Tony Penwarden has fond memories of growing up on the small family dairy farm on Western Line during the carefree days of the late 1950s and early 60s.

The 54-acre (21.77ha) block was small by today's mainstream farming measures, but in those days, and the days of generations that went before, most family dairy units were small with factories never far from home.

In the old days Tony's father Bob Penwarden supplied a dairy in Okoia and was the last supplier of cream in cans.

"My father wasn't keen on change, so was late changing from the milk separation system. We later supplied Kiwi when they pushed down to the Whanganui River and we were supplier No 6, so one of the lowest numbered suppliers."


The Penwardens have lived at 379 Western Line since Tony's grandfather settled there in the early 1900s. Tony's late father Bob and his siblings also grew up on the property.

Bob named the property Ruakaka in recognition of the plentiful birdsong.
Ruakaka was originally part of the old Campbell estate. The Campbells, of course, were one of the earliest settlers in Whanganui and their estate extended through a gully to border onto Campbell Rd in Brunswick.

One of seven children, Tony, his two older sisters, three younger sisters and a brother who is the youngest, all grew up soaking up the magic of exploring the surrounding bush and wide open spaces of Brunswick and Westmere just minutes from Whanganui central.

"I have very fond memories of growing up here at Ruakaka, probably exploring the same bush and gullies our father did when he was a child," Tony recalled.

He did all the traditional things young rural kids did in those days, including trapping possums.

"I remember my father suggesting I send skins to England and get more money for them. I did, but it was an awful long time before I got the money, although it was probably worth the wait."

He also recalled what had to be endured when transgressing and breaching family rules.

"I was usually sent to the bush block to choose my own piece of supplejack to be chastised with."


The bush-clad block remains today and protected in perpetuity under a QEII covenant.
In recent times Ruakaka has been leased out as a dairy support unity grazing heifers, but is equally suited to sheep and beef, calf rearing, cropping or horticultural activities.

Western Line will be auctioned by For Farms agent David Cotton at the Brickhouse in Whanganui on Tuesday, December 3 at 1pm. The property will not be sold prior to the auction.