Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Commemorating wars

The War (World War Two) still cast a shadow over my early childhood.  We always knew that my father’s younger brother had been killed early on.  He was a pilot who had learnt to fly in NZ before the War and then gone off to England and joined the RAF.  This was a common pattern.  We know that he was killed in a training accident over East Anglia but that is not the story I remember from my childhood.  I remember being told that a lone German had come over and shot him down and I now wonder if my grandparents were perhaps given a sanitized version of his death.   I know my grandmother nearly died giving birth to him and that he was particularly close to his older brother who would not talk about his death so my cousins knew very little about this man.   On our wall was a Morden map of Huntingdonshire that my father had bought when he was in England towards the end of the war.  We knew that this was where his brother had been shot down.  My mother used to say how she met my father shortly after this brother died and how the family all went to see Gone With the Wind and walked out because they found it too upsetting.  Walking out of films was not something we ever did!  Also, because my grandmother lived near us, every time we visited her we saw the photo of him in his air force uniform and his cap was on show in the sitting room.

We knew another war veteran.  This was someone who had been a school friend of my uncle.  He was in a wheelchair but I have never known what his injuries were.  He lived with his mother in a small bungalow on Marine Parade in Napier.  I remember going to visit him on several occasions but we were brought up never to ask questions about disabled people, nor to look at them in the street.  There were a lot of them about and we were taught that it was rude to stare.   As an adult my aunt told me that on one occasion during the War she and my grandmother had gone to visit this soldier’s mother and been fed home bottled tomatoes which had been ‘off’.  As a result both my aunt and grandmother had been very ill.  My mother never did any preserving despite living in a fruit growing area and I seem to remember thinking that this incident was one reason why she did not.  I cannot remember any preserving being done in our household until when I was a student I went to stay with one of my mother’s Hawkes Bay cousins and returned home with a case of peaches.  I was very pleased about this (my mother’s cousin had taught me how to bottle them) but my father reckoned that they had spent far more on buying preserving jars than we saved in bills from home preserving!    Everyone else we knew preserved fruit and I felt a bit ashamed that our family lived on Watties’ tinned peaches.   I have recently read that home baking and preserving reached its highest level in nineteen sixties New Zealand so perhaps that is one reason why I feel we were out of step.

As I was born at the very end of the Second World War and came from quite a military family, I have a lot of memories of the commemoration services.  The most important day in the calendar after church festivals was Anzac Day on 25 April.  Both my maternal grandfather, who had served in both wars and had a distinguished war record, and my father, who described his war service as being as a ‘potato peeler’ always went to at least one service.  My grandfather lived in Wellington where there was a large ‘dawn service’ followed by another one at the Cenotaph in the afternoon.  The only time I went to a Dawn Service was when I lived in Canberra in Australia.  It was a very moving occasion.   I do not remember going to the service in Hastings although I remember the atmosphere was always a bit like Good Friday.  My main memory of the parades was of vast ranks of ex-military personnel beginning with a few who had served in the Boer War, progressing through people who had served in the First World War and then huge numbers of people of my parents’ generation who had been in the Second World War.  We also all wore poppies with pride and we would look out for people we recognized in the parades.  There were marching bands too.  I only learnt about Armistice Day once we moved to Wellington.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Birthday parties

I can only remember a few birthday parties and most of those were in Wellington.  I do have photos of both my first and second birthdays, though.  I see my first birthday was celebrated in Wellington at my grandparents’ house although I think we had moved to Havelock North by then.  I cannot remember it of course.

My second birthday was in Havelock North and I can see from this photo that I invited all my stuffed toys to it!

