Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Grandparents


My Paternal Grandparents

The child on the left
of this photo
is a boy
and he is sporting
a rather strange haircut -
what we would call in Australia
a mullet

The boy was born in 1899
and is my father's father
my Grandfather

These are the four children
in his family
He is the oldest son
His father was an immigrant
from Scotland
an architect from Glasgow
His mother died in childbirth

His older sister on the right
I knew very well
my Great Aunt Winnie,
who came with her husband
for afternoon tea many Sundays
of my childhood

I won't tell you
who her husband was
just yet
I am getting ahead of myself

My Grandfather
on the very right
left his hometown
a number of times
during the Depression
to find work
to support his family

This is my father's mother
my Grandmother
who I am told
enjoyed acting
and perhaps that is what
has just occurred here

Nana was born in 1902
near Timaru
in South Canterbury

She was very active in the community
and perhaps her fledgling acting skills
prepared her to make a mark
on the New Zealand political scene
She became the mayor of Timaru
and the President
of the New Zealand Labour Party- Women's Section
and a
member of the New Zealand
Labour Party Executive

In 1948
she applied for a passport
and interestingly
that document
is called a British Passport
for the Dominion of New Zealand

and she is noted
to be a British Subject

The purpose
in obtaining a passport
was to travel to Paris
with the New Zealand Prime Minister
and other advisors
to attend the Third General Assembly
of the United Nations

the New Zealand Prime Minister
at the time,
on the left,
was Peter Fraser

The Chairperson of the UNGA
was Eleanor Roosevelt
and the Vice Chairman
Dr P.C. Chang from China

The four delegates in this photo
From left to right
Mr Louis Hyde USA
Mrs Ann Newlands NZ
Dr P.C. Chang China
Dr W B Sutch NZ

according to the scrawled note
in my Grandmother's hand
on the reverse of the photo

they are standing

"on the very spot
where Joan of Arc was burned,
plaque set in the ground"

The task of the delegates was to agree
on the final round of the Geneva Draft
which paved the way
for the Bill of Human Rights
which was passed
by the United Nations in 1948

To read a little more
of New Zealand's stance
on this draft
you might like to link
to a previous post
My Grandmother

When my Grandmother
returned to New Zealand
after three months abroad
she was quite a celebrity
in her home town
and was much in demand
for interviews and meetings

She wrote a series of articles
for the newspaper
which were recorded onto
huge black 98s
and my sisters and I
often liked to pull them out
and put them on the gramophone
to listen to our Nana
in a style and manner
quite unfamiliar to us...

One of the occasions
that she liked to share with us
was the time she spent at tea
with the other women delegates
of the United Nations,
and especially Mrs Franklin. D. Roosevelt


and I nearly forgot
to tell you who Great Aunt Winnie
was married to

Poor Winnifred was a spinster
destined to remain
'on the shelf'
My grandmother had a brother
who had divorced
which was a very rare phenomena
in those times

So my Grandmother
played match maker and
stitched up Great Aunt Winnie
to her brother Frederick
creating a very tight connection
brother and sister
were married
to brother and sister...

Great Aunt Winnie
was stoic...



  1. What a wonderful history to pass on! Your Grandmother was indeed quite the celebrity, someone to be very proud of, Delwyn. Thanks for the story, I loved it.

    Awaiting the next episode!

  2. Hi Alaine

    I was lucky when in CHCH last week I found that my mother had recently received a sheaf of documents and photographs from a relative, including the above. As soon as I saw them I recognised them as fodder for blogging...

    You can learn a little more about her by following the link...

    Happy days

  3. I have always found the history of people, places, and things very interesting....especially the interwining and relationship of events of the world seen through lives of others. Sometimes the smallest glimpse into a persoal family's history sheds light onto the bigger picture of world history...just one more link in the chain that makes it so obvious we are all in this together...humans on Earth.

    Why I ramble on, I don't know. I think blogging has deepened my feelings of being a citizen of the world...not just of America...We are such a young country really...I just am often made so aware of that and the rich history of England and Europe becomes more personal to me through reading different blogs.

    Thank you Delwyn for sharing your place in time with me!


  4. Delwyn - thank you for sharing some of your family history. Your Nana was an amazing woman, especially for her day.

    You are creating an amazing document for future generations - and at the same time your blogging community gets to understand a little more about New Zealand, your family and you. Thank you.

  5. Hello to you Wanda

    History is made so much more meaningful when it has a human face.
    I agree with you that blogging allows us to be a fly on the wall, see and learn about day to day lives of people facing issues just like us...
    New Zealand and Au are very young countries in terms of white settlement - Au is ancient in Aboriginal history and NZ not so old in Maori history.

