Minnie Clarke


Born:	20 May 1876
	Matakana, New Zealand

Husb:	Joe Torkington (1876-1936)

Marr:	December 1899
	Leigh, Rodney, New Zealand

Died:	24 Jul 1951
	Buried Whangateau Cemetary, New Zealand.
Was the daughter of the closest thing the locals had to gentry--Charles Septimus Clarke. Her marriage to the undesirable Torkingtons must have caused some family distress. His children were Alma Winifred Maud (``Alma'', 1900-1971), Agnes Mary (``Aunty'', 1903-1980), William Arthur (``Arthur'', 1905-1981), Frances Eileen (``Eileen'', 1908-1988), John Herbert (``Jack'', 1910-1944), Ernest Joseph (``Ernie'', 1912-1995), Charles Edward (``Ted'', 1917-). Died 15 years after her husband, some of which time she had her children (Ted and Ernie living with her.



Joe's house and land was sold to a bloke called Dunlop after Minnie died suddenly of a heart attack (Alvin might have been working in Napier at the time, because he didn't hear of it until after the funeral). The estate, books and furniture ``cleaned out'' (burnt, no doubt) by Auntie Kath, was sold and money divided between remaining children. So Dunlop had it, installed electricity in it by some dubious local electrician, and one night the lights flickered and by the next morning it had burnt down.

Alvin is unsure how long went between Minnie's death and the sale of the house, Ernie might have been living there. Ernie and Pearl and Ted and Dorothy were both living there at the same time as Minnie. But in the end, Ted and Dorothy moved out in disgust. An impossible situation with kids and cats and chooks in a house built for three or four people. It may be that Ernie and Pearl stayed on for a month or two or twelve. [Ask Ted] Alvin's mother, Alma, selected the bach's site because of its view. This was while Minnie was still alive. The kids (Ted through Alma) were hassling Minnie for places to build houses on the farm of which there was roughly 100 acres left. There were numerous proposals, one of which was to divide the farm into seven. Then everyone started bickering about who had the best or worst seventh. Then, in desperation, the wit of man and women came up with a scheme of having a place where you could build a bach. They decided to do the road frontage from Ted's place down to the bottom well and divide it into sections for the family. Then someone said ``why divide it into seven? Why not divide it into 14 half-acre sections'' the unspoken plan being to dispose of the remaining seven half-acre sections. The reserve was compulsory.


Ted: Mum worked hard, as my father worked hard, and Mum had a great garden and every spare moment she had, she used to work in the garden.

Trudy: Did she enjoy it?

Ted: I think she really did enjoy gardening, and she was a good gardener. Her mother was a Clarke, and the Clarkes were pretty good gardeners.

Ted: My father was always a Labour supporter. Mum was too, although she came from a very Conservative family. But afterwards she always voted Labour.

Trudy: So then your father died, did you have to lose the farm?

Ted: Ernie and I ... the farm was in Mum's name, but we sort of kept on working there for a while. And then afterwards I went to Auckland, got a job in Auckland, and worked there for a while. Had different jobs, delivering coal, working in the firewood yard, and a few things like that. And afterwards I worked making coathangers, and did quite a bit of driving.

Trudy: When you were all living with your Mum, Minnie, in the old house. How did that work out?

Ted: Well, ok.

Trudy: Who was living there? You, Grandma, Mum, ...

Ted: Pearl and Ernie. A whole house of kids. And Ernie had built an extra bit out there. They lived there, and had a room in the house as well.

Trudy: They had their kids and the start of their family too.

Ted: Yes.

Ted: I'm just coming to the house at the top of the hill. My Aunty in South Africa--my uncle had died in South Africa. Actually, that bit of land right from Arthur's Bay right down to Back Beach, he owned that. He had become quite wealthy and wasn't very interested in it, and he left it to her. So Uncle Harold had the Back Beach side, and Mum had this side.

Trudy: He left it to the estate?

Ted: No, he didn't leave it to the estate, he left it to Grandma and to Uncle Harold individually. So I bought this bit up here off Grandma for 200 pounds, if I remember rightly. And we had been crayfishing for quite a while, and I suppose we worked fairly hard, and we were getting on top of things quite a bit.

(from Trudy Astwood's interview with Ted Torkington, 1998)


If you have any questions, please feel free to drop Nat <nathan AT torkington.com> a line.

Last modified by Nat