There is only one party that I really remember in Hastings so I am wondering if perhaps we did not go to them.  There was someone in my class who had a birthday in July (mid-winter) and an older sister whose birthday was only a few days away from hers.  They had joint parties.  The one I remember was probably when I was six or seven and all I can really remember is the food.  Children’s birthday parties always had food at the centre of them and we used to play games but there was no ‘commercial’ or ‘bought in’ entertainment that I can remember in Hastings.
There was also my cousin’s birthday party that took place on one of my trips to Wellington.  My outstanding memory of that is that one girl wore a white dress.  There was also one white balloon and this girl was insistent that she had it.  Most of these girls became my classmates when we moved to Wellington but at that point I knew none of them. 

Memories are clearer for the parties I attended from the ages of about nine to eleven.  After that we abandoned the idea of a ‘party’ and started having just three or four friends for a meal and a trip to the cinema.  Suitable films had to be found but Wellington had several cinemas so that was no problem.  Interestingly, one of these stands out in my memory.  It was for the same cousin as the party above.  We must have been about twelve and her father insisted that we saw a film that would ‘stay with us’ rather than the Norman Wisdom comedy her mother had in mind.  So we went to ‘Friendly Persuasion’.  Her father was quite right as I have never forgotten it.  It is a story about Quakers in the American Civil war.  I remember it as quite violent in places but we learnt a lot about the Quakers, the civil war and even American scenery.  I remember there were lots of covered bridges that people crossed in wagons.  And scenes of Quaker Meetings.

My father was brilliant at organising children’s parties.  I put that down to his experience in the Boy Scouts combined with the fact that he was artistic and very creative.  These parties reached a pinnacle in 1954 when both Margaret and I were allowed a ‘fancy dress’ party.  They had themes: mine was Alice in Wonderland and the experience began as people arrived.  My father placed a rug over the front door opening so everyone had to bend down to get into the house.  My father had a lot of books with games in them that he owned because of the scouts so this formed the entertainment.  The birthday tea was also part of the theme.  We owned a mould for jellies in the form of a rabbit.  My mother used to make a form of white blancmange and this was set on a large meat serving plate. The rabbit had eyes of some sort and then there were ‘mushrooms’ set in the grass.  These were meringues that had cocoa powder covering the undersides and stalks of apple.
Everyone came in fancy dress which was home-made.  Two or three people came as Alice which we considered a bit of a cheat as you could just wear your usual party dress for that.  But there were plenty of other characters as you can see from the photograph.  I am kneeling second from the right, Margaret is kneeling on the left and our little sister is standing next to her.
Other people had access to film projectors and showing films at home became a popular way of entertaining the children.  We sat in darkened rooms on the floor and the father (usually) worked the projector.  I think people must have hired the films.

Finally, here is a photo of a party that was not a birthday party but was fancy dress.  Again my father’s creativity ensured we had wonderful costumes.  The occasion was the children’s Christmas party at Government House.   I went as a Christmas tree with parcels stuck all over a green costume cut to resemble a pine tree.  Margaret was ‘Mary, Mary, quite contrary’ with a watering can hat and rows of cockle shells (real shells) and silver bells around the skirt.  My mother had to make both these costumes, of course.  It was a very large party for the children and grandchildren of Wellington’s establishment figures.  We were invited because of my grandparents.  The party was held on the Government House lawn and my main memory is of the lolly scramble in which we were all trying to pick up sweets. Lolly scrambles were common at this sort of event.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Pania and Hinemoa

Our final two cats were the two girls we got when Iti died.  It was now 2009 and we had two problems finding a breeder.   The first was that we had moved to Cornwall and knew no breeders down here.  The second was that the recession had hit so a lot of breeders had stopped breeding.  We did not want to be travelling miles to find cats but were uncertain how to go about finding breeders.  After spending some time looking at magazines and websites, I suddenly remembered that when we first moved down at the beginning of 2006 I was still doing some work in London.  This meant finding someone who would cat-mind for us.  This person no longer did cat-minding but I then remembered that she had mentioned someone who bred Siamese in St Ives so I contacted her and got the breeder’s phone number.  The breeder did not live in St Ives town but in the country nearby.   I was initially told over the phone that there was a waiting list for these kittens who had not been born at that point.  It all sounded a bit like getting your child into Eton College but we added our name to the list of hopefuls and waited for the kittens to arrive.  Interestingly by the time they were born the waiting list seemed to have more or less disappeared.

