THE intensity of Gareth Winter's articles in his ongoing series called Stories Behind The Stones has been remarkable, and probably none more so than his two most recent offerings, one involving a young couple's suicide pact and the other being the drowning of two young boys in the Ruamahanga, with their family dog trying to save them.
The articles are a great read owing to Mr Winter's talent in bringing to life the dramas - and tragedies - of life in 19th-century Wairarapa. They are, in effect, great yarns.
But what I particularly like about his stories is that they also demonstrate the mundane, of people being educated, doing their best to succeed, trying to find work, hoping to find a wife or a husband, and generally working a living out of the land. Apart from the number of children couples had, it's not particularly different to modern life. The people Mr Winter describes are very real, with worries and challenges and problems, as well as prosperity.
The drowning tragedy on the Ruamahanga River, in 1896, could have easily been repeated today, and it is especially poignant when we consider the tragic death of Jesse Barber, dying almost exactly a year ago on the Ruamahanga River at Tirohanga.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
But, while we must endure tragedies and accidents, what impresses me with Mr Winter's tales is there is no easy path in life in order to make something of yourself and your family. The step to emigrate to New Zealand from England or Europe was an act of bravery by pioneers who took a chance. The earliest settlers to New Zealand, coming as a result of advertising by Edward Wakefield and the New Zealand Company, may well have arrived a bit misinformed. Nonetheless, those who are used to making hard choices will usually reap the benefits at a later point.
I hope that, in reading Mr Winter's articles, you enjoy some inspiration from the lives of those who came before us. Many of our readers are native to Wairarapa, whose ancestors toughed it out and passed on that legacy. But many are new "pioneers", making a commitment and embracing a new culture. We might have Wi-Fi and supermarkets, but a new home and environment still challenges you.