Marching On The Roads Of Life

Private E. Slow, Wellington Infantry, wounded. Ernie Slow - Poet of the Mackenzie (1891-1960)

The most noted of South Canterbury ballad writers, was based in Fairlie but was often camped away, working up on the Mackenzie Country stations where he spent a life time as a shepherd, rabbiter, fencer and for years a 'gun' shearer. He only shore with blades and he was in demand because he was very good.  All these occupations he was particularly good at and it was not unusual for Ernie to sleep out under some snowgrass when on fencing jobs up in the Mackenzie.  He got the contract for erecting the first telephone line from the main highway down to Black Forest Station which was a distance of approximately 30 miles. Also erected the snow-line fence on Glentanner Station at a time when he was quite old. Ernie, being a well built man, short in stature, only worked when he needed money and he was was noted for being a hard worker, for living a life of self reliance, a bit eccentricity, and his nature reflected in his gentleness with dogs and horses. He never married.

If you know of any of Ernie's poems please email me. Thanks. Noel Guthrie has been able to track down seventeen of his works.

  1 .Bray Kills the Pig (76 lines)
  2. Flinn and Williams, known as The Fatman and the Beerman (40 lines)
  3. The Devil's Daughter aka The Godley Ghost. (134 lines)  - in Ernie's own hand writing - given to the Fairlie Museum
  4. Marching on the Roads of Life (115 lines)
  5. Ode to the Mt Cook Hero - Tom Burnett MP, at the Hocken Library in the Preston family papers, farmers at Haldon Station.  (20 lines)
  6. Andrew Burnett (76 lines)
  7. The Temuka Stakes (68 lines)
  8. Wanted - A Youth (44 lines)
  9
. In Quest of a Weed (8 lines)
10. Tom Hane (56 lines) 14 verses
11. Mussolini of the Snows
12. Kimbell Ladies Hockey Club - in Ernie's own hand writing - given to the Fairlie Museum by Ezric, son of Ballance, along with large photos of old football teams and Fire Brigade
13. The N.Z. Stakes (90 lines)

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'The Godley Ghost' also known as the 'The Devil's Daughter' is his best known work consisting of 134 lines. William Vance author of 'High Endeavour' wrote: "A man must know a place before he can faithfully write about it. Ernie knew his Mackenzie Country."  The scene of the ballad takes place in the Sardine Hut, six feet by six feet, with a five-foot lean-to roof, situated near the Fork River, it was a boundary's keeper's hut and named because of its inability to accommodate all the musterers. This corrugated-iron hut had a corrugated iron door that moved with the wind. When a strong nor'wester blew up, the wire handle of the door rubbed against the iron, making a screeching noise. Newcomers who did not know about this, and they were never told, were mystified by the noise, so that the hut gained its reputation of being haunted.

THE GODLEY GHOST

Jack Skinner alone can surely boast
Of having seen the Godley Ghost;
'Twas way up in the Sardine Hut,
Where spooks and phantoms nightly strut,
For there, among the rocks and water,
He saw the famous Devil's daughter.

Now spooks, like fleas, they fear the light,
So to the hut they came at night.
Jack Skinner had just arrived, you see,
Back from Fairlie, on the spree.
And like all men, his happiness grew,
With some of Scotland's famous dew.

He danced with glee upon the floor,
When came a tap upon the door:
A visitor at this time of day?
A shepherd must have lost his way,
And opened wide Jack pulled the door,
Then staggered back with an awful roar.

He seized his gun for open slaughter,
There before him stood the Devil's daughter;
A female form before him stood,
Jack aimed and fired as quick as he could.
With smoking gun and failing light,
I'm sure he looked an awful sight.

'I've done for her,' he madly yelled.
His chest with pride and spirit swelled;
'All spooks I'll fight; all forms and sizes.
With whiskey good, my courage rises.'
But the night wore on with wind and rain,
When a tap came on the window pane.

Standing there, mid'st falling water,
Jack saw once more the Devil's daughter;
Two loud reports, a mighty crash,
That sent the window pane and sash.
And Skinner sank with eyeballs red,
Upon his old and trusty bed.

He prayed the Lord would send the light,
To end this most distressful night;
He stirred the fire, more light to keep,
And went to bed but not to sleep.
While resting on his cosy bed,
The wall was rapped above his head.

'I've been a John Hop in the Force,
I've steered erratic in life's course!
I've taken mad men to the cells,
I've flirted with pretty belles;
But never such a night I've spent,
With nerves and spirits badly rent.

Upon the hillside, cold and bare,
He saddled up the old grey mare;
"It's for my life I'll ride this race,'
He called for Phar Lap's mighty pace.
Pity poor Skinner in his plight,
As he rode out into the starless night.

He dashed o'ver rocks, through scrub and water,
But following fast came the Devil's daughter;
His spurs sank in like spearing fish,
His whip came down with an awful swish;
And from the mane right to the tail,
He rode for life - he couldn't fail.

With speed to burn, I'd not reward her,
But old Jack Skinner was working her harder;
He spied the lake of bluish water,
When upon his back sprang the Devil's daughter.
He called for help - he called afar,
He called for Hamilton's racing car.

The sheep, they scrambled up the rocks,
And wild birds flew away in flocks;
And birds that never flew before,
Flapped their wings, as off they tore.
He jumped the well -known station gate,
'Twas six foot high - he couldn't wait.

Dog kennels upset, and sheep dogs, too,
Flew at the sound of the hullabaloo;
And crashing through the door, half shut,
He galloped into the shepherd's hut.
Dave Sutherland shouted 'Earthquake! Fire!'
And out he dashed in his night attire.