It is normal with pedigree cats to visit them when they are about six weeks old although it is not usual to let them leave their birth mother until they are about fourteen weeks old.  If they are very small they will be left with nasty habits and this was certainly true of Tiki whom we got at six weeks and who was always ‘making butter’ on our knees.  When Pania and Hinemoa were six weeks old we went to meet them and their siblings.

They lived on a farm and there was a huge plastic container where they could almost all sleep and play.  The cat had had six kittens rather than the five that were expected, though, so the tiniest (Hinemoa) seemed be a bit out in the cold. The breeder had been given a cat ‘igloo’ and this is where she appeared to stay.  We just wanted one girl but when we got there the breeder told us about the ‘extra’ kitten and said we had twenty-four hours to decide if we wanted one or both of them.  The smallest one struck me as looking as though one puff of wind would blow her away so my inclination was to take the slightly bigger one.   We came home and consulted several people about taking two rather than one.  The general advice was that if we took both of them they could play together and did not need to involve Nui in their games unless he wanted to join in.  This turned out to be very true although he and the tiny one (Hinemoa) bonded particularly closely.

We therefore agreed in principle to take two kittens.  Now it was back to naming them and I was beginning to run out of Maori names, other than names of trees.  Then I remembered that we now lived in a digital age so we were able to consult lists of Maori girls’ names on-line.  As a result we chose Pania for the bigger one and Hinemoa for the little one.  The name Pania had associations for me because she was a mythical Maori mermaid associated with Hawkes Bay where we lived when I was little.  There is a bronze statue of her on Napier seafront.  Hinemoa was a sort of Maori Juliet who is famous for swimming across Lake Rotorua in pursuit of her lover.  Problem over and names sorted.

These cats have led rather different lives from our others as they have never had to travel.   We maintained the rule of house cats so they could only go out in the garden when there was someone to keep an eye on them.  This did not stop Pania being quite adventurous and climbing up the wall at the back of the garden so that she got into the neighbour’s garden and the one next to that.  Hinemoa has never shown the slightest inclination to wander.   On summer evenings they were allowed to wander in the yard because the gates (which are six foot high) were closed and they really enjoyed going into the studio and wandering around among my textile things.  During the day they would sleep in 'doughnuts' in the conservatory or next to the radiator in my bedroom.  At night they used to both sleep with me.  All  three used to snuggle up and although we were careful about introducing Nui to them, they have always been a very close family!

 Nui finally died the day before his thirteenth birthday.  We were able to have a ‘home death’ which was wonderful although neither Pania nor my husband could bear to be in the room.  Hine and I sat on the sofa with Nui next to us.

Writing about it these cats seem to have had their share of illnesses.  Pania developed feline asthma.  There was one beneficial effect of this: my husband gave up smoking in the house.  Then she ended up in hospital on a drip.  We were able to visit her every day because the vet is so near and she did come home again.

Things changed in 2016 when I ended up in hospital and my husband had to take sole responsibility for them.  He started feeding them upstairs in the conservatory and they began to sleep with him.  Then while I was in hospital for the second time, Pania died.  She collapsed and died quite quickly.  I do not know the details of her final illness but I thought she had been fading away over the previous few months.  Her ashes are still waiting to join those of Nui and Iti in the garden.

In February 2017 Hinemoa managed to slip a disc.  This was disastrous as the same day I had had a nasty fall so we were both immobile.  I phoned the vet as the surgery is only five minutes’ drive from us and they sent someone to collect her.  She was kept there as an in-patient for several days and threatening noises were made about taking her to Exeter for an X-ray.  Fortunately this never happened but she was then sent home on ‘cage rest’.  We were lent a large cage by the vet but it was not big enough for her to have her cat litter and food in.  We put her in the conservatory which is very near my husband's bedroom so he found himself getting up several times a night to check she did not need anything.  During the day we let her sleep in his bed.  She also howled a lot in a very Siamese manner.  I would not want to go through that experience again!

