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Life in Early Poverty Bay

An Abundance of Fruit

An Abundance of Fruit.

Fruit grew in abundance. Peaches and apples were found in many parts of the runs. There was a peach grove on Te Arai station, about half a mile long, on the bank of the river Te Arai in 1873. I don't suppose the trees had been pruned for we knew nothing about fruit pests. The trees simply grew and great was their yield. They had evidently started growing before the stock came into the country and delicious fruit it was, equal to the fruit one gets today. It was invaluable and anyone could help themselves. Although we were isolated, we enjoyed ourselves.

Dancing was all the go, but I could never manage it. Being too big, my feet got beyond control! The concertina was the principal musical instrument in those days and beautiful music it was. You would find some very fine players in those days on stations. The station boys would have their dances in the wool-shed and this was the style of one M.C.—“Hook your mutton!” “Turn to your partner, Tawhio! Now to Tommy's daughter! Now to the girl with the blue dress on!” and so on. This was all to the strains of a concertina. Later on, when the European mammas came to the back blocks of those days a different sort of M.C. was made use of. Our refreshments were very light—a bucket of water with a few pannikins and you helped yourself. There was no charge for admittance. The conduct was of the best; if otherwise one was put out and later on he would know all about it. The Natives have always been fond of dancing and the European modes of dancing appealed to them. The songs of those days seem to have had a swing which you do not have to-day. I still remember a few lines that moved us station rouseabouts: “The captain with his whiskers took a sly glance at me, etc.” We would bring our bluchers down with great force for an encore. The other one was sung by a gent dressed to the knocker with great force: “My heart was in a flutter when she tripped across the gutter,” etc. These songs would get a great hearing.