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Editor’s letter On a crisp and sunny morning there is nothing quite like the sight of the Strath Taieri valley, particularly if you are emerging from the coastal fog! Out-of-town visitors to Middlemarch are more than likely wearing lyrca bike shorts and an endorphin-fuelled smile as they roll into the village off the Rail Trail and if you are in a 4WD don’t be surprised if you get a wave from a local or two. Welcoming, hard-working and down-to-earth, this is how I would describe the people of the Strath Taieri. A run near Middlemarch is, as of this month, where we will be calling home and as I continue to meet more people in the area, their integrity, sense of humour and willingness to help, tells me I

made a fine decision when I left Auckland behind and came back home. For those out-oftown single women thinking about heading along to this year’s Middlemarch Singles Ball I say: Get into it; look for a local fellow, drag him to the dance floor and don’t let him go. It’s a beautiful place with great cafes and friendly people.


9 Alice Winmill Editor/publisher

Read online:

Cover story Where are they now? 8 Community Duck shooting season 4 Anzac era remembered 5 Macraes victorious 6 Good men everything for GSC 7 CrAFty KiDs Outram School 9 ProFiLe Denis and Cynthia Stumbles 10



HArD CAse Shirley Spruyt 11 FAmiLy Southern Mum 12 Women in Business Fiona Skevington 13 GArDeninG Natural time for planting 14 Cuisine Hummock merino 13 snAPPeD Out and about photos 16

editor/Publisher: Alice Winmill

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catch up

Lindsay Carruthers, page 8

Stock prices will continue to rise. The bank will bugger off and I will be getting older, fatter and happier!

I keep an eye on how things are done around the place and then I usually see it all in my head at night when I’m lying in bed.

Denis Stumbles, page 10

on the job BEfOrE I was walking I was riding horses, so it’s something that’s come very natural to me. When I was working at the mine, I was thinking about what I really wanted to do with my life and working with horses came to mind. So I went up to Oamaru and learnt how to shoe horses with Malcolm Oakes and to make some money I was also breaking horses in; a skill I have picked up over the years both here, in Australia and the States. Breaking-in is a six-week session here at my property, which is on 60 acres with a purpose-built arena and stables. Depending on the horse, I will use a

few different methods; I do a bit of lunging and horse whispering (not that I usually call it that). It’s really satisfying to see a horse come in that’s spooked and unable to be ridden to six weeks later being calm and quiet, which the owner can jump on and go on to teach to jump or muster or whatever. You can always tell when your shoeing a horse what kind of breaking-in method was used; some will kick back and fight while others will be good as gold. The farrier work has me busy locally and I do a bit of travelling around the place; I regularly work over

Quick 5 Questions

It didn’t matter the explanation I gave, I would get a hiding either way. But it was worth it; I loved to go dancing.

1. What do you enjoy most about the Rail trail season? Keeping busy, the days go so fast.

Shirley Spruyt, page 11

2. What’s your favourite item on the café’s menu? The B.B.B (basil pesto, bacon and brie on home-made bread). 3. What are your plans for the winter

What’s on

CoMMunity notiCE

april 8 - East Otago Talent Show 6pm until 9.30pm at Waikouaiti Events Centre.

thank-you from the Waikouaiti Petanque Club

april 10 - Macraes Trap Shoot Club. Pre-duck-season trap shoot. Starts 1pm at the Club grounds. Great Sponsored Prizes. Enquires to: Craig Howard (03) 4652 483 april 22 - East Otago Vintage Machinary working demonstration. At the Palmerston Club Grounds from 11am-ish.

april 23 - Middlemarch Singles Ball. See advert on page two for details.

Paul Robinson, horse breaker-in and farrier, Dunback

To all who participated in our fundraising tournament we thank you for your response and support for this extremely worthwhile appeal. We had a great afternoon, the sun shone on us and the entry fees and donated raffles rounded up to $2200 which went towards the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal. This is the most money we have raised over the years for our annual charity tournament. Our thoughts are with the people of Christchurch Margaret Reynolds secretary

Middlemarch way, into the Maniototo and I head to Dunedin once a week; the work is picking up as my name gets out there.

Emma taylor, Kissing Gate Cafe, Middlemarch months? Trying new recipes. 4. What’s your ideal day off? A game of golf on a sunny day and a cold beer. 5. Do you have any words of wisdom? Be honest.



That first Saturday in May By Jane Greer Like many families in the maniototo, the Baddocks look forward to duck shooting each year with much anticipation. Greg Baddock’s mates, Phil, Paul and Paul’s wife Linda, come down each year from Christchurch for the season’s opening in the first weekend of May. Preparations start a few weeks beforehand as the maimais are organised and plans are made. They have a permanent maimai set up on an irrigation dam. Greg has built three of these over the years as the “cows can play havoc with the greenery”. Greg’s son (also named Paul) has been shooting with the group for the last 18 years. He had to learn to pluck the ducks before he was allowed to shoot. His first gun was a ‘single shot’ and it “kicked like a horse”; he then used his dad’s ‘under-and-over’ until he got his own gun. This will be the first year that Paul won’t be shooting with Greg. He is shooting with some mates instead. He will need to make his own maimai but as he’s a builder this won’t be a problem. Greg has a laid-back approach to the duck shooting preparations. experience has taught him that feeding the ducks makes little difference to the number he bags. The decoys are left on the pond, but a quick search and rescue mission around the pond edge recovers them without too much trouble. The weekend starts on the Friday night with a few beers and lots of yarns. Topics high on the discussion list include shooting tactics, weather conditions and the number of ducks likely to be shot.

win! $100 Hunting & Fishing Voucher

Saturday is an early morning start. it is the only day of the year that Greg’s wife, Denise, gets up and cooks them breakfast. The shooters head off with Thermos flasks of soup and shoot until lunchtime. They come home for lunch and an afternoon siesta before returning for an afternoon and night shoot. The evening includes lots of yarns over a big roast dinner and apple crumble pudding. They shoot again on Sunday morning until lunch and then pluck and clean the ducks. These are distributed amongst the shooters, their friends, family, and a few locals who “love the occasional feed of duck”. Denise and Linda cook all weekend and reckon they probably have as much fun as the men, chatting away and swapping recipes. yes, duck shooting is very popular in the Maniototo and many look forward to that first Saturday of may.

