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Life in Early Poverty Bay


The oldest pioneer of Gisborne, living in the oldest house built on blocks in Gisborne. Such is the record claimed by Mr. Robert Thelwall, who, despite his eighty-seven odd years, is still hale and hearty and as active as the average “youngster” of half a century. He trundles the wheelbarrow with the best of workers, looks after the cows, digs the ground, cultivates a maize patch, and carries out the general work on a farm. Now and again during the week he comes up town and puts in the afternoon at the bowling green, where even now he is one of the best exponents of the game in the Bay. On Saturday he takes a whole day off, and is usually noticed in the town between 10 and 11 o'clock. The afternoon sees him on the Gisborne Bowling Club's green, and he goes home to tea. After the meal, Mr. Thelwall sets off again for town and puts in the night at the pictures, for he is an inveterate “movie fan.” It is nearly eleven o'clock before he again reaches home, but on Sunday morning he is up again bright and early, and carries out the farm work necessary for the day. Still at times he thinks of the old friends of boyhood days, when life was one long dream of happiness and of excitement, of the continuous watch against the treacherous Hauhaus and the midnight marches against Te Kooti, of the days in the township of Turanga when money was scattered like water, of the revelry at night. Nearly all his old comrades, alas, are now amongst the number

That from his Vintage rolling Time has pressed

Have drunk their cup a round or two before

And one by one crept silently to rest.

Mr. Robt. Thelwall.

Mr. Robt. Thelwall.

As but natural, such thoughts come to the veteran, but a smile soon creeps over his features as he recalls the fun of the early days. “They were good days, too,” said Mr Thelwall, “much better than the present times. We had to work hard and we got little money, but there was a different feeling abroad then. Friends then were true friends, who would stick to one through thick and thin. Nowadays with all these laws and unions things are different.” The march of civilisation has not impressed Mr. Thelwall.