Cel­e­brat­ing a great ru­ral life

The Southland Times - - NEWS -

Ti­tle: Au­thor: Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Dorothy McGre­gor Re­viewer: Pat Veltkamp Smith

When we think of pi­o­neer women, we see pas­sive pet­ti­coated moth­ers, cross­ing swollen rivers with a swag of chil­dren and dour, bearded men.

Or, now we might think of Dorothy McGre­gor, born at the be­gin­ning of the baby boom, turn­ing into her 70s, still astride a horse, run­ning her Mataura Is­land farm sin­gle­hand­edly, wel­com­ing teenage grand­chil­dren for tea, go­ing out first to feed her dogs, later turn­ing on the com­puter to write her mem­oirs.

Wid­owed some 35 years ago, she brought up her two young sons on her own, leav­ing Wai­mate and her Con­nemara rid­ing school to re­turn to South­land, to up-skill her nurs­ing from ma­ter­nity to gen­eral, mid­wifery to oc­cu­pa­tional health.

And af­ter a day birthing our babes, she’d do a night shift at The South­land Times check­ing com­puter op­er­a­tors for RSI.

Now that is Dorothy, that use of the col­lo­quial, that soft South­land roll of the let­ter r – a small pretty woman with blue eyes and a mass of nat­u­rally curly fair hair.

I can­not tell Dorothy’s tale; noone but she can.

Those who came to the launch of the book, hosted by her friend, fel­low horse­woman Amanda Nally, rep­re­sented many of the dif­fer­ent worlds in which the au­thor has lived.

Friends she taught to ride and their chil­dren and some of theirs too. Nurses and moth­ers they had helped, and col­leagues from The South­land Times some of whom knew her dur­ing the 30 years she worked with them.

And there were cav­al­caders of whom she wrote in her ear­lier work Tales from the Trails.

This is such a post­war ru­ral South­land story, hard­ship and fun, whole Sun­days spent at church, pic­nic lunches and vis­it­ing River­ton sea and sand in the car as the Cath­cart fam­ily heads home to the farm at Otapiri.

The au­thor be­came ill in 2013 and the idea of writ­ing her book came dur­ing her con­va­les­cence back to good health.

She sees her­self a can­cer sur­vivor and a woman of faith, thank God for that.

Thanks oth­ers too – $10 from each $35 the book brings will go to the Otago South­land Can­cer So­ci­ety.

Dorothy McGre­gor

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