A long road to re­tire­ment

Re­porter MARY-JO TOHILL talks to Clutha iden­ti­ties, the Thorn­th­waites.

Clutha Leader - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Con­tin­ued on page 3.


Re­tired farm­ers Colin and Joan Thorn­th­waite of Clarksville, near Mil­ton, in South Otago.

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