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WINKS, MARY JANE nee AMON

 

Mary Jane Amon was born on the 3 August 1849 at Mortlake, Surrey, England, the daughter of Thomas and Priscilla Amon nee Bassett. The Amon family came to New Zealand about 1856 and settled near Scotts Ferry, at the mouth of the Rangitikei River.

 

On the 18 September 1871, Mary Jane married John Alexander Winks at Parewanui, and their first days of married life were spent driving 24 calves of Mary Jane's to their new home in Hawera, more than 80 miles away. The Maoris of Rangitikei had always been friendly with the Europeans, but in Taranaki there had been hostility for some time, and Mary Jane was very apprehensive, expecting "brown forms to spring from behind every flax and toitoi bush along the route" until the sight of the Hawera blockhouse "filled her with infinite relief". Their first child , James, was born there (site of Welsh McCarthy) in 1873.

 

The couple's first home was in High Street, (now the site of the ANZ Bank) and John built a two-storeyed home here, with an outside staircase leading to the upper living quarters from their baker and butchery business. John rode into the bush to buy cattle from the Maoris, as well as advising them concerning their problems and attending to any mail they wished to have written. Meanwhile Mary Jane, still apprehensive of Maoris, served in the shop on her own, fleeing on one occasion when confronted by two large tattooed men.

 

When Mary Jane's ninth child was born in 1887, the old chief Hukanui Manaia, a great friend of John's, wished the baby to be named after him. At least 12 Maori women sat on the lawn with gifts, awaiting the birth, sure it was a boy, and after much persuasion, the baby was named Walter Manaia Winks.

 

In 1884, the family moved to Victoria Street opposite the Catholic Church, and in 1893, the family, now with 11 children, moved to a large property at Normanby, building "The Falls" homestead.

 

The problem of clothing 12 children, six of them girls, was overcome by installing a dressmaker twice a year for a period of three months. The materials were bought during a large shopping session in Hawera, and then the dressmaker arrived to begin on the underclothing, working through to frocks with frills and buttons.

 

Mary Jane had strong views concerning the consumption of alcohol, and with her neighbour Belinda, wife of Francis Job Gane, campaigned for prohibition in the late 1890s. Mary Jane Winks died on the 3 March 1901 at Normanby and is buried in the Hawera cemetery.

 

SOURCE

Claire Corrigan, Hawera (great granddaughter)

 

 

 

 

 


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