Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Search options

Ohariu Valley Oral History : Vivian Harris

Vivian Harris discusses the Ohariu Valley community. Recorded Tuesday March 30 2010; Vivian's Home in Ohariu Valley. Interviewer: Rebecca Waechter.


These files are in MP3 format. If you don't have software that will play MP3 files (e.g. Windows Media Player, iTunes), here are some suggestions: Winamp, iTunes.

Part 1 Summary (09'52")

Time marker: Summary:
00'08" Viv's parents moved into the Valley 55-60 years ago and built the house themselves on the cross roads at same time as the Mannings did across the road. They spent about 200 pounds on a half acre section and spent 2 years every weekend building from a how-to book. Many families built their own houses and had a real Pioneering attitude.
01'00" Viv was born at Wellington Hospital and raised in Ohariu Valley. Most people lived and worked in the Valley but Viv's father worked for an accounting firm in city. In 1966 (Viv age 4) her parents divorced.
02'07" Viv and brother (2yrs younger) attended Ohariu Valley School. Initially whole school was taught in one room until the roll became too large.
02'45" Viv remembers what the kids used to get up to during playtimes and lunch, which she mentions would be totally un-PC these days. She also recalls rarely being taken to school. Instead they biked, walked and later would ride horses to and from school like many children in the Valley.
03'48" After the new school room was built, the roll reached circa 65 students. The school was very much the centre of the community, before it was closed 10 years ago. They regularly put on social events, and were very community based. She recalls the Christmas parties which was 'classically country'.
06'38" Another community occasion was a group Guy Fawkes Night on Nov 5th, especially based around the houses near the Cross Roads because it was the most densely populated part of the Valley. Fathers, Jan Rottman and Derek Roilers were well known Fireworks enthusiasts. The tradition continued on for 15-20yrs.
07'48" Returns to entertainment in the Valley.
08'38" When the new school building was being built (the original building was built by locals, the new one was not.), the whole school shifted temporarily for about 3 months to the Valley Hall in the middle of winter. The lack of heating meant that before they started lessons they all had to go for a run to warm up.

Part 2 Summary (05'27")

Time marker: Summary:
00'09" Viv recalls the social nature of Ohariu Valley, from Christmas carolling as kids to making hay.
01'40" Viv discusses how coming from a family with a solo mother (unusual at the time) made little difference in a community which rallied together.
02'20" Viv describes the monthly meetings of the Ohariu Ladies Guild, a long standing group in the community who were particularly active.
05'00" Viv notes the work of the Ohariu Valley Community Board.

Part 3 Summary (07'53")

Vivian Harris discusses the Ohariu Valley School as it was during her childhood.

Time marker: Summary:
00'00" Viv remembers how the weather used to seem much colder and cope. Winter's weather was months of 'endless gray, cold, cloudy, windy weather.'
01'22" Viv talks about what school was like from the fire place, to teachers (the Goulders) and discipline, once ending in the whole school getting the strap. She recalls the centenary reunion and celebration, circa 1972.
03'40" Talks about how the community is rich with history, with over 100 years of schooling in the area, the church being over 100 y/o, and many of the original families to be in the valley are still there such as the Bryants, and the Bests
04'10" Describes the valley as a true farming community, even though it was only 30-45min out of town. Environmentally rural, but also had the community atmosphere, where everyone helped each other out.
04'40" Talks about the change in community which has been divided by the new wind farm in the area. The Ladies Guild tries to be a neutral ground whose goal is to retain the community ties and atmosphere.
05'15" Continues recalling the Ladies Guild activities, specifically the social functions put on for the community and particularly memorable Christmas parties and putting on skits each year (a valley tradition). Men in Tutus skit became something of valley lore.

Part 4 Summary (10'02")

Vivian Harris discusses the Ohariu Valley community.

