Topic: Blackberry, bracken cleared for pastures by Cherry Chamberlain (nee Taylor)
Cherry Chamberlain wrote this account of her life at Katikati in 2003 with the assistance of Ken Smith and the Tauranga Historical Society. Her article was printed in the Bay of Plenty Times on 8 October 2003 and is reproduced here with Cherry's permission.
I was born Cherry Taylor and in 1938 at the age of three, came with my parents to live on a dairy farm on the corner of Kauri Point Road and the Main Road north from Katikati.
Ours was one of the smaller farms at that time and was overrun with blackberry. I remember my father laying a plank over this tall growth to push it down. Crushing it seemed easy if one was strong, but slashing and burning proved more effective.
Over the next few years, my hard-working father cleared all the blackberry, bracken, gorse and wattle and was able to establish very good pasture.
There were tall pine trees bordering some fence lines. They were huge and must have been planted many years before we moved in.
The original house had burnt down before our arrival. For a short time, we lived in the implement shed with a dirt floor, until a new house could be started.
The first stage of the house consisted of a kitchen and a large lounge with an open fire. (Later the kitchen became my bedroom and the bathroom and the lounge became Mum and Dad's bedroom.)
Because of the scarcity of builders during World War II (1939-1945), we did not complete construction of the house until about 1944. By this time the electricity supply had been extended to Athenree.
Mum had a very small stove - the kind we use for camping nowadays - but at least it was electric so we no longer needed to chop wood.
We managed to get a telephone connected - a manual instrument (with a handle to turn) on a party line. We had to learn about a dozen letters in Morse code to identify other subscribers on our line - three shorts for "s", a short and two longs for "w" and so on.
We could order supplies from Katikati to be delivered by rural contractor. Our meat was delivered from Cannell's Butcher or sometimes Pamment's Butcheries. I remember them because Mrs Pamment did such beautiful knitting.
Bread, too, could be delivered. But possibly as a legacy from the Depression days of the 1930s, many farming families baked their own bread, churned their own butter and made delicious cream cheese.
Water for our farm animals was pumped from a spring in one of the gullies - initially using an Anderson single cylinder petrol engine, then later by electricity.
That spring never dried up, though there were a few anxious times. One year the autumn rains didn't arrive until April. How wonderful then, was the sound of rain on the roof.
In the front paddock, we grew about 20 tons of tree tomatoes (tamarillos). Sometimes I took flour bags of tree tomatoes to school to sell to the teachers for 2/6 (25c) or 5/- (50c).
In the summer, we grew huge juicy watermelons on the silage pit. Those too were sold to the teachers who had, as with the tree tomatoes, phoned their orders through beforehand.
Occasionally we would visit the Sapphire Hot Springs - lovely warm mineral water in a rectangular concrete pool, wooden dressing sheds and closely surrounded by native bush. To get to the pool we crossed a narrow swing bridge spanning a stony, crystal-clear stream with all about us the sound of birds, from the cheeky little fantails to the elegant tuis.
Our farming neighbours were the McCrakens, Bloors, Deverells, Greeds and Harveys. During my last year at school the Harvey's had a grocery store on the corner of Kauri Point Road. The old building is still there.
During school holidays we would make an excursion by trains to Waihi or Tauranga or even, once in a while, to Auckland by bus.
When we eventually got a car, a Model A Ford, we were able to drive to the Katikati shops - more than 20 minutes over a pot-holed, metalled road.
Mum drove me to Waihi Beach camp for a few days one summer holiday and that was quite an adventure.
A few years later we went all the way to Ohope at least once. But by then we had a new car - a Humber as I recall. I went to school at Katikati on the bus. The service began just before I started school and was a great boon to those who previously had incredibly long distances to walk.
Even in my teens the Athenree children had to walk to the railway station just south of the gorge to catch the train, then leave school at 2.45pm to walk to the Katikati station for the return journey.
Eventually Mr Cleaver acquired a vehicle that became the area's school bus.
The children at school were divided into 'houses' named after the original founders of Katikati - Macmillan (green), Mulgan (red), Stewart (blue) and Gledstanes (yellow). I was in Gledstanes House.
Gala Day was of tremendous importance. The preparation and excitement was intense. Each house had the same goal - the prestige of raising the most money for the school.
Every school day we had morning assembly and were lined up in 'house' ranks. We listened to all the school notices, then marched up and down to band music from a wind-up gramophone.
I probably wasn't a very good student, being accused of talking too much, but by the sixth form I seemed to get it all together.
By this time we were over the road in the new high school, although there were only three rooms as I remember. Now it is the Katikati College. The plane trees, which were planted well before this time, have certainly flourished.
I was accepted as a student at Ardmore Teachers' College and my first posting was at Gisborne where my parents had moved after selling their farm at Kauri Point.
The years have passed, the wheel has turned almost full circle, and my husband and I have retired to Mount Maunganui. Now we go past our farm at 100kms on a wide tar sealed road and briefly relive those happy schooldays.
NOTE: Cherry donated three violins owned by her parents to the Katikati Museum. One of the violins was handcrafted by Sid for his wife, Ivy Mary Taylor (nee Coleman).