietician who we had our photo taken with, being careful to hold our tummies in and look as slim as possible. She was having tennis coaching one day and I offered to go and assist but Elaine wouldn’t let me! Bob and Freddie were very generous with their time and showed us many places of interest in and around San Diego – highlights being the zoo, Sea World with its performing killer whales, sea lions, otters and dolphins and the modern shopping plazas. The Drivers were Mormons and Bob had over the years assisted financially with the establishment at Salt Lake City and also in the building of hospitals across the border in Mexico.

Somewhat reluctantly we left San Diego and flew up to Las Vegas arriving in temperatures of 109F. We stayed at the Circus Circus Hotel and spent 2 nights and one day exploring the attractions and casinos of this amazing city and attending a couple of the shows. We met one woman who had flown in from L.A., just lost $10,000 on the gambling machines and wasn’t a bit upset about it – ‘just the luck of the game – better luck next time’! –

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was her attitude. We saw a chap win $5000 on a $1 a time slot machine – he’d probably lose it all by the end of the day. We saw the temperature rise to 112F – you could only survive inside where air-conditioning made it bearable. Anyway it was an interesting experience but one we’d only want to do once in a lifetime. From Las Vegas we took the short flight – 1 ½ hours in a small twin Otter aircraft to Grand Canyon arriving in the midst of a violent electrical storm which really tossed us about and having Elaine hanging on to my arm like grim death. Several tourists on board were sick so the pilot didn’t hang around up in the air too long taking in the sights. Its an amazing spectacle – the Canyon is 277 miles long, 1 mile deep and 10 miles wide. We stayed a night in a lodge unit very close to the West Rim and got up at 5am next morning to see the sunrise which really brings out the spectacular colour effects. A good walking track around the edge of the Canyon provides great spots for capturing these scenes on film. Los Angeles was our next destination. We spent several days at L.A. and Anaheim going to the usual tourist attractions – Universal Studios, Hollywood, Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland and went to ‘Phantom of the Opera’, which was showing there. We had made contact with my old friend of Uni days, Errol Lochead who gave us a full day, running us to seaside resorts on the southern Californian coast like Newport, Balboa Is, Laguna Beach, Long Beach (where we visited the Queen Mary and ‘Spruce Goose’ famous aircraft built by Howard Hughes). On the sunday the 3 of us went to the Crystal Cathedral at Garden Grove near Anaheim. This is the non-denominational church that currently broadcasts over T.V. 3 every sunday at 8am, and called ‘The Hour of Power’. It is constructed with a steel frame and walls made up of 11,400 windows. Errol took us down to Mission Viejo just south of Anaheim, a new subdivision and showed us his new home.

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Our last stop was in Hawaii where we had a few days unwinding and relaxing on the beach at Waikiki. We took a day trip to Kauai Island. We were interested to see what another Hawaiian Island looked like and Vicki had been there playing netball a few years before. We did a tour of the south and east coasts (on a rattley old bus that made Elaine sick) but enjoyed the scenery and returned to Honolulu that evening. The Polynesian Cultural Tour around on the eastern coast of Oahu Is was well worthwhile with each Polynesian country doing its own cultural demonstration and entertainment and with a combined concert in the evening – very enjoyable. Before leaving of course we had to pay a visit to Honolulu’s Ala Moana shopping centre to replenish our supplies of Reebok shoes (which are much cheaper there) and buy some gifts for the family.

We arrived back in Auckland after a brief stop at Nandi on 6th August. It was lovely to be met by our family and then later in Napier by Reg and Janette and Chris and Grant.

That year, 1990 Elaine and I joined the Kia Toa Bowling Club – I wasn’t going to join without her joining too. I had acquired Aunt Vera’s bowls (she had been a good bowler) and still use them 14 years later – they were too heavy for Elaine. We enjoy the game and for me bowls and tennis is a good combination. With synthetic, all weather tennis courts and bowling greens we can play both sports all year round.

In 1992 we took a trip to Cairns and the Australian Red Centre. Following the direct flight from Auckland to Cairns we had a few days there including the train ride up to the Plateau and then flew to Alice Springs staying there and doing 2 or 3 day trips from Alice. Then by bus down to Ayres Rock, stopping at a

