Tag Archives: zealand


A Standbridge Well Operating Manual

When we left our 13-acre farmlet in New Zealand and went to a new life in England, we let our land to a local farmer, and the house and its 1/2-acre grounds to be tenanted. Before we departed, we wrote the following guide.

We call our farm Stanbridge Well because we dug a deep well near the entrance gate, and called the farm after that. This well has a 1950s wellhead operated by a 1/2-hp motor. The water is pumped into a pressure tank and from there pushed up the hill to a 500 gallon tank at the top of a hill behind the house from where the water is gravity-fed to the house and the rest of the farm. The water is perfectly clear, clean and without impurity. Good enough to be exported.

Stanbridge Well

Operating Manual 1999

Stanbridge Well Tenancy Agreement

  1. Unless you have our written consent:
  2. No removal or shifting of trees, shrubs or roses
  3. No renovations or alterations to house or buildings
  4. No pets or any animals except one cat
  5. Lease or use of the farm outside the area defined by the fence around the house and driveway is not part of this agreement
  6. Re-direct mail intended for the Tearles to:  PO Box 137 Te Kuiti
  7. In May each year, please contact Robinson’s Water Services of Otorohanga to maintain the water pump.  They will send us the bill.
  8. In June 2002 and again in 2004, please contact King Country Liquid Waste to service the septic tank.  They will send us the bill.
  9. To avoid a chimney fire, in June each year, Kent fireplace in the family room must be serviced by a qualified fireplace servicing company.
  10. Keep house, buildings and grounds in neat and tidy condition
  11. Must allow lessee of farm prompt and reasonable access in order that s/he may carry out the normal business of farming the property.  Includes use of water and access to all water and electrical services.
  12. The pool has a certificate of compliance with regard to the relevant swimming pool safety legislation (issued by Otorohanga District Council).  The Tenant agrees to fully supervise the pool and bear all responsibility for behaviour of people around the pool and for pool maintenance (see separate section below).  The landowners do not accept any responsibility for pool safety.  This responsibility rests with the tenant.  The tenant must keep the pool and surrounds maintained to the required pool safety standards adhered to by the landlord to achieve the certificate.
  13. All glass breakages and replacement are the responsibility of the tenant.
  14. Subletting of the property is not to occur.  
  15. Must allow the landlord’s agent access to the house and grounds when given due notice.

Chattels Left in House

  • Velvet drapes in 3 bedrooms, lounge, dining room
  • Blue/pink multi-colour lined drapes in family room.
  • Net curtains in all rooms including bathroom, toilet, ensuite
  • Curtain rods, tracks and pull ties with all heavy drapes
  • Fancy light fitting in all rooms except, bathroom, toilet, kitchen & lounge
  • Cream wall to wall carpet throughout house
  • Wall bookcase (family room)
  • Dusky pink bathroom carpet in bathroom, toilet & ensuite
  • 2 cream telephones
  • 9 phone jackpoints
  • Kitchen air extractor
  • Window fans in bathroom & ensuite
  • Kelvinator clothes drier & hose connection
  • Fisher & Paykel dishwasher and stainless steel drip tray
  • Kelvinator refrigerator
  • Caprice wall oven
  • Champion four ring cooktop
  • Wall kitchen scales (in pantry)
  • Tile Fire
  • Electric hedge trimmer
  • Sledge hammer
  • Back pack spray unit
  • 2 garage bench tables
  • Concrete mixer & spare motor
  • Pool vacuum hose & head
  • Pool filter unit & motor
  • Fish pond circulating motor

Electric fence unit

Any goods stored under the house and the pool deck belong to the landlord and must not be removed.

The Farmlet

This lease covers the land at the drive entrance, up the driveway and house section only.  The farm itself is covered by separate lease to Jim & Dos Mark.  They must be allowed access for their farming activities at all times, this includes access to water and electricity.


The following sections are for your guidance.  We realise that an executive country house with its own water supply and a pool is a little bit different from an average town house, so we have prepared this manual so that the most common questions may be answered quite simply.

