Pam, Sonia and Ted Hutchinson, three siblings very happy to be living in three serviced apartments at Anthony Wilding village, are experiencing community life not too far from their family home on Banks Peninsula.
The two sisters, who previously shared a house in Lincoln, were the first to move into the village in January 2023. Ted is aged 88, having celebrated his birthday last week, and moved in about three weeks ago.
Pam, aged 93, says she was born in Christchurch, introduced to the world in a nursing home on the corner of Cashel Street and Rolleston Avenue. Sonia, 89, was born in Little River maternity home.
The young family, including Mum and Dad (Margaret and Sandy), had moved to Banks Peninsula to the remote Magnet Bay, one of the so-called ‘southern bays’. Both sides of the family were from migrants, with Margaret related to Bishop Henry Harper and Sandy’s father having come out from England in 1870.
Back in the day, on the way to the bay, there was just a rough track for a horse and buggy. Ted – born in July -- was later told his birth did involve a snowstorm and Mum having to walk through snowdrifts to meet a waiting car.
“My father got a fair way up the road from the other side, but there was too much snow. So then she got out and walked up the road, and then someone came up from the Little River side as far as they could get...
“It was amazing for her to have to walk through the snow... up the top of the hill she suddenly met two men with shovels. They actually lived in the top of the hill house there... they came along and shovelled a track for her.”
Eventually those wanting to reach the homestead and small but beautiful spot got a well-formed shingle road.
Pam says she can’t imagine having had a better upbringing, than being given the freedom to make the most of their isolated farm. Some of their learning was via Correspondence School. “We could do what we wanted. We used to go out and play in the creek. But nowadays they can’t do that,” Pam says.
“Our parents trusted us.”
Following Correspondence School, Pam went to Rangi Ruru and Sonia to Timaru’s Craighead Diocesan School. Ted attended Christ’s College for his secondary schooling.
Following school Pam worked on various farms, including one in Omarama, the family’s Magnet Bay property, helping out both in terms of stock and housekeeping. She helped with housework, and looked after horses and cattle at the Deans family’s Homebush homestead, near Darfield. Post-World War II ‘land girl’ tasks, working at Whitcoulls and managing a Teacher’s College bookshop in Peterborough Street were other experiences. “I loved that work with the students. They were such fun,” Pam says.
As a youngster Sonia enjoyed life on the bays, exploring and finding what she later learned was a moa bone. She trained in Cashmere as a Karitāne (named after Truby King’s holiday home) nurse, learning how to, for example, tend to rurally-based mothers who were having trouble breast feeding. “I went way down to Mt Cook, I went here (around Canterbury). Friends of Mum and Dad found out I was doing that, and asked would I go up there. I went all round Hawke’s Bay.”
Following work on the home farm and further training at Lincoln College, Ted worked on a couple of Methven farm for a couple of years before returning to help his father at Magnet Bay.
Until his recent Anthony Wilding move Ted spent most of his life on the mixed sheep and beef farm. He recently sold it to a cousin. “It’s well known for producing young sheep and young cattle. You send them away and someone else fattens them up.”
He remembers plenty a social occasion having gotten to know many in the New Zealand rural community while attending sales, and liaising with the likes of reps from PGG Wrightson and other rural firms.
Pam played golf and tennis, Sonia played golf in a rural setting. “We played at Little River on the Buchanan Farm. It was over sheep yards, through creeks, past the dips – it was all over the place but you certainly learnt to play golf in all directions.”
The three Anthony Wilding siblings have a younger sister, Julie Latter – who lives in Kaikoura – and who has five daughters, or nieces to the three of them. One of those nieces, Sarah Prain (who lives near Cust), helped them move into Anthony Wilding.
The village provides a touch point for many of those they have known in the recent and more distant past from the peninsula and further afield. The staff have been very welcoming, and the apartment living is wonderful three siblings say. “I’m on the second floor and look over toward the mountains. It’s a lovely view,” Pam says.
Sonia adds she has a lovely garden outside her apartment, and the siblings say that in their grandparent’s day there were no retirement homes to go to. They had to have a live in person to look after them or family. “We were so lucky to have Anthony Wilding to come to... that was in our area.”