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farm en route to have a camel ride. At that time there was no restriction on climbing Ayres Rock. We enjoyed the climb, tricky in parts up a rather tortuous track. We had our video camera and recorded the views from the summit. It was very windy so we didn’t spend too much time up there, just long enough to record our names on the register and take a few pictures. The conducted tour around the base of Ayres Rock with its caves and ancient carvings was also a fascinating experience. We had a taste of the vastness of the Australian outback on this trip to central Australia. Travelling between Alice and Ayres Rock provides a good example of this where you talk about acres per sheep rather than sheep per acre as in N.Z. The Red Centre has a beauty all of its own with its red soil, multicoloured rocks in the gorges of the McConnell range and the attractive eucalypts especially the Ghost Gums. We also had a trip out to an Aboriginal village to gain an impression of the native culture, art, mythology and way of life, a quite different perception from the one you get when you first arrive and see so many Aboriginees congregating in groups near the built up areas. We flew back to Cairns and spent a few days in Port Douglas just north of Cairns. From there we had a day out on Great Barrier Reef including some snorkelling to view the coral and took day trips up to Daintree Rainforest, to the bird sanctuary and out to Dunk Island. Back to Cairns we hired a car for a week and drove down to Townsville calling at a crocodile farm on the way and then on to Whitsunday Islands. A couple of trips out to these attractive islands and more snorkelling and exploring plus a visit to an animal zoo where Elaine had her picture taken with a large snake around her neck, were the highlights of this brief trip down to Whitsunday, certainly worth a visit. We returned to Cairns and back home the next day.

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Since retiring from M.A.F. I got more involved at Wesley on the property side and seemed to acquire the role of property manager. For a large and ageing church property like Wesley several major jobs needed attention e.g. re-roofing of the church, installation of a security system, upgrading the gas heating system in the hall and lounge and renovation of the kitchen. I got involved in most of those by helping in the organising of contractors, keeping them happy and being available while work was going on. It was time consuming but it was good to get these jobs done and being in a position to be able to help out.

The highlight of 1993 was undoubtedly the announcement that Vicki made – that she was pregnant. This occurred in Nov when the family was gathered to celebrate Grant and Gay’s 30th birthdays in Coromandel. So after being told by her specialists she would never be able to have a family following the chemotherapy treatments in earlier years she had proved them wrong. So there was great jubilation, as we all felt so happy for Vic and Dave after all they’d been through. Thomas, ‘the miracle baby’ a big (almost 101b) boy arrived the following July. The story of Vicki’s battle with cancer and the successful outcome was written up in the Women’s Day magazine as encouragement to other girls facing similar problems. Then surprise, surprise! – 18 months later another miracle baby, Rebecca was born. So their family had arrived with 2 lovely healthy children. Elaine was present for the birth of both babies and I was honoured when Vicki said she wanted me to be present for Rebecca’s birth, a privilege I shall always cherish and something that was unheard of in our day when fathers (let alone grandfathers!) were forbidden in the delivery room and stayed out of sight.

Dr Don McKenzie was a fellow I worked closely with in my job.

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He was a scientist with the Fruit Research Division of D.S.I.R. and based at the research station at Havelock North. One of his interests was in setting up and fostering an exchange scheme with Chinese students wanting to come to N.Z. to learn about horticulture. In fact his initiatives were largely instrumental in starting the sister city relationship between Hastings and Guilin in southern China. In 1987 Don was tragically killed in a car accident on the Taupo road en-route to Auckland to pick up a Chinese student. A trip to China was organised in 1989 to commemorate Don’s work and people who knew him well were invited to join the group. Elaine and I had signed up for the trip but it had to be cancelled due to the Tiananmen Square uprising in Beijing and tourist visits being discouraged for an indefinite period.

We were still keen to visit China and the opportunity eventually came in 1994 when Fred Chu, former Boys High Phys Ed teacher led a group, largely of H.B. people on a 3 week tour to China visiting Beijing, Xian, Shanghai and Guilin. Elaine and I had an additional 5 days in Hong Kong on the way home. This was a great cultural experience, to learn something of the history of China and to visit the Great Wall, The Forbidden City in Beijing and the Terracotta Warriors in Xian. In Shanghai we visited people in their homes and observed their way of life and the strict way they raise their children. We visited schools, entering the classrooms and seeing students hard at work and practising their musical instruments under the strict and watchful eye of their tutors. In Guilin, being our sister city we had a formal reception organised and run by the mayor and councillors and made a great fuss of. The scenery around Guilin is magnificent and we went on the cruise down the Li River where the huge limestone peaks are the outstanding features of the landscape. To stand on a street corner in any of the cities and watch the

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teeming millions moving by, many pushing their bicycles loaded with goods of all kinds was an experience that amazed and fascinated us. We were fortunate to have Fred Chu as our leader he was fluent in both Mandarin and Cantonese and we would have been lost without him. The only problem was the food – Elaine could eat and enjoy it all but my stomach did not take kindly to much of the exotic food dished up twice a day. However I did enjoy the European style breakfasts!

Elaine’s 60th birthday was celebrated in Nov ’94 by a gathering of family and friends in a marquee on the back lawn at 115. I think it is fair to say that she was taken by surprise, quite an achievement in itself! The family shouted her a hot air balloon ride which was taken a few days later. She insisted that I accompany her and we enjoyed the flight over Havelock North, landing safely on the Tuki Tuki riverbank followed by a champagne breakfast.