The old mare's head through the window came.
For Skinner kept riding, might and main;
A crash of timber, an awful shout,
The old mare is through; the wall is out.
Dave Sutherland yelled out, 'Damn his eye,'
As the hut, it reeled, and then capsized.

Into the swamp and out again,
Jack wheeled his mare for the Glenmore plain;
Bruce Murray jumped out of his cosy bed,
'Sounds like an earthquake here,' he said.
The mules and horses madly fled,
The bull stood fair upon his head.

The Skinner made for the river water,
Racing for life from Devil's Daughter.
Once more he galloped for the station light,
And now he looked an awful sight.
His eyes they glared like balls of fire,
His hair stood up like fencing wire.

His moustache would clean a twelve-inch gun,
For Skinner then commenced to run;
He flattened the henhouse midst jolts and jars,
The roosters fled right to the stars.
With a mighty effort and plain sweat,
He upset  the squatter's dining set.

Around the house, on a beaten track,
He went so fast he saw his back;
The shepherds rushed, but held aloof,
As Skinner climbed up on homestead roof,
As game as Kelly, and riding yet;
They hauled him down with a fishing net.

The falling at the squatter's side,
The Devil's daughter he defied;
'Oh thank the Lord,' he madly raved.
'Oh, thank the Lord, for I am saved.'
For Skinner didn't care a jot,
For he gulped down whiskey, piping hot.

Shepherds still swear, up in the snow,
You can hear those phantom roosters crow;
And travellers, as they pass that way,
Hear them crowing night and day.
And o'er the mountains, rocks and pools,
Three weeks were spent to find the mules.

The bull was found, all stiff and sore,
Just nineteen miles this side of Gore:
Some horses alas were never found,
Some say they're in the phantom pound.
So the boss gave out the following rules,
To shepherds, rabbiters, dogs and fools.

Employees make note and fear,
For whiskey is forbidden here;
For months of snow creates less slaughter,
Than a visit from the Devil's daughter.
But they say that whiskey often leaks,
Upon the well-known Godley Peaks.

But they mix it well with sparkling water,
To keep away the Devil's daughter.

A muster's hut on "Ribbonwood" over the back of the Two Thumb Range. Down in the gorge was the old stone Devil's Den , an old stone boundary keeper's hut, left over from the old station days.Glossary

Bach - A small cheaply built cottage.

Hamilton's racing car - It was a Sunbeam

Godley Peaks, a station, originally known as The Mistake, 'there was little one could do about the height of the hills, the depth of the snow and the rabbits' lies between the Cass and the Godley Rivers, and extends from the northwest shore of Lake Tekapo to the Main Divide. The Rutherford steam forms the boundary with Mt. Cook NP. 

Phar Lap - New Zealand's best known galloper was born near Seadown, 17-hand height. He won the Melbourne Cup in 1930. So the ballad probably was written after the 1940s.

Ned Kelly an Australian bush ranger.

Jack Skinner originally from Scotland, settled in Timaru. 
Full name: John William Skinner
Born : John Skinner. Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. November 21st 1868
Died : January 27th 1933 Timaru, New Zealand, age 64
Jack come out from Scotland to New Zealand in 1888 on the ship, "Kaikoura", landed in Dunedin. Initially he was a farm labourer and then owned hotels in Timaru also owned horses. He was reasonably wealthy at one stage and then he went broke then got a job in the Mackenzie country as a rabbiter. His wife and family stayed behind living in Timaru. Jack did not like living by himself. It was a very lonely life and he started to hit the alcohol and it was through this the poem was written. Jack was a good family man by all accounts. His his youngest daughter is still alive in Christchurch, about 87 years of age.
Posted 11 Sept. 2001. Information courtesy of Peter Skinner -great nephew.

John Hop - n. policeman (rhyming slang for cop)

Snowgrass - The common name for the taller varieties of large tussock.

Snowline -  Line on a mountain above which the snow never melts.

Station - a farm with more than 10,000 acres

Sutherland's Hut built in the 1920s in the Lower Godley Valley, commanded a wonderful view, for years the home of the boundary keeper, David Sutherland. Davie worked for the Murray family on Braemar and moved to Godley Peaks with Bruce Murray to become a boundary keeper. The Godley merinos use to winter in the valley and shepherds kept the flock from moving too high. Davie loved the Godley and lived there as long as he could. He died at 93 in the North Island where he was staying with relatives. 

The versions of the Godley Ghost aka The Devil's Daughter published in different books differ slightly, e.g. lines missing, words changed:

1.There is a hand written copy of The Devil's Daughter in the Fairlie Museum.
2. The Listener of Oct 12 1956
3. The Timaru Herald 9 July 1960
4. Christchurch Press, but have no date.
5. Sherwood Downs and Beyond by Connie Rayne [the above version with a line added from Vance's version in High Endeavour]
6. High Endeavor by William Vance (Different line - He called for Hamilton's racing car has been changed)
7. Open County by Jim Henderson
8. Discovering the Legends of the Mackenzie, Mt Cook Country
9. Fairlie Schools 125th Anniversary booklet 1st stanza only
10. Timaru Herald 7 May 2013

The Mackenzie District Archives Group, which was established in 1999, possesses more than 86 collections, including more than 1400 photographs, as well as a large collection of maps and local history books, all of which are catalogued and stored in a room at the Fairlie Museum. Contact

The Godley Ghost
was used loosely to base a short animated film on by Bob Stenhouse, a well recognised animator. It is called The Frog, The Dog the Devil and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1987 in the animated section but lost to a Belgium film. It did win some international awards. Bob Stenhouse  had heard of the poem through a Radio New Zealand broadcaster Jim Henderson who included The Devil's Daughter in a book he wrote about material used in his programme "Open Country". 