Then and now: Greg and Paul Baddock in a photo taken back in 1992. Paul has now thankfully graduated from the job of duck plucking and this year is heading out with his own group of mates. MAIN PhoTo: JANe Greer PhoToGrAPhy

Send us a photo of you and your mates in your maimai and be in to win a $100 Hunting and Fishing voucher. Photos will be judged by Scott Kunac, owner of Allan Millar Hunting and Fishing. Competition is open for the months of April and May closing Friday, May 20. The winning photo will be published in June’s edition of Southern Attitude. Email:



Anzac era remembered

It’s been 50 enjoyable years for the original members of the Waikouaiti RSA. With Anzac Day coming up at the end of the month, Southern Attitude shares some of their fond memories.

The opening of the Waikouaiti RSA Hall, 1961. From left: George Carson, Arthur Heckler, Ray Park, Alan Lee and Harry Horrell.

One of the many bus trips organised by the RSA Committee over the years. This one was taken at Pigroot Creek, 1976.

Men and women marched from the war memorial on the main road to the RSA Hall for many years until some of the marchers could no longer cover the distance. A new memorial was then erected at the site of the RSA hall.

Musical trio Dot McCallum, Nora O’connell (obstructed) and Rangi Ellison kept many gatherings entertained over the years.

Entertainment evenings for other clubs was a great way to gather revenue for the club. Above: The Daggs - from left Jim Martin, Pop Winmill, Des Campbell, Ray McDonell and Margaret Reynolds.

The Can Can Girls – Marg Young, Kath Winmill and Thelma Hallum.

Rural women get ready for Rail Trail The Central Otago Rail Trail will be set upon by more than 90 Rural Women New Zealand members this month taking part in the biennial Triple F Challenge. This is the third time Rural Women New Zealand members have biked and walked the historic route from Clyde to Middlemarch. The event has become increasingly popular amongst members, not just because of the health and fitness aspect, but also for the many laughs and good times the women share together once the peddling and walking is over each day. “We’ll be enjoying the magnificent autumn colours that Central Otago is known for, and there are plenty of interesting places to visit on

the way, such as the historic Hayes Engineering Works at Oturehua,” says co-organiser Pat Macaulay. Celebrity cook Jo Seager will be joining the women for dinner at the Omakau Community Centre on the first evening. Women from neighbouring rural communities are also welcome to come along and hear Jo’s entertaining talk, which will be followed by dessert and coffee and a charity auction. Jo is an ambassador for Hospice New Zealand, and funds raised during the challenge will go to Otago and Southland hospices. She will also join the participants the following evening as they cool their heels on the ice at Naseby’s international curling complex.

The bikers will complete the whole trail over three days, beginning on Friday 29 April, while the walkers will cover around 12 kilometres each day, joining the bikers each evening. The challengers will have their

sights set on a celebratory glass of champagne at the finish line when they reach Middlemarch sometime during the afternoon of Sunday 1 May, where refreshments will be served by the local Plunket group.



Macraes victorious in cricket final the MaNIototo eastern cricket competition wound up for another season with a Gimmerburn vs Macraes final at the Gimmerburn Domain. Both teams had made the final with away wins over Palmerston and top of the table Naseby respectively in the semi finals two weeks previously. Macraes won the toss and sent Gimmerburn into bat on an overcast and drizzly day. With a slow outfield, Gimmerburn were dismissed in the final over for 143. Major contributions came from Charlie hore (29) and shane o’Neill (28) who combined for a brisk third wicket partnership. Runs at this stage were flowing for Gimmerburn however the introduction of Matt sutton into the bowling attack stemmed the flow of runs and wickets were lost regularly. Sutton finished with a economical 2-10 off his allotted 8 overs and Bevan Wilson 4-29. Macraes’ reply began with gusto thanks to aggressive batting from form batsman Mik O’Connell (17).

He along with Wilson (19) compiled a solid second wicket partnership. Liam Jenkinson (43 not out) then took charge and led the travelling Macraes team home with useful contributions from Sutton (15) and Leon Watson (10). Mark Pringle was the pick of the bowlers picking up two late wickets and captain tim o’Neill toiled away throughout. the turning point in the game came while Gimmerburn were batting with strike bowler Matt Mcskimming pulling his quad muscle while attempting a second run resulting in him not being fit to bowl. This ultimately swung the game in Macraes favour. The match was superbly officiated by Barry Becker of oturehua, who, for the second week running, donated his time for the good of the competition. Macraes captain Bevan Wilson was presented the trevor Bruhns Memorial trophy by Maniototo Cricket vice president Paul dougherty.

Painting picture of volunteers By Amie Pont Project Maniototo Update

VoLuNteers are the heartbeat of our towns. Maniototo Curling International’s indoor, year-round curling rink and fabulous lounge bar was built by volunteers. our local radio station (which has only one paid staff member) runs seven days a week purely through the contribution of its volunteers. sports coaches, Meals on Wheels delivery, music groups, playgroups and our local play centre, committee office bearers, Maniototo hospital and our Chalet rest home, community libraries, Naseby Information Centre, Maniototo Museum, sports grounds and cemeteries, the world’s best art deco Gallery ... all are heavily dependent on volunteers. We are getting pro-active about the future of our volunteer community and Maniototo residents will soon see a community database form in their mailboxes/inboxes. We hope that by gathering information on our community, we will paint a true picture on volunteerism in the Maniototo. By identifying a skill base, there is also the chance to bring through specialised knowledge when needed, without tying people into full committee roles. If you live in or would like to assist the Maniototo area in any way please email to have a form emailed to you.

