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My Arrival in Auckland

Two months before I was born an earthquake hit Napier, Hastings & the Hawkes Bay area where we lived. My Mother was rearing a few chickens which she would buy from the market as day old chickens. A week later, she would take them to the market again & sell them as week old chickens. Then buy day-olds again. In this way she was earning a little pocket money.


Feb 3rd was market day but our mother never went that day and just as well or I wouldn't be here! The whole roof collapsed and killed everyone under it.


All the services of the city were out of order so the Govt evacuated the civilians to other parts of the country.


My mother and sister were sent to Wellington where after two months on the 5 April, 1931 I was born. We then went back to London on the ‘Rangatane’ where we stayed until after my first birthday.


Our father had stayed in Hastings to help repair the damage to buildings, railways, streets and gas and water services.


When we came back we lived at 516 Pepper St where we stayed until I was five years old.


I remember a rather big shake happening one night my sister and I were very scared. "Don't worry" said Mum, "It's only an old cow rubbing herself on the corner of the house." She must have been petrified herself.


We had an auction at our house in Pepper St and with only a few possessions and little money we came by train to Palmerston North. It was dark & cold when we got off the train. We went into the waiting room wrapped in a blanket each. There was an open fire roaring and lots of people sitting around the walls waiting as we were, for the train to Auckland.


The steaming great giant engine duly arrived and we all hopped on. In the guards van went our huge English pram and we were off.


We arrived in Auckand in the morning and made our way to the Ferry Buildings. We boarded a ferry boat and came to Birkenhead Wharf. From the wharf we walked and walked. My sister (Melva) was 7 years old and myself being five years and our baby sister (Deidrie) at 1 year old, being pushed in the pram. The hill up from the wharf seemed so steep and I remember turning the corner near Marama Terrace and saying to my Dad "Is it much further? " "Just around the corner" said our father.


Dad had taken a trip to Auckland before we had left Hastings and found a house which we rented in Mokoia Road from a Mr Payne who owned the big building on the corner at Highbury. Mr Payne looked to me like Mickey Savage with a thick shock of white hair and a moustache.


We trudged up to Highbury and turned the last corner. Along Mokoia Road just opposite Birkenhead Primary School, we arrived at our new home. When my sister and I saw the front lawn with grass up to our waists, we burst into tears.


Such was our arrival in the City of Sails in 1936!


- Marj Mumme

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