"Ballads were made for the voice to pronounce and for the ears to hear, rather than for the lamp lit silence of the library." 


Wanted - - A Youth by Ernie Slow

Wanted a viceless, powerful youth
Where strength of character shows,
I am yours sincerely
Tom Burnett of the snows.

You must be hard and wiry
Eleven stone or more in weight,
To head off Merino wethers
And sheep in any state.

And when the clock says 5 a.m.
You'll rise up to your work,
Two or more before breakfast
No honest boy will shirk.

There's no wireless in the evening,
To keep you from your sleep,
For the mountains will be calling,
For seven days a week.

Like a walrus bull your head must be,
Your eyebrows wide and long,
Just like two giant tussocks
And a constitution strong.

My boy, you'll sure be healthy
Climbing round these hills,
For you'll never need a doctor
You'll have no doctors' bills.

And when the week's full days are done
And work is getting slack,
You'll have a chance to wash your clothes
And tidy up your shack.

And when the snow is falling
In the mountains is your place
Climbing over might snowdrifts
With a charming smiling face.

If you have but seen some keas
With a voice like roaring thunder
Drive them into the rocks
And tear the rocks asunder.

And if this job it suits you
With heart and mind and soul,
You'll get a chance with Wilkins
When he's driving for the Pole.

And so my boy take up your pack
The snow will soon be falling,
Farewell, goodbye, goodbye, farewell,
Mount Cook is loudly calling.

 

Tom Burnett by Ernie Slow
Ode to the Mount Cook Hero

(In appreciation of his work
with the Downlands Water Scheme)

Beneath Aorangi's mighty crown
Where tussocks are golden brown
There lies a hero of renown
Tom Burnett.

He liked the girls who could mend and cook
And at naughty ones he'd never look
He read them like an open book
Tom Burnett.

He liked the mountains clothed in trees
To shelter stock from snow and breeze
And dogs with neither lice nor fleas
Tom Burnett.

Of mountains he was very fond
Just like a wild duck on a pond
His word, alas, it was his bond
Tom Burnett.

So let him sleep near Aorangi's crown
And when the world goes upside down
He'll enter Heaven without a frown
Tom Burnett.

Andrew Burnett - - Pioneer by Ernie Slow

'Twas in the year of sixty-four,
   With neither road or track
To guide a person in those days
   The outback it was black.

As there appeared upon the scene
   A settler in search of land,
A Scotsman from the Highlands
   With his young wife by his hand.

For his name was Andrew Burnett,
   And he hugged those mountains bold,
Said, "I'll fight my way to wealth,"
   So this I will unfold.

He took a mountain station,
   Mount Cook was its name,
And there among the Southern Alps
   He fought for wealth and fame.

But things were hard those days my boys
   Amusements there were none,
Blizzards swept the mountain side,
   Our troubles had just begun.

For Keas there were in Hundreds
   Swept down upon our sheep
And to try and keep those devils off
   There was little time to sleep.

Roads and bridges we had none,
   We made a mountain track
In which we drove our bullock teams
   Down to the coast and back.

Our home it was a cosy one
   Where the Jolly River runs,
'Twas there that I made my first rise
   When the Frenchmen fought the Hun.

Wool rose to a shilling a pound
   [?line missing]
But I was was not expecting his
   Which came this winter
's night.

'Twas a snowstorm in the mountains
   With hardship still unfelt
When down upon the run it came
   And for months it wouldn
't melt.

Just ask yourself a question
   When the snow is four feet deep
How you expect to reach those camps
   And save those starving sheep.

For air was clear about us
   And those snowy peaks on high
Stood out like ghostly sentinels
   In a clear and frosty sky.

But still with all this hardship
    Which made their presence felt,
I
'd never seen a finer scene
   When the snow began to melt.

For the mountain streams are torrents
   When fed by melted snow,
As down the mountain sides they dash
   To join the streams below.

And when this mountain station
   Had shed its winter coat
We found the remnants of our flock
   As down the streams they float.

But now I
'm old, my youth has gone
   And by the fireside bright
I often think of the days I spent
   On those mountains cold and white.

For my partner she has left me
   For a far and better land,
And I
'm sure I'll never be satisfied
   Till I shake her by the hand.

And when they meet in heaven
   [?line missing]
And if there
's pioneering work to do
   I
'm sure they'll give a hand.

Another station like Mount Cook
   I
'm sure one never knows
A station on the mountains

   'Mid the Mountain of Snows.



Timaru Herald, 25 February 1889, Page 2
It seems the Mackenzie County Council have agreed to look after the necessary improvements to Mount Cook Road, as they are advertising for pick and shovel men for that work.

Wanted a Youth

Wanted - Youth of 17 to 18 years for Mt Cook Station.
Must hate town life,
Must weigh not less than eleven stone-
Must stand cold like an arctic hero,
Must have plenty of common sense - brains not necessary,
Must be medically fit.

Undersigned will be on deck 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday 13th June 1928

T.D. Burnett
Perth Street
Timaru

Painting by Duncan Darroch.

William Vance's 'High Endeavour' contains a chapter on writers and artists and wrote:
A man must know a place before he can faithfully write about it. Ernie knew his Mackenzie Country. For a lifetime he had gazed on it.

