Ngā Kōrero Tuku Iho
Tēnā koutou katoa
The following is an extract from a book called ‘Our Town’, 1993 by Julie Riley and published by Reed Books.
Hinemoa Gilsenan nee McLaren
I’m 74. Wait a minute, I’m 82. Well, if I could’ve got away with it, well good. On the 27th October I’ll be 83. There was Didi (Mrs Rora Watson), Daisy (Mrs Noreen O’Connell) , Benny (Mrs Frances Warren), Millie (Amiria McLaren), Lou (Mrs Barrett) and myself. And my brothers, Archie – the blind one – he’s dead now, and Danny. I used to read to my blind brother, Archie. He used to call me Dick. He’d say, ‘That’s not right Dick. Spell it.’ And I often used to think you poor old bugger. I had Merle, Alice, Ted, Bon and Dan. Let me think, terrible isn’t it when you can’t remember. I was born in Westport. My mother ( Heni McLaren nee Mahuika) comes from those parts. My father’s family was Scottish – they settled in Dunedin. My mother and father met in Westport. I went to primary school there. I didn’t get to High School. I was too busy with the family. I got as far as the fourth standard, that was when Dad got killed overseas in the first world war. I left school to go out to work and my mother was left to bring the family up. I was the second oldest girl. I had to go out to work at Pauls Hotel in Westport to get money, ‘cause for a long time Mum never got a penny from the pension. She used to do sewing and that. Oh, but we thought it was lovely to go home and give Mum our pay. We gave it all to her. We only got some back when she gave it to us. There were eight or nine of us kids. There’d be one to two in my bed. Some of us slept on the floor. We used to have to clay the fireplace every day to keep it clean and white looking. You’d have to break the clods of clay up with your hands first and mix it with water. Then you’d spread it on with a rag.
I was 20 when I got married. I met Les (Gilsenan) while I was working up here at the hotel. He was a bushman, him and his brother and father. We got married in Reefton and had our first child 12 months after. We had Ted, Bon, Danny, Merle and Alice. We lived opposite the fire station, then we went back out country to the landing, the Junction, when Les got a job out there. I liked the Junction, (Inangahua) everyone was more or less friendly.
Hinemoa was born in 1907. She passed away on the 11th July 1991
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