About the Author
I was born in Napier in 1956 and my early life was spent up on my parents’ farm on Omarunui Road, Puketapu, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
My father was George Hector Fearn and my mother, Phyllis Annebelle Fearn (nee Paul/Utiera).
Those days leave special memories for me given it was an uncomplicated era and the farm life meant we were constantly busy usually with fun times from all the natural resources available - hills to slide down, creeks to eel in and make rafts to sail upon, trees to climb and build huts in.
Evelyn holding grand-daughter Eve and standing is her son Shane and sister Julie. Portrait is Airini painted by Gottfried Lindauer
Our early life was simple and we wanted for nothing. My father started out as a sheep farmer but diversified into growing quality produce for a living. He had amazing ‘green fingers’ and he grew peas, corn, asparagus, tomatoes and watermelon all to make a living from. For the family he also grew oranges, green beans, plums, raspberries and walnuts. We would also pick horse mushrooms off the land, have honey from the farm hives plus wild duck and fresh eggs. Even milk and cream was always in plentiful supply as we could fill up a container from our dairy farmer neighbour/friend whenever it was needed. The farm was like a giant playground and nearby was our beloved Tutaekuri River which is where we would spend as much of our spare summer hours as possible, mainly swimming under the Puketapu Bridge at a spot that has always been known as “The Whirly”.
I went to school in Taradale – Bledisloe Primary, Taradale Intermediate then Taradale High School.
Around the age of sixteen I became more aware of my mother’s heritage and learnt she had been raised by her grand-mother, Maud Perry who was Airini and George's daughter.
I had never intended to write and publish Airini’s biography as this was the intention of my mother’s sister, Jacqui Wilson. Her early demise meant this was not completed so I endeavored to take on the project myself. It has been a labour of love and it has been a privilege to honour all the women in this line that have now all passed.
I did not expect interest in Airini's life to continue so I have constantly updated the book as new material has come in and I have had more books reprinted. Last year I received the information that a book was written in Spain in 1893 which includes an account from an officer of the Spanish Navy who travelled to Hawke's Bay and stayed with Airini and GP. I found it a fascinating account and it even cleared up a few things that I had wondered about. Last year our four Poutokomanawa were returned to their turangawaewae, Waiohiki into the newly built whare, Hau Te Ana Nui so I have now included those photos and a tribute from the Waiohiki Marae Committee and myself.
I have tried to keep the cost of the books down but unfortunately printing costs have increased in the last few years so books are now $45 plus postage.
This book was completed through my parents’ constant example that:
“You can do anything you put your mind to.”
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