Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 52, September 2008
(by Glenice Williams)
An association of some 90 years with the Hauraki Plains was severed on June 23, 2008, with the passing of Hazel Winifred Bourne in Paeroa aged 95 years.
Hazel's parents, Ernest and Maud Harwood, were among the earliest settlers in the Golden Bay area, being linked to the first European child born in this South Island district.
About 1912 the Harwood family, now comprising two daughters, Melvice and Doris, moved from Takaka to Hikumutu in the King Country where Mr Harwood, with his future brother-in-law, purchased a farm. They cleared the land of the forest, pit-sawed timber and built a house on the developing farm. Hazel was born there on February 25, 1913.
After some four years the partnership was dissolved and Hazel's father came north to the Hauraki Plains, which had by now had been drained and becoming highly productive farm land.
Mr Harwood found the property he wanted at Shelley Beach, now known as Kopuarahi. His family, now comprising four children, with Hubert the latest addition, left their Taumarunui Railway house and joined him on their new farm.
The two eldest girls walked along the Piako River stopbank to meet the Pipiroa School headmaster, and he rowed them across the river to his school. There were some eight children from the Kopuarahi area used this service to attend school.
Pressure from the district resulted in the Auckland Education Board building a school at Kopuarahi and Hazel spent her schooling years there. The Harwoods sold their original farm around 1920 and purchased one closer to the school.
In those days the only way to get to Thames for most settlers was by Kerby's launches leaving from the Kopuarahi Wharf. The roads were rough and in winter, mud.
Hazel's father sold this property as it was prone to flooding, and he purchased a farm further along the road, next door to the Hale family. He purchased a big old house from Karangahake and moved it onto his new property.
By now Hazel's youngest brother Max joined the family, making a total of five children. They lived practically opposite the Cam Millers, their house had a turret on the top and is still there today.
The children now rode horses to the Kopuarahi School, and with the establishment of the Hauraki Plains County Council, the roading network was improving and the Hauraki Plains were developing into a highly productive dairying district.
Hazel left school when she was 14 years old and stayed at home to help her father and brother Hubert with milk the cows and the general farm work. She harnessed up the horse, loaded full milk cans on to the dray and took them off to the factory and brought the empty cans back to the farm.
She vividly remembered being present at the official opening of the Kopu Bridge in 1928, this event made a tremendous difference to the Hauraki Plains. Hazel's father bought a Model T Ford car and, as a family, they often visited Thames and travelled further afield. All the children learned to drive in the Model T, first starting in the farm paddock.
The family owned a pianola piano, which they all learned to play. There were many great sing-alongs around this piano. They also went to Miller's home, which had a the large room in which local dances were held.
From her teenage years and for over 20 years, Hazel was a very good hockey player. During the 1920 her district team won the Hamilton seven-a-side tournament two years in succession; she was captain for one year; and she was a regular member of the side which attended "hockey week' in Auckland. She finally retired from playing the game at age 40 years. She still had her first hockey stick, which she would display with pride.
Hazel met her future husband at the local dance in 1937. She and Pat Bourne became engaged after 12 months, on her birthday. They were married exactly 12 months to the day in 1939. Pat left his truck-driving job at the Kopuarahi lime works and with his bride went farming at Kaihere.
When brother Hubert responded to a call of his country in Second World War, Hazel and Pat, together with baby Ross, moved onto a family property at Mangatarata overlooking the Mangatara Reserve. Glenice and Ian were born there and on Hubert's return to the farm the Bourne family moved back to Kopuarahi onto Hugh Hale's farm. When this farm was sold they share-milked for Sir William Hale, who was the chairman of the New Zealand Dairy Board.
In 1954 Pat and Hazel bought their own farm in Awaiti West Road, Netherton, and stayed there for 15 years. During the family farming career Hazel was always there to help with the milking and general farm work as well as providing a solid family home.
In the late 1960s the Bournes, with their four children going in their chosen directions and Ian taking over the farm, decided to retire from farming and purchased No. 1 Fairview Terrace in Paeroa. They enjoyed life there until 1987 when Pat passed away. A very keen gardener Hazel maintained the property in picturesque condition, right up to the time of her untimely passing.
It has been only in the last few years that Hazel did not keep a steady supply of vegetables going to her family and friends. In later years her proud moment each year was supplying the new potatoes for the family Christmas dinner. Sadly ill-health intervened for the 2007 festivities.
Hazel and daughter Glenice purchased the Fluer [Fleur? - E] Fashion Shoppe in Paeroa's main street, opposite the RSA Club. Hazel loved meeting the customers, and she proved to be a very capable sales lady.
When Glenice took over the business Hazel and Pat enjoyed overseas trips to Singapore, Norfolk Island, trips across to Australia and several visits to Golden Bay to keep in touch with relatives. They also made many trips to horse race meetings around New Zealand, a sport both keenly followed.
After Pat departed Hazel still maintained an active life, particularly outdoors. She made several trips within New Zealand, revisited Singapore and at the age of 85 years went up in a glider from Tauranga.
She enjoyed belonging to and taking a full part in the activities of the Netherton Garden Circle, Paeroa and District Historical Society, Paeroa Op Shop, the Paeroa Racing Club, Grey Power and Counter Stroke. She thoroughly enjoyed the annual "Early Settlers' Day" at Turua.
Hazel saw many and varied changes to the Hauraki Plains over the 90 years she had been associated with this area. She had a clear-cut memory of many of these changes and of countless experiences, which she willingly recalled for those who could not resist but listen.
Her niece Marilyn Sardelich, speaking at Hazel's 90th birthday celebrations summed up her life: "She has always had a great temperament and has the ability to laugh at her mistakes. She is always the same when I call, a smile on her face and a welcome. She can make a meal out of nothing it seems or she'll whip up some scones in a few minutes. My father always said: "No-one can make apple-pie like Hazel".
"She has lived 90 years, drank milk straight from the cow, skimmed the cream off next morning for her porridge, cooked in dripping, boiled the copper for her washing and survived."
There was large number of pioneering families represented, along with family and friends, to pay their last respects at Hazel's funeral, a fitting testament of the high esteem in which she was held.