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2011-03, Pam Parkinson - Dargaville Probus Club

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2011-03, Pam Parkinson Pam Parkinson, 8 February

33 members enjoyed a visit to the home of Pam and Les Parkinson at Arapohue where we were entertained to morning tea and a cheerful and animated description of how life might have been for the early European settlers. The couple bought the hilltop paddock in 1999 and built a shed which has gradually developed into a comfortable home with several rooms. They wanted a view of the country and the sky and closer contact with the land. Pam especially wanted to spread her wings and express herself experimenting with pioneering skills she had been taught by her mother. She is very grateful for that early experience and training.

Les has been a builder all his life and while he isn't keen on cows (!) he is willing to humour Pam so, as a team, they thoroughly enjoy their lifestyle. He grubs the thistles and deals with maintenance and takes on part time work while Pam bottles home-grown fruit, makes cheese, makes soap, works with her Singer sewing machine, milks the two house cows and generally lives the part of an enthusiastic pioneer New Zealand housewife. She has enjoyed attending the Thursday market in Dargaville, selling jams and pickles and other home-grown produce.

It was Les who built their home. There is a small granny flat - a modified old hut donated by a neighbour who was glad to part with it. From a shed-workshopbedroom area with a metal floor prone to flooding the house now has a living room, bedroom, dining area and kitchen area. Heating is by wood stove. This is Pam's pride and joy, as it heats the house and the water and is ideal for cooking. It takes large logs and burns all night. Les has a damaged elbow so he cannot chop wood but Harry Baycroft supplies them with plenty when they need it. They used to live in Te Kopuru but found the soil unsatisfactory for their needs, and really they didn't want to live in a town. Once the children had grown up

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and left home they were able to try a new way of life. They are both pleased to have a little quarry behind the house, with a small spring. They have to be careful with water though so far there has been no problem and they have given up worrying about such matters. Children in their innocence illustrate how times have changed. One little child, noticing that the milk had two distinct layers, asked, "Did you put cream in that milk?" And Pam's grandson said "milk for my bottle, but for butter first!" He had seen the full bucket of frothy milk and at two years old he knows it is skimmed to make butter. How many young people know of these things nowadays?. As we all know, milk is a homogeneous liquid that comes in a plastic bottle. Pam likes having a home lined with fabric. It gives a real softness to the room. She quotes the wife of missionary Henry Williams; "I now have my fabric ceiling and apart from it billowing occasionally it's wonderful." The cupboard in the centre of the house is the coolest place and is used for the bottled fruit.

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Pam is not just being trendy. She is genuinely moved by the hardships and trials of the early European immigrants. They had no machinery and lived under primitive conditions in a strange land - yet they prospered. She says she "wants to remember and honour them because we are riding on their backs."

Santa Parade, (courtesy Kaipara Lifetyler)

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Pam's Ode to the Pioneer First in trickles, then in droves, they came across the sea, Dreaming of a brand new land of opportunity. Imagine their rejoicing at the first blue glimpse of land

A family's first winter here, the tale that they survived

To swap a pitching, rolling deck for soft warm, silky, Starvation, eating pumpkins, and just a sack of rice. sand. The woman who had climbed three hours a steep and Some came with great excitement - land at such a bush-clad hill paltry sum! To look for smoke, to know that there were people out They had no way of knowing the hardships yet to there still come. To break the long and lonely weeks her husband was To claim the land they purchased, the only way, to away; strive, To earn enough to meet their needs to make their small They paid with blood and bones and limbs and even farm pay. with their lives. The man who battled through torrential rain and knee Some spent entire savings, gambled everything they deep mud earned To find his entire family has been swept away by flood. To bring wives and sometimes families to the land of The babies who were born and died before they took a no return. breath; And so their battle was begun; the fight to tame the The heartbreak of their mothers isolated and bereft. land In places near impossible; they hacked and hewed by And so they came across the sea, some foolish and some brave. hand. A track was carved, a shanty built, a lean-to added on

Some names are etched in history some lie in paupers' graves.

Before a first-born child arrived or summer p'raps was Some of them had great success, joyous news back gone. home, And then to build a shed or barn, or maybe just a fence And some lie undiscovered still, forgotten and alone. And see first green appearing where the bush had Sometimes I think if they could see to where we've been so dense. come today The toll was great from injury, ill health - starvation too. Would they be pleased or shake their heads and sadly

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And sometimes just by sheer endurance someone turn away. made it through. But anyway, I've come to this: a pioneer by choice. Lord may my meagre efforts give their memory one small voice

Hospital mobile surgery 16 February

A total of fifteen members in two shifts visited this 20 metre long leviathan as guests of Mobile Surgical Services. The General Manager, Mark Eager, explained to us how the concept was developed and explained that the "bus" now offers far more than child dental surgery. Using video conferencing even the most sophisticated operations are possible, assuming the need, and the availability of specialist surgeons. The company is contracted by the government to tour round New Zealand, visiting rural centres once every five weeks or so, using as far as possible local nurses and practitioners. Anaesthetist technician Matheus Batlajeri then enthusiastically described his work. We were struck by the humour with which staff spoke about their roles and it is obvious that there is an element of fun attached to the mobile way of life. The drivers call themselves "steerologists" and the number plate reads THE8R1 and the anaesthetist talks of using number 8 fencing wire and making sure the surgeon puts the fibre-optic camera into the correct end of the patient. . . and so on.

Mark Eager

Ricky Mark, 28 February Nineteen of us attended Ricky's presentation at the Bank of New Zealand. It was a promotion for the company he represents - NZ Survivor Ltd. We were given plenty of advice about what to do in an emergency - and the recent events in Christchurch helped to focus our attention - and Ricky showed us the survival kit and various aids which can be purchased at a very reasonable price. One was a torch/radio which does not need batteries Another was a sort of horse-pill which when moistened becomes a

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strong flannel. These and other items proved fascinating and you can find details at ( or free call 0508 697 878)

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Probus newsletter  

Featuring Pam PArkinson