Since 1986 when we had that rather brief visit to U.K. and Europe we had planned to go back again sometime and spend more time, finance and time permitting to see more of Britain and Europe concentrating on places we hadn’t visited before, or only briefly so. After my seasonal budwood job had finished in May 1996 we set off for a 3 months trip away. Win and Geoff Slinn who live near Windsor and are friends of Len and Val Beattie (Dave’s parents) had again offered us to use their home as our base, as they had in ’86 and for which we were very grateful as we could leave some of our luggage with them while we went touring. We had a couple of days in Anaheim, L.A., visiting Disneyland and The Crystal Cathedral, on the way and after a few days settling in, in London took a 28 day Trafalgar tour of Europe. This took in France, Spain, French Riviera, Monaco

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and Monte Carlo, Italy including Rome, Capri and the Blue Grotto, Venice, Vienna, Switzerland, Germany (Rhine Valley), Holland (Amsterdam) and Belgium and return to London. Then a couple of days later we left Win and Geoff again, caught the Flying Scot train to Edinburgh where we had booked a rental car and also seats for the Military Tattoo on Aug 12th.  We drove north from Edinburgh visiting St Andrew’s Golf course, Aberdeen, Inverness, Oban and back to Glasgow staying at B&B’s all the way. The couple at Inverness that we stayed with were so lovely we decided to stay another night and enjoyed sharing a ‘dram’ with them each evening before bedtime. We then came back down to Manchester where Elaine wanted to visit Granada Studios and Coronation Street. We eventually found the studios after huge traffic ‘snarl ups’ and enjoyed a ½ day on “The Street’ exploring the homes and shops and having a drink for old times sake at the ‘Rovers Return’. We returned our rental car after a night on Anglesey Is, to the rental company depot at Holyhead and caught the ferry across to Dublin at the start of a weeks bus tour of Ireland. This was our first visit to Ireland and we enjoyed every minute, joining in the singing in the pubs and the Irish hospitality. Killarney was our favourite town and the greenness of the countryside was refreshing. We kissed the Blarney Stone on Blarney Castle and I shouted Elaine a tartan jacket that caught her eye at the Avoca Weavers and still enjoys wearing it. The tour took us to the Waterford Crystal factory, around Ring of Kerry and from Killarney to Galway, Sligo and into Northern Ireland (Ulster) before returning to Dublin and after a visit to the underground tombs at New Grange dating back 5000 years and the Stone Age.

Back in England we met up with Elaine’s cousin Gidget and her friend Jill at Chester to go on a narrow boat canal trip for a week

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on the Llangollen Canal from Bunbury in Shropshire County across North Wales to Llangollen and back a distance of 46 miles each way. The boat was 53ft long with a diesel motor and steered from the rear which was quite tricky and took a while to get used to. I was the only male with a crew of women and I survived! But I was lucky as all I had to do was drive the boat – the girls did all the hard work, opening and closing the lock gates (there were 32 locks) and raising the bridges. The weather could have been kinder but we kept going even through the occasional heavy showers, (the girls in the cabin of course) and had a ton of fun even though things got a bit tense at times and the captain a bit grumpy when the crew did something wrong!

Back to our base and to prepare for our final excursion a weeks cruise around the Greek Isles. We flew to Athens, boarded our ship at Piraeus and during the cruise visited Crete, Rhodes, Patmos, Kusadasi, Istanbul and Mykonos. When travelling up through the Dardanells to Istanbul I remember standing on the deck looking out at the Gallipoli coastline trying to envisage the landings that took place there in 1915. I would love to have gone ashore and done some exploring. Similar thoughts pass through your mind when visiting Crete, travelling through the rocky countryside and remembering the terrific battles that took place on that island. Visiting historic places of biblical significance such as Ephesus and the amphitheatre where St Paul addressed the Ephesians about two thousand years ago and the grotto on the island of Patmos where St John wrote the book of Revelations early in the 1st century were other highlights. Istanbul where the East meets the West was different again with its mosques, minarets and bazaars and hand woven carpet making. The experience of life on a cruise ship was new to us and most enjoyable – the food was great, the evening entertainment special, cabin accommodation comfortable and relaxing by the pool very

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enjoyable. When we landed back at Piraeus it was a shock to find that my cabin bag which contained most of my film that had been taken on the Greek Isles trip had disappeared from the wharf. We spent the rest of the day before returning to London trying to trace it through the shipping company office but to no avail. I still had some film in the cameras and we’d collected small books with pictures about each place so not all was lost but it was a big disappointment to lose our own films. We returned to London and spent a couple of nights with Jim and Ann Rice, our friends in Surrey, a night with Win and Geoff, packed up our luggage and returned back to N.Z. on Sept 19th following a restful few days in Hawaii on the way. It was again great to be met at Auckland airport by our family, Fran and Bob, Val and Len, Vic, Dave, Thomas and Becky and a big surprise to see Grant, Gay, Matthew and Amy. We all had lunch together, said our goodbyes and boarded the plane for Napier. We were met there by Chris and Grant, Betty, Colin and little Emma, Reg and Janette. They all came home to 115 for a cup of tea and some welcome homemade baking from Joycie Jillings which was most enjoyable. So after being away for 3 months it had been a wonderful experience and now good to be home.

