“Once a Portite. Always a Portite”
Betty’s father was a seafarer, and came to New Zealand from Australia to work at the Port. As it was for many ‘Portites’, money was a constant concern for her family growing up, especially for the dock-siders like her father who worked on a daily piecemeal basis, without any guarantee of work for any given day. Some things had to be done without:
“Ours was the only house in the street without electricity. Dad went to bed with a candle (to read by). We kids went to bed in the dark.” Like many homes at the time, they had no running water, and had to bring it in from an outside tap for cooking and washing.
Yet despite obvious signs that her community wasn’t as wealthy as some of the others “on the other side of the hill” and the fact that they would sometimes feel looked-down on by others in Napier, Betty recalls a wonderful sense of community and pride, with very little feeling that they were hard-done by. “We had a wonderful camaraderie.”
Betty was active in sports, being captain of the Port School basketball team. She enjoyed the Knox Church outings/picnics, where the local Fisheries Dept would lay-on trucks, and the Portites would head on mass into the country for the day.
After leaving school, Betty worked at National Tobacco for five and a half years.