A family history blog

William Ward / Dorothy Annie Walkley

A short history of the lives of my grandparents Bill and Dorothy Ward.

William Ward was born in Woodhall Spa, England in 1911. When Bill was 3 years old, his parents Frederick and Lillian and their three children emigrated to New Zealand. After a short time in Southland they moved to Taranaki where Bill and his sisters attended Kakaramea Primary School. After his father’s death in 1920 Bill got work on a local farm. Not long after his mother died in 1930 Bill moved to Auckland. He bought a rural property at Kumeu and acquired stock and equipment to establish a small dairy farm.

Dorothy Annie Walkley was born in Hamua in 1916 but shortly afterwards moved with the family to Wanganui and then to Marton where she attended primary school. After she left school she took jobs in the area doing household work. After the family moved to Auckland Dorothy took some factory, cleaning and babysitting jobs. She later got work in the tailoring and dressmaking industry.

Dorothy met Bill Ward through her older sister Edna, whose husband Jack was doing local transport and farm work. Bill and Dorothy married at St Matthew’s Anglican Church in Auckland City in 1940.

The Second World War broke out in 1939 and as Bill was working in the primary, agricultural sector, he was exempted from conscription into the armed forces, but he was drafted into the Home Front defence force during which he spent time at 90 Mile Beach manning bunkers and dugouts because of the perceived threat of a Japanese invasion.

Three daughters, Sally, Jocelyn and Gail were born when Bill and Dorothy were still living at Kumeu. Bill decided to capitalise on the expanding Auckland market by changing from dairy farming to horticulture and market gardening. All the stock was sold and necessary horticultural equipment with plants were purchased. Cultivation, fertilizing, sowing, weeding, spraying, harvesting and packing vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbages, cucumber and watermelon became the new regime of work routine on the Ward farm.

Bill worked very hard from dawn to dusk some days to ensure all the seasonal needs of each vegetable/fruit crop was completed for successful harvesting. Bill and Dorothy were one of the first to experiment and introduce the growing and harvesting of “Chinese gooseberries” (kiwifruit) in West Auckland. They were rewarded with immediate lucrative returns.

In about 1954 the family decided to relocate to Orewa where they purchased a block of land that they subdivided and built on. The children continued their education at the local schools.

In the early 1960’s Bill & Dorothy purchased “Motu Kauri” Island which was situated in the Whangaruru Harbour in the Bay of Islands. Bill stocked the island with sheep and planted vegetables. The island had a small house and the family went there for holidays.

Bill & Dorothy continued their horticultural business on their new Orewa property, growing a variety of crops such as beans, watermelons and pumpkin. In 1970 Bill retired and they spent 6 months travelling around England and Europe.

In 1982 they sold their home in Orewa and relocated to Royal Road, Massey to be nearer their children. They spent the next 4 years there until Dorothy died in 1986. Bill went to live in the Crestwood Retirement Village in Green Bay. He died there in 1990. They are buried in the Rosebank Rd Cemetery, Avondale.

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