Water supply

  • The well.  Any of the neighbours, or Jimmy Mark, can show you how to bleed the pressure tank, the following is the way I do it:

The water from our well is as nearly perfect as water can be.  It is wonderfully clean, fresh and cold and comes from a depth of about 150ft.  It is the same water that Puketawai Lodge is exporting and its supply has never failed us.

The well pump pressure tank needs bleeding about every quarter.  The water from the well is forced up the hill into the large black water tank (reservoir) at the top of the hill, above the house, by pressure on a cushion of air in the tall blue pressure tank in the pump house.  After a time, the air bubble becomes smaller because the air is absorbed into the water in the tank (as into a coke bottle).  If the bubble becomes too small, the pump just keeps pumping because there’s not enough air pressure to force the close valve to shut off the pump, or for water to be pushed up the hill.  It’s best to avoid the pump motor being thrashed like this because it may burn out.  If you hear the pump just going and going, or stopping for only a minute or two and then restarting, but no-one is using the water, then bleed the pressure tank anyway.  If the water has been used extensively eg to fill the pool or to water gardens over night then bleed the pressure tank.  It doesn’t take very long.


  1. Open pump house door and turn off the power switch.  Don’t forget that this also turns off the electric fences.  It’s ok for a short length of time – say a couple of hours or so – but not longer.  Leave the pump house door open until the entire process is finished and this will remind you that the electric fences are off.
  2. There are two valves on the outside of the pump house that you can see from the driveway.  Turn off upper valve – parallel to the driveway is off.  This stops water from up the hill backfilling into the pressure tank while you are trying to empty it.
  3. Stand to one side and open the lower valve.  Water at considerable pressure will fire out onto the driveway.  Wait a few minutes until the pressure has eased.
  4. Near the top of the pressure tank inside the pump house you’ll see the pressure gauge.  At the bottom of this is a red valve.  Turn this vertical and it will allow air to displace the outgoing water.
  5. Wait until the outgoing water stops completely.
  6. Turn on the pump for a minute and watch until the outgoing water runs clear.
  7. Turn the pump off, turn the outside lower valve off, turn the air valve below the pressure gauge to horizontal (off).
  8. Turn the pump ON.
  9. The pressure tank will now fill.  It takes about half an hour.  WAIT until the pump turns off by itself.  The pressure tank will now be fully charged.
  10. Turn ON the outside upper valve.  Water will now be flowing uphill to fill up the reservoir on top of the hill.
  11. Close and secure the pump house door.

We put the reservoir on top of the hill so we weren’t reliant on fickle power supplies for water.  It holds about two days water supply at normal usage (showers, washing, dishes etc) so you have plenty of time if you need to turn the pump off for any reason.

  1. Reservoir

There is a ball valve in the reservoir that turns the incoming water supply to the reservoir on and off, like the ball valve in the paddock stock troughs.

There is an off/on valve near the ground on the incoming water conduit.

If you need to take off the lid to see, or work, inside the reservoir, it screws off.  PLEASE REPLACE IT.  Having the water in darkness is one of the best ways to keep it clean.  Screw the lid only a bit over half way down – to allow the air to come and go as the water level in the reservoir rises and falls.

3. Control valves

There is an off/on valve where the water main to the house from the reservoir breaks through the retaining wall.  By the robinia tree, behind the pool.  

The house main breaks into two in a box in the rose garden below the toilet window.  There are two valves there; one is cold water cut-off to the house and the other is hot water cut-off.  If you need to work done on the hot water cylinder or to change tap washers (eg) these are the valves to use.

There is an on/off valve in the conduit from the reservoir main to the door in the south end of the pool deck.  You’ll see a tap just inside the door.  This tap, and the little valves with it, control the water supply to various garden sprinklers.

The Pool

The following is a guide to using the pool.

  1. General

When you turn the motor off, make sure it stays off for about 10 seconds before turning it back on.  If you turn it off and on too quickly, or turn the filter valves too soon after turning off the motor, you’ll burn out the motor or blow out the impeller inside the motor.  NEVER turn the filter valves while the motor is on.  Whoever blows up the motor, replaces it.

It is the responsibility of the house occupants to keep the pool clean all year round, purchase pool supplies and to supervise children.  We have built the pool and surrounds to Otorohanga District Council compliance requirements.  It is the responsibility of the tenant to maintain safety standards for the pool at all times.

