Sunday, July 10, 2011


OCT. 1994

Born 15 September 1902, Mauriceville, New Zealand, the seventh child of eight children of Jens Peter Petersen and Ane Katrina Albertine Nielsen.  Died 21 November 1969 (67 years) at Nelson. 

Subject was of Danish extraction.  Her father emigrated from Denmark, arriving in Napier, New Zealand in 1875 in the German sailing ship "Friedburg."  Her mother, at the age of two years, emigrated with her family from Denmark arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on the 14 July 1873 in the sailing ship "Halcione."  Both were original settlers at Mauriceville West.  After marriage Jens Peter Petersen and his wife, known also as Anna, remained in Mauriceville West where Jens was engaged in carpentry and farming.  The family left Mauriceville West about 1915 and took up residence in Palmerston North.  There were seven children in the family plus one adopted grandson. 

Mable Johan         born 10 December 1889.
William Andrew born 24 March 1891.
James Henry    born 3 April 1893
Ernest Peter   born 18 April 1896.
Thomas Oliver  born 27 June 1898.
George Conrad  born 19 June 1900.
Rose Christine born 11 September 1902.
Arthur Alwin   born 11 June 1907 (Adopted son of Mabel Johann).

Subject attended the Mauriceville West Primary School.  She had basic schooling only. 

Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of further information available covering my Mother's early life.  However, she was brought up in a Danish pioneer settlement with her six brothers and a sister, Mabel, who passed away in her early life in 1907, aged 18 years.  One can imagine that living conditions in a township hewn from virgin bush in the late 1800's would be spartan to say the least. 

It is recalled that in her early days she had an interest in music and became organist in the local church.  Her love for the piano is foremost in my memory.  She spent many hours between household duties playing such favorite as "Remembrance", the "Norwegian Cradle Song", "Little Grey Home in the West", and many of the popular ballads which emerged during the 1930 - 1950's.  She played mostly by "ear".  Her attribute gave our family a great deal of pleasure, particularly my brother Thomas James who was mentally retarded.  He relaxed and enjoyed the music and the rhythm. 

I understand that her parents and family moved to Palmerston North about 1915.  It is known that they lived at 28 Frederick Street in 1917.  As a builder, father Jens Peter moved household on a number of occasions in Palmerston North.  One home was at 4 Edward Street.  During those early days, my Mother took in dressmaking and the millinery which supplemented the family income. 

She married my Father, William Whaley about 1930 at Palmerston North. 

Born 8 August 1905, Auckland, New Zealand to William G. Whaley and Helen Humby.  There were seven children. 

Died 19 October 1982 at Lower Hutt Hospital. 

As for my Mother, there is alack of detail of my Father' early life.  Suffice to say, it was full of hardship.  A sister Amy passed away in 1910 ate the age of three years and his Mother died in 1918 (at 46 years.)  when he was 13 years of age.  I understand that his Father had an alcohol problem and was unreliable so the family split up.  His father was run over by a car and died and died in 1944. 

My Father was in a home and eventually fostered out to a kindly couple, a Mr. and Mrs. Beavis, whom I believe lived in Palmerston North.  Mostly his working life was spent in the Grocery Trade and for a number of years he worked for Watson Brothers in Palmerston North.  He played rugby football for Kia Toa. 

After their marriage, Mum and Dad lived in Matipo Street.  Their first child, Thomas James, was born 15 May 1931.  Unfortunately he was afflicted with a severe intellectual disability of unspecified origin.  My Mother believed he suffered injury at birth.  Today, following much more research, knowledge and understanding, many symptoms can be recognized very early and treated accordingly.  Unfortunately this was not the case in the 1930's so Mum and Dad dedicated their lives to Thomas and cheerfully provided the necessary loving care and sacrifice.  I was born 16 November, 1933 and Anne 5 January, 1936 in Palmerston North.  We also received their full devotion and as I recall, we never wanted for anything during those depression years.  In the late 1930's Dad and Mum decided to move to Nelson where they heard of a home for mentally retarded children which may be of benefit to Tom.  As a consequence, Dad was on the Inter Island Ferry "Matangi" the night World War 2 was declared (September 1939) in order to set up a new home at Milton Street North in Nelson.  Regretfully, after wrenching themselves away from home base, their plans proved to be unsuccessful.  Tom's stay at El Nido (now Braemar) was relatively short and he was finally taken home suffering from sores and lack of care.  Many staff in such homes in those days, especially during the war years, were not qualified or trained to give their patients the necessary attention and understanding..

