Joyce O'Hara, nee Hudson, was proud to have been born in a paddock. Now, almost two years after her death, aged 85, and 17 years since her husband Bill died, paddocks will be part of her charitable legacy. The O'Haras' two blocks of land in Waiuku, a total of 35.8ha, will be auctioned on October 31. Ten charities will receive proceeds from the estate, including St John's Ambulance and the Anglican Church.
Joyce and Bill had no children themselves, but details of how Joyce came into the world were read out at her funeral in January 2011. On Christmas morning in 1925, at the Hudson family farm in Aka Aka, Joyce's mother Florence went to help milk the cows.
"But Joyce decided to arrive earlier than planned, her mother not even making it back to the house," the eulogy written by Bill's cousin Peter Sands and others says.
Joyce married Bill O'Hara in 1947. The couple worked on the O'Hara farm at 92 Constable Rd, living in the farmhouse villa on the property. Bill's father George had bought the farm when he had returned from service in World War I.
Bill took over the running of the farm with his mother Bertha after George's death in 1939. Bertha died five years later and Bill spent his whole life on the farm, before he died in 1995, aged 72. Joyce continued to manage the property until she went into care in 2002. It has been leased for the past decade.
Peter remembers Bill and Joyce fondly. "At different times over the years they opened up their heart and home to many young folk. These teenagers or children stayed in the home and on the farm for varying lengths of time."
The O'Haras were very involved with the Anglican Church in Waiuku, with Bill becoming a lay preacher. Joyce organised working bees to cook and preserve fruit and vegetables, the food then being delivered to the Auckland City Mission and St Marys Home for Girls, as well as to Franklin Memorial Hospital and the IHC in Waiuku. Joyce and Bill were involved with the collection of newspapers from all around the district In the days before council-organised recycling. Joyce and a team of women sorted and packed the paper into bales ready to be sent by truck to Auckland for recycling.
The money raised was donated to the Waiuku Anglican Church.
In the early 1960s the O'Haras purchased 6.88ha next to their original farm. In 2004, in accordance with Bill's wishes, this piece of land was sold to the former Franklin District Council for a nominal amount, with the stipulation the land be used for future development as a sports park next to the Waiuku rugby club and college.
Peter says he and the other executors of the estate now feel it's time to sell the O'Hara's remaining two blocks of land, allowing more people to benefit from the late couple's generosity. Nearly all the proceeds will go to charity, with a small amount reserved for extended family. St John Ambulance in Waiuku has already received part of its endowment. Money from the estates of the O'Haras and the late Valerie Drummond provided more than $500,000 for alterations to the St John's Ambulance building in Constable Rd.
By Penny Lewis