Memories from Doreen Lang, written by daughter Anne

The Tanner McKenzies

Murdock McKenzie and two older brothers were given money and their passage to Canada by the Clan Chief who was a relation and embarrassed by his young cousins‘ teenage pranks–—some quite serious like cattle rustling and deer poaching The two older brothers took ALL the money and went across Canada They stayed there and later did very well. One may have been Knighted!

Murdock teamed up with the Nova Scotians. There he married Margaret Sutherland. Murdock was not trained to farming and later turned to what he DID know–which was taming hides and skins. {Did he do any of this in Nova Scotia ?????} When the family reached Waipu they had a farm up in the Millbrook. This was many years later owned by the Sands.

From Waipu Murdock moved to Hora Hora [perhaps after his wife died?] Here he had a Section of 30 acres which was not economical as a farm. He built the house first, then a Tannery——–where two nice creeks met, giving plenty of good water [needed in a tannery]. It was also close to the road. J.D. and Hector worked in the Tannery as they grew up. J.D. was no business man but he loved to be on committees where hewas a good speaker and did well. Hector was aware of the need to just keep everything going. Doreen could not remember Murdock, but she said “All men had beards in those days“.

The Tannery

Lots of fresh water was needed for the soaking pools.

Hides were gathered up from Whangarei butchers, then later from all round the North.

These were “fleshed”[scraped] with a big knife.

Left on a big table [didn’t smell nice!! !]

Then into a pit with a lot of salt. Scraped again.

Then put into the tanning solution.

Semi-stretched out to dry on lines like clothes—lines, and up in the valley! [Hector did not like the smell but the farm was uneconomic]

The Tannery was later shifted to Cameron Street to keep it alive as a business. [lt wasn’t really a profitable business]

The Tannery was a two-storey building——the bottom storey a series of soaking pits where hides were soaked then taken out for the scraping processes.

Money in the Good Old Days

£10 a year, Country Bursary for children to go to High School. Mum had this to help her go from Hora Hora to Whangarei High. She bought a saddle for £2.10, and books [second hand]. The Bursary went up to £15 or£20 the next year.

The room she was put in at High School had about thirty pupils [in room for twenty-four]. So those with high marks were skimmed off the top to sit in the “North “ room with the more senior pupils [ who were rude to the juniors!] “Smithy“took them for Latin. . . he was second in command at High. Miss Bloomhart taught languages. Mum remembered going to stay at her home with others in her class. All conversation all weekend was in German. Mum needed to learn German and did so in one year, enough to win a cup.

At the end of her High Schooling Mum sat for a University Junior Scholarship. This was not usual for girls but she had such good results all through school that her teachers felt she could do it. Only 9 scholarships were awarded that year. . . all to boys. Mum came tenth and the next year she would have won a place …. .. There was a certain amount of money to get the top students to University. If those came from town the money went to more students. But country students needed more help [Boarding away from home]. The following year 15 scholarships were awarded so not so many “full”scholarships were needed Note: Grammar School pupils sitting the exam could be country children already getting [needing] help. Mum‘s Father was very disappointed for her, and wanted to pay for her to go, but she refused.

Mum left school and went Pupil Teaching in the Hora Hora School. After 2 years she was recommended by the lnspector to go to Training Collage but her Mother wasn‘t well. She got her C.Certificate in those 2 years. All the subjects she‘d passed for U.E counted for that pass. Pupil Teachers taught for 3 hours and had 2 hours for study. In this way Mum passed the rest of the Certificate. After that she went home for six months, but with the start of World War l teachers trained or untrained were much in demand.

In I917 [?] Mum got a wire from the Board. Would she relieve at Hikurangi for a month as the teacher was leaving to marry her fiance. [going over-seas.] Mum was able to go to the same place to board thus starting a life long friendship with the McLeod family.

Doreen McKenzie‘ s teaching memories

She left school and wanted to teach. She could have gone to University but decided not to, even though Aunts Fannie and Eva were sure she should and were prepared to help. She did two years Probationary teaching at Hora Hora instead of going to Training College [as Aunt Marjorie did later] Then Doreen went to teach as Junior Assistant at Hikurangi. She started on a salary of 120 pounds, but this was cut back by eight pounds when it was discovered that she was not yet 21. She’d had a telegram “Please relieve for a month” but there were no applicants so the job was made permanent.

Mr Rust the Headmaster was “very talented but an alcoholic” she said ! He came from a very musical family in Whangarei. Rust Avenue is named for them. Doreen had 38 pupils with the Roll growing during the year as she taught Std 1&2… one room then in the Porch. Miss Terry who taught the Primers in the Church Hall was told that she must teach in the School Building“. Doreen at one time had 58 by the end of the year out in the porch…..the thoroughfare. Some of the children could not learn due to lack of ability added to the crowded conditions and left school at 15 to go to work or get married. One must wonder at the Inspectors wanting Miss Terry to be on School Property even though she told them how that would affect everyone!

Hikurangi, a mining town, was usually quietly working until people like Bob Semple [later a Minister in the first Labour Govt.] came to stir discontent. The men then went on strike leaving the women to manage on very little. Farmers used to give them milk for the children. Doreen got C Certificate with this practical teaching alone. Marjorie went to Training College, .. by then the preferred way to qualify.

One of Doreen’s memories was that Mr Rust would quite often go to the Pub instead of coming back to School alter lunch. She had to supervise his class. Oh, he was naughty, ”was all she said about that.

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