Back Row: Mark O’Neill, Mik O’Connell, John Harvie, Scott Mackenzie, Leon Watson. Front Row: Matt Sutton, Bevan Wilson, Pete Brensell, Mark Prebble. Absent: Liam Jenkinson, Ewan Cameron, Logan Clarke, Sam Oliver, Mat O’Connell and Andrew Sutton. PHOtO: SuPPLiEd

Contracting plunge a good decision It’s hard to wipe the grin off Craig robinson’s face. he purchased a Bobcat loader late last year and took the plunge into contracting. the move has paid off; only five months into the game, Craig’s allanton-based business ramco Contracting Ltd, has had to purchase more machinery and employ staff to keep up with the demand. “I had been working on diggers for a number of years for my dad’s contracting business and have wanted to go into business for a long time. It’s just been a matter of watching what’s going on out there, talking to people and looking for opportunity,” he says. “I could see there was a need for a faster, more efficient way to clean out yards, so I bought a Bobcat loader and a truck and basically just went around the farms on the taieri and strath taieri, and pretty much wherever I

Craig Robinson is working hard to keep up with demand for his contracting.

stopped in, I got work.” It was a chance meeting with a delta manager that really got Craig’s business cranking. “he was just walking through the yard and saw my Bobcat and starting quizzing me about

what I could do. Next thing I know I am subcontracting pretty much full-time to delta, doing the allanton drainage installation, and I have had to take on two more guys and buy a tractor.” Yard cleaning, Craig says, is usually done with a digger “but it’s a lot slower”. “When I was working for dad, it would take me two to three days to do a yard using a digger. In the same sized yard the Bobcat takes me about a day and-a-half. It’s faster, more efficient and therefore cheaper for the farmer.” While the delta work has Craig busy at the moment, he sees the yard cleaning as “ideal wintertime work”. he has also spotted a need for small bale wrapping and is in the process of buying a wrapping machine. the future is looking rosy for ramco Contracting as Craig looks forward; his eyes wide open for opportunities.



Machines nothing without good people It was surprisingly easy to get Geoff Scurr and his five full-time guys into the yard for a photo. Perhaps the fact that it was a Friday afternoon might have had something to do with it! Nevertheless, they obliged, standing in front of Geoff’s recently purchased terex s17E scraper. Since purchasing the business from Allan Fox in the late 1980s, Geoff has grown his business to three diggers, two dozers, three loaders, two tip trucks and a grader, transporter, roller and most recently the scraper. In the early days the farm cultivation was being done with bulldozers. But in 1990 Geoff purchased his first wheel-tractor, eventually building up to four tractors in his last season. In 2002, the same year his son was born, he sold this side of the business to Clive wilson and decided to concentrate on earth moving and quarrying. the business has since doubled and continues to grow. with fuel representing 20 per cent of total business costs, rising

From left: Kevin Craig, Greg Ross, Steven Hall, Geoff Scurr, Matt Hutcheson and Alan Henderson stand alongside the recently purchased scraper. Absent: Karen Hardy and Tracey Scurr (office staff).

fuel prices have been a big challenge. But increasing the size of the business has offset some of the rising costs. Geoff also says that the global recession hasn’t hurt his business; In fact, there have been opportunities such as picking up used machinery for a good price.

Geoff built his businesses initially around a love for bulldozers, but these days he spends little time sitting on a machine. Much of his time is spent organising work for his team and liaising with clients, and there is also the 550acre farm at Mt Watkin to keep him busy.

He also owns a quarry on the Kilmog and supplies gravel to Fulton Hogan, Downer, and various other contractors. Land, rocks and machines aside, Geoff reckons his best assets are his staff. “Without good staff you can’t run a good business,” he says.

Christchurch quake brings family south East OtaGO boasts many talented men and women, from baker to sawmiller and everything in between. However, hypnotist, life coach and business mentor is one set of job titles not often heard of in our neck of the woods. Ed Lester, his wife Ruth and their two young children, Joni and Alfie, are settling into their Waikouaiti abode after seven years in Christchurch, two major earthquakes and countless

aftershocks. An erratic power supply to their East Brighton home and uncertainty about the future were enough for Ed and Ruth to pack up the bare essentials (minus a forgotten wallet!) and head south, at this stage for six months. Ed says: “The move was basically just a sound business decision. It’s very hard to run a business, which is essentially run through the internet, when the power keeps going on and off. The demand for lifeenhancing services just isn’t there in Christchurch at the moment and I also have six months of work in lined up in Dunedin, which was arranged before the quake hit.” Ruth was also happy to move away from Christchurch for the time being. “They say children learn their coping mechanisms from their parents, and with each aftershock I was finding I

Settling in: Ed Lester and Ruth Lester with daughter Joni and son Alfie.

was becoming more and more anxious and unsettled. It’s important to me the children can get on with life with a bit of normality and structure to their weeks, and in Christchurch I found that very hard to achieve,” she says. Ruth’s proactive attitude has meant she has found it easy to meet local people and get involved in the community; she’s already a Plunket volunteer and has Joni enrolled for two days a week at Big Steps Educare. Ed’s craft in hypnotherapy has transformed in recent years into a service helping other practitioners teach life coaching and mentoring skills to others. while he still does a little bit of hypnotherapy to keep himself proficient, he found he could help more people by teaching other health professionals. For a man that has based his business around the art of optimism, Ed Lester has had to take a leaf out of his own book. “With change comes opportunity,” he says.


