A link with Matakana’s pioneering past was broken on November 11 when Errol Jones (nee Matthew), latterly of Summerset Village, died on her 102nd birthday.
Mrs Jones was a descendent of the Matthew brothers, Charles and James, who bought the Waiwhata ‘mile-square’ block in the first Omaha sale of Crown land in 1855. She was also related, either through birth or marriage, to the Meiklejohn, Darroch, Dunning, Jones, Anderson, Matheson and Day families.
Mrs Jones grew up on the family farm, Bonnie Brae, on the corner of Leigh and Takatu Roads, at a time when kauri was still being logged on the Tawharanui Peninsula by people such as David Goldie, father of the painter Charles Goldie. Her childhood memories were of the bullock teams that hauled the huge logs to the mills; local waterways brimming with mullet, kahawai, stingray, bream and snapper; Queen Street in Warkworth turning to dust in summer and mud in winter; and steamers still making their way past Ti Point to the store at Big Omaha.
In her memoirs Shadows on My Wall, published in 2010, she lamented the change in pronunciation of both Matakana and Omaha. The former originally pronounced ‘Mutta-kunna’ and the latter ‘O-mah’.
In her own words, “Now that new development has opened up, a North American corruption of the Maori pronunciation has been applied, which grates annoyingly on earlier inhabitants”.
She attended Upper Matakana Primary and Warkworth District High School, worked as a land girl on the family farm and trained as a cadet nurse at Auckland Hospital.
In 1940 she married Ross Jones and the couple farmed in Jones Road until retiring to Warkworth in 1973.
She played hockey for Matakana and Rodney, tennis for Matakana and was a member of the Warkworth Womens Bowling Club.
Her three sons were also keen sportsmen and husband Ross made the NZ League team that toured England in 1939.
Tragedy struck the family in 1975 when her oldest son Murray drowned in the Waitemata Harbour trying to save his two-year-old son Jamie who had fallen overboard.
Mrs Jones was the author of two books on her life in Matakana, as well as three books of poetry. She was a life member of both the Scottish and New Zealand Clan Donnachaidh societies, and in later life became a great advocate for euthanasia. More than one doctor was told that even vets treated their animal patients better than doctors treated their human patients!
Although she asked for neither a service nor a coffin, her family made sure she had both.
“Cemeteries take up acres of ground that would be better used by those still alive,” her last letter said. “My only advice is do not try to live beyond 90 and vote for euthanasia for those of sound mind who are not troubled by family to depart this life before they are ready.”
She is survived by sons, Rod and Ivor, and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren.