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BRUNETTE, MARY ELIZABETH nee ABLE

 

Mary Able was born about 1837 in England, the daughter of William Able, a grain merchant, and Catherine nee Pressdee (pronounced Presday).  She married John Simon Brunette, a qualified watchmaker, jeweller and optician in London in 1857.

 

The couple had five children before emigrating to New Zealand in 1870, on the SS Monarch, commanded by Captain Paddle.  En route, John acted as schoolmaster to the immigrant children.

 

They settled in Christchurch, and oversaw the time ball station at Lyttelton for some time.  Three more children were born, and the family moved to Wanganui for a short time.  When the difficulties on the Waimate Plains were settled the family moved to Hawera in 1881, becoming very involved with community life.

 

A Mr Mitchell had left ₤200 for funding of a hospital, and with her husband, Mary became involved in further fundraising.  A local Industries Exhibition raised a further ₤525.  A government grant of 25 shillings in the pound was used to erect a hospital on the south east side of the town (now Ngahuru).  This was at first only available for 13 patients, but by 1906 has extended to 34 beds, plus 8 isolation beds.

 

In 1897, John Brunette became Mayor of Hawera, and Mary, as Mayoress, was much involved in community affairs.

 

Mary Brunette died on the 29 July 1919 at Hawera and is buried in the Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCE

Obituary “Hawera Star”

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