Next year 1997 the bowling club installed a synthetic all weather bowling green which has turned out to be a great asset being able to play winter and summer. The day of the opening of the new green with the mayor and other dignitaries giving their speeches, Elaine suddenly took violently ill with what turned out to be gallstones. Her operation, by keyhole surgery was done at Royston on our return from celebrating Pete’s 40th birthday in Taumarunui in July though Elaine couldn’t enjoy it as she couldn’t eat much. We counted about 60 small gallstones so she must have been considerably lighter after losing them! It had been a

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very painful event. Believe it or not, – we changed our car that year after 12 years with the Toyota (about normal for us!). We bought Colin’s Nissan Maxima at trade in price and eventually sold ours privately – the lady who bought it got a very good car!

In 1998 I was still working at my seasonal budwood job and getting to the stage of wanting to handover to someone else but decided to see the 90’s out. But I did manage to take a week off during our busiest time in January to go to the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne. We met up with Betty Deyell, she came with us to the tennis and we enjoyed visiting her son Peter and Georgie at their home just out of Melbourne for a BBQ. We found Melbourne an easy city to find your way around and the free tram ride around the city helps in getting you orientated. The Melbourne cricket ground is next door to the Tennis Centre and the day we arrived N.Z. were playing Australia in a one-day international. In the evening we went along, watched until about 8pm then returned to our hotel thinking that Australia were going to win only to hear next morning that the kiwis had picked up to win the match. We had 2 days and an evening at the tennis and saw many of the top players in action. The evening before we returned home we took the trip down to Phillip Island to see the penguins doing their daily routine of emerging out of the waves at sunset and strolling up the beach to their nests in the sanddunes. Later that year, son in-law Grant kindly offered to do a renovating job on the boys bedrooms which was long overdue and then continued on to complete a repaint of the exterior of 115 which was much appreciated. A few weeks later Chris and Grant sold their Flaxmere home and moved up to Te Aroha where Jason had settled a couple of years earlier and working in a hide processing factory. So this meant we had none of our family left in H.B. all had moved away but thankfully all were still in the

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North Island so could be worse!

For my 70th birthday on Xmas Day ‘98 I shouted the family to Xmas dinner at the Hastings R.S.A. restaurant. It was a nice change and for once the girls didn’t have to slave it out in the kitchen preparing dinner for 21 people.

I finished my 12th and final budwood season in May 99 and our budwood selection team and our wives went out to dinner at the Havelock Club. It had been a satisfying and enjoyable job.

At daybreak on New Years Day 2000 we saw in the new millennium on the Napier foreshore watching the sun come up over the horizon, along with crowds of others. It was quite a memorable occasion.

For some time the N.Z. Methodist church hierarchy had been causing us and others throughout the country concern about the direction the theology of the church was going. It is too long a story to relate here, suffice to say that it came to a head at Wesley, Hastings in Oct 2000 when a group of about 30 of us opted to leave and form a branch of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The N.Z. Wesleyan Church is centred mainly in the Auckland area but it has a strong following worldwide, particularly in America. Terry Longley, funeral director offered us his chapel in Heretaunga St East as a venue for worship services and this has proved to be a happy and convenient arrangement. John and Jenny Bennett, formerly a Methodist ordained minister shifted back to live in Hastings after retirement and has become our part time minister with visiting preachers and lay people filling in as required.

We had never had a formal family photo taken. So, we decided

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that before family members started ‘flitting off to other climes’ we would rectify this situation and have a family photo taken. This was planned for Xmas 2000 when it would be our turn to have all the family at our home (as happened every second Xmas). After being unsure that we would be able to have everyone there due to work commitments we were able to achieve our objective and had a series of family photographs taken by local photographer David Evans, both at the family home and at Frimley Park. It was certainly worth all the effort to get 21 of us assembled at the one time and probably won’t happen again for a long time.

One day early in 2002 I came home with some travel brochures of Eastern Canada and USA. We had a standing invitation from a few people over there that we had met on the Alaska trip to visit them sometime. But when I produced them I was met with a response that set me back somewhat. Elaine’s reply was “don’t you think we should start thinking about putting the old home on the market”? It didn’t come entirely out of the blue as we had discussed earlier the fact that the property was getting a bit big for us and we should be thinking of something smaller. So I resigned the travel brochures to the rubbish bin and we started some serious planning. After obtaining a valuation from a private valuer we began a period of trying to sell privately. There was a lot of interest initially, particularly from Exclusive Brethren families but no firm offers. We felt sure that, as we were next to the hospital, a doctor with a young family or the hospital itself would want it. We then gave it to an agent who ran several open homes over the next 2 months or so.