Dad worked for Wilfred Smith and Son, grocers, Nile Street, Nelson, for many years.  He also served in the Army Home Guard and he was manpowered into Kirkpatrick's Cannery and Jam Factory during the war years. 

Our family moved to Alton Street (opposite Central School) for a couple of years prior to Dad buying a house at 22 Bisley Avenue, Tahunanui.  My Grandmother, Ane Katrina, lived with our family in her later years until she died in Nelson in 1946. 

The fact of living near the beach was a real bonus for our family, particularly for Tom.  Although mentally retarded, his physical development was such that he was strong with a determined will and was a real handful for Mum and Dad.  They regularly took him to the beach to run off his energy and he loved splashing in the sea as well as helping to beachcomb for driftwood which feed the coal range, copper and Winter fires. 

They continued their search for suitable accommodation, or training school for Tom.  In 1952 they met Mr. Alec Bennington, Wakefield, who was also wanting to give his daughter with Downs Syndrome a better opportunity in life.  Together they were among the founders of the Intellectually Handicapped Society (I.H.C.) in Nelson.  From their early meetings they were instrumental in setting up a Special School which was started up in the old Richmond Sports Hall.  Unfortunately, Tom's condition was outside the scope of the school as he virtually required a one to one care basis, 24 hours a day. 

Generally, my parents social activities were negligible as their first priority continued to be to their children and as they came along, they gave a special interest to their grandchildren.  My Father was fond of gardening, sports and swimming.  Mum's only real outlet, apart from her children, was through a love of her flower garden as well as correspondence with her family in Palmerston North and a distant cousin, Harvey Halverson, who lived near Salt Lake City in Utah, U.S.A.

After many years of employment with Wilfred Smith Snr. and his son, my Father joined Gordon Laing, a grocer on the Ridgeway, Stoke. 

Finally in June 1958 at the age of 25 years, Thomas was admitted to the Kimberly Hospital and Training School in Levin.  My Mother's brother George, a Board member, was able to assist with arrangements for them.  Subsequently, Mum and Dad made fairly regular visits to Levin to ensure Tom's general health and happiness and were on all occasions very pleased with the high standard of Tom's care at Kimberly.  I have since followed Tom's well-being and became his official Guardian. 

Mum died at home in Nelson 21 November 1969 following a series of strokes.  I fondly remember her as a devoted Mother who dedicated her life to her family and particularly to Tom who was most vulnerable.  On todays standards, she experienced a difficult life and had to forgo many special pleasures.  However, she remained cheerful and outgoing all the while.  My Mother and Father were good companions throughout and their natures precluded family dissension in spite of hardship.  Neither was a Government assistance available for Tommy's plight until he was accepted into Kimberly Hospital. 

After Mum's passing, Dad moved to Auckland to live with his brother-in-law, Oliver Petersen, for a time.  He then returned to Nelson and gained accommodation and employment with Norman Chang and son, Trevor, Fruiterers on the Main Road, Tahuanui.  Subsequently, he lived with Anne and Warren Blair and their family for about three years at Eastbourne, Wellington, prior to his death in Lower Hutt Hospital, 19 October, 1982.  He was 77 years of age. 

My Father will be remembered by the people with whom he came in contact as a good natured man with great generosity and a good sense of humor.  Many of his grocery customers, particularly the elderly, recall his exceptional personal delivery service to them over many years. 

Thomas, Anne and I owe our Mother and Father a real debt of gratitude for our upbringing and the opportunities which they gave us. 

Both my Mother and Father are buried at the Marsden Valley Cemetery, Stoke, Nelson, New Zealand

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