Check and clean the skimmer filter every week, all year round.  It is in the bowl at the south end of the pool where the water flows out.  An amazing amount of stuff gets into that filter.

You’ll see a brass bolt halfway up either side of the skimmer walls inside the pool.  Keep the water level on or slightly above these bolts (ie halfway up the skimmer mouth).  Don’t let the water level drift below half way.  When there’s lots of rain filling up the pool, use the backwash cycle to lower the water level.  The top water level needs to be kept below the top of the mouth of the skimmer otherwise surface debris won’t be able to be skimmed off.

The pool filter and pump on/off switch is behind the door that faces the house.  There’s a timer.  The instructions for setting the timer are printed on it.  Leave the pool filter pump on its present timer settings (about six hours a day) and let it run every day.

Throughout the winter, a single cup of chlorine poured into the skimmer once a week will keep the pool clear and blue.  In the summer, use a test kit and keep the pool to recommended safe levels of chlorine and associated pool chemicals.

Backwash the filter weekly in summer, monthly in winter.  Vacuum clean the pool when necessary.

We get the chlorine, test kits and other supplies from Anchormart in Otorohanga, but it seems to be pretty much the same price wherever you try.

In summer, you’ll need to use the vacuum hose to clean the bottom of the pool

  1. Attach the hose to the vacuum brush, drop it into the water and push the free end of the hose into the hole in the skimmer lid.  You’ll hear the filter fill with air.
  2. Turn off the pool motor and wait for the bubbling to subside.
  3. Turn on the motor and again you’ll hear the filter fill with air.
  4. Turn off the motor.  Do this two or three times until the water runs continuously in the hose.
  5. Now you can vacuum the floor of the pool.
  6. If you see the water flow slow a lot, it means the filter is full.  Backwash the filter and start again.

The pool filter (the fat black plastic drum)

You clean the pool filter by backwashing it – thus:

  1. Turn the motor off
  2. Turn the filter control valve to BACKWASH.  Turn on the motor.
  3. If you go into the paddock outside the main bedroom, you’ll see lots of scummy water gushing out of a white pipe into the paddock.  Wait until the water goes clean.
  4. Turn the motor off.
  5. Turn the filter control valve to RINSE. Turn on the motor for about 30 seconds.   This cleans any dirty water out of the pipes.
  6. Turn the motor off.
  7. Turn the valve to FILTER and turn the motor on.
  8. Done.

Looking After the House

General:  We have built a lovely executive home here in Lockwood timber and it has some very good quality surfaces.  The following is a guide we use to keep the surfaces in good condition.

If something goes wrong and needs fixing, you have our permission to spend up to $100.00 on fixing it without having to contact us first, for instance blown wall fittings, stove elements and other simple things. We will accept the bill, or we will reimburse you, whichever is easiest.  If it looks expensive, please contact us first.

  1. Kitchen

The kitchen is supplied with wall oven, dishwasher, hob and refrigerator.

It is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain these appliances in a clean & operational condition.  Unexpected maintenance will be provided by the landlord. All care should be taken to keep the appliances in good and safe working order.   Maintenance caused by ill treatment will be the responsibility of the tenant.

Hob Cooktop

Clean hob by wiping down after cooking while cook top is still warm. About once a week clean with Mica Ceramic Cooktop Cleaner.

Wall Oven

Wall oven – clean regularly with oven cleaner.

Bench Tops

Please do not chop onto benches or stainless steel bench top.  Please use a chopping board.  Clean regularly with Jif or Spray & Wipe.

Kitchen Units

Wipe down kitchen cupboards with warm water and detergent.  Do not use chemical cleaners such as “Spray and Wipe”, they will ruin the timber.

Other Rooms


Clean regularly.


These have been shampooed ready for your occupation.  Tenants vacating the house shall have the carpets commercially cleaned by A1 Carpet Cleaners in Te Kuiti at the tenant’s own cost ready for the next tenant.

Please vacuum carpets regularly and clean away any spills immediately they occur.  If in doubt about how to remove a stain, please ask an expert.

