Monday, June 15, 2009

Kate (Bee) Bourke



Taken from the Bee Family Reunion Book 1986
Chapter Eight Kate (Bee) Bourke

Born at Waimarama Kate was just a little girl when Francis and family shifted to Havelock North where there was a school to educate the children. Ann and Francis were my grandparents.

Kate (I will refer to her as Mother), was interested in all that went on there. She told us about her school days, which were limited, the headmaster was Mr Bisell. Some of the pupils she remembered were the Chambers boys and also a family of Coopers.

The first Hawke's Bay A & P Show was another incident. It was held at Havelock North. They all went along to Denver's paddock to enjoy the day. Remembered being sorry for a pig being so fat he couldn't see. From Havelock the family moved up the coast to Mohaka. That was the end of Mother's education, but as she was an avid reader, education never stopped. Charles Dickens was her favourite and she would read his works well on into the night by the light of a clutch lamp (tin of fat with a wick down the middle).

Gathering wood off the beach was a favourite occupation. They had an old horse, Toby, and a sledge. Each piece of wood they knocked to free the Katipo spiders. Even bare feet they were never bitten.

A very frightening time for the family when Te Kooti was on the war path. Maori people were their friends but all were scared of Te Kooti's threat. Mother would always have a weapon under her pillow, a broken bottle on a string, to ward off the attackers and also to comfort her younger sister, who was very scared. There was a round house (see note) built near the river mouth for refuge. The girls gathered shells from the beach and put them all around so that footsteps could be heard.

Time passed — Francis and Ann getting on in years when they moved to Gisborne. Mother and Maria were still single, enjoying their young life together. Both had red hair and by all accounts were very attractive, Maria married John McKenzie and had one son and six daughters.

Mother married Charles O'Donel Bourke, farmer of Gisborne. His parents of Irish descent came to NZ during the Maori wars with the British 65th Constabulary. They landed at what is now Corunna Bay and were in military camp there. Later Peter Bourke (father of Charles), was Napier's first Post Master. His wife was Dorotha Fitsgerald. From Napier they moved with their family on a bullock wagon to Te Aute where Charles was born. There they ran a store, which still stands today. Finally they moved to Gisborne where their graves are.

Kate and Charles had two children when they left Gisborne for Hawke's Bay Harry and Dora. Their destination was Pakowhai to live beside Mother's brother, George 'Shardy' Bee and his family. There they experienced the 1896 flood which wrecked their home and possessions. Father was away at the time and arrived home to find Mother and her brood on the table surrounded by water. Mother with an axe to cut a hole in the roof it necessary. He got them out on to a stop bank where they spent the rest of the night, watching the water rise to danger point. By daylight they saw the raging river begin to recede. Father's description of cleaning operations is vivid in my memory. He was a stockman and was away from home at times.

Dannevirke was the next move where Father had a butchery business and fertiliser business. Harry was able to help by then and life was a little easier until tragedy struck. We lost two sisters. Molly and Nancy in a drowning accident.

Our parents were devastated.

Not long after that they were successful in winning a land ballot in Hawke's Bay, so we duly shifted north to a rough section of land eight miles from Eskdale, up the Esk River. The road from the Esk Valley was up the river bed, not negotiable by any means but horse-drawn vehicle or horseback. It was part of the old coach road to Te Pohue and on to Taupo. We loved it there and put in a lot of hard work. The boys made us a tennis court, with the provision that we maintained it, which we were happy to do.

There were plenty of horses, lots of tennis and the river to swim in. To go to dances we rode the eight miles down the river to the Eskdale Hall. To quote Moana Andersons "the river ruled our lives". There were certainly many tales to tell.

The 1914-18 war was in progress by this time so both Harry and George enlisted and went to serve their country. That left Father, Mother and us girls to carry on. Both boys returned but had been severely wounded.

Some years later Harry and his wife Maud took over the farm ('The Island') but in due course it was sold.

* Note — the Mohaka Round House is still standing today.

Harry and Maud retired to a small holding in Meeanee where Harry built their home. At one stage Harry had a sawmill out at Moko Moko. He was a character, he drove an old Model T Ford, pretty well the worse for wear. I remember him saying on one occasion - 'It looks like rain, I'll just put the hood up'. The cover produced had the large letter PWD printed on it! The Public Works Department was building the East Coast Railway at the time. Harry was a grand chap, full of good humour and kindness itself. He died at the age of 93.

There were four children in that family — Peter, Marg, Pat and Rita. Maud still lives on in the Dannevirke Hospital.

Our brother George, on the other hand, was precise and methodical. Although he was a country boy, he was particular about his appearance. He married Maud Frame and they had one son, Garry, who married Doreen Tiplady from the West Coast. They live in Christchurch and have two lovely daughters, Kim and Jackie.

I can remember George showing us how to ride a young horse. The thing took off up the hill, under the clothes line, George came off head over heels off its tail. Much applause and no sympathy. He lived alone at Greenmeadows for the last years of his life.