Meanwhile, in May 2002 Elaine and I went to our doctor for the annual flu injections. Our blood pressure was taken while we

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were there and mine was a bit on the high side which was unusual as I had never had a high reading before. So a visit to our GP followed and a blood test taken indicating an iron deficiency and a possible loss of blood somewhere in my system. So a referral to a surgeon followed. Dr John Fleishl [Fleischl] gave me a colonoscopy, which showed a cancer tumour in the colon. Having health insurance I was able to have an operation the following week in Royston Hospital. This went off ok and no follow up chemotherapy required so I was very lucky that it was diagnosed early and the surgeon was full of praise for the nurse’s alertness at the time of our flu injections, otherwise it could have been a different story. The strange thing was I had felt perfectly normal, playing tennis twice a week with no feeling of undue tiredness of other symptoms. Subsequent 6 monthly check ups since then including a colonoscopy after 18 months has shown no recurrence of cancer so here’s hoping it continues that way. A brush with a life threatening illness like cancer, when one gets into the 70’s brings home to you the need to live every day as a bonus and not to put off for too long those things you plan to do, while you have the good health to enable you to enjoy them.

Getting back to the sale of 115 – during my hospitalisation and recuperation not much progress had been made or acceptable offers received. We visited a lot of open homes mainly in the Taradale, Greenmeadows and Havelock North areas and several we could gladly have lived in but could make no serious offers until we had an unconditional offer for 115. This came at last in September ’02 with possession date of November 21st. So we then had to find somewhere to live until we had found our new home. An old tennis friend offered us one of their flats in Garnett Street Hastings. This was the first time we had lived in a small flat and it was an experience that made us appreciate having

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your own home with space – but it did have a nice big back yard with several fruit trees and we were invited to help ourselves. Our furniture had to be stored and this was at Conroy’s depot in Napier, the carrier that we had contracted for the shift. So after 36 years in 115 McLeod Street we were on the move. I thought we would be more emotional than we actually were.

Soon after our move to the flat we were told through a friend that there were indications of a house sale coming up in Kingsgate, Havelock North as land agents had been around looking at it. We followed up this lead with the agent, a lady we knew personally who took us through the house. We were both very taken with it realising that the asking price was higher than we had intended to go. Anyway we decided we would make an offer expecting to be pushed up. We were surprised and delighted when the agent rang the same day to say our offer had been accepted. A factor in our favour was undoubtedly our agreement to allow the vendors to stay on for 3 months pending the construction of their new home in Paraparaumu. So possession date being 21 Feb’03 meant 3 months in our small flat and counting every day. The move to 11 Kingsgate Avenue, Havelock North went off very smoothly with help from family and friends. Pete, Angie and Tim came over from Taumarunui to help and we were welcomed by neighbours with gifts of food. Visits and invitations to their homes for drinks continued over the following weeks. In a sense we both had a feeling of ‘returning to our roots’ as Elaine had gone to Havelock North school and my father as stated earlier had been an orchardist in Thompson road just a stones throw away. It’s strange how one’s destiny can turn the full circle. We soon settled into our new home, had 3 large trees removed, a garden shed installed and numerous trailer loads of soil to extend the flower borders and establish a vegetable garden. The 650 sq mt section was going to take a while to get

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used to and I knew I would be missing all the citrus trees and my glasshouse but now there would be more time to play bowls!

Garry and Marie Mulvanah, local travel agents have been conducting overseas tours each year. One of these was an Amtrak train trip through the U.S.A., which they had been taking for the last 10 years. We had always thought that we would like to do that sometime, but it wasn’t a priority. About June 2004 Elaine heard Garry on radio saying that this would be the last year he would be taking the Amtrak trip. She called me in and when she told me what she had just heard I called him on the phone to check it out.

Garry confirmed that for various reasons it would be his last train tour through the States and he planned to replace it with something else. We had not intended travelling anywhere in 2004, but we thought “well if this is the last one Garry is doing we’d better do something about it”, So we signed on and set off on September 7th with a group of 19 – all New Zealanders.

This was a months tour, taking a circular route from L.A. up to Chicago, Niagara Falls, New York, Washington D.C. and down to New Orleans. Then around the Southern States back to L.A. a distance of 6,500 miles. We had 6 nights sleeping on the train and 4 nights in hotels in each of the cities.

The highlight would have to be Niagara Falls, but each city has it’s own unique character, New Orleans being rather special with its jazz bands and French and Spanish heritage.

Seeing the country from the train gave us a good impression of its vastness and its contrasts, from the aridness of states like Arizona and New Mexico, to the fertile, productive areas of Kansas, Illinois and the Eastern States.

