The idea of the capable pioneering colonial included both men and women. When this story was published in 1940, at the height of ‘pioneer worship’ in New Zealand, it was the woman who was seen to be physically adept, while the man still had a little too much of the new English settler about him. It was included in the collection Brave days, pioneer women of New Zealand (1939) for the centennial of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, by the Women's Division of the New Zealand Farmers' Union.
MRS. OAKLAND’S STORY.—Though it was my father who had been most anxious for the migration to New Zealand, my mother proved the better pioneer. It was hardly to be wondered at. Housekeeping, however primitive, bears some resemblance to that which our mothers knew in the “endless comfort” of England, but the brown waste of tea-tree, swamp, and precipice which my father was expected to make into a farm, bore no trace of resemblance to the green English countryside; nor had the office stool in London to which he had refused to allow his soul to be fettered provided him with much farming experience. To him country life meant the enjoyment of nature, not subjugation of it.
Breakfast over, and the morning being bright, my father would step outside to admire the growth of my mother’s tiny flower plot. Returning with a blossom or so in his hand he would say:
“What can I do for you this morning, my dear?”
“You might milk,” suggests the housewife.
A little damped, he returns to the sunshine, and soon comes in again with: “Can I do anything for you, my dear?”
“Yes, you can milk,” says my mother firmly.
“Oh! Ah, yes, to be sure!” He picks up the bucket, but immediately puts it down to “have a glimpse of the paper.” The paper is old and he must have read every smallest advertisement several times, but it serves as a distraction.
Soon his attention is caught by my mother’s effort to fill the kettle from the kerosene can of water, and he says with genuine concern: “Oh, my dear, do let me do that for you. You shouldn’t lift such weights. I don’t know what the Lord was thinking of making a country like this without any maids. Do let me help you.”
“Then—will—you—milk?” with icy precision.
Father seizes the bucket. He does not say “Damn!” like a real colonial, but he lands the bucket a kick that sends it hurtling out of the front door and rattling down the path to the front gate where the cow is patiently waiting. She takes fright and careers madly over logs and stumps with an infuriated man after her. When the chase is over father returns exhausted, and the cow—oh, where was she?—for there were no fences to impede her flight.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Reference: Brave Days: Pioneer Women of New Zealand. Dunedin: A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1939, pp. 39–41.
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