Flinn and Williams
known as
THE FATMAN and the BEERMAN


Take the main road to Mackenzie
For the sky here seldom leaks,
And if you're one whose fond of shearing
Just come along to Godley Peaks.

For the shearer is always wanted
Providing he's no dud
Where the shepherds gaze at strangers
And the sheep chew their cud.

So to the shed two shearers came
Machine men of great speed,
The Fatman and the Beerman
As determined as their breed.

And the Fatman he did say
To the one who smelt of beer
When we are settled in our stride
Wee'll teach them how to shear.

And as the shearers they do rise
With the rising of the sun
Just point me out the Bally Rep
And whose the blooming gun?

Down the board the boss he strode
His face all grim and dour
And to the Beerman he did say
Your pace is two an hour.

And he cursed that blooming shearer
And his oaths fell thick and fast
You call yourself a shearer
And you're shearing bloody last.

As the days that followed quietly
A sensation rent the shed
The Fatman caught the tail of the field
While the Beerman forged ahead.

They are now in the front by jingo
As into the pens they lead
The boss was surely delighted
As he heard the calls for sheep

And so the story's often told
While drinking at the bar,
How the Fatman and the Barman
Rang Godley and the Braemar.

Erine Slow.
The Temuka Stakes (Between Burnett and Talbot) by Ernie Slow.

It was the race for the Temuka stakes
The contestants they were two,
Both fit to run for a kingdom

And so the excitement it grew.
One was called the Nationalist
With a coat of deepest black,
As he moved along with a flying stride

Along the racing track
His opponent was a worthy horse
And Reform was his name,
A victor of undying fame.

That well known horseman Burnett
Came down from snow and storm,
To ride that chestnut gelding
For the honour of Reform.
The preliminaries were quickly over
They're now in the starter's hands
And the crowd is madly excited
As they rise to their feet in the stands.

Now Reform drew the inside
'Twas luck on Burnett's part
As the tapes they flew in mid-air
They moved to a perfect start.
And loud rose the cry from the people
That well-known cry "They're away"
As Reform dashed to the front
But there he couldn't stay.
For the Nationalist moved up quickly
Passed Burnett and his steed,
And amid tremendous excitement
He gained a two-length lead.
You may talk of your race on the Derby
But never was seen such a sight
As the Nationalist colours flew into the lead
The famous Black and White.
And flashing past the half-mile peg
Just half a length divide
With nostrils wide and heaving flanks
They galloped side by side.

The applause was simply deafening
Like the sound of a coming storm,
The Nationalist coins - the Nationalist wins
Drowned by the cries of Reform.
The people were madly excited

As cheer after cheer rent the air,
Bill Wreford fell down in a faint boys
And was carried away in a chair.
Once more Reformist in the lead
But Talbot knew full well
How to ride with judgment
For the pace in the end must tell.
And the pace it grew terrific

As they flashed into the straight,
But Talbot alas he knew full well
Was riding to his fate.
For Burnett got sown on the favourite
As ahead he slowly forges
As the people yell in excitement
The Man from the misty Gorges.

And riding like human demonds
Sure never was such a sight
As the Nationalist challenged his rival
Like a flash on Burnett's right.
But finishing with wonderful gameness
Came the reformer's flying son,
A jab of the spurs, a swash of the whip
And the Temuka stakes was won.

Ernie died a tragic death by suffocation on the night of the 3rd May 1960 at age seventy when his bach, at the Reserve in Fairlie, caught fire.  Two weeks before he died Ernie composed his last ballad "Marching on the Roads of Life", a depressing poem. Ernest was interned at the Fairlie Cemetery 5 May, 1960. Plot 27 Block: S2. NOK was his sister Mrs S. J. Fellours.

Dear friends, will you stop and listen,
I've a story now to tell, 
For this story has a moral
For I am bound to tell it well
Through life's gate came a wanderer,
With a clear and open mind
Seeking knowledge where he found it;
but alas, fate was unkind
For I've seen so many footmarks,
some to the left and some to the right;
few were moving straight before them,
to the goal of eternal light.

So with weary heart I wandered,
battling with both grief and strife;
With the countless crowd before me,
marching on the roads of life.
for the cry was Onward! onward!
some were calling - "take a part.
Can you help a
fallen comrade;
Can heal a broken heart?
So I halted there to listen
Of a tale I heard before.
So I asked a simple question,
Tell me what you are asking for?
Show us the way to the land of glory.
But I calmly shook my head;
I am like you simple wanderers
Were the fatal words I said.
So they rose and struggled forward,
Took their chance, mid grief and strife.
We are but simple children
Marching on the road of life.

On the roadway comes a swagger,
Marching on life's beaten track.
Seeking work it is his slogan,
If you ask a simple question,
He will say- It was a woman,
Lifting up his home and moving
Pity grips the fallen heart;
You can help a fallen comrade;
You can heal a broken heart....
79 more lines


Ernie on bike. Photo couresty of Vicki Slow, Ernie Slow's great niece and the family historian.

108 lines later

....So I'll end it with a warning
As I've seen both grief and strife
As I keep on marching, marching on the roads of life. 


Ernie's father

Timaru Herald 13 July 1897 Death:
It is with deep regret that we have to announce the death of Mr Fred. Adolphus Slow at the age of 64, which took place at his residence, near Fairlie, on Friday after a prolonged illness. Mr Slow was a very old colonist, coming out here in the year 1853 when he settled in the Nelson province, afterwards, in about 1872, he came to Canterbury and has resided in the Mackenzie Country for the last 25 years - well known throughout all the stations as being one of the best shearers in the district, and much respected for his honest straightforward character. For many years he has resided in Fairlie, where he leaves a widow and young family to mourn his loss. Interned at the Fairlie cemetery 11 July 1897 11/07/1897 Plot 22 Block: A1. Clergyman: W Adamson.

