Memories by Doreen Lang

Doreen Lang was the grand-daughter of “Tanner” McKenzie.

Murdock McKenzie and two older brothers were given some money by the Chief of the Clan and told to go to Canada. There was money for their fare and some to start off on. The two older brothers went to Canada and did well. One was Knighted (or so we heard!). Murdock went to Nova Scotia and met Margaret Sutherland and married her. When they had four children (Margaret Fraser, JD. Jim and Annie Wykes) they had hoped to go to NZ with the Nova Scotians. The harbour at St Ann’s froze over and they had to wait six months. Then the Breadalbane…(built by Nova Scotians who were good boat-builders and woodsmen and farmers)… .was to set sail and Auntie Jo was due any time. The McKenzies went down to the boat and stayed on board. Auntie Jo arrived a few days before they sailed. Auntie Annie was three years old and was minded by the sailors [all Novies ] and they took her up into the rigging and round the sails over the sea. She told me afterwards, many years later when she and Auntie Jo came to stay — about the time that Hector was born or before-—that she had always been scared of the sea and she had never showed it–at three!

When the family reached Waipu Annie used to climb the kahikatea trees with ease and no fear.-—they seemed just like the masts and the rigging she was taught to climb!

Auntie Jo did not like the sound of the sea. She said it sounded like a flood coming that would go over them.

When the Queen came to Whangarei at the Celebration time in 1953 she invited Jessie McKenzie (not related) and Auntie Jo to come to her hotel and meet her…..the last two left of the Nova Scotians who came to NZ on the Ships (names on the Monument).

Auntie Jessie was tall and thin, and Auntie Jo was little (like me). Auntie Jo looked into the Queen’s face and said with sympathy, “You look so tired” I think the Queen would understand and not be cross!

Note…..When these two were younger they were not expected to live to be a great age ……Jessie was regarded as delicate all her life and not expected to work too hard .She lived to 101.

Jo had to work very hard all her life. At about age 48 all the family were gathered round and very concerned because her heart was so weak. She continued to work just as hard and would not stop. She did not see herself as too old to do things. She liked to pick the peaches so even if the family were cross she wouldn‘t accept their help until she fell out of the tree when she was 88 and broke her arm. She lived to 98. Auntie Jo always worked hard looking after everyone. Uncle Johnny probably didn’t notice how hard it would be for her to take all the washing down to the creek, get things clean and take it all back to the house. She was the one who looked after her Father for the rest of his life (two years?) after he had had a stroke.

When Dad died he left his property to Marjory and me, and Uncle Arthur as Guardian. So Marjory and I took on the Tannery.

We had a good many properties to sell, but they were not very likely to sell and took time. When Dad died there was a large overdraft (£800 or so). The Bank Manager was a good friend of Dads and helped us later. He understood our difficulties and advised Uncle Arthur. The B.M. said I should run the Tannery and be given £4 but was used to living on £2 so asked for that. I was to go each day and see about the Tannery and the mail, and see that orders were sent to customers.

Marjory went on teaching at Maunu (riding 5 miles each way). Then she had the task of seeing the customers in Auckland and collecting their payments …… in holiday time usually. I looked after any near Whangarei [boot-makers…….saddlers.]

We did know many of the customers as Dad had taken us a few times to see them when we were in our teens. When l was 13 Dad took me to Auckland and we went round and saw some large tanneries at Onehunga. (In one place …very large…I saw “crocodile” skin being made by rolling some very good leather with a very heavy brass roller [about l4ins wide] with crocodile pattern on the side to the leather. They made other fancy leathers and dressed sheep-skins. Our Tannery was a plain one…made very good leather of various thicknesses for the grade needed. They always made good leather because Dad knew good skins and always bought good skins…sole-leather, lighter leather for shoe uppers and boots. Walton‘s boot factory was one of our customers in Auckland. Edgar Walton used to stay with us when he came up to buy leather. Edgar could sing and used to go to Clifton too. Dad had had a very well paid job — buying good skins for Dalgetys. He had started that about two years before we let Hora Hora He rode a good horse and was away for about a week buying from butchers all round the Wairoa.

He took me one school holiday and l rode my school pony. We stayed at Kinkopune one night. We left home early one morning and rode through Maunu and Maungatapere. When we came to the Wheki valley there was a lovely little waterfall from a spring up in the hillside. Dad said “Take a good drink of that. It will be the last drink of good water till we are nearly home again. I did not go to the butchers on the way round. I spent the days walking about and looking at the places. We stayed at the hotels Dad had stayed…Tangiteroria and Dargaville. We had crossed the Wairoa when it was still a small river. From Dargaville we went down to Te Kopuru and led our horses onto a barge to cross the [wide] Wairoa to Ruawai, and Paparoa. We stayed with Healeys at Maungaturoto and over the hills home to Hora Hora It was a good ride and we met nice people. Dad also rode to Kaikohe and other northern places. He had his job with Dalgetys until he had his first operation.

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