Home' Greymouth Star : August 19th 2014 Contents Greymouth Star
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 7
ven though a lot of
people would say we
lived in isolation in
those early years, it
was never isolated to
me,” Vi Scott smiles.
Vi took on the
Westland family name when she married Ivor Scott,
but her family came from Motueka and it was on
a chance working holiday that she fell in love with
the southern wilderness and her future husband.
Vi (nee Har vey) was born in Motueka and lived
in the small town of Riwaka with her parents Dick
and Eva, along with her two sisters, Pam and Nita.
“I went to Motueka High School when the
Second World War started, and we all had to go
hop picking. Riwaka was all hops and tobacco back
then, and it was mostly women who were picking,”
“Down the road, others were sent to the orchards
picking fruit. There was a packing shed down on the
corner, which was where the fruit went to.”
A chance meeting with a friend she had not
seen for years was the catalyst to moving to
South Westland, which was to be a life-changing
“I wasn’t working at the time so I made an
overnight decision as far as I was concerned. There
was no time limit on how long we were going, it
just depended how we liked it. ”
It was aboard a Road Ser vices bus in the early
1950s that Vi arrived at Fox Glacier and took up
the arranged job as a housemaid and waitress at
Sullivan’s Fox Glacier Hotel.
“ We lived in the staff quarters at the hotel, and
there always seemed to be people staying at the
hotel. Not long after I got to the Fox Glacier, the
Franz Josef Hotel burned down.
“There were hardly any cars in those days. People
would arrive by bus and would always be ner vous
getting off at the hotel, having had the experience
of the narrow winding gravel road trip (over the Fox
Ivor was a local lad who worked on the family
farm further south at Karangarua. She had seen
him at the hotel a number of times and when he
chaperoned her young friend, Peg (Satherly), home
one night the chemistry began.
“He bought a brand new car and offered to drive
a friend’s wedding in Motueka. He gave us his car
to take to Riwaka once he got to Motueka. Gosh, I
can still see my parents’ faces when Peg and I pulled
up home in this brand new car!
“Basically, that ’s how our romance started. We
eventually got married in Motueka — at the end of
the whitebait season,” she chuckled.
“ When Ivor’s mum moved to Christchurch we
took over the running of the farm. It ran all the way
from the sea to the top of the mountain - I learned
about being a farmer’s wife pretty quickly.”
Ivor and Vi Scott raised their seven children at
the homestead — Darryl, twins Cheryl and David,
Robert, Ann-maree, Gerard and Gary.
They were busy but enjoyable days working the
farm and living in a vibrant community.
“There were the good old South Westland families
— the Condons, Williams, Sullivans — all good
people, and our kids loved the farm life. There was
no school bus and as we lived halfway between Fox
Glacier and Jacobs River, we would drive the kids to
the Fox School as there was a shop up there. ”
Conditions were tough living in the deep south,
and while Vi says she never felt isolated and her
family never went without, people now would
regard their existence as basic back in the early days.
“Of course, we never had electricity early on and
used kerosene lanterns for light; meat was kept in a
safe outside. We got a kerosene fridge, which used
to smoke, and when we got a small diesel generator,
which Ivor would turn over with a crank handle,
we thought we were Christmas. The coal range
basically never went out and provided warmth for
the homestead as well as for cooking. I used to cook
beautiful roasts on the coal range.”
Provisions came after a trip to Hokitika in the old
farm truck with a three-month supply of groceries,
sacks of salt, flour, potatoes and fruit carted back to
“The farm ran sheep and beef, with a number
of pigs as well, and whenever Ivor was taking the
truck loaded with bales of wool to be railed from
Hokitika he would always stock up with supplies.
Everything was in sacks or large bags back then,
and we would bulk buy. Guys that Ivor knew would
come down to the farm and shear the sheep for
Until contractors put the road through from
Paringa to Haast, the flow of traffic on the gravel
roads was limited, and the Road Ser vices buses and
cattle trucks were the main source of transport back
“It was always a big event when the cattle sales
were being held at Whataroa. The Nolans would
do their regular cattle drives from Haast — cattle
stock for as far as the eye could see, with the
Nolans and the farm hands on horse back, the dogs
barking assisting with the cattle drive. It was quite
“Ivor would help them get the cattle across the
Fox Hills, which was always a tricky part of the
drive. Every year, the Nolans would bring the
cattle through and everyone rode by horseback.