Timaru Herald, 6 July 1897, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held yesterday, Present : Messrs F. K. Gillingham (chairman), J. S. Rutherford, A. H, McLean, and W. Wreford. The chairman reported on the condition of Slow's cottage, and recommended that, as Slow was unable to work, and the Council had provided �5 worth of material, they should send a man to do the work. Agreed to; Slow to get the closet shifted.

Timaru Herald, 8 June 1897, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held on Monday. From Mr F. A. Slow, asking for �5 worth of materials for finishing a room added to the Council's cottage of which he is tenant.

Timaru Herald, 12 January 1897, Page 3
The first ordinary meeting for the present year of the Mackenzie County - Council was held yesterday at their offices, Fairlie. Present � Mr F. R. L Gillingham (chairman), Messrs J. S. - Rutherford, A. Hope, M. McLeod, W. Wreford, and A. H. Maclean. On the motion of Mr McLeod, seconded by Mr Hope, Mr F. H. Slow was granted some timber he applied for, and the deepening of well is to be paid for by the Council.

Timaru Herald, 13 October 1896, Page 4
From F. A. Slow, tenant of one of the Council's cottages, asking for material for an outhouse.

Timaru Herald, 12 May 1896, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held at their offices, Fairlie, yesterday. Present- Messrs E. Richardson (chairman), J. S. Rutherford, A. Hope, J. McGregor, M. McLeod, and J. Ross. Mr Winter, manager Balmoral, waited on the Council to ask for some surfacing between Fork river and Irishman creek.
From the South Canterbury Hospital and Charitable Aid Board, making a levy of �341 15s 2d for the current year, the That Mr F. R. Flatman, M.H.R., be thanked for his past services as representative of the Council on the Counties Association, and that he be again asked to represent the Council at the coming session." From F. A. Slow, offering to trim out more of the Horse Shoe Bend plantation. �Resolved that he be allowed to work out his rent at clearing out rabbit cover as last year.

Timaru Herald, 10 July 1895, Page 3
The improvements effected by F..A. Slow to Council's cottage at the gravel reserve, Mr Banks valued at �27.
F. A. Slow had been put on to clear undergrowth in Horseshoe Bend plantation, but 3 acres had. been cleared when the snow came on.
Mr McLeod moved, and it was carried, " That as the aim of the Council is to remove all undergrowth in the plantations, permission be given to any one who wants firewood to remove fallen trees and branches and scrub cut by F. A. Slow, my part they start on to be cleared to the satisfaction of the members of the Council resident at Burkes Pass." It was resolved on the motion of Messrs McGregor and Rutherford, that the improvements effected by F. A. Slow to the cottage, be set against rent due, and that he be paid in full for the work he is doing.

Timaru Herald, 23 May 1894, Page 4
The annual concert in aid of the funds of the Burke's Pass school was held on Friday evening last and was one of the most  successful ever held there. As a result of the energy of the teacher, Mr J McLeod, some of the best amateur performers between the Upper Waitaki plains and the south banks of the Rangitata were procured, and most of their contributions were of a high class. The weather was all that could be desired. Mr A Cowan presided. He apologised for the late hour of starting, owing to some of the singers having to come by train to Fairlie and thence by special conveyance to the Pass. The concert was commenced by Mr W D McKay, who sang in capital style, "The place where the old horse died." Mr C Goldstone, who was in splendid - voice, sang "Stranded." Mr F. A. Slow gave a fine rendering of " Mary Ann." Mr E. Burn richly deserved the applause his masterly rendering of " Friar of Orders Grey " received, and Miss McDowell equally pleased the audience by her sweet "Rothesay Bay." Mr F. Hooper sang " Mrs Brown at the Seaside" in character, and pleased the audience to such an extent that " Mrs Brown" had to reappear with her family of twelve smiling urchins. Mr Strack gave an excellent reading, and Miss McMillan (a lady possessed of a remarkably sweet voice sang "My Fiddle and I" in a splendid style and in response to a recall was equally successful in her rendering of "Killarney." Mr Smith's (original) recitation in character entitled "A Rouseabout's Life on a Station" produced roars of laughter, and he had to reappear with "bluey" on his back. Mr Savage (a visitor from Cape Colony) gave an exhibition of clog dancing which was greatly appreciated by the audience, especially by the juvenile portion. Miss Middleton (who presided at the piano throughout the evening) gave a selection of Highland music in a manner that pleased both Celt and Saxon. Mr McLeod was most successful with his song, and he also had to respond to a call. Mr T Musson sang "Silver  Rhine" in first class style, and Mr B Leitch caused immense merriment by his rendering of " When we were at the Skule." Mrs Burn, with a love song, brought to a fitting finale the first part of the programme, and the different performers acquitted themselves equally well in the second part. After the concert refreshments gratuitously provided by the ladies of the district were partaken of, and dancing was kept up till the small hours.

Timaru Herald, 13 October 1892, Page 3
The ordinary monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held at the library, Fairlie, on Monday, 10th October. The following members were present ; Messrs James I. Milne (chairman), George Alves, John McGregor, S.R. Dickson, Arthur Hope, Robert Rutherford, and F. B. Gillingham. F. A. Slow, lessee of Council reserve No. 1681, applying for a pump. To be supplied if Mr Slow will sink the pipe an erect the pump.