Dora was our oldest sister. She was a very capable person and must have played a big part in helping with the younger ones, Mother must have depended on her a great deal, for she was a good cook, dressmaker and general house-keeper. During the Second World War Dora completed a course in St. John, riding to evening classes on her hack Ginger. She was a good horsewoman. Later on Napier Hospital engaged her nursing in St. Mary's ward. Finally she came to live at Church Cottage, Eskdale, and kept a horse, and cow, chooks, and pet lambs, as well as some cats. She was very happy there, open house for all the nieces and nephews who loved her.

Mother joined her later — that was a great combination. We all took a turn in caring for Mother until her death at 100 years plus.

Dora helped the Eskdale Pony Club and belonged to the WDFF, where she was a life member. Happy years passed and finally, even with lots of help, she could no longer live alone. Finally she fell and broke a hip which put her into hospital where she died at the age of 95 — a much loved sister.

Kitty and I were mates as we grew up together. As a girl she played lots of sport — hockey and tennis, and was an excellent horsewoman and fond of all animals. A terrific tease as well. I remember in frustration tipping a bottle of ink over her head. Another time we were marking the tennis court, I had a bucket of sludge, she copped the lot. Another incident I remember our telephone went out of order — she and I set out to find the fault. It was a bush line at the best of times. We found the line broken, the thing was to meet it again. Not to be outdone we tied one end to a tree and then twisted the other end round one of the horse's tails and got him to pull it up so we could join the wire. Served the purpose till the boys could make a better repair job.

Part of my life was spent with cousins, the Peacock family at Waipukurau. There was Aunt Annie*, Hutt and the boys, Sam, Barney and Pat. Many happy times were spent there, I loved them all. Hutt remarried later and I went home to 'The Island', where Gordon McAuley came courting and he won my heart. After serving with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade in Egypt and France for four years, he returned to his home in Elsthorpe (Hawke's Bay). He later won a ballot block of land on the Kaiwaka soldier settlement. (* Big aunt Anne- Daughter of Francis and Anne Bee, and sister in law to Hutt Peacock).

We were married in 1927. Life was pretty tough but happy. The depression of the 1930's hit us hard, the earthquake in 1931 was a disaster, and as well stock losses and floods took their toll. We were poor but survived well enough. Gordon was an excellent provider so there was always plenty of food. Horseback was the only means of transport at that stage, so we didn't move around much. As time went on we bought an old Rover car for £30.00, that was indeed progress. We brought up three children — Bob, Anne and Dora May. By this time there was a school at Kaiwaka South so the children were able to ride the three miles. We sometimes spent holidays camping at the beach and there were always plenty of picnics, going out to where Dad was working. Family life was happy.

Bob didn't turn out to be a farmer, he took up engineering instead. He married Tessabel Jones and had two daughters Kathy and Christine. Kathy has two boys and Christine a girl and a boy. Bob and Tess had a business in Taupiri where there was plenty of work on the power site at Huntly and around that area. They live at Huntly now and are busy building a home near the beach at Whangamata in view of retirement.

Anne was born in 1932. She was a placid child who grew up loving farm life. Both she and Bob found boarding school difficult coming from a small country town into crowded classrooms and living away from home. Anne married Rimu and Olive Sutton’s son nick. Their wedding day in April proved to be during a flood. We did get to the Eskdale church on time, but only just. They have two children, Maxwell and Joanne, who in turn have two children of their own, Max a girl and a boy, Joanne (James) two little girls.



Dora May was born 13 years after Anne so was brought up more or less on her own. By this time the school had closed so May was on correspondence until standard 2 level. After three years secondary education she trained at the Napier Hospital as a nurse. She got her medal in 3 years and put in a 4th year before going to Britain for further experience. There she married a Scottish boy, David Wilson. We hadn't met David until later when they returned to New Zealand where he fitted into our family circle to become a valued in-law. They now live at Meeanee and have a vineyard there. They have two children, Stuart a 7th former, and Shona in the 6th form at Taradale High School.

The time came when our working life at 'Dunvegan' (Kaiwaka) was coming to an end. Gordon and I were thinking seriously of retirement. This was the time Nick and Anne were looking for a farm to settle into. After much consideration and debate we decided to join forces, Nick and Anne to become partners in 'Dunvegan' and Gordon and I to retire. This turned out to be most successful. Gordon was happy to go and help on the farm when needed, but very soon Nick and Anne were self-supporting and Gordon put in his time at our home. Rogers Road, Bay View, very happily.

An extensive aviary was Gordon's main interest. He kept a variety of birds, which he showed successfully, taking a New Zealand Championship with a red canary, along with many other prizes over the years. He was also a keen gardener as well as putting in much time fishing off the beach, he was never idle. We had 16 years of happy retirement until Gordon died suddenly at the age of 76.

Life for me was lonely now, but I soon got into activities to keep me busy. Taking meals and helping at Day Care and the Hospital. The WDFF and CWI are organisations I enjoy.

Also play outdoor and indoor bowls and find the companionship helpful. As well I play a poor game of golf. The highlight of that was when I played the perfect shot at Maraenui on No. 5 in 1984, much jubilation. Happened to be the oldest woman to achieve that, in that year, so was well rewarded.

Life is slowing up a bit now. Am proud of our family, we were all happy together.

Ellen Frances (Bourke) McAuley
Bay View (Hawke's Bay)

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