Hinemoa has adjusted well to being an ‘only’ cat although she was always used to having someone to play and sleep with.  She still eats upstairs and spends a vast amount of time in my husband's bed but sits on my knee while we watch TV.  She also enjoys a game with him every evening and is very fond of the ‘strings’ she plays with at this time.  This is the only game she is allowed and she is no longer allowed in the airing cupboard in case she tries to jump out.  As she is now a middle-aged cat she does not need to run around so much although in the summer she still likes to go in the garden when my husband is there to bring her in again.  I have explained to him that if anything happens to him she will have to go into a cattery short-term and would have to be re-homed as I cannot look after her at all.  For example as a Siamese she throws up about once a week and I cannot bend down to pick up the vomit aand I cannot feed her upstairs.  We have realised there will be no more cats but Hinemoa could outlive us so we have made arrangements for looking after her and told our immediate friends and family.

Here is a recent photo of her on her beloved doughnut in the conservatory.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

My earliest memories: Havelock North

I was born in Wellington at 12.10 am on 22 April 1945.  My mother was obviously slightly miffed that I missed Princess Elizabeth’s birthday by ten minutes.  She said that it was because the obstetrician was playing bridge and told them to ‘hold the birth’ so he could finish the game!  I was born in a maternity home in Willis Street in the centre of the city.  It was an old house and still existed in my childhood.  Another girl in my class at Marsden was born there two days later.
It was an exciting time for the end of the War and Mum used to say that she and all the other mothers would listen eagerly to the news, waiting for Berlin to fall.  Many of these women, including my mother, had husbands who were serving in the forces.  My father was in England but we were told that he was about to leave for Europe and that as the truck he was in left the air force base, someone chased it down the drive to deliver the telegram saying I had been born!  My sister Margaret has written up a lot of letters about my father’s time in Europe but unfortunately there is a gap for this period.

After the customary fortnight, or thereabouts, in the maternity home, my grandfather took my mother and me home to their house in Kelburn.  We went in a large taxi belonging to someone called Reid.  I lived there until the end of 1945 when my father finally returned from Europe.  It was a big house and I know my mother had a Karitane nurse (a trained nursery nurse). I think she probably stayed for a month.  I never met this woman until my mother went into the local old people’s home in 2002.  On my first visit to her, my mother proudly took me to visit her as she was also a resident there.

We now know that my father was attached to an RAF unit and that meant that he was not discharged as soon as he wanted to be.  He served in Germany and France in 1945 and, so we were told as children, spent a lot of time driving lorries round Europe.  His letters make very little mention of these trips.  The letters made me realise that he must have passed long lines of refugees on the roads as I know he drove all over Germany.  These are the letters he sent to his parents and I know one self-censors letter to one’s parents.  My father spoke more about the journey back to New Zealand.  I know he returned to England first and I can remember as children he used to tell us that on the ship on the way back from Europe he was a ‘potato peeler’ until he discovered there was a library and managed to get himself allocated to duties there.  I also know that the ship called at Colombo in what is now Sri Lanka but was then Ceylon.  There he bought a set of three elephants made of something black (ebony?) with proper tusks.  These stood on a side table in our first house and later ended up on the top of a bookcase.  At some point in this journey he also bought me a stuffed koala bear which he managed to carry in his kit bag.  He had already bought me a doll in France.  This doll was so precious that it lived in a camphorwood chest which held all the valuable things. I used to take it out occasionally and stroke it.  I knew there was a story attached to it.  He had bought it in the south of France and the person from whom he had bought it tried very hard to persuade him to also buy the ‘husband’.  Only in recent years have we uncovered the full story.  My father used to say that the seller told him it was either ‘St Anne’ or ‘ancienne’ but his French was atrocious.  It was in fact a figure from a church Christmas crib and it was probably a nineteenth century figure as it had real hair and very old clothes.  My interpretation of the story is that people were so poor at that point that they were selling anything they could.