Timaru Herald, 11 July 1890, Page 4
The ordinary monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held, at the council offices, Burkes Pass, on Monday, 7th July, when the following members were present :  Messrs John McGregor (chairman) , William Saunders, James I. Milne and A. Cowan. It was decided that Mr F. A. Slow, Fairlie Creek, be granted a fresh lease of gravel reserve No. 1681 for a term of ten years, at a rental of �9 per annum.

Timaru Herald, 8 March 1889, Page 4 The ordinary monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held a Burke's Pass on Monday, 4th March Mr F. A. .Slow, requesting a little timber and iron to put up a porch to his cottage.

Timaru Herald, 4 July 1888, Page 3  Mackenzie County Council
The ordinary monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held a Burke's Pass on Monday last. Present -Messrs John McGregor (chairman), R. Rutherford, Wm. Saunders, James I. Milne, A. Cowan, and S.R. Dickson. Correspondence: From Mr. F. A. Slow, forwarding rent for the reserve.

Timaru Herald, 18 January 1888, Page 3
From Mr Walter Allan requesting the council to consent to the transfer of lease of Reserve No. 1681 to Mr F. A. Slow. It was resolved that the council consent.

Timaru Herald, 17 March 1882, Page 2 Timaru District Court Tekapo Bridge

Timaru Herald, 10 March 1881, Page 3 Mount Cook Road Board.
The ordinary monthly meeting of this Board was held at the Road Board office, Burkes Pass, on Monday, March 7th. Members present: Messrs Smith, Goodwin, McGregor. The following tenders were received : � Fencing at Tekapo Bridge� F. A. Slow, 2s 3d per chain (accepted)

Timaru Herald, 9 June 1875, Page 3
Frederick Slow, laborer, Burke's Pass, said that he knew Edmund Norman.

Timaru Herald, 5 June 1900, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held yesterday. Present� Messrs F. Gillingham (chairman) Rutherford, Hamilton, McLean, and Burnett. The chairman reported the election since last meeting of Mr Andrew Burnett, - to represent Tekapo riding, in place of Mr Tripp, resigned. The chairman welcomed Mr Burnett to the Council table. Mrs Slow's lease of gravel reserve 1681 with cottage, expires on 12th August next. Mrs Slows tenancy to be continued from year to year.

Timaru Herald, 3 July 1900, Page 3
The monthly meeting of the Mackenzie County Council was held yesterday. Present: Messrs McLean, Hamilton, and Burnett. Mrs F. Slow accepted the offer to be the Council's tenant from year to year at �10 10s a year.

Timaru Herald, 4 April 1899, Page 3 MACKENZIE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL SHOW.
Easter Monday of 1899 will long be remembered at Fairlie as the day in which the Mackenzie County Agricultural Society held its first Show. 
Peaches� Mrs Slow, E. Parr. Most points in Fruit: E. Parr.

Photo taken before 1915. The children of Frederick John Slow. Photo courtesy of Victoria Slow.

Mrs Slow

Their mother was, Mary Philedelphia Bell (nee Williams), a widow of the late Frederick A. Slow, and she lived in Fairlie. She already had three sons from a previous marriage, Cameron, Francis Woolstead Henry Bell and Arthur Bell all born in Timaru and lost Cameron during the Great War. He is listed on the war memorial in Fairlie. Fred and Mary had Frederick, Maud (later Mrs Fellowes), Ernest and Ballance. The children probably attended the Silverstream School at Kimbell, five miles north of Fairlie. These three boys served in WW1. Fred Slow Jr. was killed in France. Ernie (military service number: 10/178) was wounded in the leg, twice, while serving in the army at Gallipoli and discharged from service deemed unfit. Ballance embarked from Wellington 15 Nov. 1916. 10th Reinforcements 3rd Battalion, G Company. Maud was their sister. Ernie would send his pay cheques to his mother to help pay off the mortgage on her house in Fairlie. Maud Beatrice SLOW was born 6 Nov. 1889, probably at The Reserve in Fairlie. She married in 1913 to John Denniston Lochore. He also enrolled in the army. Service No. 85334, second reserves, classification C, (which means he supported two children in 1917), Fellmonger. 85 Yarrow St. Invercargill. Later Maud married S. James Fellowes.

From Connie Rayne's book - Sherwood Downs and Beyond.
Ernie had a real passion for raspberry jam, as in his shearing days on a visit to town, he would always bring back a big pot of this jam and put it on his fellow worker's table with the words "General Godley used to say "Keep the jam up to the troops." Ernie was never known to speak a malicious word against anyone, always using a persons proper name to address them as he had no time for nick names. He had a real affinity with children and liked nothing better than being able to please them, many remember the boats he made for them. He always had a gentle nature when it came to dealing with dogs and horses.

Ernie's brother

Ballance, a brother of Ernie's, lived down the Gorge, below Fairlie. He was a builder in the area and a drum major with the Mackenzie Highland Band. Ballance Seddon McKenzie SLOW married Rosie Robina BRAY. They lived in Fairlie but later Ballance and Rosie moved to Wellington during the war and had two sons. Rosie was the daughter of John Bray, a farmer at Cricklewood, six miles south of Fairlie, who was always referred to as Cocky Bray. He took up 'Meikleburn', beyond 'Clayton' on the 5th May 1913. He is no relation to S.P. Bray at 'Lilydale', Sherwood Downs, Fairlie. John and Harriet Bray never lived at 'Meikleburn' but employed a manager and staff but with their family, James, Harry, Ted, Rosie, Daisy and Ivy and they lived at Fairlie, their home reputed to be the St. Patrick's Church Presbytery in Gall St. Percy drowned in "Meikleburn" Creek on Christmas Day 1903, aged 12 and a half. "Meikleburn" is up the Clayton Road, pass "Lilydale" and "Clayton" and over the "Meikleburn" Saddle, and is still today very isolated. Ballance was known to have built some of the earlier homes in the Sherwood Downs area. Sherwood was subdivided in 1912. The house on "Ribbonwood", Sherwood Downs was built in 1914.

