A long road to retirement
Reporter MARY-JO TOHILL talks to Clutha identities, the Thornthwaites.
One of the Clutha District’s oldest and most established farming couples, Colin and Joan Thornthwaite, are hanging up their gumboots - sort of.
Recently, octogenarians Colin, 86, and Joan, 84, thought it was about time they retired.
Married for 62 years, they’ve leased their home block to neighbour Barrie Allison in the farming district of Clarksville, between Milton and Balclutha.
But they have no plans to move from the road Colin has lived on all his life.
They’ve been planning for the day they’d eventually retire for 27 years, when they moved from the original homestead site and built the snug, single-storey house, which they’ve retained.
‘‘We’ve never thought of mov- ing,’’ Colin said. nitely home.’’
‘‘I’d moved a lot in my younger years, so I’m staying put,’’ Joan said.
The first Thornthwaite to set foot in Clarksville was Colin’s father John Thomas Thornthwaite, more than a century ago.
Born in October 1891, he was an immigrant from Carlisle, in the United Kingdom, and arrived in New Zealand in 1912.
‘‘He arrived on his 21st [birth- ‘‘This is defi- day] with a half-crown in his pocket,’’ Colin said.
Those early years were spent farm labouring around the country, following the harvests.
When World War I broke out in 1914, Thornthwaite senior found himself travelling back overseas as an Anzac, in the 33rd Reinforcements, Auckland Infantry Regiment A9 Company.
The 100th anniversaries of famous Anzac battles, such as Gallipoli in 1915, and Passchendaele this year, has reminded Colin of his father, who lived until he was 84.
‘‘Dad didn’t talk about it [the war] but I did know he got a bullet wound in the leg.’’
John eventually ended up in Otago and, with help from the pioneering Milton farming family, the Clarks, who he’d worked for, he was able to purchase 170 acres of a farm called Roundhill, in about 1923. Colin was born in 1931, and started farming with his dad in 1947.
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Retired farmers Colin and Joan Thornthwaite of Clarksville, near Milton, in South Otago.