Men of the land: From left as they were 10 years ago – Jamie Tisdall, Lindsay Carruthers, Grant Tisdall and John Harvie.

Main pHoTo: Lynnore TeMpLeTon

Middlemarch Singles Ball: Where are they now?

It’s been 10 years since the inception of the biennial Middlemarch Singles Ball and as organisers gear up for the ball this Easter Weekend, Southern Attitude thought it appropriate to catch up with four local lads who attended that first ball back in 2001 to see how they have fared. There was a lot of song and dance in the lead-up to the first Middlemarch Singles Ball in 2001. The national papers lapped it up and television crews, found the concept a doozy for the ratings. One television outfit in particular saw market potential in creating a documentary-style, Marc Ellis-fronted feature, and with them they brought along six single North Island city girls. They spent a week in the country, went to the pub, met some locals and prepared themselves for one of Middlemarch’s biggest shindigs of the year. Aptly named High Country Dance, the documentary was well-received by Strath Taieri people. Not only did it portray the men in a flattering, albeit honest light, it also showed Middlemarch at its autumn best. If the out-of-town women didn’t find love at the ball, surely those watching the documentary from the comfort of their couch would have fallen in love with the picturesque countryside. ‘Big John Harvie’ as Ellis called him in the documentary was touted as “Strath Taieri’s most eligible bachelor”. “Youth, brains, culture and a sheep farm”, Ellis enthused. “What more could a woman ask for?” A couple of days before the Singles Ball, John was given the task of teaching two of the North Island city girls the art of sheep drafting. It’s a comical

scene as they wrestle with the drafting gate, afraid of “squashing the sheep’s heads” while John shakes his head in good humour conceding that a redraft will be in order. John didn’t find love at the Singles Ball, although he says he did have a “darn good time”. Some years after the documentary, John met his wife Tricia “at a cattle conference up north”. Raised on a farm in Huntly, Tricia is an agricultural scientist for AgResearch and

Carruthers puts it: “Grant had a bad turn of the sausage” and things didn’t work out. These days Grant is optimistic about the future. “People keep telling me the right one is out there somewhere,” he laughs. In 2001 Jamie Tisdall was a somewhat dishevelled looking fellow. Dreadlocks framed his face (which the North Island girls did point out had “good bone structure”) and he admitted to the

If I popped my clogs tomorrow I would go knowing I have had a bloody good time.

didn’t find it too hard to settle into life on the Harvie family farm up the Nenthorn Valley. They married in 2008 and five months ago had a son, James. Grant Tisdall is the shy, quiet man in the documentary. Grant’s job for the cameras was to take another two of the North Island girls for a walk in the hills, mustering. “I don’t think farming life is for me,” admits the brunette as she falls into a heap by a fence post. Grant did meet a woman at the 2001 Singles Ball. In fact she was one of the six North Islanders. But as Lindsay

Lindsay Carruthers

cameras he was content living in his house bus – “a home on wheels”. He reckoned many of the lads heading to the Singles Ball weren’t actually wanting to be paired up but more likely just looking “for a bit of a practise run”. “I already have a handbrake in my truck,” Jamie declared. “I don’t need another one.” Fast forward 10 years and Jamie has since had one, maybe two haircuts. He’s moved out of his house bus and into a new home which he shares with partner Sheree and their son Bob. “There’s bugger all to tell,” Jamie states. “I met

Sheree. We had Bob and now we have another one on the way.” Sheree, a Pukekohe girl, has been a good match for Jamie; she loves animals, goes pig hunting and knows how to drive a tractor. Lindsay Carruthers says he was very concerned about the documentary when they were approached by the producers, but agreed to it on the grounds the locals would see it before it aired. For the cameras, Lindsay gave the girls a go on the hand piece teaching them how to crutch a ewe. While one of them perhaps should have ditched her stilettos for some moccasins, the other made a good go of it and Lindsay was full of praise. “Where am I now?” Lindsay booms, “I am still here. Still at home. Still farming. Still by myself. I live a very busy and contented life. “If I popped my clogs tomorrow I would go knowing I have had a bloody good time. Sure, there are times when it gets a bit quiet around the house and it would be nice to have a companion with me, but she would have to have her own life and her own independence.” Asked what the next ten years has in store for Lindsay: “Stock prices will continue to rise. The bank will bugger off and I will be getting older, fatter and happier!”


kids spot

Practical little people each month we bring you a story from a local can-do kid. Oliver Jones, vegetable grower and freerange egg farmer, aged 10 of Waikouaiti. My older sister Hannah and I wanted some pocket money and dad decided that he wanted us to earn it like he did when he was growing up on the farm – picking mushrooms, skinning possums and all those sorts of things. It’s a lot easier to be given those types of jobs if you’re on a farm but we live in a township, so he thought running some hens would be a good idea. We used the money we already had saved up and bought a hen each. I have slowly grown my flock numbers to nine. I want to get a few more; maybe get it up to 20. I sell the eggs for five dollars per dozen. They have been pretty easy to sell. Family and friends all buy them off me and Mum got onto an outfit online that does stickers and business cards really cheap, so I have my own wee brand called olly’s Free range eggs which I stick on the cartons. The deal is: we buy the hens and look after them and Mum buys the feed and she gets

some eggs. The vegie growing started about three years ago when I didn’t like to eat vegetables. Mum got me growing a few vegetables and they tasted much better. I just go out and pick a lettuce leaf for my sandwich or whatever. I also grow corn and silver beet. I reckon it all tastes a lot better than the stuff from the supermarket. I don’t mind looking after it and weeding it; it gives me something to do in the evenings after tea. I seem to have an abundance of vegies. I give some of it away to friends and family. I have saved most of the money I have earned so far. I did buy a dSI (video game) but I didn’t like it so I sold it. We are going for a holiday to Australia soon so I will use some of it then. If other kids are keen to get into running chickens or growing vegies, I say go for it. It’s actually quite fun, but you’ve got to keep on top of the garden and make sure you have someone around that won’t mind looking after the hens when you go away. AS Told To AlICe WINMIll

