Audio Histories

Audio Histories

Please take your time to have a listen to these snippets of interviews about some of South Taranaki's most memorable people. The full audio histories are available from your local LibraryPlus. Call in and listen to them today!


Bernie Mann

Well known stockman Bernie Mann looks back at the trying times that he and others had, transporting cattle from the Sale yard by train to the farmers who had bought the stock.

Here he recalls one particular consignment where the train broke down.

This was recorded in the shed at the Hawera sale yards during a very heavy shower. The background is the rain on the corrugated iron roof.

Don Drabble

Don Drabble was born in Eltham and has lived there all his life; over the years he has devoted a lot of his time to local service organisations and to preserving the memories of this unique area on the Taranaki Landscape. Electrical contractor, sportsperson, author, town councillor and local historian Don epitomises the Eltham spirit of yesterday and today

Don talks about doing his electrical apprenticeship, which wasn’t easy, the types of jobs he did, and how he went on to sell radios and then television sets to the people of Taranaki. 

Doris Swadling

One of Taranaki’s great philanthropists was Doris Swadling. She was born in December 1904 at Kaponga, the only child of William and Sarah Geraldine Swadling. She died in 1960 and since then many people have benefited from her generosity while studying in the fields of Music and Agriculturethrough the Trust Fund that she set up before she died.

Bill Croucher explains how the Hawera Brass band in particular benefited from Doris’s generosity.

Doris was a legendary cook, Dorothy Davies and Eric Johnson describe Doris’s kitchen and the food that she produced.

Gordon Lawson

The last Town Clerk of Eltham

1986 was a momentous year for Eltham - Its town council ceased to exist - the council was forced to amalgamate with the Eltham county to become the Etham District Council and then finally to become part of the South Taranaki District Council in 1989.

The Town Clerk at the time was Gordon Lawson - he had been raised in Taranaki and witnessed a lot of changes to Eltham during his time there.

Gordon backgrounds the events which lead to the eventual demise of the Eltham Council.

Richard Kennedy-Moffat

Richard was born in Scotland, he was brought up on a farm(A Galloway Stud) but decided at a young age to go and see the world and eventually finished up in Hawera. Since his arrival Richard has been heavily involved in all manner of community activities especially the Theatre.

He started work at Cornishes in 1971 and was eventually promoted to Store Manager and finally bought the store and owned it till its closure in 2000.

Richard describes the events that lead to his purchasing the Store in 1988

Richard talks about Cornishes strengths, its staffing and the famous shute system for processing payments.

Ronald Hugh Morrieson

Ronald Hugh Morrieson was a novelist and short story writer in the New Zealand vernacular. He earned his living as a musician and music teacher and played in dance bands throughout Sth Taranaki. He lived in Hawera all his life and this town appears (under other names) in his novels.

He wrote four novels, All of  them were adapted for the cinema: The Scarecrow1982, Came A Hot Friday 1984, Pallet on the Floor 1986 and Predicament  2009. Two short stories were published posthumously; Cross My Heart And Cut My Throat and The Chimney, both in 1974.

Eric Johnson was part of the first dance band that Ronald Hugh Morrieson formed. He initially  learnt music from Ron’s mother.

Eric describes the Morrieson House and its inhabitants, how he got to know Ron, and the events that lead up to Ron forming his first band.

Eric talks about Ron’s first band – how it got its name, its signature tune, and backgrounds the dance scene as it was it the early 1940’s in Taranaki.

Murray McPherson was one of Ron’s music pupils. Ron wasn’t a very outdoors sort of person but agreed to go on a hike on one occasion with Murray and his friends.

Murray describes what happened …..

Kathleen Shirley Bourke

Born December 1924 — A person who has left their mark in the community in a very positive manner—especially in South Taranaki.

 Shirley grew up during the depression and assisted in the War effort as a WAAF. She married Frank and raised 3 children—all who went on to have successful careers. But she also went on to become a respected journalist, author, music teacher, fibre and embroidery worker, retailer and botanist.

Shirley describes her first ride in an plane at the age of 7

During the 2ndWW Shirley joined the WAAF’s and was stationed in Hobsonville.

Shirley tells why a Walrus was nicknamed a duck, why pilots had to learn how to sail, and how she managed to learn how to sail as well.

Tommy Thompson

From humble beginnings in Ohakune Tommy has been involved in all manner of activities including, Film projectionist, Postal worker, Rabbit board bounty collector, Town Clerk, Accountant for Hardings…but as well, he's been a Lay Preacher, Town Councilor, JP, and Marriage Celebrant.

A lifetime of service to the community.... 

Tommy talks about his first job … with the Post Office.

Rabbits were a problem in the Central North Island and Tommy recalls the time he had to administer the Government Rabbit Bounty scheme

Audio History Charitable Trust

All the audio clips and accompanying text were supplied by the Audio History Charitable Trust of NZ. The Trust was formed in 2008 to preserve the stories of our area in an oral form so that generations in the present and the future could share the memories from days gone by.

The Trust's mission is to gather the stories of our region and then edit and process them so that they are in a form that is easy to listen to and is up to Broadcast standard. The Trust would like to thank the generosity of the Funding bodies and private donations that have made the collection possible.

We look forward to adding new storied both to this website and our LibraryPlus collection later this year.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about the Trust, you can contact the Trust co-ordinator on (06) 753 6311 or email

The Trust is chaired by Selwyn Metcalfe. Other board members are Mary Bourke, Lynne Walker and Carmen Walker. All the Trust's productions have been recorded, produced and narrated by Hamish Guthrie.