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With Mothers’ Day just recently passed, we as sisters were reminded yet again of the gifts our own mother has given us - not just life itself, but the values instilled deep within us - those of teamwork, resourcefulness and efficiency - what she would just call ‘hard work and common sense’! As with many immigrants of the 1950s, Betsy’s journey has had many lean years along the way. She learnt how to make a pot of spuds feed a tribe and the hangers-on; how to make a pair of overalls last several decades; how to have the cleanest house in the neighbourhood while having the most kids; and how to keep true to her faith despite the challenges thrown at her. From farming in Matamata, Otorohanga and Ohaupo, to living ‘in town’ in Te Awamutu, Betsy has come to know many locals, and remembers so many of them from all the years in these neighbourhoods.

Many comment on how well she looks, how fit and healthy she is. Her presence of mind is certainly as good as ever! We often joke that she is still busy, running around ‘looking after the old people’. She often pops in to Zenders to catch up on the ironing (no-one does it as well as she does!), to clean a few windows, plant the tulips, sew a few decorations, or sample the coffee and check the colour of the icing on the tompoes!

Betsy is in her 90th year, which we plan to celebrate in October with all the family of 10 children and their partners, 40 grandchildren and some 30+ great-grandchildren (and counting) around. She is worried we won’t fit them all in one space, but this is exactly what Zenders was built for, so families like ours, and yours, could gather, connect and nourish not just our bodies, but the intangible connections between us as well.

Every family has a story, and ours starts with Betsy and John coming to New Zealand on the Waterman in 1952. Each of us has our version of the family history. Knowing, remembering and sharing that connection is so important. Days like Mothers Day give us that opportunity. Betsy would be the last to call herself the matriarch of the family, but that she certainly is, and no doubt you have yours to be grateful for and celebrate.

Every day with your family, no matter how large or small, is valuable, and we welcome the opportunity to host your family in our space, to celebrate life itself, and the many milestones along the way.

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I can’t tell how proud I am having a sister like Betsy. She is a great example for me. I am from 1946, so I remember her only a few years while I was only 6 when they left in 1952. At home we were with ten, but I had the feeling to be the only child. Every Sunday my mother was writing 7 letters to seven children who were all over the world.

I do hope to be able to celebrate her 90 th birthday in October


May 26, 2022
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Thanks Giny. Always a great time when we can get the family together to celebrate.

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