Do you know a practical little person? Contact Southern Attitude:

10 I


To just get on with it

THIS YEAR marks the 50th year of business for McLarens Transport, under the directorship of Denis Stumbles. Bought in 1961, the business has steadily grown and today is one of Ranfurly’s biggest employers. Southern Attitude has a chat with a self-made man and his wife who’s been by his side every step of the way. There are talkers. and there are doers. Some people in this world talk about doing things; others just get out there and do it. Denis Stumbles is a doer. Born and raised in Cromwell, Denis was one of five children in the Stumbles clan and grew up during the Second World War. No one had any money and life was tough. Denis started his working life as a shearer in Dunback. “I started shearing with George Illingworth. It wasn’t contract work, like it is now. You lived and worked on the farm for about six months of the year and then you would go off and find something else to do in the off season. I recall shearing my first 100 (sheep) at Archie Aitcheson’s at Bushy Park, and that same year I did 200 at Redbank at Macraes. They aren’t big numbers these days, but back then it was quite a lot.” In 1960, Denis married Cynthia - an O’Malley girl from the Styx. “I played a couple of rugby seasons for the Dunedin club and she was in Dunedin nursing. I got talked into shearing up the Maniototo, and it was soon after that Cynthia’s brothers and I took over McLarens Transport.” Eventually, both of Cynthia’s brothers went on to farm and Denis carried on running McLarens. In 1970 Denis took on the International Harvester franchise, which proved to be a great move because it meant they could sell trucks to themselves and source parts without the middle man. Those early years of the business were very busy times for Denis and Cynthia; Cynthia had four children under five and there was usually someone living with them and working for Denis. Cynthia says: “I always had faith in Denis’ ability. He wasn’t educated but I

knew he was intelligent. If he was wasting his time I wouldn’t have been content to work as hard as I did. But I could see that if I got in behind him and helped him where I could, then we could make a success of things starting with very little.” Denis adds: “We didn’t have any money in those early days; things were pretty tight. The biggest change that worked in every transporting company’s favour was the lifting of the rail restrictions. It used to be a truck couldn’t go further than 40 miles from a railway. After this change there was a lot of growth.” The transporting game allowed Denis to turn his hand to another passion – farming. “Ever since my early days shearing I have always had a soft spot for the land. The transporting business allowed me to invest in a farm and we have taken our time converting it into a deer unit. It’s been a slow process; we didn’t rush into it and I have had a lot of enjoyment out of it.” Rugby has been another passion of Denis’ over the years. “In our day, if you

Above: Denis and Cynthia in the garden of their home near Ranfurly. Left: Denis chats to a driver in a photo taken for North & South magazine in 1986.

didn’t play rugby you went nowhere. Not many people had cars to get out of the district, so rugby gave us that opportunity. If you didn’t play, you got left behind.” His playing years in the second five position were with Dunedin, Ranfurly, Maniototo and Otago Country clubs. Once he hung up his boots, he carried on to coach Ranfurly, Maniototo and Otago Country for a number of years. By 1993, things were going along pretty well in the Stumbles clan. Daughter Jane trained in journalism. John, the eldest, was running his own business interests in Dunedin. Middle son Paul looked after parts and administration. Derek, the

youngest son, was a chartere d accountant and returned from overseas to take over the financial side of things and general management. “But then disaster struck in 1997 and Derek got cancer and died,” Denis says. “We were so lucky with our long-serving staff. We have always had very loyal people. It was a pretty sad time for us and they kept things ticking over. Paul really stepped up, too.” Denis’ biggest asset, Cynthia believes, is his ability to visualise things he wants to create. She says: “He’s got great vision. When he decided to build the first of the two deer sheds he didn’t have any plans. Each day the builder turned up and would say to Denis: ‘What are we doing today, boss?’ I said, ‘You can’t do that to poor Merv, he needs a plan.’ But Merv got used to it and the shed turned out very good.” Denis admits his plans are all in his head: “I keep an eye on how things are done around the place and then I usually see it all in my head at night when I’m lying in bed.” These days, life is anything but quiet. as well as the farming work, Denis gets out and about following his horse racing “hobby” and pops into the McLarens depot most days “making a nuisance of myself”. Cynthia still hosts the many friends and family that stay on a regular basis and her beautiful garden keeps her on her toes. Denis and Cynthia are positive, happy people with a healthy respect for one another. Despite the hurdles that have come their way they have “just got on with it”. Denis’ advice to others: “Work hard and think outside the square. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”

hard case

A bit of a dagg

I 11

each month we bring you a yarn from a hard-case character with a colourful past Shirley Spruyt, Palmerston I GreW up near Gore. I was the eldest of 10 children and Dad had the milk run. The law was you couldn’t leave school until the age of 15, but Dad couldn’t afford to put all of his children through high school so for the last couple of years before I turned 15, I would just come and go as I pleased at the local primary school. The teacher didn’t mind, he would just say ‘afternoon Shirley’ and carry on with what he was doing with the class. As the eldest child I had to work and help Dad out. From the age of 13 I started work at 3am on the milk run and would usually finish up around 2pm, and then at 6pm I would head out again and get things ready for the next morning, finishing about 10 at night. That was seven days a week! It wasn’t much of a life for a teenage girl but I got out to the dances when I could. I would have to sneak out, mind you. Sometimes I arrived home minutes before Dad came knocking on my door: ‘time to get up, milk run!’ every now and then he would catch me out, though. I’d climb in my window and he would be sitting on my bed, waiting for me. It didn’t matter the explanation I gave, I would get a hiding either way. But it was worth it; I loved to go dancing. I didn’t need to drink alcohol or anything like that; I had enough go in me as I was. I was a bit of a dagg like that. Jack also had a milk run down south and that’s how we met. He was from Holland and came straight out from serving in the War in Indonesia; he brought his brother and sister with him, and the rest of his family he kept in touch with but didn’t see them again. Three times we had plans to go over to Holland but the last