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While in New York we met up with our nephew, Wayne Hawkins. Wayne has lived in N.Y. since about 1980 and we hadn’t seen him for 30 years at least. Unfortunately he suffers with an eyesight problem, Retinitis, which has reduced his sight to about 10-15% in both eyes. But he enjoys his job at the Duane Park Cafe in lower Manhatten, where we went for a meal with him and met some of his friends. The other contact we were able to renew was with Errol Lochead in Anaheim, whom we’d last met in 1990.

We spent a half day with him following our attendance at the sunday morning service at the Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim.

The day before we left to return home we spent a few hours at the new part of Disneyland (Adventure Park) and explored some of the new attractions.

We enjoyed the trip, we had a lot of fun with group members who were a great bunch and we were ably led by Garry and Marie.

On our return home Elaine attended the Hastings High School Centennial Celebrations in October, and enjoyed getting together with her old school friends.

Vicki and Grant also attended. Then in November we celebrated Elaine’s 70th birthday, the highlight of which was a luncheon with family and friends at the “Boardwalk” restaurant on the beach in Napier.

It was with mixed feelings, when during 2004 we made the decision to put the Taupo house on the market. We discussed our feelings fully with the family, who were sympathetic to how we felt and the reasons for reaching this decision. We had enjoyed nearly 30 years use of the house and it had served the purpose admirably of a holiday home and meeting place for the family. We were all together over the Xmas, New Year break for the last

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time in the Taupo house and it was nice to have them to share in my 76th birthday. It was also Pete and Angie’s 10th wedding anniversary, so we went out for dinner to celebrate. The family got to and helped in a big clean up and several loads of rubbish went to the local dump. So the house was made ready for sale – we had signed up with a local Harveys agent and a sign went up on Boxing Day, advising of a forthcoming auction (scheduled for Feb 13th, 2005). It gave us quite a sad feeling, signalling the end of yet another chapter in our family life.


In writing an autobiography you have to conclude somewhere, so I’ve decided to finish at Christmas 2004 (age 76). What happens from then on will be known to children and grandchildren anyway. In my “ramblings” I haven’t said much about our grandchildren, apart from their birthdates. So, for the record I am concluding with some comments about the stage our four children and eleven grandchildren are at. (we have no great grandchildren at this stage).

Pete (47) and Angie (41) are planning to build a new house on their small farm they purchased recently, just out of Taumarunui. Pete is a livestock buyer for Richmonds and Angie is a dental assistant. Brad (21) and Sarah (19) from Pete’s first marriage, are currently in the early stages of their working careers. After leaving school Brad worked in a number of agriculturally based industries and has just had 6 months experience on large scale cropping farms in the U.S.A., working with a contracting firm. On his return he is continuing with this type of work in the Waikato.

Sarah has had a number of jobs since leaving school including

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salesperson in fashion shops in Hamilton and Tauranga. More recently she has been working on a Waikato dairy farm but following a back injury, has left this work and is commencing a course in business management.

Angie’s 2 children from her previous marriage, are Stephanie (17) who will be commencing a course in general nursing at Waikato Hospital in 2005, and Tim (15) who is at Taumarunui High School.

Christine (45) and Grant (48) both work at the Braeside Aquaria farm in Te Aroha. They have been busy establishing their 5 acre property just out of town, and are currently renovating and modernising the house they shifted onto the property in 1999. Jason (29) works at a skin processing factory in Te Aroha and has a partner, Debra, with 3 of her own sons. Debra is in the final stages of a general nursing course she has been doing at Waikato Hospital. Anna (26) has been working in the U.K. and Australia for several years, either in lawyers offices or nannying.

Viki [Vicki] (43) and Dave (45), have recently moved to a home in Huapai (west Auckland) with 2 acres of land. Vicki works at Kaipara College as Sports Co-Ordinator and Dave has recently left his job with Auckland Regional Council and gone into business with a partner doing contracting work, mainly in the area of parks maintenance and development which he is experienced in. Thomas (10) and Rebecca (8) are at Huapai school and taking full part in many school activities and sport.

Grant (41) and Gay (41) are planning to build their own home in Coromandel in the near future. Grant teaches at the Area School and Gay has part time work there also. Matthew (13), Amy (11) and Sophie (8) are at the Area School and the whole family are fully involved with both their school and church activities.

It is great to watch grandchildren grow and develop their personalities. We often wish we were living closer so we could

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be more involved in their development, as we realize the influence of grandparents is important. With this in mind we will be endeavouring to travel up to see them as much as possible in the future, especially now that we won’t have the Taupo house to meet at.

In a little over a year from now (Jan 28, 2006) Elaine and I will be celebrating our golden wedding anniversary. They have been 50 very happy years, and I am so grateful to have had such a wonderful wife to share them with.

