My name is Roger Batt and I am currently President of the Waimea South Historical Society.
Marion and Buster were founding members of the society in 1981. We know that he and his family will be feeling a great sense of loss at the passing of Marion. It is a feeling shared by us all here today.
Marion had a great passion – her love of history. She wanted people to know about the people who had gone before, about their pioneer forebears and so, building on the work of Betty Bint and others, she set out to record as much as she could about the history of Waimea South.
This resulted in two main works: Just Another Row of Spuds and More Wakefield Spuds – these have provided the foundations, the essential facts of our local history covering a period of over a century and a half from the 1840’s to the end of the 20th century. There had been no works before them of quite the same depth and scope as these that Marion produced.
But they were not all that she wrote. There was the 150 Years of Wakefield Schooldays, A History of the Wakefield Volunteer Fire Brigade 1953-93, a 150th History of St John’s Anglican Church, a book on Ernest Rutherford, a Centenary History of the Spring Grove Drill Hall, a book on the Wakefield Band, the Totaradale Golf Club and Plunket in Wakefield. In all, 10 books over a period of 13 years.
You can see how it was that if anyone wanted to know about Wakefield’s past their first port of call was Marion. She became the acknowledged authority on local history to a degree that no-one else had been.
Marion reminds me of the Parable of the Talents – of the good and faithful servant who has been careful of the small things, the details that she had been given: names, dates of birth and death, numbers of children, birthplaces, notable achievements which, when put together for many people, created the foundation – an essential reference for their families and for social historians later to make observations and draw conclusions about the beginnings and development of our society, here in New Zealand, in Waimea South.
Buster and Marion’s family – indeed all of us here today can feel justly proud of her achievements and grateful that she has established a record of our forbears, for us and future generations.
We will miss Marion, but her books remain – a constant reminder of her achievements and her valuable work for all of us in this district.