Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002

Longtime member of the Paeroa & District Historical Society, Mary Simpson, died on 21 April 2002.

Mary was born on 24 September 1910, the oldest of eight children. The family were then living on a farm at Bell Block near New Plymouth. She was a descendant of the Hoskin family, early settlers in the Taranaki District, her ancestors having arrived on the sailing ships Amelia Thompson in September 1841 and Timandra in February 1842.

Mary's school years were spent at Bell Block, Fitzroy and Vogeltown Schools. She left school at the age of fourteen in order to help her mother to care for her large family, elderly Granny Marina and a farmhand. There was always plenty to do for the young Mary, sewing for all the family, cutting everyone's hair and baking for the growing children. Mary married Jack in 1931 at the age of 20½ and moved to Hawera. At that time her brother, Ray, was seventeen, sister Vi was fifteen, Charles was twelve, Betty was ten, Ron was eight and twins, David and Peg, were two years old.

In June 1937 Mary and Jack with their then two daughters, Dawn and Anne moved to Netherton to farm on Wani Road, Netherton. Three further daughters, the last two, twins, were born, Valerie, Linda and Maxine. As well as bringing up her family of five daughters, Mary served on the Netherton School Committee as Secretary-Treasurer, a position she held for thirteen years. Her other interests were as a member of the Garden Circle, Country Women's Institute, Parent Teacher Association and later, the National Council of Women, attending conferences in Wellington as a local delegate.

At the age of fifty she learnt to drive. She started work at AKRAD, her first commercial job, making 18,000 T V control units during her seventeen months' employment.

In 1963 Mary, then aged 54 and Jack, then aged 60, sold the farm and moved to 17 Claremont Avenue, Paeroa. In their retirement they enjoyed travelling and Mary became a prolific writer of travelogues, letters and diaries. About this time she began her next career with a housekeeping position with a family at Turua for three weeks. This was the first of many occasions when she helped this family. Mary became known as a competent manager of home, family and kitchen and she was in demand when new babies were expected, children became ill and farmers wanted overseas travel. Some years Mary and Jack were away from their Paeroa home for totals of up to thirty weeks a year.

Their travels involved camping tours over the North and South Islands, with Taranaki becoming a favourite place and where they were welcomed by family members. In 1979 Mary visited Linda in Canada, where she had settled. While she was away her husband, Jack, died. Mary continued to enjoy travelling, visiting Australia, Norfolk Island and Canada twice more. She spent many Christmas holidays on the sailing boat Te Aroha, cruising around the Auckland Harbour and the neighbouring islands. Her interests expanded to include Radio Pacific Friends, Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society, NZ Founders Society, Historical Societies of Paeroa and North Shore, America's Cup and other parades, Concerts in the Park in the Auckland Domain, Auckland Museum and Art Gallery displays, Murphy's Bus trips, Kaipara Kewpie 2 Harbour Trips, Les and Sonia Andrews Concerts, along with many other shows which caught her attention and filled her days. Her independence was a great strength. When she needed a writing desk, she went to Paeroa High School Night Classes and learnt woodwork.

On 27 December 2001, Mary moved to Ohinemuri Home and she died on 21 April 2002 at Thames Hospital. Her funeral was held at the Ohinemuri Home and Hospital Chapel on 26 April 2001. Mary is survived by her five daughters, thirteen grandchildren and twenty-two great grandchildren.