Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kaikoura New Zealand - Early Views 1908 #1

Amuri Rutherford sent these two cards to her postcard penpal in Austin, Texas in 1908. Amuri was the daughter of Andrew Rutherford, one of the "Amuri Wool Kings" of the nineteenth century, owner of the large pastoral run Mendip Hills, and Liberal member of parliament.

Some sense of the health difficulties faced in daily life in the early twentieth century are given in Amuri's messages to her Texan penpal. On the reverse of the first card, she writes:

“This seaside resort is 34 miles from “Mendip Hills”.

“Was indeed sorry to hear you had been so ill & hope you will soon be quite strong again. I think sickness detestable. Did I tell you that seven of us had scarlet fever last winter; since then I have not been very strong, but I suppose one cannot get well too suddenly" - Amuri Rutherford, 16 March 1908.

And on the second, Amuri reveals something of the class-structure of the times to be found not only on the large sheep runs, but more generally in New Zealand society:

“We have rather a “difficult” time with our maid servants in N.Z.. At present we have two girls who call themselves “lady (?) helps.” I am teaching my youngest brother (11 years) until Sept. when he goes to Christ’s College [an elite private boarding school], Christchurch. I am just twenty one, & not being the proud possessor of “brains” find it rather difficult to teach him! With kindest regards.”

Amuri Rutherford married Eric Russell, a wealthy grazier from Victoria, Australia, in a society wedding at St Andrews Presbyterian Church, Christchurch in 1912. The couple returned to Victoria to farm Russell's property. Amuri died in Geelong in 1988 at the age of 101.

Janet Holm, Nothing But Wind and Grass, 1992.

Today Kaikoura is a coastal town of 2,172 with eco-tourism
constituting the major industry in the form of whale watching, dolphins, and marine birds, supported by farm services.

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