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Beverley Hart. The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter

Kahurangi Point Lighthouse

I don’t need to go to parties.  At Eyebright, parties come to me every day  I particularly enjoy the end of summer and beginning of autumn.  At that time a procession of mature visitors, from throughout the world, come through our door.  This article is about a mature visitor from just up the road.  I encountered seventy six year old Beverley Hart in our wool shop.  I bragged that I knitted a scarf last winter, and she trumped that by telling me that her dad had taught her how to knit.  Beverley  was raised at a lighthouse and it turns out that Alva, her  dad, was quite the achiever.  He and his father before him were the lighthouse keepers at Kahurangi Point, mid way between Karamea and the base of Farewell Spit.  That’s as wild and free as it gets. Access to the lighthouse was across the sand at low tide.  The nearest neighbours were Beverley’s grandparents and once a month Alva would make the ten mile trip to visit them.

Alva ran 1000 sheep at Kahurangi Point fattened pigs, had five milking cows, as well as turkeys, ducks, geese and grew all the family’s potatoes.  They had a beautiful vegetable garden and an orchard.  As if that wasn’t enough, Alva still had the inclination to knit and the patience to teach his eldest daughter.

 Fourteen year old Beverley (on the left regarding her meal with scepticism)

Alva loved creating things large and small.  He made paua shell brooches and he built a windmill to charge a bank of car batteries so that, under electric lights, he could continue being  industrious into the night.  Lighthouse keepers have a lot of time, but Alva used it all to good effect.

It was a great life for Alva.  He had everything he needed, but it was lonely for his wife.  After Beverley she had four more daughters and finally a son.  She was their everything; teacher, keeping house, cook, mender and mediator, but for months she would be without adult company apart from her self -reliant husband.

In the autumn of 1956, at the age of sixteen, Beverley was given twenty pounds and told to go make a life for herself.  She went to live with a family at Belgrove, and her first job was picking hops.  When the hops finished she started work sewing clothes at Wakefield Clothing  in Hardy Street.  Though the last train to Nelson had run a year before Beverley arrived, to appease the locals there was a bus service running every half hour.  This of course didn’t last. 

From Belgrove, Beverley moved to sharing a flat in Tahuna, then in 1960 she married a contract shearer and they lived at Hill Street, Richmond.  These days the five sheep flock at Eyebright is one of the significant mobs on the Waimea Plains, but before housing and horticulture took over the Waimeas had plenty to keep a shearer busy. Fifty six years and two children later, the sheep have largely gone, but Beverly still lives on Hill Street, though not in the same house.

Beverley loves gardening, knitting, sewing and cooking.  She still works one or two days a week cooking at Wensley House, but last winter there were so many staff calling in sick that Beverley ended up  working nearly full time.

Like her father she seems to be a person who, with no fuss, gets on and achieves things.  The day after I met her, I rang her to ask if she had any photographs, she did not hesitate, just said yes and the following day dropped off an envelope full of material.  Apparently it’s the same when she gets a call at 6:30am to come to work.  She just calmly reorders her program and gets on with it

Beverley Hart in the Eyebright Woolshed 2017

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