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Edith May (Hovell) Fox Clarke

Edith May (Hovell) Fox Clarke   -   Born 14 November 1906   (Auto-biography)

 When I was born uncle Tom Lima and his wife, Edith May Parker adopted me. I was named after Aunty Edith. I stayed with them for four years at Te Horo.

 I remembered when I was three years old and Sonny Peachy was staying with us, we got into a fight for a fence batten staple. I won after I swallowed the staple. I ran inside the house and told mum I had swallowed the staple. She told me that it will come out when I moved my bowels and sure enough it did. I was so happy, I showed it to her.

 The foundation of uncle Tom’s house can still be seen at Te Horo and my memories of my growing up years are very clear. I was well looked after by my foster mum and dad and thank God for their care for me.

 When I was five years old Matiu, the Ringatu prophet at Kaiwaka marae, baptised me in the Poroporo river. The following year 1912, when Aunty Agnes (Lima)  and her husband William Wareham returned home for Christmas they befriended me. They bought me new clothes, shoes and lollies. After New Years they asked that I return with them to Maimiha ‘King Country’ Oh I was so happy.  We all rode on our horses from our home at Te Horo to Waipiro Bay. It took three days.

 We got into a rowing boat and made our way to the big ship, the ‘Arahura’ which was anchored in deep water. When we got to the ‘Arahura’ a big net was lowered into our rowing boat and like fish in a net we were all hoisted abroad.

 From Waipiro Bay we sailed for Auckland stopping along the way to pick up cargo and passengers. Arriving in Auckland we stayed a night in a hotel and Aunty and Uncle showed me around the city. Next day we all boarded the passenger train for the township of Waimiha.

 Aunty Agnes worked at the Waimiha Post Office and Uncle William worked at the railway station as Station Master. I stayed in Waimiha for eight years from 1912 to 1919. I spent six years at Takari school where my teacher was Miss Foote and two years at Mangapehi school.

In 1914, uncle William joined the navy to fight in the war and died in action. In 1919 I left Waimiha and came back with my father Harry Kennaird Hovell, who had come to get me. Not long after, Aunty Agnes left Waimiha and  set up a clothing shop in Te Araroa.

 I enjoyed staying with my brothers and sisters in Te Araroa. My Aunty Mereana was very nice to me. I remember one picture night Ivy and I came back from Dad’s picture hall with a big bushell of peanuts and we ate them in our bedroom. As we were eating Aunty Mereana came to the door of our bedroom and said, “Oh, I can here some rats eating peanuts!.”  We laughed. I love my Aunty Mereana.

 From Te Araroa I went to stay with Mum (Little Nan) at Pukemanuka, up the Poroporo valley. From here I walked to school at Tikitiki with my sisters Jane, Marara and Tipare and brother Maika. Oh it was so tough in winter time. Mum always came to meet us about 6 o’clock just past Kepa Haenga’s place with her light. Calling out to us. I was like a mother to my Poi brothers and sisters, looking after them.

 When I left school, my stepfather, Hune Poi, gave me a lovely jet black gelding horse.  I called it “King”. One day I went to the blacksmith at Port Awanui to have King shod. When I came back the Waiapu river was in flood. I called out to King, “Come on King” He snorted, but after a few more calls he entered the flooded river and began to swim. On the other side of the river was George Mackey looking at King and me in the flooded river. He said, I wondered  who the stupid person is!” When he saw me he said, “You are game to cross the river in that condition,” I laughed and  told him that I had a good horse.

 About this time Nanny Peti was living at Pukemaire and she had a fall from her horse. She asked mum if I could go and look after her. So I went to stay with my nanny. I also had two little brothers, Victor and Bill Rickard staying at Nanny’s

 In 1929 my nanny matched me to Joe Fox (Hoterene Karaka) her adopted son Israel Hokamau Fox’s adopted son and we got married in St Mary’s church. From there I went to stay with my husband in the wilderness of the Porahu. When I was about to give birth top first born, Joseph, I came to my Nanny’s place and there I gave birth to him alone, for I already had the experience of midwife with mum (little Nan)

 When Nanny was about to pass away in 1930, I was told, so I caught my horse ‘King’ and rode him non-stop and my little brothers could see me and they called out, “Nake a Mei e haere mai nei!”. My horse was all wet from sweat. I dismounted and made my way to Nanny’s bedside. She said to me, “Now I have seen you, May, I can rest in peace. May Gog look after you!” And she gave up the Ghost.

 My life at the Porahu was very lonely until more children were born. They became the joy of my life. My father-in-law was good to me but my mother-in-law was the opposite. There were a lot of us staying at the Porahu. There was Himiona, my husbands uncle, George Kelly, whose mother was my husband’s mother’s sister. There was Mate Kaiwai, adopted by my father-in-law when she was born. There was Waina Green. My husbands half brother Whareraima Pahau. Nuni was a servant.

 My years at the Porahu have been wonderful years although they were tough times. When I die I want to be buried there with my three babies, Hune Poi (Guy) who died in 1932, Berlin, died 1954,  George Kelly ‘Papi’ died, 1951, Pa koroua, died 1949, Nanny Kuia, Died 1945 (Your grandparents) and Te Mahue, died 1920 (Your Dad’s half-brother)

 Na. Douglas Michael Fox

 A Time of rejoicing and a time of grieving.         (Edith May Fox-Clarke) Nee Hovell.

 “And let there be no sadness of farewell when I have crossed the Bar”

 How happy we all were to have our sister May join us to celebrate our first Hovell reunion, then deeply grieved  at her passing away so soon after the family gathering.

 But we will remember her always, for the unselfish life she led, caring  for our grandmother, Elizabeth Lima, until her passing away.

 As children we would go on horseback to Tikitiki, to visit our grandmother, and see May, kneading dough to make bread to feed us all. We’d see her bending over the stove, pumping the bellows to re-light the wood fire, to head the oven while the dough rose. We’d see May kneeling at Granny’s feet, massaging her fractured hip so caringly.

 May’s marriage was an arranged one, and nothing out of the ordinary. It was a common occurrence in that day and age. But she was compensated by having a devoted family. Her husband, Joe, was quite young when he died, leaving May, a very young widow to bring up their children.

 May watched them grow up, marry and leave home, but they always returned to see to her needs. In later years as May grew old and frail, each one of the family took care of her, even to George who lived in Australia. She went there often, and friends of the family living over there, jokingly called her the “Flying Fox”

 Throughout the years we kept in touch, and whenever she visited John at Rangitukia, he would bring her through to see me.

 At the end of her life I was there at the Porahu to see her being laid to rest in their family cemetery encompassed by distance hills. An isolated and lonely place, I thought, but peaceful, Far in the distance, silent and still, the home where May had settled and raised her family,  could be seen from the cemetery above.

 May will be sadly missed by all, but mostly by the family she leaves behind, who loved her dearly,

  Connie Katae (Nee Hovell)

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