A 'baby boomer' born on 18th August 1955 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand to parents Norman and Claire Hooper. I am the second youngest of six children. Blessed with being born with a hare-lip and cleft palate meant my siblings were told I was 'special' and indeed I grew up thinking I was. Pre-school education was gained in the 'Cripple Children's Association' and here I was taught how fortunate I was. As you can see by the baby photograph above my first operation, to close the gap on my top lip, was before I could walk and I had further operations up to the age of fifteen. The Plastic surgery was performed at the Lower Hutt Hospital.  My favorite saying is "no matter what life may send my way there is always someone, somewhere, that has it far worse than me".  I have succeeded in having a 'normal' life interwoven with the 'abnormal'.  

Punga leaves make the best 'Cubby House'........

           We were never a family that 'settled' in one place for long. Dad worked on farms or in the forestry industry and this meant following the work from town to town. The Forest Service was dis-established in 1987 with the loss of 3,000 jobs. Mum would often go with dad to help peel the bark from the small pine post with a banana shaped 'slasher'. Many hours of my childhood, before I was of school age, were spent building 'punga leaf' cubby-houses deep in New Zealand's pine forests with my younger sister Lois. The sound of the chain-saw, distant shouts of 'timber' followed by the ground moving thud ,as the tree hits the ground, are things that stay with you forever. Those and having to use pine needles as toilet paper is hard to forget......When we, Lois and I, went bush we only had to report back to mum and dad two times in the whole day. They were when we heard the shouts for 'smoko-time' and 'home-time'. Our time in a district would only last last until the allocated section of pine forest had been felled and then it was time to move on. We were constantly uprooted and our childhood was one of starting new schools and finding new friends. When dad swapped forestry work for farm work it did not stop the upheaval we had grown accustomed to. We moved from one farm to the next having no sooner gotten past the 'new kid in school syndrome' than it was time to go through it all again. We were rarely ever enrolled at a School. We just turned up there and they had to take us in. It is difficult for me to say were I grew up as we spent so little time in so many towns.


Queen Elizabeth Park and the Waipoua River in Masterton , New Zealand

            Masterton, however, stands as being the place I call 'home' in New Zealand. Mum and dad built a house in Gordon Street and for a time we had a home of our own and lead a fairly settled life. At least for a couple of years. I started my school life at Landsdowne School. During our time in Masterton I changed schools twice. There was plenty of forestry work around Masterton at this time in the 1960's. Failing to keep up house payments we had to leave Gordon Street and we moved into a house in Ngaumutawa Road, Masterton. Dad built a Saw Mill of his own in a paddock at the rear of the house.  On the opposite side of the road and down the street a few houses was the Cecelia Whatman Home. When my Grandmother died my mother, at the age of 11, was placed in Whatman home and like many other 'inmates' was sent out into homes to work as cheap labor. Treatment in the home has been described, by some, as abusive and mum's time there was certainly that. Today I wonder what went through mum's mind living across the road from the place that held terrible childhood memories for her.

            However, for me, Masterton offers many happy memories of carefree days. In the paddocks, behind our house in Gordon Street, runs the Ruamahanga River. We spent many hours attempting to create a dam across this river with very little success. The river was usually a gentle flowing and safe haven for children to play by but with the rain it would become a raging torent. Our dams were never any match for the force the flooding river presented and rocks, to heavy to carry by one, were washed away as though they were pebbles. I often wonder, these days, how none of us drowned. The family photograph below shows just how young we were at this time. Minding us were siblings, Danny and Lynda, not even teenagers themselves. One of my mother's sayings at this time was "If you drown .....I will kill you" and I think perhaps we seriously thought we had better not or else we would be in serious trouble when we got home!

            A small legacy of our time in Masterton was left at the Queen Elizabeth Park. There was (perhaps still is) a Tractor and Bulldozer in the children's section of the park. Dad spent many hours, in our Gordon Street backyard, working on the blue tractor and then had it installed onto the site in the children's play area of the park. We also spent alot of time swimming in the dam, that had been built using rocks and wire netting, in the Waipoua River. This was known as 'Tanks Pool' and was built by the Masterton Beautifying Society (1923-1986) and named after the Society's President and Masterton's Mayor N.S. Tankersley. This was our favourite swimming hole but once the new swimming pool had been built ,and opened opened to the public, we often spend the day there instead. The Waipoua River and Queen Elizabeth Park (with lake) can be seen in the photograph above.

My family at Gordon street 1960: Lynda, Mum,Jenny (back), myself Jo (front),Danny, Sue and Dad holding Lois.