Carpets have been kept in good condition by leaving boots etc at the door.  No dogs or other animals other than one cat shall be admitted into the house.


Clean with disinfectant only (Pine O Clean works well).  Do not use cleaners such as Spray & Wipe or Jif as these damage the surface of the vanity.

Clean shower and bath units with Spray & Wipe or Jif or like product.  

Keep toilets clean and fresh.

We place Draino down the shower and bath plugs about every six months to keep drains clear.  We also use a bottle brush.

Bathroom carpets are loose laid and can be washed, dried and relaid.  If they need cleaning, wash with washing detergent then hose down on clothes line.  Leave on line to dry.


This is easily cleaned by wiping with Spray & Wipe.

Fireplace – Tile Fire

This is a wood burner only.  Please do not use coal or any other fuel.

The Garden

The following is a guide to the care of the garden.  If you want to see it looking its best, it is not too difficult to maintain.

  1. Lawns

Mow around the house section, under the birch trees at the entry to the house section, the shrubbery nob as required, down the drive and the road frontage at the letterbox.  It usually takes me about an hour and a half.  Spray weeds at edges, under trees etc with Roundup as required.  Please take care with trees, shrubs etc.

2. Roses

Prune in June/July once the cold weather sets in.  Early spring place rose fertiliser around each plant.  If magamp is also placed at this time the roses give magnificent flowers.  Refertilise December/January.  Each rose garden has a watering system which can be used when gardens get dry. When in flower dead head roses about once a week.  This keeps the plants flowering for as long as possible.

3.   Weed all garden patches, including bark gardens.  Most gardens are planted with plants that will come up out of the ground at various seasons.  You are able to add additional flowers if you wish.  Please do not remove miniature roses.  They are memorial gifts to us.

4.  Please take care not to damage specimen trees.  Many of these are memorial trees (especially dogwood, robinia, camellias, silk trees and the ghinko.)  It is vital that native bush area is retained.  This provides much needed shelter to the property.  Please do not cut down or cut back any trees without our written consent.

5. Shrubs may be lightly pruned as required.

6.  Please spray metalled areas from time to time to keep free from weed growth.

The House Exterior


We spray the following with Roundup about every six weeks or so depending on the season:  It just helps to keep things tidy.

  1. Around the water pump shed
  2. Under the trees by the driveway
  3. Around garden edges
  4. At lawn edges at outside of section and driveway
  5. Up fencelines by the driveway from the gate to the house
  6. The rock garden around plants
  7. The house driveway
  8. Paths outside the family room

To date no other types of spray have been used on this property.


Letters home, 2009, The Empire Hotel

The Empire Hotel – A Railway Story

By Ewart Tearle Nov 2009

I lived for 6 weeks during the Christmas Holidays in the now-burned down Empire Hotel in Frankton near Hamilton, NZ. I can’t remember how much it cost, but at the time, I was earning £5.0.0 a week working as a yardman for Caltex, the oil company, that had three tall storage tanks alongside the railway line. There was one tank for diesel, one tank for regular petrol and one tank for super petrol.

My job was to dip the tanks every few hours and let the office know the level. Every few days a couple of tankers would be dropped off by the shunters on the siding adjacent to these storage tanks. I would dip the tanks again and again until I knew that there was room in one of the tanks for the entire quantity of the fuel in the rolling stock waiting to be unloaded. If you got the dip wrong and started the upload, there was no way to stop it.

Once the tank filled up, the rest of the fuel overflowed. That’s why each tank sat in a hollow all by itself. I heard that one yardman had emptied the contents of the diesel tanker into the super petrol storage tank – and to compound things, it overflowed by several hundred gallons. I have a vague idea that the hotel charged £1 a week and I kept my costs down by having only fruit for lunch, at about 1/-, and fish-and-chips at about 2/- for dinner, giving me a profit for the week of about £3. This was the most money I earned until I was a second-year teacher some five years later.

The hotel served only one meal, breakfast. It was interesting…. The cook was a great guy – huge, bald, loud, dressed in a white singlet, canvas trousers and black boots, sweating all the time. He had one of those distinctively rugged New Zealand names that I wished so badly my mother had called me – something like Bruce, or Jim, or Jack. Of course, the inmates of the hotel had lots of adjectives they went through before they got to his actual name.

