She married (after some dithering), Henry Charles Holman and they moved to New Zealand, which Henry saw at the time as the land of opportunity. He tried his hand at various jobs and poor Elizabeth who had never cooked a meal in her life, had to learn to be the wife of an early pioneer. She and Henry moved about a lot, living in the Far North, where she witnessed the sacking of Kororareka (Russell)in the Bay of Islands. They built a house on the coast but eventually had to abandon it when it burnt down. Their dealings with the local Maoris were cordial but as time went on we see how it dawned on them that these pakeha weren't the only ones coming to their country. There were lots more.
One incident, which I was particularly interested in, is about her brief stay on what is now called Herald Island in Auckland. I'm a resident of Herald Island and it was fascinating to hear about the island in the very early days and how it was planted with orchards and shelter trees.She was very nervous being left alone when Henry had to go to Auckland to do business, as she only had the company of a Maori oddjob man, and there were some very unsavoury characters living in the area.
One night she heard bloodcurdling screams and yells coming across the water from Paremoremo, directly opposite the island. She knew there was a gang of woodcutters operating there, and in the night, one of them had beaten his wife to death. Needless to say, she left Herald Island soon after.
For anyone who wants to know about the very early days of Auckland and the everyday lives of the inhabitants, this is the book to read. The frequent scares and rumours of troubles with the local and other Maoris are combined with the seemingly mundane life of a pioneer woman and the other early Auckland settlers..
There are copies of this book held in the Auckland Research Centre, but there are a few copies able to be borrowed. Florence Keene was a prolific writer of early pioneer's doings and this is just one of her many books. It is easy to read, with a flowing style and filled with all the drama of a life spent bringing up eight children in a country which was only just being brought into the fold of the British Empire.
Title: With Flags Flying.
Author: Florence Keene
Reviewed by Clare at Massey Library
Clare K works at Massey Library in West Auckland. She believes that there is nothing you can't learn from a book, and the more you know the more you grow.