I was born in
1946 a time when New Zealand was coming to terms with peace following
World War Two and the dawning nuclear age.
When I reflect
on the personal attributes of my family and those we grew up with
I believe the physical environment of Southland combined a strong
blend of characteristics to make the individual.
facing people, and what they had to do to first survive, then profit,
were unique to a growing country.
The family home
was far from luxurious but the pleasures of the Pope family outweighed
creature comforts. Our strong link with the land and a oneness with
it did two things. For some like myself it pushed us out in to the
world to seek new adventures elsewhere. But for my parents, Margaret
and Frank, Haldane was centre enough of the universe.
Growing in Haldane
was an adventure. Life for my brothers Frank, Ian Alan, my sister
Rosalie and myself revolved around the farm routine. Luxury was
a roll of bacon in the larder and a Saturday movie at the Haldane
Hall 800 metres down the road. I remember quite vividly now one
of those great childhood insights during an interval when I was
enjoying a raspberry drink and thinking what sort of farmer grew
raspberries for living, a good one. At least I got that sorted out!
The farm was
bought in 1944 from Bill Connor whose grandson Reg practices law
in Nelson forty minutes drive from Anathoth where we farm now. Over
the next five years Dad, with help from the family cleared the land
using gelignite to sever the roots and horses to pull old stumps
free. Once stumps had been gathered they would be burnt. Often we
would put potatoes in the fires and eat them for lunch. While hard
work, the process achieved its aim with the odd hiccup.
While the variety
of ringing tones for cellphones seems to be synonymous with life
today, for my family it was a party line, number 8H which was 4
short rings for the Pope's. Radio was the electronic entertainment
of the day with its serials like "Dad and Dave".