Now, farmers are on motorbikes zooming around
There were always people calling into the Scott
household, and raising the children and attending
to visitors from out of the blue ensured there was
never a dull moment on the farm.
“ When I look back, it must have been bedlam at
times,” she chuckled. “It was a natural lifestyle for
us, though, as we had people staying at home all the
time. Shooters would come and ask if they could
cross our land — a lot of deer, chamois and tahr
back then. The helicopter put paid to that, though.
The shooters would stay in the woolshed at night
and were pretty regular.
“ Travellers would call as well. A guy would come
from D unedin and Cromwell selling clothes,
and (from Hokitika), Stopforths Drapery and
Menswear. A fella earlier on, we called him
‘ bugalugs’ as we didn’t know his name. He would
sell cotton and that sort of thing. He used to carry
a suitcase while on his rounds. Then there was Mr
Robinson, from Whataroa, who had a little van that
carried everything — pins, elastic, he always had
something that you needed, it was great.
“The old priest would come and visit, too, the
Marist brothers and priests regularly came down for
retreats and would stay at Jack Condon’s.”
Vi says the family made full use of the natural
environment, which provided a perfect blend with
the family lifestyle at Karangarua.
“ We had a couple of cows that provided fresh
milk each day, and we also had a wooden churn for
making butter. I had a bowl which belonged to my
grandmother and I would put the fresh natural milk
in it and let it sit in a cool place overnight. I would
skim the cream off the top the following day.
“Blackberry season was popular and everyone
down our way went blackberrying. The blackberries
were those big ones, and blackberry pies were a
must. I would make my own pastry using flour,
butter and salt, with a bit of cream or milk, and as
we had a couple of apple trees on the farm I used
apple with the blackberries when making pies. The
waft of blackberry pie straight out of the coal range
drifting around the large kitchen was just part of
living in the homestead.
“ We never went without. ”
Living off the land was not the only natural food
source, as the many rivers also provided plentiful
supplies of fresh whitebait to the Scott household.
“ We’d spend the day with the kids whitebaiting
on the Karangarua River. I’d use a set net, and in
later years down at Bruce Bay. We always got good
catches, normally catch them on the turn of the
tide, nice fresh bait.
“I remember one night I was cooking a roast
and heard the sound of a tractor coming. Ivor and
the boys, a crowd of shearers from Whataroa and
Bruce Bay, Bruce Smith and all his crew pulled
up. Whitebait? You have never seen so much! So I
damped the roast down and I spent the next couple
of hours making whitebait patties using our fresh
“At times, the word down south was some people
buried whitebait in their gardens for fertiliser, but
later it got too commercial, changed everything. ”
Vi Scott says she has many fond memories of her
life in South Westland, her family, the community,
the farm way of life and the animals.
“The mother pig always had 21 piglets and
struggled to feed them all — most would be
sleeping and living on the rack above the coal range,
and the hot water cupboard would be full of little
ducklings, there was always some form of animal
being cared for in winter.
“Ivor and I would go to the Saturday night dances,
especially the ones in the Bruce Bay Hall. All the
farmers, everyone in Fox who could possibly go,
went to the dance — it was popular. Someone
played the piano, accordion, violin and made up the
band, and we would have great nights.
“My parents came to stay and said ‘gosh, you
are really living in the backblocks’. But to me it
was home, it was a great life and it was a good
community of people.
Vi Scott spent 50 years of her married life living in the shadow of the tallest mountains in the land, at “the Fox”, where
Mounts Cook and Tasman were always just out the window. She and her late husband Ivor — hardy stock from a pioneering
South Westland family — continued the farming tradition on their far-flung farm at Karangarua, halfway between Fox Glacier
and Bruce Bay. Today, Vi is retired and living in Greymouth. PAUL McBRIDE reports.
Vi Scott, at home in Karoro.
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