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Sport 14: Autumn 1995

A Note on Sources

A Note on Sources

My primary source of information has been my mother. Almost all the anecdotal information directly pertaining to my grandfather came from her. Although, as the story depicts, she was initially reticent about much of the detail, she has since proved to be the most open and reliable witness.

From a number of relatives (second and third cousins I think) and friends of the family still living in the Kaitaia region I gathered anecotes on the family’s background, their geographical and historical context. From these people I got a feel for what it was like to live in an isolated farming community during the Depression years. Del Jackson in particular was entertaining and informative. By and large, though, on the subject of my grandfather these people were more illuminating for what they didn’t talk about than for what they did remember.

The most useful written record I have of life in and around Kaitaia in the period my grandfather lived there was written by my great grandfather, Fred Holder, Pat’s father-in-law. As We Were In Kaitaia (1914–1936) is largely a record of Fred Holder’s involvement in the development of the far North. It contains one chapter, ‘My Family And Their Doings’, in which one paragraph is dedicated to my maternal grandparents’ family. I record the entire paragraph here as a fairly representative example of the balance of detail that most people I talked to gave to their reminiscences of Pat King:

Marjorie, my eldest daughter, is a most capable woman. For some years while her husband, Eyre [sic] (Pat) King, was serving in the forces and doing war work, she ran a farm of 60 acres, and milked some 26 cows night and morning, as well as going four days a week to Kaitaia—a distance of 2½ miles to teach music. She still is teaching music, and has some 40 pupils. She plays the harp, and other instruments, also is quite a top-notcher at golf, and can drive a car as fast and well as anyone. She has three daughters—Wendy …; Margaret, studying in Dunedin, is going at top and expects to be a fully fledged doctor of medicine shortly; Sally, the youngest, is page 60 working in an office at the Kaitaia Hospital, and hopes to go nursing in the Whangarei Hospital. Eyre King died early in 1952. He was doing an important work in raising plants of all kinds in his nursery, and is greatly missed. (AWWIK p 55)

On Pat King’s parents I have two books, one on each. His father, Gerald Roland King, kept copies of all the letters he sent home to his mother (home was a sugar plantation in the Barbados), over the period 1886–1889, in a letter book. Although badly flood-damaged, most of the letters are legible (although largely uninformative and singularly uninteresting). Pat’s mother, Iris Fidela Fulton, has her ancestry exhaustively traced in a book called Memoirs of the Fultons of Lisburn. This was of little use other than to clarify in my mind some of the attitudes which must have prevailed in the childhood of my grandfather.

Mention of Kiore King, Pat’s adored older sister, can be found in Ngaio Marsh’s autobiography, Black Beech and Honeydew. Kiore and Ngaio Marsh were involved in some theatre work together which is recounted in the chapter ‘Enter The Lampreys’. The work culminated in them touring a Ngaio Marsh play, Little Housebound. Marsh describes ‘Tor’ King thus:

Tor was what my mother’s generation … called ‘a thoroughly nice girl’ with beautiful manners and a ‘thoroughly nice’ background. She was also a great dear and as bright as a button … (BBH p 158–9)

There is also an appearance in this book by Iris Fidela King, mother of Pat and Kiore, which is quite amusing and informative with regard to the home life of that generation of King children:

Mrs. King was the daughter of a general and gifted with the psychic powers that frequently manifest themselves, I have noticed, among ladies with martial backgrounds. She passed her hands downwards on either side of my mother without touching her and my mother agreed that from one hand there was wafted a cooling draught of air and from the other a hot gust. Upon this atmospheric basis they raised a friendship … (BBH p 161)

On page 160 there is also a hilarious sketch of life in Hawke’s Bay.