We look forward to many more years yet, God willing, and to whatever the future may bring.

I conclude with a little “ditty” I wrote a few years ago “A Time To Reflect’.


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Appendix – enclosed the following

1.   Family Tree by Cecelia Leigh 1995

2.   The Congdon International Registry

(i)    No. of households

(ii)   Names and addresses of the N.Z. Congdons as recorded in the ‘World Book of Congdons’. Published in 1990 by Family Heritage.
(N.B. Peter & Grant had not been recorded at that stage).

[Diagram of Family Tree Names]

Newly Developed Statistical Information About The Congdon Population in The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, and Northern Ireland

Total Estimated Households   Total Households in Registry   Total Estimated Population   #of Countries, States, Territories, or Provinces Where Households Reside   Most Populous County, State, Territory or Province

United States   1,446   1,268   4,193    50   New York

Canada    129   98   465   6    Alberta

Australia   160   123   617   6   W. Australia

New Zealand   55   42   212   2   North Island

Great Britain 277   243   776   40   Devon

Northern Ireland   1   1   4   1   Antrim

Ireland   5   4   20   1   Dublin

Mr Andrew M Congdon
57 Clarence St
Auckland, North Island

Mr P J Congdon
2 41 East Coast Rd
North Shore, North Island

Ms Lesley G Congdon
8 146a St George St
Papatoetoe, North Island

Mrs Fiona Congden
29 Carlton Rd
Maraetai, North Island

Ms Alison J Congdon
4 Janet St
Pakuranga, North Island

Mr K L Congdon
48 Garden Heights Av
Hamilton, North Island

Ms Patricia A Congdon
114a Mahoe St
Hamilton, North Island

Mr Paul A Congdon
25 Wake St
Hamilton East, North Island

Mr Mark D Congdon
7 11 Coates St
Hamilton East, North Island

Ms Dianne Congdon
17 Heathcoat St
Taupo, North Island

Mr Gregory S Congdon
2 169 Spa Rd
Taupo, North Island

Mr N B Congdon
115 McLeod St
Hastings, North Island

Ms I M Congdon
1 Blyth St
Wanganui, North Island

Ms V E Congdon
23 134 Dixon St
Te Aro, North Island

Mr N A Congdon
28a Horopito Rd
Waikanae, North Island

Mr B N Congdon
28 Awanui Dr
Waikanae, North Island

Mr R J Congdon
83 Park Av
Waikanae, North Island

Mr Warren J Congdon
28 Horopito Rd
Waikanae, North Island

Ms Shirley M Congdon
North Island

Mr B E Congdon
North Island

Mr A E Congdon
18 Toomath St
Naenae, North Island

Ms Dona A Congdon
8 Renoir Ave
Lower Hutt, North Island

Ms Margery Congdon
North Island

Mr Edmond E Congdon
3 Marion St
Upper Hutt, North Island

Mr B M Congdon
42 Hartford Cr
Upper Hutt, North Island

Mr S R Congdon
49 Heretaunga St
Upper Hutt, North Island

Ms E J Congdon
327 High St
Motueka, South Island

Ms Linda M Congdon
South Island

Mr G Congdon
42 Pethybridge St
Motueka, South Island

Ms I M Congdon
9a Inglis St
Motueka, South Island

Mrs Helen M Congdon
62 Poole St
Motueka, South Island

Mr M J Congdon
6 Fell St
Grovetown, South Island

Mrs Rae A Congdon
Old Renwick Rd
Blenheim, South Island

Mrs Helen J Congdon
71 Mouldsworth St
Blenheim, South Island

Ms Deirdre M Congdon
22 Skipton St
Christchurch, South Island

Ms V Congdon
40 Cutts Rd
Upper Riccarton, South Island

Mr K C Congdon
57 Grahams Rd
Avonhead, South Island

Mr Brian Congdon
12 Arcon Dr
Christchurch, South Island

Ms Janet C Congdon
57 Grahams Rd
South Island

Mr D L Congdon
6 Lisburn Ave
Caversham, South Island

Mr G A Congdon
84 Kildare St
Invercargill, South Island

“Produced by ADL Print
509 Warren Street, Hastings
Phone 06 878 4842”