Above: A younger Jack and Shirley Spruyt working the milk run in Gore before they moved to Ohai to work on the mine. Left: Shirley keeps busy with her line dancing and Jack potters in the shed (which is where he preferred to be during this interview).

overnight! Jack and I were living in Ohai and Jack was working at the mine there for minute he would decide he wasn’t contractor Dick Collis. Ten going for one reason or another. He years we lived there and then came here with just the clothes on one day the boss turned up his back. He worked on a farm at and told us we were moving Five rivers before buying the milk to Waikouaiti that very day. run. He was a qualified carpenter After 10 years and four kids, by trade but he has turned his you accrue a lot of gear! hand to all sorts of jobs over the Waikouaiti! I had never heard years. of the place. I didn’t know Dad didn’t approve of our where in God’s name it was. relationship; Jack was an Jack worked for Dick, immigrant and he was the wrong building the Kilmog motorway religion; he was raised as a and I worked at Cherry Farm, Catholic and I was raised as a before taking on the rural mail Presbyterian. So we ran off and got run which I did for 21 years. married in secret at the registry We were both hard workers office. Mum and Dad didn’t speak

Jack bought the grocer shop off Bessy Grubb and didn’t tell me. It’s not really printable what I said to him when he did that!

to us again until after Paulette was born, which was about 18 months later. We went on to have another three children, Lynda, Karina and Tony. We have great kids, we get on well with them all and they look after us; although Tony was a handful in his younger days – I’m sure he made my hair go grey

and had some savings in the bank. Jack bought the grocer shop off Bessy Grubb and didn’t tell me. It’s not really printable what I said to him when he did that! It worked out okay, though and Jack loved working in the shop and talking

to all the people. At one stage we had two shops, the grocer down the bottom and the milk bar up the top which Lynda and her husband Maurice ran; we sold petrol at both outfits. After a number of years we combined the two and moved everything to the top shop. In the days of the mail run, I can remember leaving home at 3am, finishing about 9am and then straight off to the shop ‘til 9pm at night! We also ran the local taxi for some time; mainly it was a service for the older people in the area to get to the doctor’s or the shop or sometimes into Dunedin and to taxi workers to Cherry Farm. Later on we also purchased the petrol station building and did the paper run and the coal run, and for a short time I had a drapery. Some people in the town didn’t take kindly to us owning a few of the local businesses. We did it not because we had the money – because we didn’t! But

because we saw that the town needed them; we did it for the community. These days I keep myself active with line dancing. I love it! We have a great time going to competitions and club nights. Jack loves his soccer; he’s a loyal Arsenal fan and enjoys watching it on the telly. He also potters away in the shed and mows the lawns, cuts the hedge and does a bit of the garden. We have nine grandchildren and nine greatgrandchildren and they keep us busy, too. We get on great, Jack and I; we’ve been married 57 years, but I think he’s lucky; I don’t know what he would do without me. You just ask my daughters!

12 I


Southern mum

Each issue we touch base with a local mum and find out what it means to bring kids up the ‘Southern way’. Name: Chelle Hagan Family: married to Wayne, Emilee (6), mya (4) and Josh (2) Lives: Waikouaiti My most memorable moment when I first became a Mum was… It would have to be all the kids’ firsts – the first smile, the first step, the first night they slept through. Our favourite thing to do together is... We have just discovered camping. after years of telling ourselves how horrible it would be, we finally tried it over new year. It was awesome. The kids had a great time catching yabbies, fishing and sitting around with us telling stories and having a

relaxing time. Children say the darndest things… I am sure all of our kids have gone through a phase of repeating the not-so-good words that they hear out on the farm and you can guarantee that they will repeat them at the most embarrassing moment. The favourite meal in our house at the moment is… Stuart’s sausages. a family friend will often drop by and give us some sausages. The kids all love them and they are now the only sausages that they will eat. A name I have loved but not used is… When I was pregnant with Emilee, I loved the name molly and wanted to

name her that, but at the time we had a cat whose name was molly and I thought it would be too confusing. I find it hardest being a parent when... Everyone is tired. Everyone’s patience level is at rock bottom and things seem a lot harder to deal with. When I get time to myself I... Love to sneak away from the kids and have a relaxing bath. If that fails nothing beats a good book to read. Another mother I admire is… my own mum, Diane King. I think that mum is a beautiful person. She is always there for me and my family and she will quite often put us first. Mum has worked hard all her married life and

she never complains. She is definitely someone that I look up too. A great parenting tip I have learnt is… Try to relax. When Josh was born I was a lot more relaxed with him than I was with the girls and he was such a settled happy baby. So I definitely think by being more relaxed that helped. I used to say, when I have kids I will never... Let them go out in public with dirty faces. Which is easier said than done! Especially with Josh! My advice for a mum-to-be is… Go with what you feel is right for you and your family. at the end of the day you know your kids the best.