Time marker: Summary:
0'00" Viv talks about annual themed dances held in the valley hall, as well as other festivals and celebrations in the area such as the post-hay making party, field days and fundraisers.
02'30" Viv recounts some difficult times and tragedies that the community has faced.
03'18" Viv discusses changes in population in the community.
04'58" Viv recalls summers and school holidays in the Ohariu Valley, and occasions when the valley coped with drought.
08'48" Viv tells a story about her whole school being accidentally covered in fertiliser from a plane top-dressing gone awry.

Part 5 Summary (08'57")

Time marker: Summary:
0'00" Viv talks about the games and activities played by children in the valley.
02'07" Discussion of content of lessons at the valley school, and how the teachers incorporated Ohariu's environment into their lessons.
04'54" Viv talks about her secondary school days at Newlands College, and then returning to the valley after attending Massey University in Palmerston North and travelling overseas.
07'30" Everything outside of the valley always seemed temporary - Viv talks about the things that she missed while away from home.

Part 6 Summary (07'24")

Time marker: Summary:
00'08" Viv talks about how messages got around town, and how her family shared a 'party' phone line with her neighbours for years.
01'10" Viv discusses what they would head into town for. Mostly special occasions, for which they would always dress up for. They probably went to town only once or twice a year to see a film or go to the zoo.
01'55" '99.9%' of the time the kids made their own fun. Viv notices a real difference between children from the Valley, and kids from out of the valley. She points out the differences in how they choose to play together. City kids like indoors, Valley kids are always outside.
04'00" Viv talks about the role models in the community. Helen Rottman had a huge influence on Viv's choice of career.
05'54" Farmers are very much 'can-do' people, and within the Valley community they expected it to be like that.
06'35" Viv likens the community to being a tribe. She finds the tendency for suburban people to often not know the neighbours disappointing, but asserts that the schools seem to be doing something to bring back community spirit. In the valley, despite division in the community over the wind farms, they are still tight knit and there for each other.

Part 7 Summary (06'37")

Time marker: Summary:
00'05" Viv recalls what brought the men together in the Valley. There was a very competitive rugby match, of the Ohariu vs another team. Duck shooting season started in early may and was a 'drink-athon' as well as a duck-shooting Ball, and the men sometimes had 'Boys' night' in the wool sheds.
01'30" Women tended to be the movers, shakers, and group makers. The men grouped together around farming activities.
02'12" Viv remembers what it was like being a teen from the Valley. How life changed a bit when they left school to go to college outside of the Valley.
02'47" Despite having to leave, the community is always there to return to. Viv returned 40 years later as an adult to live, and found friends from primary school still living there. There is a history that means that people who have been there 15 years are still considered new-comers.
04'00" During the 50s and 60s there was a large expansion, which saw the school roll boom to 60 pupils. However, there has been little expansion since, which is reflected in the school closing down because of a dwindling roll. It is a result of the same families staying in the Valley and having their children grow up and leave, with only a few new people coming into the Ohariu.
04'58" There has been quite a bit of subdivision in the last couple of years, resulting in a rising population. But they aren't based in the valley, instead choosing to commute to work and go to school closer to the city.
05'30" Viv returns to talking about activities she took part in at Ohariu School.

Part 8 Summary (10'38")

Time marker: Summary:
0'00" Viv talks about how the community accessed supplies, recounting getting milk from the local dairy farm.
03'24" Viv remembers her mother's resourcefulness and thriftiness as being an important factor to her family's survival while growing up.
06'25" Viv talks about the building of the Ohariu School pool.
07'20" Viv talks about weddings and births in the valley.

Part 9 Summary (04'16")

Time marker: Summary:
0'00" Viv talks about some of the more colourful characters she remembers from her childhood, mentioning Mark Pennington, Jan Rothman, Betty Purdy.
01'52" Viv talks about "male dinners" - occasions where the men in the valley community would cook, and the local Country Club.
02'50" Viv mentions Roy Kellahan and other horse riders in the community.
03'25" Viv talks about dangerous driving and road accidents in the valley.

Part 10 Summary (01'02")

Time marker: Summary:
0'00" Viv talks about the time capsule that was buried during the Ohariu Valley School Centenary.

Heritage Links (Local History)