          A career change came about when mum and dad took work at the Topuni Saw Mill. We lived in the cook-house. Mum would do all the cooking for the workers who lived in the single mens baches. The mens dining room was actually a room attached to 'our' house and on many evenings the men would stay on and the dining room was transformed into a 'ping-pong' room. It was really table tennis but some of the Fijian workers thought the sound of the ball against the bat made the noise 'ping-pong' and so the name stuck. A room was built onto the Cook-House for us to use as a lounge room but it became an extension of the 'ping-pong' room. Our family seemed to extend with the building and many of the men adopted us as their family and spent all their free time in the 'ping-pong' room.

          How one goes from being a farm hand, bushman and general dogs body to becoming a Restaurant and Bakery owner is something of a mystery to me. Thames, on the Coramandel Peninsular on the North Island of New Zealand is a town that sprang up during the gold rush era. Mum and Dad started a cafe in the main street of Thames and aptly named it 'The Lucky Strike'. They also started a Bakery in the main street of Thames and decided to call this 'The Golden Nugget'. I was attending Thames High School when they decided to start the Bakery and my younger sister Lois and myself would have to make the icing and ice the cakes before we went to school. On many occasions, when both shops were still owned, I was kept home from school to serve in the bakery whilst mum and dad would be in the 'Lucky Strike'. After school we had our chores to do but then had free time and this was heaven. We lived in Crafton Road which was across from the Thames Race Course. We would go across to the where the horses were kept and help with the feeding and the mucking out of the stables. People do not believe me but there was a horse kept there that had two little horns. A little way up the Kaueranga Valley is a swing bridge (or was) that went across to a house on the other side of the river. I always thought this house was my 'dream house' as I could have had a horse of my own if we had lived there. I never knew who lived there but three years ago, in the course of doing my genealogy, I discovered that we are actually related, via my mother's Winter family, to the people who lived there. Along this road was a man who had two horses. By hanging over the fence for hours and hours, whistfully patting his horses, we eventually came to his attention. He asked if we would like to take his horses out for exercise on a regular basis. Lois and I went to Sunday School that was held in the little church at the bottom of Grafton Road or at least we were supposed to. In truth we turned left instead of right at the bottom of the street and went horse riding instead. I think mum must have known but nothing was ever said when we came home hours after Sunday School had finished smelling of 'horse'.


  •           Anyone that has been sexually abused as a child will understand how this affects your life. My life was deeply affected and became shrouded in a secret that I was to keep for nearly 25 years. The experience that comes from having been abused has helped me have compassion and understanding for those less fortunate than myself. I deeply believe that my time with the 'Cripple Children's Association' was the only counseling I ever needed in life. Sexual abuse is another handicap in life that one learns to live with. I had been subjected to verbal abuse and taunting from a very early age, due to being considered 'different', by my peers. I was taught to always turn the other cheek and to walk away. Be it verbal or sexual abuse it is important not to become a life long 'victim' of it. We have little power, as children, to control what happens to us but as adults we have the power to decide what road in life to take. The abusers must have had truly horrible childhoods to want to steal the childhood of others. They are the damaged ones. I pity them and not myself. If I could offer one peace of advice to 'survivors' of childhood abuse then it would be this..... It takes more energy to hate a person than it does to love someone. Let go of the hate and fill that space with love ..... You deserve it.


  •           On 6th April 1972 in Auckland, New Zealand I gave birth to a dark haired little baby boy. On his birth certificate I gave him the name of Michael Hooper for no other reason than I liked the name Michael. I cannot tell you what name he goes by today as my parents decided, because I was only sixteen, that I should give him up for adoption. The hospital staff accidentally bought him in to me for feeding one day and when I told them I thought I was not supposed to see Michael they whisked him away. That was the last time I saw him ..... I hope he has had a life full of love and laughter. Michael has been and will remain in my thoughts forever. It is important, that should Michael ever wonder about his birth ,that he should know that he was not born due to the abuse I endured but from a teenage pregnancy between two people who cared about each other for a fleeting period of time in our young lives. People have emailed me asking me if I would like to try and make contact with Michael and it is important that they understand that I could never do that. Michael may not even know I am alive. If he does know he is adopted and decides to oneday find his 'birth mother' then he will find me without great difficulty. Out of respect for everyone concerned this is not a decission for me to make and should Michael decide to find me then I can honestly say I would not hesitate to meet him.

Mothers Day..... May 1972..... Mum, Dad, Lois (my younger sister) and myself left New Zealand for new beginnings in Australia.

Friends for life, Flo and Jo

  •           My eldest sister, Jenny, was living in Sydney with her husband and young family. We also settled in Sydney. Living firstly in Ashfield and then moving to the North Shore areas of Brookvale and Palm Beach. Dad became a security guard  with Allan, Jenny's husband. They secured work guarding the new building site for what is now known as Warringah Mall. With work completed on the site, Jenny and Allan moved to Melbourne. Never one for staying in one place for to long, dad and mum decided to go to Melbourne too. I stayed behind in Sydney. This, for me, marked the beginning of my 'stable' years. I formed a lasting a friendship with a girl named Flo. We worked together in a Supermarket at Harbord and shared a flat together in Manly, on Sydney's North Shore. Flo decided to return to Ireland, meet and married an Australian, named Tom Martin, and they came back to Australia and settled in Queensland. I too had meet and married the man who has been my friend and husband for 30 years, Tony..... I had found the love I deserved. Tony is the son of Arthur and Rose Warby. Sadly Flo died after a two year battle with cancer but Tony, Tom and myself have remained the best of friends.