Plenty of good times to be had as a Plunket mum For many young women the perception of being a ‘Plunket mother’ can be somewhat skewed; flowery aprons and countless weekends making 10,000 club sandwiches come to mind. Wanting to change this attitude is the East otago volunteer Plunket committee. Plunket’s goal is to provide activities, support the well-being of local children under five and ensure that no parent or caregiver feels isolated and without a way to meet others in similar situations.

In an era gone, Plunket played a more central role in the life of many women blessed with motherhood; women were a lot more home-bound and Plunket was an outlet where they could meet, have a laugh and watch their children play. These days, with the plethora of social options available (including Facebook) it’s easier for mums to stay connected with others without Plunket. East otago Plunket president Joanna Dixon says: “We want to let local mums know we are

Waikouaiti/ Karitane Plunket Volunteer committee: Mischa Clouston at front and from left Catherine Sheehan, Charlotte Allan, Ruth Lester, Molly Wright and Joanna Dixon.

ZĞůŽĐĂƚĂďůĞ>ŝĨĞƐƚLJůĞƵŝůĚŝŶŐƐ still here doing great things, having a good time and we welcome other volunteers.” Plunket volunteering involves some fundraising throughout the year to help with building rent, the car seat rental scheme and to fund activities and other events for local families.

ses ůĞ͊ Hen HĞŽoĨƐŝunjĞƐ ĂǀĂŝůĂď


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So while making 10,000 club sandwiches every weekend may not quite be right, there is an element of truth to this “and we actually have a lot of fun making them – especially when there’s a wee wine involved”, laughs committee member Catherine Sheehan.

I 13

Passion reignited

Fiona Skevington works her magic on a client.

Marriage, faMily, and a number of years owning and operating the Mcgregor’s Bakery and Tearooms in Palmerston had, until recently, kept fiona Skevington from furthering her passion in the hair and beauty industry. With the sale of the bakery came a much deserved break for fiona and her husband Charlie and it was an exciting time when fiona decided she would enrol into aoraki Polytechnic and train to become a beautician. She says: “i always loved hair and beauty before i got married but life didn’t go down that track. When we sold the bakery and tearooms it was really life-changing; it meant i could pick up my passion again.” Her enthusiasm and love for beauty therapy was immediately evident to fiona’s tutors who put her forward as

best adult learning student from her class. Fiona flew through the beautician course with flying colours qualifying with a london City of guilds certificate in beauty therapy level four. an enterprising and innovative local woman, fiona saw the need to keep a hairdressing business open in Palmerston. She transformed the existing hairdressing premises into Soul Hair Trade in 2009 and since august 2010 local girl Jessica fuller has been managing the business and tending to the ever increasing list of happy clients. Jade Moir, too has recently been taken on in an assistant role which has helped Jessica out a lot. Since graduating as a beauty therapist late last year, fiona has set up her Body ‘n’ Soul beauty therapy business in

a back room of the Soul Hair Trade building. Tastefully decorated with gorgeous drapes, a stunning chandelier and a ridiculously comfortable beauty chair, a client can relax and let fiona work her magic. Fiona’s confidence and relaxed demeanour is infectious and she believes in her products. after many years of working hard to get ahead in the bakery business, fiona knows well that feeling of needing a “freshen up” and she’s looking forward to sharing her passion with the hard-working and welldeserving women of the area. For the month of April, Fiona has a special $10 eyebrow shape on offer (save $10). She also offers gift vouchers (a great gift for upcoming Mother’s Day) and gorgeous beauty products for any skin type.

14 I

The natural time to plant By Sally Brown Blueskin Nurseries

We have had a bumper crop from our fruit trees this season. Amy Kreft, the chef in our café, has been busy making THE vIBrANT colours of autumn are starting jams, chutneys and sauces from the to show in the garden. Autumn is nature’s apricots, plums, apples and pears. A natural time for planting. The warmth from plum which has really impressed me summer is still in the soil and the moisture this season is Fortune. It is a large, very levels are relatively high, giving plants time to juicy plum with a red skin and yellow establish roots before the winter hits. flesh. Fortune is partially self-fertile One of the major gardening jobs in autumn is and a good pollinator. It is also largely the clean-up. How much you do and when you resistant to bacteria spot. It is delicious do it depends on climate. Dead-head, empty eaten fresh and also suitable for summer pots and rake up leaves. Don’t cut back baking or preserving. perennials until new growth appears in spring. Tiarellas are a fantastic Turn your pruning and leaves into mulch or woodland plant, with interesting compost. Any diseased wood or seeded weeds veined leaves and pretty fluffy should be burned. stems of soft white and pink recently, I helped David Mustard from The flowers in spring. The new Garden House with his display at the Otago Tiarella Trail series are not only House and Garden Show. David builds these effective ground covers but are gorgeous, traditional-style, timber–framed ideal for hanging baskets and glasshouses. I titivated the glasshouse with cascading down walls or banks. plants and gardening niceties to make it Members of the strawberry look like the setting of a traditional English family (Saxifragacae), they garden. If you are interested check out www. have been bred especially as a delightful shade-loving creeper. They take their names from their native North American habitat – Oregon Trails, Happy Trails and Appalachian Trails. Tiarellas require rich well-drained soils and prefer a shaded or semi-shaded position in the garden. The vegetable garden has been getting demolished by white butterflies. Get the derris dust onto them. Broad beans should be planted on Anzac Day. They will germinate before winter, sit in the garden over winter and produce beans in late spring to early summer. A good dwarf variety

is Coles Dwarf. I am not particularly keen on the grey-looking broad beans. Evergreen is my choice, the bean stays green. We look forward to seeing you soon and while you are here, treat yourself to a coffee and a delicious treat from our new autumn menu. Blueskin Nurseries & Café, State Highway 1, Waitati. Phone 03 482 2828 email

April’s top tips

1 2

3 4 Top: Our colourful tiarella, Heuchella and Heuchera display. Left: Tiarella Jade Butterflies. Below: Scabiosa Crimson Clouds.


