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Jane Dickie was born in Galt, Ontario, Canada, being the youngest daughter of  Scots, James and Jane Dickie.  The family arrived in New Zealand by the sailing ship Matoka, landing in Lyttelton in 1868. 


The settlement in New Zealand of the Dickie's led to the addition to the Hawera community of a number of families who have taken a prominent part in its life.  The report received at Galt regarding the new land was responsible for Mrs Thomas Middlemas (Elizabeth, sister of Jane McL'Dowie), Elizabeth's parents-in-law, brother-in-law and families, Mr James Cowper and family, and Mr William Douglas (see Mary Campbell) and family leaving their Canadian homes and settling here.  The part taken by these early settlers is intimately interwoven with the history of Hawera.


From Lyttelton, the Dickie's came on to Wanganui by boat, thence to Waverley, where James had taken up property.  Owing to the outbreak of war, the female members of the family were compelled to return to the South Island, returning to Waverley in 1869.


In 1870 Jane married Daniel McL'Dowie, and the couple came to live in Hawera, where Daniel as an ex-soldier qualified for a ten acre land grant.  His land comprised the block. surrounded by High Street, Cameron Street, Erin Street and Collins Street.  The McL'Dowie's occupied one of the first three houses erected in Hawera. In 1883, Daniel purchased land at Matapu, and they became the first settlers on the Hastings Road north of the Skeet Road (now belonging to Graeme Blake).  The area, then known as the Kaupokonui Block, had been surveyed, but the only access through the bush was along  surveyors' rough tracks.


For many years, access to Matapu was difficult and in winter almost impossible.  Jane's son William remembers; "One winters day, my mother set out for Hawera in a light buggy.  Even this was axle deep in the mud, and it was too much for the usual light harness horse to pull.  A farm draught horse was hitched to the buggy and his mother finally set off for town.  After school that day she had still not returned and I went down the road to meet her, instead I met a horse, coming home alone with the broken buggy shafts behind it.  Further down the road I came across mother, still sitting in the buggy which was bogged down.  It was so firmly stuck that the horse had broken the shafts trying to pull it out."


Daniel McL'Dowie died in 1913 and Jane then went to reside in Auckland.  Her oldest son Kenneth was killed in World War One and Jane donated the Matapu School Roll of Honour in 1918 in his memory as a first day pupil at Matapu.  Jane McL'Dowie died on the 24 August 1933 at Auckland aged 82 years.  She is buried at the Hawera cemetery.



Obituary "Hawera Star" 28 Aug 1933

Article "Hawera Star" 16 July 1955