    It was only in the 1840s that Christchurch was first settled by Europeans - not long at all...compared to Europe and the Middle East. I remember travelling through Israel and looking at villages that were over 2000 years old...and here is CHCH only 170 years old...

    Happy days Wanda

  6. Isn't it wonderful to have such documents and history about your Granny, she certainly was a celebrity in her day. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hello Bonnie

    yes she was a true feminist before the phrase was ever heard...and she had a vivid imagination - a great story teller...when they came to visit we loved to curl up in bed with her before we had to rush off to school, and hear a fairytale she made up on the spot...

    Happy days

  8. Hello there Ann

    It was a thrill to see these documents, and I have just now been unearthing a few more I have packed away in my I am sneezing...dust, mould ...

    Happy days

  9. delwyn - what an extraordinary woman and in pictures of her, she appears luminous!!! she has such presence!! to be involved with such a powerful document, that has impacted every human being since, my goodness!!! i'm assuming that something of her spirit is what i sense in you!!! have a lovely day by the river delwyn. steven

  10. OMG Delwyn! Wow!! You must be SO proud, so very very proud of Winnie's accomplishments. Incredible!

    We call them mullets here, too, btw. I think getting one's hair cut, and wearing long pants, were once a rite of passage for boys.

    Strange to think of now.

  11. I remember the previous post and am blown away by this one. What a wonderful heritage you were born to! This is truly amazing. Ann, your grandmother, was so ahead of her time. And as for Great Aunt Winnie, tell us more. Why did she seem to be destined for spinsterhood (aside from the passage of time before marriage)? Why did you tell us, after mentioning her marriage to Ann's divorced brother, that Winnie was stoic? More - more - more!

  12. Oh what a wonderful post Delwyn - like others here, I love the history and stories linked with the photos (what a great collection of memorabilia). Hmmm, I haven't blogged yet of my maternal grandmother who was born also in the 1890s and also in Timaru. I'm going to take a guess that they more than likely knew of each other.
    Like others, I'm waiting for the next installment and also want to know why you said Winnie was stoic?

  13. Hello Steven

    How are you enjoying the weekend...

    My Nana was larger than life. Not much over five foot she commanded attention and liked to be the centre of interest in the room...

    I think she passed on her love of writing and story telling via my father, who has written two books about his adventures sailing around the world, down to me...

    She also loved the countryside and we spent many many days at water holes on river beds in Canterbury having picnics, boiling the billy for tea, eating our sandwiches and picnic cakes... and picking wildflowers...she loved wild mint and often had a sprig tucked into the belt of her dress...

    and she sang... She met my grandfather while both were in a Gilbert and Sullivan production...

    thanks for coming over..

    Happy days

  14. Hi there Reya

    I am actually really proud of Great Aunt Winnie - she was the stoic one. She taught me much...about stoicism!

    My Grandmother Ann, I am also very proud of...

    I didn't think of that with the haircut for boys...yes...and did you see he has a toy in his hands...

    thanks for dropping by...

    Happy days

  15. Hi Meri

    You ask some interesting questions. My great aunt, although sweet and kind, rarely smiled, I must ask my mother what she was like when she was younger ...

    I think she was resigned to her lot. She had one daughter and probably felt fortunate to have been blessed with a child.
    Rather than speak ill of the dead I will let you read what you like into that 'stoic' remark of mine...

    Winnie was a great dressmaker and made me a patchwork skirt of which I was very fond...she was also an excellent cook - her rice pudding could not be matched...

    My father was very good to her and her husband as they were both direct aunt and uncle to him with the brother - sister marriage...
    He gardened for them as they aged and took care of their home. No wonder he now has such incredible neighbours looking after him now...
    karma at work...

    Happy days

  16. Hi Gleaner

    Really...that is interesting...
    Where were you born?

    Nana was born at Pleasant Point, in 1902, so a bit younger than your grandmother but as she was mayor of Timaru I am sure she would know her...

    If you read my reply to Meri you will get an idea of Winnie's stoicism...

    Happy days

  17. Delwyn, my great-grandfather built their family home in North Street and that stayed in the family for many generations - one of the photos on my blog of my ggf. was probably taken in Timaru gardens - he was commissioned to build organs and pianos in NZ, he was the local piano-tuner in Timaru. Although lots of links to Timaru I wasn't born in NZ but have visited to re-trace some family history. I have traced all my grandparents on all sides so I have lots of fascinating info - and as you mention about your grandmother acting, often in those times there was accompanying organ/piano music so I imagine in such a small town they could have meet. You've got me planning a post myself..

