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Later Years of the Young Qualtroughs from the book "A Quota of Qualtrough" Pages 48-70

William Qualtrough (Continued) (1840-1919) - "Wiremu' - Waiikato Identity

Willy and Kate married in 1872 and settled on a property he acquired at Orakau after the confiscation of Maori lands when the Waikato War ended. They produced a family of eight - all girls - most of whom were born at Orakau.


The children were Alice, Elizabeth, Margaret, Anne, Mary, Amy, Kate and Lillian.Their fifth daughter, Mary, told her own family that she had started school at four years of age, walking the four miles each day to the schoolhouse at Kihikihi.

At one time in their childhood, when Willy and Kate were called away from home, they were reluctant to leave their daughters alone in such an isolated spot so enlisted the aid of an older nephew to act as protector. The girls remembered the night very well for, amusing themselves by telling ghost stories, they worked themselves into such a state of terror, the male stalwart as well, that they nailed blankets over the windows and doors to keep out the spooks.

The family later shifted to a farm at Kihikihi and a vivid memory was of the eruption of Tarawera in 1886. The rumblings of the fiery mountain blowing its top were clearly heard and the skies were darkened by the ash.

Another story handed down concerned a young lad shopping with a penny during the lean days of 1880

"A farthing worth of sugar, a farthing worth of flour, a farthing worth of candles and a farthing change please" he instructed.

Inflation obviously hadn't been invented then and there was much truth in the old saying, " A halfpenny's riches in a farthing's eye."

Willy had been brought up in a strictly Methodist home. Kate Lovie was an Anglican. The children were Presbyterians. Perhaps it was a studied compromise; maybe just the propinquity of the kirk. Their children's memories were of a very happy home life with good neighbourliness instilled by example. Farmers in the district helped each other with haymaking or when stock was in trouble calving, or bogged in swampy paddocks.

Because Willy had no sons he allotted many farm tasks usually considered men's work to his girls. The most hated was digging the potatoes. Milking and feeding calves were more popular for the animals were regarded as personal friends.

On one occasion Willy being unable to leave the farm, he assigned Annie and Mary (nick-named 'Bunny' from babyhood) to take a wagonload of pigs to the bacon factory at Hautapu. The girls set out at dawn. Taking the wagon over a primitive road that seemed to go on forever, meeting an old Irish woman on the way they asked her the time. "Half-past o'clock" she informed them. And no doubt it was.

When darkness fell and the girls hadn't returned, the family became anxious about them. At last Willy said, relief in his voice, "Here they come!" Though he couldn't see them he could hear the heavy squelching of the horses' hooves as they plodded through the swamp.

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