Home' The Mirror Central Otago : February 20th 2013 Contents 20.2.13
Hard but happy life in little cottage
Preserving history: From left: Floss
Rothwell, Hazel Wesley, Dick Maskill
and others at the opening of Vallance
Cottage following restoration work in
Photo: CENTRAL STORIES MUSEUM AND
By JESSICA MADDOCK
About $1550 has so far been
raised in an effort to save
Alexandra's historic Vallance
It was going to be demolished in
the mid-90s until the Alexandra
Museum stepped in and saved it.
It was then used by community
groups and schools, as part of
lessons on how Central Otago's
early settlers lived.
But the cottage has again fallen
into disrepair, becoming the
target of vandals and the exterior
and the floor need work at a cost
The Vallances' oldest living
grandson, Dick Maskill, has
written to nearly 50 relatives
around the world, spanning five
generations, asking them to
contribute to save the cottage.
Museum board member Gill
Grant said there was an
immediate response from the
family, with $800 quickly raised.
Anyone wanting to contribute to
repairing Vallance Cottage should
contact the Alexandra Museum.
Central Otago pioneers:
Vallance cottage. It was
built by William Vallance
and his wife Jean, inset, in
Photo: CENTRAL STORIES
MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY
The back doorstep of
Vallance Cottage is
almost level with the
ground, because the wife of the
original owner was a ''fastidious
housekeeper'' who would scrub it
Stories about the past inhabitants
of the cottage, which was built in
the late 1800s, have been told in
the memoirs of the last person to
Hazel Wesley was a daughter of
William Vallance and his wife
Jean. She grew up in the two-
bedroom mudbrick cottage, built
by her father, with her eight
siblings and returned home in her
late 20s to care for her aging
She had just lost her husband,
Tom Wesley, leaving her to raise
their six-month-old son alone.
When Mrs Wesley, who died
about a decade ago, moved out of
the cottage, she penned her
memories of 18 years living there
-- providing an insight into the
lives of Central Otago's pioneers.
When she left the cottage in the
1970s, there was no running water
inside and only cold running
water in the separate wash-house.
Every Thursday she would ''light
the copper'' for bath day. She had
to make sure the coal man did not
call on a Thursday as the coal
store, washing and bathing was
all done in the wash-house.
''One day I was in the bath when
he came and I just managed to
scramble out and inside the house
before he dumped the coal.''
Although having cold running
water in the wash-house was a
luxury, it also caused problems,
because when the pipes leaked,
the mudbrick walls would come
This happened on at least two
In one instance Mrs Wesley woke
her brother, Ern Vallance, who
was fresh home from the war and
had been out playing the banjo
and drinking all night, to find
someone to repair the wall -- but to
''He called on some cobbers and
everyone seemed to shout for him
. . . when he arrived home, minus
anyone to do the job, he was
drunker than ever.''
Mrs Wesley asked an elderly
neighbour and builder -- Mr
Mussan -- to repair the damage.
He instructed Ern to first remove
the remaining loose mudbricks.
Being somewhat ''worse for
wear'', Ern Vallance missed a
couple of bricks -- one of which hit
Mr Mussan on the head before
knocking out the tap, causing the
wash-house to flood.
It was the middle of winter and
the water froze faster than Mrs
Wesley could mop it up.
Her father, who lived to the age of
98, put his longevity down to
Her mother's dream of having a
sitting room and a ''chinie''
cabinet were not realised.
But she was delighted when her
husband built the wash-house.
''My mother, who was a very
fastidious housekeeper, had to
scrub the broom handle every
day, also the hearth broom and
the back doorstep.''
Mrs Wesley saw out her days in a
pensioner's cottage in Alexandra.
Her nephew, Dick Maskill of
Nelson, who provided her
memoirs to the Mirror, said one of
the saddest things he can recall
was helping ''Aunty Hazel'' move
to her pensioner's cottage and
watching her open her glory box
with her wedding presents still
wrapped in tissue paper, because
for 34 years she had nowhere to
display or use them.
Pumped up: Healthy hearts were the focus of Valentine's Day for the young pupils of Arrowtown Early Learning Centre
who wore red and spent the day learning about healthy hearts, good food and exercise. Teacher Alice Orr said the children
had dressed in red and they had a voluntary gold coin donation to raise funds for the Heart Foundation. ''We've been
learning about what makes a healthy heart and talking about the importance of good food and exercise.'' Above, Chloe
Ireland, 3, feeding her brother Cooper Ireland, 2, an apple, while Fehn Cox, 3, cuts his healthy treats in the background.
Photo: BROOKE GARDINER / FAIRFAXNZ 627619912
Health the heart of love day
Pines could convert
to energy source
By JESSICA MADDOCK
What: Energy forum to discuss
the region's current and future
energy needs and how they may
be sustainably met
Where: Queenstown Lakes
District Council's Queenstown
and Wanaka offices (linked by
When: Monday 25 February,
Potential future electricity
sources in the Queenstown Lakes
and Central Otago districts will be
explored at a public forum next
The two district councils, the
Department of Conservation and
the Energy Efficiency and Conser-
vation Authority have com-
missioned a study on the possi-
bility of using renewable energy
sources, such as wilding pines, in
Local businesses and organis-
ations have been surveyed on
their energy use and their interest
in switching to a renewable
Wanaka's swimming pool, Mt
Difficulty winery and Dunstan
High School were among exam-
ples of local facilities which had
switched from using coal to heat
spaces and water, to using wood.
But despite the abundance of
pesky wilding pines in the area,
the wood chips they used were
trucked in from forests.
The forum would discuss the
region's energy use, along with
the past, present and future
supply of energy and how it may
The speakers would include
energy consultant Lloyd McGinty
on the potential for using wilding
pines as a source and two solar
energy specialists, Yevrah Orn-
stein and Scott Jones. Task force
volunteers would also be sought to
develop the ideas further, before
presenting their recommenda-
tions mid year.
The forum is open and organisers
hoped people with interests in
potential energy sources, or with
views and expertise on traditional
sources, would attend.
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