Waikato Born and Bred
I was born in the Waikato following the tradition of my ancestors. My Fencible ancestors migrated in Army Service from Howick to the Waikato area during the Land Wars and both my paternal Grandfather and my father were born in Hamilton. As my fateher was teaching in the area when I was born I just followed trtadition. Seven generations have lived in and trodden the streets of Hamilton including my own son.
I lived in two areas of Waikato – near Morrinsville – and south of Hamilton – before we moved to Northland, and other parts of the Auckland Province.
I grew up in dairy farming rural areas with access mainly to Hamilton for shopping which was some distance to travel for Saturday morning shopping. In hamilton ityself, lived a Great-Uncle whose interest – apart from his work – was trotting horses and at a very early age I was indoctrinated into the attributes of a good piece of horseflesh for a trotter. In fact when confronted with my maternal Grandfather’s farm horse when I was about 5 years old, I told the said Grandfather that “My Great-Uncle Albert wouldn’t have bought THAT horse”!! I was sent indoors very quickly.
I feel privileged to have grown up in country areas even though we had no neighbours as the School and Schoolhouse were always some distance from the villages. Most children walked, cycled or rode ponies to school. Most of the farm pupils rode ponies with just a bridle and sack. Waikato has extremely cold winters, heavy frosts followed by clear blue skies, thick peat fogs with or without smoke, plus snow on Mt. Pirongia. It was interesting tio visit local farms with my parents and see dairy farming at first hand. There were different types of milking machines and on some small holdings the cows were still milked by hand. No milk tankers in those days, just the cans at the gate. The smell of silage is instantly recognised on my senses and it even came into the taste of the local milk when it was “feeding out” time.
When we moved to Northland we had access to cinemas and concerts and found the Waikato life we had left a little unreal. The highlight of the Waikato village year was the Fancy Dress Ball. My parents had no social life at all but my father was a referee for the Waipa Rugby Union which took him to new places as an impartial referee and sometimes my elder sister and I accompanied him.
It was not an easy life always being constantly on the move as my father’s grading rose and I feel I enjoyed a gypsy childhood. Each new school was a challenge and one learned quickly not to make close friends as they would inevitably be left behind.
I do not regret the life and I feel it broadened my horizons but sometimes I feel glad for people who went to school and grew up in one place – like BIRKENHEAD!!!
Historical note: Through the side boundary of one Waikato Schoolhouse was a Land War Redoubt and my sister and I spent many hours playing in the treeches mostly “Cops and robbers”. My father actually excavated some of the kumara pits etc. and we were educated in the life on a Redoubt.