Of course, I cannot remember anything about my time in Wellington as a baby.  What I do know is that when my father arrived home, I took one look at him and burst into tears!  A bit of me thinks this coloured our relationship for ever.  In January 1946 we moved to Hawkes Bay where my father came from.  He returned to his job in the South British Insurance Company in Napier but we lived in a bungalow in Havelock North.  

We do not know who owned this house.  It may have been my paternal grandmother as the letters Margaret has transcribed talk about the possibility of our living in a house in Napier that belonged to one of my father’s Hoadley aunts.  This did not happen and the aunt and uncle moved to Melbourne, Australia to be near their only son and his Australian wife.  I think I must have been about four when they moved as I can distinctly remember going to visit them in Napier.  The house was on one of the hills on a very steep street and I can remember being afraid the car would take off down the hill once we had got out!  I also remember going there more than once although I only have memories of getting out of the car and of the approach to the front door.

We lived in Havelock North until I was three and a half so I have clear memories of it, plus obviously memories of memories that people told me about.  The hall was decorated with a series of hunting prints and I can remember being held up to them.  I used to say something about the horses and hounds finish with ‘Alba’ which was the name of the Karitane nurse my mother had after Margaret was born.   My father essentially commuted and was out of the house all day.  My mother became very depressed (this may have been partly post-natal depression) as the house was nearly a mile outside the village on an unsealed road and, although there were neighbours, they were not very close.  

There was one neighbour who was really supportive.  This was the childless middle-aged woman who lived opposite.  We knew her as ‘Thompy’ and her husband as ‘Thompy Man’.  After Margaret was born she used to have me every Thursday morning so that my mother had a bit of time with just the baby.  I still have very clear memories of those Thursdays.  The house was a concrete Californian style house (as were many in Hawkes Bay).  It had a sunken rose garden and there was a straw doll that stood on the front verandah. I think the doll had some function in the garden.  It might have contained stakes or similar tools.  Thompy lived above the road and the house was approached by a drive up the side of a slight hill.  Our house was almost directly opposite and was below the road.  Thompy’s house was the only house on that side of the road although there were three on our side.  Like a lot of childless people in that generation, the Thompys were collectors.  I particularly remember a wonderful dolls’ house which must have lived in a scullery or similar.  I also remember sitting in the sitting room looking at ‘Old Cole’s’ annual which was an Australian publication.  There was a collection of hand-tinted postcards which probably dated from the beginning of the century.  Then there was the kaleidoscope: a wonderful tube like a small telescope which contained coloured glass.  You held it up to your eye and turned it and the coloured glass moved so that you got a succession of pictures in jewel colours.  Magic for a two year old.

Typical Havelock North bungalow - Thompy's house was bigger than this with a verandah all round

I also remember incidents from my life in Pufflett Road.  My mother used to bath Margaret in the sitting room.  Then she would tip the water out the small window next to the fireplace.  I remember that one day the cake of soap which used to be on small table, got stuck and the newspaper it was put on ‘melted’.  The mark was there for ever.  Then there was the day when Margaret tipped her dinner off her high chair table and all down the wall. 

The first year there was no garden.  My parents planted potatoes where the lawn was to go.  (This was believed to soften up the ground.)  I can remember opening the front door and being faced with lumps of earth, and I think leaves, that were as tall as me.  I also remember the flowers that grew along the side wall of the house.

My clearest memory, however, is of cooking.  This must have been the year I turned three.  It is dark and my mother and I are making ‘lemon pudding’.  I do not think my father had returned from work.  I am standing on a stool, shaking the grater to get the lemon rind out of it.  That is about all.
On wash day we had a copper that had to be heated in order to do the household washing and I can remember the room (shed?) it was in.  In the summer we hung a ‘safe’ from a tree and put the butter in it to keep it cool.  Hawkes Bay has a fairly extreme climate by NZ standards, very dry with hot summers and lots of heavy frosts in winter.  I know we did not have a fridge because my mother told me that they bought their first fridge the week they moved into the Hastings house so could not appreciate it properly.