Bulbs – Continue to plant your spring bulbs in the garden. Crocuses, tulips, frittilarias, anemone, reticulata iris, bluebells, narcissus (daffodils), leucojams (snowflakes) and muscari(grape hyacinths). Funky Gardening Shoes – They look cool and serve a great purpose. Slogger gardening shoes and gumboots are very comfortable and come with a 10-year guarantee. A pair of these will save your slippers from getting soggy! Asparagus beds – Apply well rotted manure, compost or seaweed to your asparagus bed. They love nice rich soils! Deadhead hydrangeas – Cut back all the flower heads to just above the base. Stems which haven’t flowered this season will do so next, so don’t prune these. Feed the blue ones with sulphur and the pink with lime after pruning. A new plant is the gorgeous Scabiosa Crimson Cloud, which has striking, dark mauve pincushion-like flowers flecked with white from spring to frost . Tolerant of drier conditions in summer it prefers full sun and welldrained soil.

I 15


Mouth-watering Hummock merino By Rowan Holt Bayleaf Cooking School James and Sarah Dempster of Hummock Meats have returned to the family farm after living the city life for many years. The Hummock run, owned by James’s parents Lindsay and Margaret, is approximately 30km inland from Waikouaiti towards Middlemarch and James and Sarah live on the finishing block based at Flag Swamp. Merino, cross-breeds, deer and cattle make for an intensive farming operation. Also living on site at the Hummock is stock manager Scott Rowland along with partner Megan and their little one, Quin. “The time was right to return,” says James. “We wanted to come home and raise our family with plenty of space around us.” The young couple have a son, Benji (two) and are expecting their second baby soon. The merino sheep the Hummock produces are good-natured and well-bred. The wool has received international acclaim; it’s much sought after in Europe, and the meat is delicious. Occasionally merino meat can be very strong and gamey, but the way the Dempsters feed the stock ensures the meat stays tender, subtle and soft. It is some of the best lamb I have ever worked with, and it’s available for purchase at the Palmerston Farmers’ Market every Saturday morning. I wanted a twist on the classic rosemary and garlic, so picked some wild thyme growing

in the Ida Valley on my way through recently. One makes a special gesture serving up such a special dish such as this; a delicious roast to serve when you are having guests to dinner and it goes well with a Central Otago pinot. Pink Peppercorn and Wild Thyme crusted Lamb Rack Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees For a 6-bone rack Crust - in a mortar and pestle put: 2 T pink peppercorns 2 T mustard seed 3 whole cloves 1 t salt 2 T wild thyme without sprigs Grind all together to achieve a course dust. With the lamb rack – wrap each bone with a small piece of tin foil. I don’t bother trimming as it takes ages; foil looks pretty and makes a nice chop holder when eating. It also stops the bone burning while cooking. Stab the fatty side of the rack at even spaces approx. 5 times, and insert a whole garlic clove into each pocket. Smear 2 T butter over the meat, and then sprinkle over the crust mixture. The butter will keep the dust firmly in place. Floured Agrias Peel and chop 5 large potatoes. Place in roasting dish and liberally apply about 4 T olive oil. Use your hands to massage oil around potatoes. Then sprinkle on 3 T flour and use your hands again to distribute evenly all over. Arrange potatoes on the outside of dish and place lamb rack in the centre, crusted side up. Bake for 35 minutes, turn oven off and rest for 10 minutes.

Above: Pink Peppercorn and Wild Thyme crusted Lamb Rack. Right: James and Sarah Dempster of Hummock Meats. PHoToS: RoWAn HoLT

Remove from oven and serve with minted greens. Chop roughly, place in pot with inch of water and boil for 2 minutes only! Drain and serve.


Waipiata Ute Muster Highlight: All the well-dressed utes and drivers!

Strath Taieri A&P Show Highlight: It was a beautiful warm day in the Strath Taieri. Perfect weather to watch the classes, meander around the stalls, have a chuckle at the musterer’s race and enjoy an icecream.

Amanda Docherty, Sarah Byrne and Anna Clark.

Geoff and Nicola McAtamney and Melissa Inder.

olivia McMaster, Steven Woodhead and Nigel A’Court.

Sarah McKee, Samantha and Mikaela Woodhead.

Sheree Healey with son Bob and pony Jiggy. “The A Team” from left: Allon Nash, Jock Frew, Kerian McAtamney and Noel Matthews.


Palmerston Mini Show Highlight: It was a beautiful day considering the forecast was for rain and many people turned out to watch the events. It was a great family day out!

Kent Tisdall and Sean Leslie. Jackie McAra with daughters Ryleigh (5) and Jordyn (2).

Katelyn Toomey (8) with pony “Buddy”.

Lucy Girvan (9) on Thumbelina.

Tina Bungard awards Danielle Simpson (17) and her horse Giselle the prize of champion hack. PHoToS: DeNA HeNDeRSoN

Becs Smith, Abby Pyle and her daughter Isla Peddie.

Douglas O’Malley Memorial Trophy Maniototo versus Eastern, played at the Eastern Grounds. It was 17-0 to Maniototo after the first-half and Eastern responded with three tries in the second-half bringing the full-time score to 17-24 to Maniototo.

John Pyle, Mark Kensington and James Matheson.

Will Heckler (restrained by a helpful mate for this photo) winds into his stag do.

Phil and Sue Lee.

Southern Attitude April 2011  

Middlemarch Singles Ball: 10 years on, where are they now?

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