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Extracts from The Life and Times of Leslie Kearvell (1901-1985)

by his daughter, Mary Voyle






The Kearvell family finally settled in Ulster Street, Hamilton and the children, Leslie and Mildred, were enrolled at the Hamilton West Primary School on 1st February 1910. To illustrate a little of the life in Hamilton in those early years the following extracts are taken from articles that were written by my father for the Waikato Historical Society in 1979….




Leslie with his parents, Francis  and Edith (nee Rogers) Kearvell



Leslie Kearvell was born 21st May 1901 at 38 Powney Road, Maidenhead. Berkshire England. He was the son of Francis George Kearvell (a Carpenter) and Edith (nee Rogers), who before their marriage at St Luke's Anglican Church in Maidenhead on 15th December 1900, was employed as a Laundress in her family's business. Both families had been long-time residents of the Warfield and Maidenhead areas. Kearvell men employed as Carpenters, Wheelwrights and Builders.


Leslie's sister, Mildred Charlotte was also born at 38 Powney Road on 13th June 1904.


Leslie's education began at Priory Road Infants School, High Wycombe which he attended from 3rd September 1906 till 26th July 1907. He then attended Boynhill Boys Primary School till 9th December 1909 when the family emigrated to New Zealand. This came about after Edith was left a small legacy and also because her elder sister, Martha Jammett, had emigrated to New Zealand with her husband, James and children, Horace and Elsie, the previous year.




S S Awara

The Kearvell family left England on 11th December 1909 aboard the S.S. ARAWA and arrived in Wellington on 25th January 1910.They travelled by rail to Te Awamutu where they were met by Martha and James Jemmett and taken by buggy to the Jemmett home in Pukeatua. It was raining and dad often recalled his first impression of New Zealand as being most uncomfortable. He was seated in the buggy between his mother and his aunt who both had umbrellas for protection from the rain and as he said, "I copped the lot!"


" In an era just prior to World War One the area just north of Hamilton, between the Railway and the River was known as Te Rapa. Colonel Allen Bell had a farm bounded by the Main Road, the Railway and Sunshine Avenue to the present Air Force Station. Col. Bell sub-divided the main Road frontage into 3 acre sections, set up as a land agent and advertised "Buy 3 acres and a cow and live in Te Rapa".


My father, Frank Kearvell, got in early, and for approximately 100 pounds purchased the section which now forms part of the Winstone spread. He built what was then known as a modern bungalow. We lived there until about 1917, when we moved to a farm at Tuhikaramea. It may be difficult today to visualise that this large area, now a complexity of industry and prestige homes, was in those times a happy hunting ground of an adventurous schoolboy.


Two well-known stock dealers of the time were Dan Bryant who had a large property from the Main Road to sandwich Road and Dick Holmes of Horotiu who leased the grazing of the unoccupied land between the Main Road and the Railway. Dick Holmes fitted me up with a partly broken half-Arab pony which I rode to Hamilton West and later to High School. All my spare time was devoted to assisting Mr Holmes and his stockman, Bill Rallison. Apart from all these chores, my father, one of the old styled English craftsmen, was accepted as local carpenter and builder and gave me plenty to do during weekends and holidays. The experience and skill I learned then stood me in good stead in later life.


In spite of it all, with some of the local boys and visiting schoolmates, we found time to harass the local rabbits with ferrets and nets; and taking part in seasonal work such as haymaking and harvesting.


I well remember the Storey property being ploughed and cultivated by horse teams. Mr John Livingstone's property (now the Air Force Station)was planted in oats and harvested for horse-feed for the Army. A long open property on the south side of Varden Road was used for grazing for the Harwood Clydesdales. The stables for the cartage business were on the corner of Rostrevor and Victoria Streets and I often joined them on a Saturday evening as they trotted loose to Te Rapa.