Author Topic: Incident report, relating to a 1930's NZ depression times, Works camp.  (Read 601 times)

Offline Fresh Fields

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Incident report, relating to a 1930's NZ depression times, Works camp.
« on: Thursday 07 December 17 02:19 GMT (UK) »
Hello from down under.

This incident report, ties in to some photos from the New Zealand 1930's depression, Public Works Department Camps.  They were were given to me in the 1980's. The photo restore board people have just done some brilliant work giving the photos a new life. The one of the camp in particular had almost faded away.

Christian Charity, begins at home.
1930’s Depression, Waikato New Zealand.

   Today (2017) lying forlorn, toppled and under-mined, by the lane to Sharp’s old cowshed, is a large concrete block. On closer inspection one could be excused for thinking it was an old clothes ‘copper’ from former years. When one of the cheese hot waxing tubs was no longer required by the Gordonton Dairy Factory, Jim Sharp’s ‘waste not want not’ philosophy saw to it that, it became Sharp’s pig tucker boiler.

   During the 1930’s depression it was Ron’s teenage job to fill the tub each night, with whatever was available for a slow over night cook up. In went old boner cows, gone to seed vegetables, cabbage, silver beet, spuds, pumpkins, swedes, corn cobs, dried coconut, and possibly some stock feed grains, plus wind fall fruit, and household waste scraps.
   Once the tub was full, water was added, and the lot covered with several sacks, and the fire below was lit.  In the morning there was a hot stew for the pig troughs.  Upon finding several mornings when his stew had been disturbed, Ron saw fit to advise his Father Jim Sharp, and asked what could have been disturbing the sacks. The dogs were tied up, and he doubted the cats were to blame.

   Jim’s reply was a slow “Oh !” and then seemingly abstractly, “Boy at lunch time, best you walk today’s cow over to the camp, and give her to the foreman.

   The way Ron told the story, it took him a minute to realise that Jim had decided that hungry men, from the Public Works Department camp, by the Whitikahu Road bridge, must have been night raiding the cook up.

   The camp wasted no time butchering the cow. Jim spread the word, and saw to it that other animals were donated to the camp, to help see the men and their families, through the winter. Times were tough for all, even some farmers were having to abandon their farms, so local Christian Charity recognized the need of the destitute, on their doorstep.

   At that time, TB was an issue, so these animals as well, were slaughtered to try and stop the spread of the disease. There was no market for ‘boners’ as we know of today, and there was little export demand for the hides. Also towards the end of the dairy season, the race was on to fatten the last of the seasons pigs, and turn them into pork and bacon, before the supply of skim milk, whey, and fodder crops ran out.

   Hukanui / Gordonton had a name for being frosty, and foggy, yet tents were all that the camp workers were issued.  Gang Foremen were issued some roofing iron, and some framing timber, and it was only the Camp Managers, that got to live in provided small, match-wood lined, huts. Progressively scavenged iron and timber, helped make the ‘tents’ more habitable, and give them a floor above the mud.

- Alan.
Early Settlers & Heritage. Family History.

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