Two Waioeka Women and a Wharerata Pioneer

Extracts from a talk given by Joyce Wyllie and Minty Henderson about four generations of farming women from Poverty Bay to Golden Bay/Mohua.

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Extracts from a talk given at Takaka Memorial Library on August 3 2018 as part of the HerStory series celebrating 125 years of Women's Suffrage in New Zealand. 

Please click on the download link above to read the full story.


My grandmother, Elizabeth Trafford, gave this advice to her family, “Rather than spend your money on fleeting things, save hard and buy your own piece of land. Then you can sit with an umbrella over your head and no one can order you off.”

In 1902 she and her husband Arthur had sold their Wharerata farm and moved nearer to Gisborne to enable the children to attend school. 10 years later, with eldest sons aged 19 and 17, their thoughts turned to the desire for land for them.

In 1912 Arthur put in for a ballot of land in Opato block and drew the top section of the Waioeka Gorge which links Gisborne to Opotiki. This 607-hectare bush block was leased with right of purchase in 20 years. It was taken up by Arthur in partnership with sons Alick and Ray.

These 3 men packed in necessary equipment, set up a temporary camp and started clearing the bush with axes and saws, while building a whare for Elizabeth and the other 5 children. This whare later became known by all of us grandchildren as ‘Grandma’s cottage”. Normally it would have been built of wooden slats but Ray's diary of 7th March 1913 records, “Put in a full day on the whare. As the timber is not splitting well, we decided to build it with iron.” On the next day he wrote, “ Papa went over to Buscke’s (nearest neighbour lOkms away) to ring up Common Shelton and Co. for the iron.” It would come by train and by packhorse for the last 48kms.

What a joy it was for Ray to record on April 18th, “Finished putting iron on the whare and moved into it from the old tent.” Then finally on April 24th, “Papa went to Buscke’s to get  Mama.” After 10 years of civilization, Elizabeth was once more on horseback riding over rough kilometres into new country over the 700 metre high hill, later named Trafford’s Hill. Again she was the first woman living in an unbroken area, just as she had been starting married life 22 years before......




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