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A TRUE PIONEER.

THE LATE mRS BURNETT. (By Jolianncs C. Andersen}. On Wednesday morning there went to her long home. in* the person of Mrs Burnett, of Cave, one of the few remaining women pioneers of South Canterbury. Much has been written of the pioneering by t'he men; too little has been said of the part borne by the women. It is now almost five years since I first met the late Mrs Burnett at her home at Care, and having experienced her hospitality and learnt a little of her kindly and motherly nature, I feeL 1 should much like to add one small tribute to the many she has earned and well deserves. It was my search for historical material that brought, mo into touch with the Burnetts of Mount Cook, and the nights. I have spent under the roof at- Gave were hljed with an old day glamour in which I delight to "dwell. With Mrs Burnett as with other pioneers, especially among the women, it was better to ask no direct questions regarding th-a old days; unpleasant memories might be awakened, and the lips sealed. But casual conversation ainiost always drifted to comparison of then and now, and then reminiscences would surge up, and the light of other days would burn in the eyes of t'he old people, animate their gestures, and surround them with an atmosphere new, strange and attractive to one of the younger generation like myself. ~ There was never a word of complaint though; the most I have heard her say was, "Ah. they were hard times"; and that'was only on the occasion of . some specially strenuous period coming to her mind. "Hall heard that Mr Burnett was thinking of taking up the Mount Cook run, 1 -' said she one evening, "and .came to see him; but ho was out, so Hall told me to try and persuade my husband not to touch it; for, said fie, 'a bird of the air could not live on it.'" He selected it. however, with G. Mcßae, in May, 18G4; and' Mrs Burnett described, in 'her deliberate Scottish way, the three days' journey, by bullock waggon into the region of gorges and* wild Irishman. "I thought," said she, " wo would never .get there; and when we got there, I thought we would never get back"; and at no time before or sinco have I known such an expression of almost hopeless despair put into the word "never'!; a haunting, distant look appeared in her eyes, and one could read the story of sufferings endured and hardships overcome, of tho days and spent in the wild,, and slowly broken solitudes. In this out of the world region of gorges and waterfalls, this "wilderness''—Haast used to know the Burnetts as "the good people of the wilderness 1 ' —she reared her sturdy family of eight; and it was a great grief to her that she, who had liot lost one in the gorges, should lose one as soon as she came in to Timaru for the.education of her growing children. When the sons were able to work the run, the .ones who Iliad hewn the home from .the inhospitable wilds retired to Cave, naming their home there after the one they had left, Aorangi; and tiie fact that the; home at Cavo is tho gathering.place of tho clan Burnett, wherever their life may lead them at other times among th,e mountain fastnesses, . shows how firmly the mother had knit her children to her heart, and it was not only her own children who felt her influence, as I in writing this short tribute acknowledge with affection and respect* It may have been the old Celtic spirit of hospitality; it may have been the sheer kindliness and humanity that in many of us lies too deeply hidden; but whatever it. was, Mrs Burnett's open-hearted smiling weir come to mo on the too few 'occasions I was able to see her. drew ine to her most powerfully, and made me understand, so-far as a townsman may, the love of the Burnetts for their.; home, be it in tfhe mountain or in the town. In tho home at Cave I first realised to the full the beauty of a Terse they had chosen as a motto: The au!d noose, the auld hobse, What though the rooms were It sheltered, mony an honest heart, And bainiies filled wi' glee. More deeply do I now feel the truth of this; how that she is gone who, as sho did indeed fill her bairnies' hearts with gke. would now be tho first to c!eans*B the hearts of lier grown children of their sorrow, could she but be there to do so.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/THD19140711.2.46

Bibliographic details

A TRUE PIONEER., Timaru Herald, Volume CI, Issue 15395, 11 July 1914

Word Count
785

A TRUE PIONEER. Timaru Herald, Volume CI, Issue 15395, 11 July 1914

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