He cooked a wadge of bacon, and a bucket of sausages, in a yard-wide cast iron frying pan over a red-hot coal range while the eggs gently boiled in little cups alongside a smaller pan of frying onions. The under-cook passed him tin plates hot from the oven and he slapped some bacon, a couple of sausages, onions and an egg on each plate and then whacked it down on the counter, swinging it along the shiny surface until the man at the head of the breakfast queue swept it up before it hit the floor. You could hear each man take the plate and swear at how hot it was as he carried it back to his table. They seemed to know a lot about the ancestry of the cook.

We all sat down within half an hour of 6am, or else we got no breakfast, sitting on assorted wooden chairs around equally mismatched round, square and oblong, bare wooden tables. A wooden floor of 12” oak planks spoke of the former grandeur of the hotel, but grimy windows and dark stains in the wood told even more about its fallen present. I suppose there were thirty of us.

Wizened little men from the First World War dressed in cloth caps and harassed tweed jackets with woollen singlets exposed under threadbare blue-grey shirts sat in silence and shovelled the bacon and eggs from their tin plates. They were tiny, like my grandmother, who fitted under my arm when I held it out horizontally. How on earth had they won a war? They looked straight ahead, old, tired and sick, their eyes full of nightmares.

Railwaymen in dark overalls ate ravenously and drank their hot, sweet tea from squat china mugs they would thump onto the table between mouthfulls of bacon and sausages while they laughed, gossiped about each other and told filthy jokes. They were taller men, bigger, some with paunches that forced their belts to cut into their middle. They had one of the most dangerous jobs in New Zealand, because at shunting time, it was they who ran between moving railway rolling stock, coupling or decoupling on the run, jumping off and onto a step welded near the rear and front of all the wagons. They would stand beside the wagon to be attached and would wave the shunter forward until it clacked against the coupling unit. If the lock didn’t come down, these men would jump into the gap between the wagons and drop the lock, skipping backwards to clear the still-moving stock, and jumping back onto the step. The shunter was in a hurry – the engineer had to fend for himself.

I saw the force that the shunter sometimes used when coupling, and it had torn the heavy cast iron fist of the coupling unit on the wagon into a grisly twisted hook. When a wagon was decoupled, the shunter gave it a thundering whack and the wagon, with all the other rolling stock in front of it, clattered their coupling irons together and charged forward. The engineer on the ground raced along the track to push a lever so that the cortege of rolling stock was diverted to its resting place for the day.

If he failed to reach the lever in time, the first wagon passed onto a portion of the track that was not intended for it, and the engineer could only stand in frustrated impotence while he waited for the stock to stop rolling, or crash into a terminal barrier, and the shunter driver yelled curses at him that would have split the heavens. That short train of stock moved very quickly and in total silence. In the fog that often afflicted Hamilton, and in the rush to get all the wagons in the right places for the day, a man could easily be in front of the onrushing freight and die without ever knowing what hit him.  The men at breakfast were loud and violent-tongued in an effort to remove the thought that today’s fog might be the last thing they ever saw.

One or two men worked in local car garages and I knew of one who worked in a metal scrap-yard, but most of these men were working on the railways.

My bedroom was on the second floor and overlooked the railway shunting yards at the back of the hotel. An iron-framed cot with a kapok mattress and a smelly, stained pillow rested in the right-hand corner under the only window and a small, pale green four-drawer chest left a narrow path to the bedside table with my shiny, chrome-plated alarm clock the only ornamentation. A rimu wardrobe filled the last cavity in the floor space on the left-hand side of the door and a 40-watt light bulb hung crookedly from the ceiling on fraying wires.

Outside, the drivers and engineers yelled orders and banged trains together all night long, but no more energetically than at eight o’clock in the morning when everyone in Frankton had to cross the railway line to go to work in Hamilton. At that hour of the day there was always a train (or two – it was a dual line between the station and the shunting yards) across the only level crossing on the only road to Hamilton. Even in the sixties, the days of steam were behind us, and these trains in Frankton were all diesels.