  18. Delwyn - I have a picture, at my elbow, of my brother as a child -- also with long curls, and very pretty. A bit like your grandfather, really!

    How wonderful to have these family pictures and documents. It must have been inspiring to meet Eleanor Roosevelt. Did your grandmother travel quite a lot with that passport?

  19. Hello Gleaner

    this is just wonderful..the great reward of blogging to make these links and connections...across the oceans and across time...

    Oh I am sure they would know each other.
    I often went to the gardens to feed the ducks and many times to the Timaru library when I was staying with my grandparents in the school holidays. They lived in Le Cren St, opposite a real diary that sold fresh unpasturized milk by the billy and had the most incredible home made icecream...

    We would spend many of our summers down there going to the carnival on Caroline Bay for the New Year's festivities...

    My great grandparents came from Scotland. He was born in Glasgow in 1862.

    Happy days

  20. Hi There Bee

    It appears that she has visas for a few countries there...I see Palestine - which was not Israel, until 1948,
    and Holland called the Netherlands, Siam before it became Thailand, and middle eastern countries too...

    She was away from NZ for 3 months at the UN and travelling . She has stamps for Holland, Calcutta, France and Cairo, Karachi, Italy and Fiji...

    Flying in those days must have required many stop overs...I will ask and see if anyone knows exactly where she went...

    I did some research and it appears that NZ was reluctant to call itself independent and considered itself to be an outlying branch of the British Nation...when I grew up old people still talked longingly of the 'homecountry...'

    thanks for dropping in Bee

    Happy days

  21. Bee PS

    the spring is springing in New Zealand...we don't really have one in Qld - today it is expected to be 30* - very hot for a winter's day - usually it is about 22-24* but we are edging toward summer again...we can call it spring and flowers will change, but there are very few deciduous trees here on the coast. Inland a couple of hours and higher the flora changes a lot...and it will feel and appear more like spring...

    Happy days...

  22. I agree, its truly amazing and wonderful. I have memories of visiting my grandparents and buying chocolate fish at the local deli in Timaru and the absolutely beautiful gardens in Timaru - my grandparents always keen vegetable and flower gardens. I was always taken with the beautiful flowers they grew (English cottage garden flowers that were quite foreign in Australian gardens). I'm keeping a look-out for names from family history - none so far - otherwise that would be truly unbelievable! :)

  23. Gleaner

    funny...My daughter and I went looking for chocolate fish before we left CHCH but the store had none. I know that you can get them here but it is not the same... we did get pineapple chunks and jaffas though...

    Do you remember Whittakers (sp) peanut chocolate slabs - the company began in a house laundry in Oamaru I mother knew of them...

    My grandfather was a great gardener - english flowers and a huge veg garden...I remember the fresh peas on criss cross stakes.

    He was a carpenter and had a huge workshop, the floor of which was layered with wood curls of plane filings and the smell was fresh and delicious... we would run down the side of the shed which had corrugated iron walls and run our hands across the iron bumps creating music...

    thanks for bringing back all these memories..

    Happy days

  24. Delwyn, you must be so very proud of your heritage. Your grandmother was an incredible role model & absolutely beautiful to boot!
    Thanks for sharing this,

  25. Hi Lizzy

    thanks for your comments here and on My Grandmother post...

    My Grandmother was a great mentor, and a sprightly character...and could hold the attention of a room...

    Happy days

  26. Wonderful photographs to have Delwyn (we'd call that hairstyle a mullett too!), and such rich history in your family. I do believe you have inherited your grandmother's gift of writing and sharing thoughts. It is obvious that you hold her in high regard and with good reason!

  27. Hi Sherry

    do you think the mullet is named after the fish because the long pieces look like a tail...

    thank you for your kind comments and I would like to think that I have my Nana's passion for words and communication through the written word. My Dad wrote a couple of memoirs too - so he has the genes...

    I love words ...such powerful little squiggles...

    Happy days

  28. This was such and interesting story to read, thank you for sharing a part of your history with us. I am amazed at the photos and documentation you have looks so well kept. It is a wonderful thing to pass this information. I need to by a scanner so I can scan all my families old photos eventually I want to make a coffee table book of my family tree and history for my mum.

  29. Thanks Liss

    sometimes these stories are not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed compiling it. The top 3 photos I took a phot of and was please that they turned out as well as they did. I bought a Canon Scanner - not too expensive and it has been invaluable..I make the funky postcards so I am able then to upload the images...and they are almost as good as the original.

    I amWEhen I went to NZ I took my Dad an album of miscellaneous shots through time that I had put through Picassa and written on so that if he forgets he can quickly see who is featured...

    Happy days


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