A copper in use. It takes about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours for the water to boil - if I keep the wood up to it.S.P.

Bray Kills the Pig one of Ernie's poem, is about S.P. killing a hog at 'Lilydale', with his children Enid, Godfrey and Edgar getting in the way. Ernie worked on 'Lilydale', Sherwood Downs, Fairlie for S.P. Bray in the 1920s and at one of his properties in Middle Valley for many years. In the 1940s he milked the two house cows and attended the garden at 'Lilydale'. S.P. use to say, "You are slow if you thought Slow was slow". He lived in a hut behind the house. Pig killing was only attempted when frosts had set in really hard. The day before wood would be collected for boiling the water in the copper and a pulley and rope system hung from a tree with a bar to pull the carcass up to make dressing easier. There were no freezers in those days and the pig sides were placed in a barrel filled with a brine for four days and hams for twelve days turning by hand each day. The meat would keep for a year stored in a wire mesh safe stuck in a tree so the dogs wouldn't get at it. Sherwood Downs get not get electricity until mid 1957 but many homesteads had generators, kerosene refrigerators, heaters and lamps. Once Ernie was helping to erect a fence on "Lilydale" along the floor of the basin, under Butler's Saddle, to restrain stock crossing over to Ben McLeod country. S.P. rode 11 miles back to the homestead for the night, while Ernie elected to stay, and slept under a snow-grass, without food, an await S.P's return the next day and completion of the job! Ernie worked on "Ribbonwood", Sherwood Downs as a blade shearer and once Mum saw Ernie shore a sheep there, going in a continuous circle around and around its body head to tail. It was hilarious!

The Tin Lizzie

There was a young man named Tom Hane
Who hated to ride in a train
So he bought a new Ford and said to the Lord
I soon shall be with you again.

Now the day was bright & the air was keen
And Mr Tom Hane in his Ford was seen
When all of a sudden he came to a stop
In front of the door of John L. Jopp.

Now the cook had a prepared a sumptuous meal
Of goose & turkey & lamb & veal
And all good things that would make Tom ful
King of the road & the steering wheel.

Now after Tom had eaten his share
He could not rest in his easy chair
So he walked outside & began to prepare
For a motor ride in the open air.

Tom got in his car he was filled with pride
As he offered the boys a good free ride
They looked at each other & heaved a sigh
They thought it too soon for them to die

Tom sat by himself a little while
As all the boys were passing a smile
Then all of a sudden up by Tom Haine
Old Bob Young planted his frame.

Tom pressed the starter & of the din
That came from within that hunk of tin
And when the noise & the smoke had gone
You could see Tom & Bob still hanging on.

The car went gliding along the rode
And Tom remarked how the grass had growed
Bob said yes Tom isn't it green
They were seeing all there was to be seen

Then all of a sudden as if it came from the skies
A big bull appeared right in front of their eyes
Tom grabbed the wheel tightly & gave it a turn
And fairly attacked the bull in the stern

Now the old bull was disgusted & jumped out of the way
He felt very sore for the rest of the day
At receiving a crack on the back of the shin
From Tom & Bob & the hunk of tin

Now they got home safely perhaps feeling queer
Or else as if they could stop a long beer?
And the door old Lizzie the poor hunk of tin
Had three or four dints & one eye knocked in

Now the dints they were seen by a man called Bill Chisolom??
He viewed them with scorn but he must _? secession???
He said go to a tinsmith & get them to patch her
And tell them to put on a large cow-catcher.

Now things seemed bad but they might have been worse
They might have all been taken home in a hearse
As owe ___ the boys are all pleased to relate
The lock is still locked on the country gate.

Will now Lizziy's repaired & seems just as well
Although there was nearly a strange face in hell
And the poor old bull with his rump knocked in
Is still very nervous at the sound of tin.

_______________________________________

The Kimbell Hockey Club

Now Kimbell is a quiet place
with its, its store and school and pub
So they liven up proceedings with a ladies hockey club
Great was the day no greater day had this township ever seen
When the first day it assembled on the village green

Now some of them are rather slim
While others they are stout
But when they do get moving
You can hear the critics shout
Miss Adcock is a corker
She's wondrous fast and clean
She's here and there and everywhere
where others should have been
Now Mrs Ross she takes the eye
although she is out of form
But when she's in condition
she's as fast as any storm

Another lady past her prime
her name is Mrs Scott
But if she gets but half a chance
She's bound to hear a shot
Mrs Howie takes her place
With all the team in front
But alas she cant stop them all
For they are seldom in the hunt

The Burgess from the other side
They could not stand the strain
But next season you will see them
For they are bound to come gain
The roll call found Miss Erickson
A classy player this
Stopping all the good shots
That good players sometimes miss
Mrs White she hiked along
She was trained right to the tick
But alas her eye last Thursday
Was as crooked as her stick

