Mobile Unit. Dunedin history: Mrs H. J. C. Cross.

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Interview with Mrs Hannah Cross (nee Peterson), aged 96, of Anderson's Bay. Her family were some of the first pioneers in the area. She describes her family's arrival in Dunedin in 1848, her mother's life while her father was absent for several years, farming at Waipori, food sources; relations with Māori, her brother's fortune at Gabriel's Gully, local personalities she encountered and entertainments. She is interviewed in Dunedin and there is another unidentified woman present [probably her granddaughter].

Recording begins with the end of the previous interview; there is general chatter and the interviewees are offered some tea.

At 96, Mrs Cross is believed to be the oldest resident of Dunedin. She was born in Anderson’s Bay in a wattle and daub house on the hill. She talks about her health and how she keeps busy by gardening, sewing and knitting.
The interviewer asks about her family’s history in Dunedin. They arrived at Christmas 1848 aboard the Mooltan, the fourth boat to bring immigrants. This was about four years before she was born. They expected the season to be the same as in Scotland.
She relays some stories about her parents’ trip about the sailing ship. The journey took three months. Some passengers were struck with cholera and died on board. Some passengers had bought land in advance from the New Zealand government, which included their passage out.

They discuss the early settlements of Anderson’s Bay and Dunedin. She says the buildings were very primitive, made from clay and thatch. She did not attend school until she was ten years old as it was too far to walk to Dunedin and there was no school in Anderson’s Bay.
The interviewer asks about her parents’ life and how her mother found raising the family in such circumstances. She says her parents were disappointed and would have returned to Scotland if they could. Procuring enough food for their large family was always a problem. They traded with visiting Māori for fish and potatoes.

The discussion returns to her parents’ journey to Dunedin. Nine passengers died aboard the ship, mostly from cholera. There were about eight members of her family aboard the ship; one little girl died and was buried at sea. Her mother and siblings travelled first, and her father joined them a year later.
Her father had been a lawyer back home. He found he couldn’t get any employment in New Zealand so only stayed about three years before going to Sydney. He stayed there for ten years, sending money back to his wife and children. Her mother took her and her two brothers on a trip to Sydney to see whether they could move there, but she did not like it and returned with the children; ultimately her father came back too.
It was hard work for her mother to raise the family alone. The neighbours were kind and helped out with the harvest, and the whole family did too. They grew grains; oats and wheat, as well as turnips for the cows. Mrs Cross can remember weeding the turnips when she was young. There were about thirty acres on their section in Anderson’s Bay. They had bought it in Glasgow before they came here.
She describes the trouble they had in building fences on the section. It was covered in large stones and they used these to build the fences high enough that the cattle couldn’t get over them. They were wide enough to walk along.
It was difficult to move around the country; it was necessary to walk everywhere and the countryside was covered in bush. A small bridge was built through the swamp between Anderson’s Bay and Dunedin.

The interviewer asks to hear more about their farming methods. She says they had no ploughs so they had to do everything by hand. She describes harvesting the wheat with a sickle. Women and children would help with harvesting the grain and weeding the turnips. She says if they didn’t go out to work they would get no food.
They had their own little mill; she describes how they worked it and what to do with the flour. They could sell some of it in town or take it to the big mill to be ground properly.
She talks about other food they ate; the turnips they grew and berries they found in the bush. Sugar was difficult to get so they couldn’t often get jam. She says the Māori were keen to trade for sugar.
Clothing the family was not such an issue as they had brought sufficient with them to last many years. She talks about the different styles of clothing worn by her family; she says the fashions were slow to come here. They didn’t wear crinolines until there were motor cars here.
There weren’t many luxuries for her family. They never had lollies until after gold diggings broke out and they made their own toys. They did make pets of dogs and calves though.

She talks about their relationship with the Māori people – at first they were scared of them but then they realised they were quite friendly and could trade with them. She remembers women showing them how to plait mats.

One of her brothers went to the gold diggings at Gabriel’s Gully. He made two hundred pounds’ worth of gold in one week. However, their mother sent for him to come home as he was needed for managing the cattle.
The diggings had an impact on the prosperity of the region. They saw an increase in the prices they could charge for eggs and butter.

The interviewer asks about notable Dunedin characters that she might have met over the years. She recalls Reverend Doctor Burns who was a well recognised figure when she was small. She doesn’t recall much first hand about Captain Cargill building Larnach Castle. She remembers playing with Cochrane Weir as a child, who became a well known and prosperous local farmer.
She remembers the gasworks being built by Stephen Hutcheson – her family leased a house to him while he started up the gasworks. They moved out to Waipori to farm again, and let their house in town to Mr Hutcheson.
At that time it was normal to travel by horseback. Her mother was an accomplished horsewoman. Mrs Cross used to helper her brothers bring the cattle in; the cows were way up in the hills and had to be rounded up on horseback.

For entertainment they played musical instruments. They had a piano and her brother was an excellent concertina player. Some of their neighbours, the McKay’s, could all play the bagpipes.
They used to go on picnics together. They’d go down the Waipori River from Berwick to the Waihola Lake, or down the Taieri River to the sea. Some would row and some would play the bagpipes and they had a great time. There was a little store at the river mouth where they could stay a while to dance and play and make tea. She says it was the loveliest time of her life.

The interviewer asks about an incident where she and her mother were held up at gunpoint. They were coming through the bush into town, when they were stopped by two masked men with a gun. Her brother had a gun across his knees and when the robbers saw it they left them alone. She says they were looking for people coming up from the diggings to rob.

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Request information

Year 1948

Reference number 5402

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits Cross, Hannah Jane Campbell (b.1851, d.1956), Interviewee
New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster

Duration 00:49:18

Date 12 Feb 1948

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