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BASHAM, MAUD RUBY nee TAYLOR (AUNT DAISY)

 

Maud Ruby Taylor was born on the 30 August 1879 in London, the daughter of Robert and Eliza Taylor.  She was always known as Daisy.

 

In 1891, the widowed Eliza Taylor was persuaded to emigrate to New Zealand where her son Albert has already settled.  On the 31 August 1891, the SS Rimutaka berthed at Wellington, and Eliza and her three daughters disembarked.  The family settled in New Plymouth where Daisy attended New Plymouth Central School and New Plymouth High School and in due course qualified as a schoolteacher.  She joined the choir d St Mary’s Anglican Church and took singing lessons.  She was an extrovert and there were plenty of outlets for her talents – singing, reciting at concerts acting in plays, debating in the Mutual Improvement Society, and living the “gay nineties” life of a colonial town.

 

Her teaching training finished, Daisy was given charge of the Warea School, near Opunake with 42 pupils ranging from Primer One to Standard Six.  Back in New Plymouth, Daisy met Frederick Basham, who at that time was the assistant to the New Plymouth borough engineer.  Later he was appointed Hawera’s county engineer and on the 4 June 1904, the 24 year old Maude Ruby Taylor was married to 35 year old Frederick Basham at St Mary’s Anglican Church, Hawera.  The wedding was held soon after nine o’clock because the groom was due at a council meeting at 11am.

 

Their first baby, Frederick was born on the 3 October 1905, Nurse Gomer assisting.  The Basham’s then moved to Eltham, where Daisy bore her next two children, Geoffrey and Barbara, while her husband, as county engineer, built the country’s first strip of tar-sealed road.

 

At Hawera, and later Eltham, Waipukurau and the Hauraki Plains, Daisy took pupils for music and singing.  She performed in concerts in and out of these towns.  In the early 1920s, while on a singing engagement in Wellington, she was invited to take part in a broadcasting experiment and sang “Il Baccio” into a horn, somewhat reminiscent of the HMV dog.  Towards the end of that decade, while living on the Hauraki Plains she was writing and broadcasting programmes for 1YA Auckland on the lives of composers, illustrated with songs and duets.  When “Cinderella” of the children’s session went on holiday, Daisy was invited to take over and she became “Aunt Daisy”.  This was followed by an eighteen-month engagement at 2YA Wellington, where she continued as a popular “aunt” for the children’s programmes, as well as arranging classical programmes.

 

In 1933, Daisy started the morning session at 1ZB Auckland with her cheery “Good morning everybody” which later became her well-known and often parodied greeting.  In 1937 Aunt Daisy moved to Wellington, the head office of the new nationwide commercial network.  All New Zealand now heard her daily programme, until two weeks before her death.

 

Daisy was awarded the MBE in 1956 for her services to radio, an honour for one who loved New Zealand and wouldn’t live anywhere else.

 

Aunt Daisy died on the 14 July 1963 at Wellington.

 

SOURCES

The Book of New Zealand Women

Barbara Basham, Wellington (daughter)

The Aunt Daisy Story by A S Fry

 

 

 

 

 

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