WILFRED BERTIE (Bert) BROWN's story
This account has been adapted from "Browns of Kyeburn Peninsula" by Wally Brown - to whom many thanks
Bert and Rose managed a 132 hectare (325 acre) sheep farm near Kaponga for Maurice Fitzgerald but the advent of WW2 meant that Bert joined up in the army (the air force had been his first choice, but lack of sufficient education prevented this) and fought in Italy where he served for two and a half years with the 25th Battalion. A 75mm shell exploded nearby and ahattered his left eardrum
After returning home he bought the farm he had previously managed through a rehabilitation scheme for £24/10/0 an acre (49 dollars) and the farm became a showpiece for all who visisted it. Bert and Rose replaced every building, starting with their house, raising their family of two and staying on the farm until 1979 when they retired to New Plymouth.
Bert was fascinated by aeroplanes, and could tell you what each one was just by the sound of its engine - in 1928 he cycled 20 kms from Manaia to Hawera to see Kingsford Smith and his Southern Cross aeroplane. He also had an affinity for animals, and cats in particular. The back door of the farm had a closing device which held it open by about 4 inches, to allow his cats to go in and out, even on frosty nights. One night he thought one of his cats had settled beside him on his pillow, but was out of bed like a shot when he realised it was an opossum!
He was a keen salt and freshwater fisherman, and in his earlier days very athletic; he won medals for sprinting 100 and 200 yards, and also enjoyed cricket, hockey, pig hunting and mountaineering. Tragically their son Ian was killed in a motor cycle accident at the age of 18, but his sister went on to become a schoolteacher.