My paternal grandparents and my aunt, their daughter, also lived in Havelock North.  My grandfather died in 1947 when I was two so I only have a couple of ‘memories of memories’ of him.  At one point my father’s brother, who lived in Auckland, brought his son, who was a year older than me, to Havelock North and I can just remember meeting him: being in a sitting room and someone telling me he was my cousin.  I can also remember being in a car beside my grandfather but cannot remember his face.  My maternal grandparents used to visit from Wellington, driving the two hundred miles as far as I can remember.
Today we would say Havelock North was a very hippy village but it was all we knew.  There was one main shop which belonged to M. Bourgeois whom I assume was French.  Gargie (my mother’s father) had served right through the First World War, at Gallipoli and on the Somme.  He was a great Francophile so he taught Margaret and me to say ‘Bonjour M. Bourgeois’ every time we went in this shop.  I know his love of France had been lifelong and that when my grandparents were first married he used to read French literature to my grandmother.  She did not understand it all as, like most women of her generation, she was not very educated. She had attended secondary school but was removed when she was found to be wandering up the street from the tram, bumping into the lamppost because she was so sure the end of the world was coming that she shut her eyes!  This was in Wellington.

The church in Havelock North was St Lukes but we were too young to go to church.  My father had boarded at Hereworth School but the headmaster beat his younger brother (who cannot have been more than seven) so my grandfather removed all three sons and sent them to St Georges preparatory school in Wanganui, a huge journey right across the north island.  My father loved it there.  I can remember that on one occasion he played cricket in Havelock North and came home with grass stains on his trousers.  It is the stains I remember.  That’s all but I seem to remember he was playing for the Hereworth School Old Boys team.

Building in the centre of the village - still there

Apart from two girls’ boarding schools at the top of our road (Woodford House and Iona College)  and Hereworth there was not much in Havelock North.  There was a primary school and a doctor and also an orphanage.  Basically the village existed to service the farming community.   It was very small and not the desirable place to live that it is today although it was popular with retired people including my grandparents.  Like much of Hawkes Bay it had been badly damaged in the Hawkes Bay earthquake in 1931 and most of the buildings were new and one-storied.  This was before the development of the wine industry and a lot of the land was fruit orchards.

View of Te Mata peak from the top of Pufflett Road
still very rural

Friday, 6 April 2018

Food shopping in New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s

Over the Easter weekend our fridge-freezer died.  It is only two years old so will be replaced under warranty but, given my mobility issues, we are totally dependent on on-line shopping and keep most things in the fridge.  This episode made me remember shopping when I was a child and how much things have changed.  My husband’s comment was: ‘What did people do before there were fridges? ’ He could not remember but I certainly could so now I will share what we grew up with.

My mother said that we got our first refrigerator the week we moved into our house in Hastings and that she was not fully able to appreciate it because of getting both things at once.  In North Terrace my grandmother had a gas refrigerator with a pilot light in the bottom.  Home freezers were totally unknown.  I can remember that in Havelock North we had a meat safe which hung on a tree in the garden.  As far as I can remember everyone had something like this which was used to keep things cool.  Shopping was a totally different experience and reflected the fact that, particularly in Hawkes Bay, it could get very hot in summer. Bottles of milk used to be stood in a container of water and then put on a shady windowsill.   I think the main difference between then and now was that people expected to go shopping every day or two.  Also a lot of things were delivered.  Possibly I have more memories of how households were managed because we spent our holidays at Taupo where there was no electricity or piped water supply.  I have realised that although we were not really rural people, it was very different from city life.

