The Settlers Lot…………
(These possibly fictitious settlers were somewhere on the mainland of New Zealand)
- Asked whether life was enjoyed in the early days, Mr McEwan stated that it undoubtedly was. There were no local bodies to bother you, no rates, no labour laws, very little politics and no government inspectors.
- Water, a chore to collect, was used economically. A basin of water would first wash the dairy utensils whilst fresh, then bath the baby. Next it was used to wash the clothes, the dishes and finally the cleaning of floors etc before being given to the pigs.
- Rough slab huts, roofs of fern, grass and reed thatching, calico windows and clay floors and chimneys.
- Open fireplaces tried to burn often-damp logs with heavy iron pots, kettles and camp ovens needed to be constantly watched over.
- Wooden boxes made tables and chairs, feather beds were usually brought from ‘home’ and put together with bedsteads of saplings. Otherwise mattresses were made with ferns and grasses.
- Pillows were made from feathers of local birdlife, the birds ending up on the menu.
- Men were addressed by their surnames, women were sometimes addressed by their Christian names or sometimes by the more formal ‘Miss or Mrs’. The cook was always referred to as ‘Mrs’ whether married or not, a sign of elevated status in the household.
- There were no matches, . If fire, lamp or candle were to be lighted, a tinderbox of burnt linen rag, was used. The rag was kept in a tin box with a small piece of steel and flint. A spark was struck on to the tinder rag and when alight, a small sliver of wood (match) that had been dipped in sulphur was applied to it. You needed a ‘good’ tinder to be successful.
- There were new pleasures too for the professional men. Each on his 20 acres was hard at it. ‘Faustian coats and thick shoes are very fashionable and you would laugh to see officers, doctors and dandies, digging, thatching and chopping with great frenzy……….economy is the order of the day and I carpenterise, carry logs and go to council without detriment to my gentility. (The writer was apparently a bachelor)
- “I am in a chronic state of hunger; it is the fault of the fine air and the outdoor life; and then how one sleeps at night! I dont believe you really know in England what it is to be sleepy as we feel sleepy here, and it is delightful to wake up in the morning with a sort of joyous light-heartedness which only young children have.”
- My mother talks about not being able to bear my being a slave (Servant?), but I feel myself less a slave now that I see I can do everything for myself than I ever did before.”
- There were just 2 seasons, the mud season & the mosquito season; the latter was said to be the worst. They were terrible, even the animals suffered from “the contented little cusses that sing while they toil”
MS Word version