Original digital file



Names in this book –
Doug Agnew, Gay Ansell, Arlidge, Armstrong, Graham Armstrong, Cyril Barclay, Brad Barnett, Dave Barnett, Nicki Barnett, Sarah Barnett, Bate, Dave Beattie, Thomas Beattie, Rebecca Beattie, Begley, Gary Begley, Joe Bell, Eve Bennett, John Bennett, Jenny Bennett, Lord and Lady Bledisloe, Charles Boone, Rud Boyce, Dennis Burgess, Margaret Burgess, Malcolm Cameron, C Carr, Bob Cater, J Charlton, Jack Charters, Fred Chu, Frank Collin, Mr Collins, A E Congdon, Ada Congdon, Albert Congdon, Ms Alison J Congdon, Amy Congdon, Andrew M Congdon, Angie Congdon, Anna Congdon B E Congdon, B M Congdon, Bernard Noel William Congdon, Bevan Brad Congdon, Brian Congdon, Cecil Congdon, Christine Congdon, Ms Dianne Congdon, D L Congdon, Ms Deirdre M Congdon, Ms Dona A Congdon Dora Congdon, Edith Congdon, Edmond E Congdon, Ms E J Congdon, Elaine Congdon, Mrs Fiona Congdon, Frances Bird (Fran) Congdon, Fred Congdon, G A Congdon, G Congdon, George and Emma Congdon, George Congdon, Grant Congdon, Gregory S Congdon, Hazel Congdon, Mrs Helen M Congdon, Ila Congdon, Ms I M Congdon, Ms Janet C Congdon, Jason Congdon, John Congdon, Joy Congdon, K C Congdon, K L Congdon, Ms Lesley G Congdon, Ms Linda M Congdon, Ms Margery Congdon, Marjorie Joyce (Joy) Congdon, Mark D Congdon, Matthew Congdon, Meryl Congdon, M J Congdon, N B Congdon, Nell Congdon, Nicki Congdon, Noel Bernard Congdon, Ms Patricia A Congdon, P J Congdon, Paul A Congdon, Peter Congdon, Queenie Congdon, Mrs Rae A Congdon, Reg Congdon, R J Congdon, Sarah Congdon, Shelley Congdon, Ms Shirley M Congdon, Sophie Congdon, S R Congdon, Thomas Congdon, Timothy Congdon, Ms V Congdon, Vicki Congdon, Warren J Congdon, William Congdon, William Dick Congdon, William Henry Congdon, Tom Conway, Jenny Craig, Bill Crawford, Jim Cullen, Joy and Bill Dahl, Roger Darwin, Bill Davis, John & Betty Deyell, Ada Bird Dick William Dick, Terry Donaldson, Shelley Double, Angie Doyle, Stephanie Doyle, Tim Doyle, Downer, Bob and Freddie Driver, D Edilson, David Evans, B Fair, Mr & Mrs Field, Robert Findlay, John Fitzharris, Dr John Fleischl, Bill Fletcher, Pete & Jill Frizzell, A Gibb, Sir Leon Gotz, Max Grainer, Dick Gray, Joy Gray, John Greenfield, Arthur Greig, Neil Guymer, Erhard Haeske, Hall, Wayne Hawkins, Sam Henry, John Hercus, Edgar Hornblow, Betty and Ted Horskey, Ann Horskey, Rev Len Horwood, Jock Hosking, Jack Hume, Miss Alice Hunt, Alan and Mavis Hyde, Stuart Hyde, Joe and Nellie Inglis, David Jenkins, Karl Jenner, Peter Johnston, Graham Jones, Eddy Jull, Bob June, Stuart Kemp, Jack and Ella Knight, Shirley Land, Cecelia Leigh, Phillipa Lewis, Bruce Lindeman, Errol Lochhead, Terry Longley, Hazel and Allan Malcolm, John Manning, Dr Jim Marshall, Paul Marshall, Mrs Mason, Peter Mason, Dr G Masterson, Tom McDonald, Dr Don McKenzie, N McNally, Ron McPhail, Helen Melling,  Eileen and Arthur Message, Lynn Message, Rae Message, Bill Miller, Rob and Sue Montegue, Vera Morrison, Frank Morton, Garry and Marie Mulvanah, Clarrie Napier, Bob Norton, Betty Norton, Ken Osborne, Netta Parr, Keith Parr, Merynn Potts, John Renouf, Jim and Ann Rice, D Rich, Graham Russell, Chris Ryan, Mr & Mrs Roy Sherwood, Lloyd Simmiss, Win and Geoff Slinn, Liam Spring, John Stewart, Doug Sturm, Frederick Sturm, James Sturm, Les and Gladys Sturm, Nell Sturm, Don Suckling, E Sutcliffe, S Sutcliffe, Ted and Cay Swales, Amy Elsie Taylor, Ernest Taylor, Hannah Taylor (nee Barker), Horrie Taylor, Wallie Taylor, Arthur and Nell Thomas, Brian Thomas, John Todd, Alan Tunnicliffe, Van Druten, Archie Wake, Barry & Shirley Wake, Colin and Betty Wake, Ethne Wake, Graeme and Judith Wake, Roly Wall, Barrie Wallace, John Watson, Sir James Wattie, Brian Watts, Vic & Betty Welch, Fred and Doris Westberg, Brian Willis, Don Wilson, Donald Wilson, Tom Wilson, Margaret Wood, Frank Wood, Stan Woon

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