Now who is this young player
Who offers them no quarter
Miss Manson couldn�t come
So she sent her eldest daughter
Margaret Pipson young and sweet
Her play was really fine
She made the old players envious
When streaking down the line

Miss Cardenhead was there of course
She couldn't stop away
For hockey is her hobby
And she will see a better day
Miss Ayson plays a lovely game
A lesson for the rest
For all of the Kimbell ladies
I vote this player best

And so the game plays gamely on
Its luck is never in
But this is what you will surely see
When they secure a win
The cheering will be deafening
As they echo around the land
As the farmers gape with wonder
As its good times now at hand

Fred Clarkson danced a highland fling
Upon the kitchen floor
He made the roof and rafters ring
As they never rang before
The cat ran up the highest tree
And the dogs with a single bound
Scattered all the farmers sheep
For miles and miles around

Jack Ireland up the distant bank
Gazed down upon the scene
Shouting Libbie, Libbie tell me dear
Whatever does it mean
It brings back distant memories
Of a land so far away
Where the ladies play real hockey
That's where you learnt to play

Buck Nelson from the distant hills
Raced madly down the road
His flour bag whiskers flowing wide
As around the fields he strode
I thought it was my heifer
A bellowing with pain
Tis only victors cheering
And the wailing of the slain

Jimmie Annan couldn't work again
When the news to him did leak
So he prompted turned a sommersault
And fell into the creek
Charlie Howie pumped the beer so fast
It caused a tragedy
When Bob Shute in a empty cask
Went floating out to sea

But whether its believed or not
A vision around me floats
Hughie Waters went to work
Without an overcoat
So ladies do your best
If you secure a win
Just think of all the merriment
You'll plunge old Kimbell in.

The NZ Stakes

Once more the flags are flying
On that well known famous course
The stakes are down for decision
A test for jockey and horse
For Savage is riding the favourite
A great old galloper is red
His sire is social security
From good times so it is said
At last old Adam is mounted
Tiki a splender jockey he sat
What is the name of your horse boy
Said he I am mounted on fat
I bred him way up in the mountains
Hes by a horse called the Jew
Out of a mare called the Wobbler
Staunch bravehearted and tru
The people were getting excited
As they gathered there in force
When Savage he mounted the favourite
And rode straight out to the course
For Adam was slowly following
His features all withered and thin
If I can hold old red for a mile sir
Its ten to one that I'll win
They are off and away with a rattle
For the Jew so forging ahead
But the cheers of savages supporters
Would surely waken the dead
When a wrinkled old cow of a cockie
With a beard like a stable broom
Was calling aloud to his maker
To sound the socialists doom
Four furlongs in seconds just fifty
The pace is a cracker you bet
The Jew is all in a lather
While red hasn't started to sweat
The police are now at the grandstand
Two women in deadly combat
She lost her shoes and her shirt sir
The other her blouse and her hat
A couple they stood there all silent
Thinking marriage was surely a sin
But with home free furniture and babies
If Adam our hero should win
They flashed past the mile like a cyclone
With the Jew increasing his lead
But the judgement of Adam is awful
How can he last at such speed
So a woman kept feebly calling
If victory goes to the Jew
We'll be haggard and starving
And as thin as Ghandis too
A nationalist walked up to Bob Semple
Your horse is beaten kind sir
Why red will win by a furlong
Where's your sense you white livered cur
For things were getting unruly
A donnybrook now was at hand
When a socialist picked up a nationalist
And heaved him clean out of the stand
An Irishman stood at the entrance
As feeble as feeble could be
I was knocked clean down in the meilu
And devil a thing did I see
I undirmum Oeil it was awful ??
With sticks and umbrellas they whacked
If I hadn't the skin of a rhino
My skull would surely have cracked
With surging, roaring and churning
It came like a storm it is said
And just like a cyclone unleashed sir
When Savage gave the favourite his head
Two lengths. Three lengths and five sir
A wonderful sight don't you see
The Nationalists were surely dumbfounded
The Socialists shouted with glee
Tom Burnett he lept from the grand stand
His eyes glared like a cat
He tore through the crowd like a madman
He was minus his coat and his hat
What will become of my stations
My cattle my sheep and my herds
Ruled from the Trades hall for ever
By a gang of preposterous gaol birds
Sir Ransom was quietly weeping
Dorage was as white as a post
When Paddy Webb kept calling out
The return of Seddons great ghost
For savage had the race in hand
For red he finished true.
______________________________________________________

Ernie rarely wrote his poems down but would recite them when the time was right with some of Scotland's famous brew and when someone was interested.  When Ernie was up country he sometimes sent an order down to Clark's shop in Fairlie in poetry form.

In Quest of a Weed

On a way back station
It sure is no joke
The days they are so hard and long
Without a blooming smoke
For a place like this in the autumn
Without some smoothing weed
Is like giving a fancy cookery book
To a starving man in need.

South CanterburyGenWeb Home Page

Poverty is the nurse of the poets, who "learn in suffering what they sing in song"

New Zealand Free Lance, 23 September 1905, Page 3
Swagman use the huts en route to camp in. In some of these huts "travellers" are inclined to be literary.
One cheerful person engaged in carrying "Matilda" cries out with a fire stick on the wall :
"Good luck to every swagman camped here. " Brother Swagger."

Found, this on the wall of a deserted house over the Rimutakas:
Don't blame the wealthy squatter if you luck is nearly out,
Don't blame the struggling "cocktail" if there isn't any work,
Don't blame New Zealand's Government or old Sir Robert Stout,
But blame the way-side shanty where they hand the poison out.