I stood once by the tracks in Rotorua watching the billowing white smoke and listening to the chuffing and animal breathing of the one steam train I ever saw going from Rotorua over the Mamaku Ranges to Hamilton. When I was in high school, Aunty Grace sent me back to Rotorua from the mining village of Pukemiro deep in the Mamakus on a steam train pulling a couple of carriages immediately behind the engine and nearly a mile of freight and empty wagons behind them.

Fire and sparks leapt from the funnel and fell on the dry grass alongside the railway track, setting fires every few hundred yards. White smoke tinged with black shadows writhed from the engine, through the carriage and down the length of the train. The huge black engine in front of me seemed to be straining every muscle, breathing deeply and sighing heavily like the draft horses that pulled pine stumps from hedges on the farm my father worked when I was a pre-schooler. The smell of coal smoke, leather and old timber in the carriage was deeply impressionable. The sense of going on an adventure with a rumbling giant was palpable. There is no romance like that, in diesel.

“Dirty bloody things,” my mother said with considerable feeling. “You’d put a full wash of clean clothes on the line, and some smelly damned train would crawl past and leave clinkers all over the washing. At least diesels are clean.”

The hotel – more a boarding house, in the way it was run, was an elegant, three-storey wooden structure clad in weatherboard. It was quite a handsome, turn of the century building painted green and white with a large gold sign, outside staircases, steep roofs and an imposing turret. But it had seen its best days. The green was faded, the white was dirty and the sign was cracked and had bits missing. The stairs creaked, the roof leaked and the manager put his head to every door in the hotel to assure himself there were no girls in the hotel after nine PM. In fact, women were not allowed in the hotel in the day-time let alone stay overnight. Frankton was a down-at-heel railway town and the hotel had A Reputation; the manager was determined to stamp it out.

I suspect (as did the local press) that a disaffected lothario burnt the hotel down when his girlfriend was discovered under his bed. The tragedy was that he killed six in the attempt to exact his revenge, and he is still in prison for the offence.


Letters home, 2001, Graeme

Greetings from Graeme, 2001

So good to hear from you again. Shirley is trying to fatten me up, but I don’t mind. The effort is doomed to failure in spite of the excellence of her cooking. I warned her “You can’t fatten a thoroughbred”. Some people just can’t take a hint. They have to try.

Your time for the London Marathon is awesome. I told the guys at work. They found it difficult to believe my ELDER brother even ran a marathon, never mind the time. Mum and Dad are both very proud of you too. I saw them last weekend.

I took Shirley up to Pauanui for the weekend and stayed at the Pond’s beach house. It is so good to be able to use the place now that Hahei is no longer in the family. I am not sure how much longer Allan and Alison are going to be able to keep it. Allan sounds weaker every time I talk to him on the phone. I mowed the lawns for them and Shirley cleaned the windows. We had a great time, drank a lot of Karlee’s coffee, played minigolf and pool and had dinner at the Sports Club, and almost took the ferry to Tairua on Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, the official excuse for being there.

The ferry Timetable did not suit, so we drove round with flowers and a card for Mum and a Bible! for Dad. They are both in good health although a little vague. Mum is inclined to be a bit weepy and Dad’s Parkinson’s is getting worse. He is now in almost constant motion; even when he is sitting still some part of him, mostly his face, is still moving. Mum was vey glad to get your card. It had pride of place on her dresser.

Abby and Geoffrey are both doing well at school. Abby has started high school and Geoff intermediate, and both are regularly coming home with commendations, Abby with excellent results for projects and Geoff for being an all round good guy. It is very encouraging.

My own job continues. This boat is a long time in the building, but I am determined to see it to the water. We are told that the builders will be allowed to go along on sea trials, but I will believe that when I see it.

Near the end of your letter you mention that one of your English workmates asked you to tell him about his own country. Funny that isn’t it that we take our own back yards so much for granted. I still have not seen the South Island, a situation I intend to rectify this Christmas. I am sure that the most casual visitor to Godzone could tell me things about The South that I have never seen. Shameful really.

I hope you guys are both well and you find a new job soon.

Have fun and God bless you and keep you.

Fondest regards,