BACK WHEN....we were young

On 23rd December 1977 Anthony Arthur Warby and I married in Melbourne.

  •           Tony was transfered for work to Melbourne for a period of two years with a Company called Binks Bullows and then transfered back to Sydney. When mum became ill Tony put in for a transfer back to Melbourne which was granted. Mum's health failed and she died before we had been able to move but we continued with our plans to live in Melbourne. We bought a house in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne and remained living there for 20 years. For the first time in my life I was finally able to set down roots. I had the greatest satisfaction of planting 'trees' that I was around long enough to see grow.  After mums death my father moved to his 'bush-block' near Ballarat and he remained there until his death 10 years ago. Tony had contiued as State Manager for Binks until he took a position in a company called Moss Products. He was invited to become a Director and was involved in all areas of the company. In 2003 Tony was retrenched from his position at Moss Products due to the closure of the Engineering Department. This was a devastating blow for Tony that came without any prior notification. He and others were told to leave that same day. After 16 years service the owners of the company hid in their offices, apparently to embarressed to come out and say 'thank you' to any of the men, as they left the premises. Two dear friends faded from our lives around the same time and life looked very bleak to us. We found our very secure life had been turned upside down. The time seemed right for us to move on and to build a new life for ourselves. In May 2004 we sold our home in Tecoma and moved to a new housing esate at Pakenham which is on the Eastern outskirts of Melbourne.  


and .... 18 YEARS LATER


Tony and Joanne In England 1995

28th March 1978 David Anthony Warby brightens my life......and baby makes three.

  • Our healthy eight and a half pound fair haired son was born in the new Moorabin Hospital. Baby David is now 28 years old (2005) and a father of four boys, Thomas, Alex, Dylan and Joshua. Having had a childhood of being moved from school to school I am proud of the fact that our son, David, has only been to three schools in his life. Dee Why Public School (Sydney), Tecoma Primary School in the Dandenong Ranges (Melbourne) and finally Upwey High School which is also in the Dandnong Ranges. David went on to become a Cabinet Maker serving his apprenticeship with the well known furniture manufacturer, Tessa and the Box Hill Tafe. Tony's daughter, Donna, from his first marriage, has two children, Charlotte and William. David and his wife, Rebecca (Bec), live in Melbourne. Donna and her husband ,Mike, live in England.


Proud mum with son, David Anthony Warby


David and Rebecca on their Wedding Day and (right) junior Wedding party (Grandchildren) Thomas, Dylan (sitting) and Alex


  • There have been three tragic events in my life that warrant mention in this section .....'About Me'. This paragraph is about three people who, in the end, never found peace in their lives. Three people who, in their own way, chose to die. We watched mum's health deteriorate over a period of five years. Although she had been diagnosed as having Emphysema she chose to continue to smoke until the day she died. A slow and painful death that I can only describe as a wasting away of soul and body. At the age of fifty-six my mother's life was over. A suicide leaves invisible scares deep within the minds of those that are left behind. Families are torn apart and for those left behind life is never the same again. My eldest sister, Jenny, and my father both took their own lives in the space of two years. They chose to opt out of their troubled lives and in doing so left a legacy of hurt and sorrow.

In happier times....Dad, Mum and Jenny


          Genealogy is my current hobby. It was born from a need to touch base with my 'roots' and a mental desire to expand my shrinking family. Knowing how the lives of our Ancestors were shaped and uncovering secrets, that should never have been kept, has made me a more humble person. Genealogy is the key that unlocks the closet doors. It allows us to put skin on the bones of the skeletons within. 

          My life long hobby and passion is horse riding. I no longer get to ride as often as I would like but I will always feel a real love for this past time. The photograph below was taken on a two day ride up into the High Country of Victoria, Australia. This ride was organized by Bruce McCormack who was an extra in the Man From Snowy River and is a Cattleman of the High Country. I would like to say that the Cattlemen I meet on this ride have a real love for the High Country and a genuine respect for the terrain. I feel the 4X4 Wheel drives will make more of a mess in the bush in the next 10 years than the Cattlemen and Cattle made in 100 years of roaming the range. I believe that the horse embodies my soul.  It has a 'spirit' that can be tamed but not broken, a 'will' that can be unpredictable and a heart big enough to withstand the weight it must carry.


Craig's Hut and beyond...High Country Horse Ride  (I am mounted far right)

The future for me

I cannot see therefore

What will be - Will be



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