First there was the milkman.  He came daily and delivered milk and cream.  There was a system of ‘milk tokens’, small pieces of metal which you bought from the milkman and put out, one for each bottle required, in the one of the bottles.  The milkman came very early and in Wellington when we went on holiday we were impressed because he had a horse and cart.  The bottles were put out at the gate in the evening and the milk appeared by breakfast time.  But I can also remember milk being delivered in a ‘billy’ can.  This was certainly what happened at Taupo and we hated the milk because it was unpasteurised and had to be boiled.  People were becoming very conscious of milk-borne diseases when I was little.  Milk was delivered to the gate because houses almost all had front gardens and you did not expect the milkman to spend time walking up the path.  By the 1960s when we lived in Wellington, the milkman sold a wider range of goods although I do not think it was like it was in Britain.  We had our bread delivered but I think it was by the baker.  It also came very early and was put in the letter box or on top of it.  In a society where everyone from school children to office workers had packed lunches it was wonderful to have fresh bread for sandwiches.  As a teenager it was my job to collect the bread from the gate and make packed lunches for four people before I went to school.

You have to remember that married women with families generally did not go out to work and I am not surprised when I begin to think about their household tasks.  In Havelock North we lived a mile out of town and I have no memory of how we received most of our food but once we moved into Hastings there were shops only a block away.  These included a baker (we had a famous story that my mother caught mumps from the baker!) who also made cakes, buns etc.  There was the butcher and the greengrocer and if you were lucky, a fishmonger but Hastings was inland and we very rarely ate fish.  I remember my mother went shopping practically every day at that point.  Later in Wellington she would still go and choose the vegetables but they would then be delivered on Friday evenings so we must have bought enough to last the week.  Groceries were generally delivered.  I can still remember my mother’s standard order because it did not vary from one week to the next.  Deliveries came in fruit boxes that the greengrocer and grocer had acquired when they bought stock from the wholesaler.  Most people had vegetable gardens and also bought direct from the market gardeners and orchardists, especially in Hawkes Bay.  You only bought what you could consume in two or three days.  I can remember my Wellington grandmother used the system of deliveries and choosing perishables.  The local grocer delivered an order given over the telephone but my grandmother used to go down into the city on the Cable Car and choose the meat and vegetables from shops there.  One result of all this was that housewives developed relationships with the shop staff.  It was also very safe which meant I was sent to do the shopping from the age of about six.  Obviously I only bought small quantities of things but I definitely went to the baker and the butcher.  I think my mother possibly phoned and ordered the meat.

The other main way to get your food was from people who had vans that were really shops.  I never knew this in Hawkes Bay except once when we had a beach holiday and various vans came round to the house.  In Wellington I knew people who used a mobile greengrocer.  As time moved on, more people drove so could get all their shopping on one trip.  My mother did not learn to drive until after I left home but in Wellington the shops were at the bottom of the street we lived in and she bought a ‘trundler’ so that she could bring the meat home by pushing it up the road.

Shopping hours were very different from in the UK.  No shops were open at weekends apart from ‘dairies’ (the equivalent of British corner shops).  Most of these were only open on Saturday mornings and there was a very restricted range of goods they were allowed to sell.  When New Zealand abandoned its very protestant shopping patterns they went straight to a continental model and I can remember being impressed on one trip back to NZ to find supermarkets open all day on Sundays.

We did, however, having Friday night shopping.  All shops stayed open until 9 pm on Friday evenings and people had adjusted to this pattern.  Friday night shopping included non-food shopping and ‘going into town’ on Friday evenings was very popular with teenagers.

I never saw or went into a supermarket until I moved to Australia in 1967. I can remember an American friend there teaching me how to use the supermarket although we were living in a university hall of residence with our meals provided so we only bought ‘extras’.  And I can remember being surprised when I arrived in Britain and found white English people working in greengrocery shops.  In New Zealand the Chinese community dominated both market gardening and the greengrocery trade and were later joined by Indians.  Europeans never worked in these places.