Constance Mildred Howell[1, 2, 3, 4]

Female 1891 - 1990  (98 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    Sources    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Constance Mildred Howell 
    Born 13 Jul 1891  Waiwera, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    _UID 9CEA85775D63456D8266CFCC1C9CB9A48CF5 
    Died 16 Apr 1990  Christchurch, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [5, 6
    the Community of the Sacred Name, 181 Barbadoes St 
    Person ID I1594  Treefive
    Last Modified 26 Oct 2016 

    Father Richard Howell,   b. 23 Sep 1865, Upper Waiwera, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 13 Feb 1945, Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Mother Emma Mildred Pheney,   b. 8 Oct 1858, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Jun 1947, Auckland, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 88 years) 
    Married 31 Mar 1888  Upper Waiwera, New Zealand Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8, 9
    the Teachers House 
    Family ID F452  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    00297 Sister Constance Howell
    00297 Sister Constance Howell
    At CSN Cottage, Sumner 1979
    00301 Richard and Emma Howell
    00301 Richard and Emma Howell
    With children Frances and Constance
    00362 Sister Constance Howell on right and 2 others (unidentified)
    00362 Sister Constance Howell on right and 2 others (unidentified)
    Photo possibly ex Les Wilson
    00468 Sister Constance Howell
    00468 Sister Constance Howell

  • Notes 

    • Constance Mildred Howell was born and grew up in Upper Waiwera. She attended Upper Waiwera School, where she gained her Proficiency, and then Auckland Girls Grammar School. She spent all of her adult life serving the Community of the Sacred Name, an Anglican order of nuns in Christchurch, New Zealand.

      Adapted from an article in a 1990 newsletter of the Community of the Sacred Name, 181 Barbadoes St, Christchurch:

      "Constance Howell came to the Community in 1913, as a beautiful woman of 22. In her training, an early highlight was the time she spent in District Nursing with Nurse Maude. After Profession as a Sister in 1919 (becoming Sister Constance) she spent many years working among people in the parishes of Christchurch, at the hostel at Hokitika and at Te Wai Pounamu College. She spent 4 years as a tuberculosis patient in the Sanatorium and at Hanmer Springs, at a time when little treatment was available, but still lived on hale and hearty into her 99th year.

      For 10 years she was Assistant Superior, and also helped as guest mistress, house Sister, and Sister in charge of the Oblates. She was very fond of flowers, and a great gardener, caring for the rockeries while she was able, and continuing to take an interest when her health deteriorated.

      Her mind and intellect remained sharp throughout her life, and her sense of humour and quick repartee gave the Sisters many laughs. Sister Constance died on Easter Day, 1990."

      Sister Constance's memories of her childhood were tape-recorded for a study by Waikato University on 12 April 1989, when she was aged 97. Zita Horsley used the the transcript in her article "Richard and Emma Howell" which is part of the biography of Constance's mother Emma Mildred (Pheney) Howell. A transcript of this interview on 12 April 1989 appears below.

      'Sister Constance, what was it like in Upper Waiwera where you grew up?
      Well, I had a very happy childhood there. It was a country home with a creek running around the back, around the house, near the house and hills surrounding it.

      How broken in was the land?
      I think it was a sort of farming country.

      Was there still any bush around?
      Yes, there was some. We had just a clump of bush up at the back of our property, but not dense, not a great deal. We used to love going up there and walking through the bush.

      You had a sheep farm didn't you?

      How far were you from the nearest town?
      Well the town - I suppose Auckland was the nearest town.

      What about the nearest shops?
      There weren't any. Well there was a store, a shop there, a store I think.

      Was it at Upper Waiwera?
      Yes, Mrs Schischka, Germans they were. There was a German settlement at Puhoi, not very far away. A few miles from Waiwera, but there were no shops really in Waiwera itself. Not in Upper Waiwera, we used to go to Puhoi to shop.

      And how far away was that?
      I suppose it was about 3 miles or so.

      Were there roads to your farm?
      Yes, they were clay roads at first, then they were metalled afterwards.

      Could you travel in a cart or a wagon?
      We had a gig, a gig we called it.

      And were the roads passable all year round?
      It used to get muddy. At first it wasn't metalled, it was metalled afterwards, but it was very clayey at first ... because a friend was coming to see us riding on her horse and that was before it was metalled. The clay bank broke away and the horse went over. She jumped clear -fortunately, it was a wonder because she was riding side-saddle. But the horse's back was broken and then my father had to shoot the horse, poor thing. They couldn't do anything for it - it was down in the river. That's one of the things - I've always remembered that.

      How near were your nearest neighbours?
      I suppose half a mile or so, I think, perhaps more than that.

      So people were scattered around on their farms?
      They were scattered, yes, they weren't very close. We didn't have anyone close to us, not very close.

      Can you tell me about the house you lived in?
      It was just a comfortable house but with a verandah around it, and there was a creek near the back.

      How many rooms were in the house?
      I suppose 5 or 6, I don't remember exactly.

      And they were what - you had how many bedrooms?
      I really wouldn't be sure.

      Was there a sitting room?
      Sitting room, yes, oh yes, we had a nice sitting room.

      Were the children allowed to go into that?
      Oh yes.

      And was there a bathroom?

      This is when you were a child, there was a separate bathroom?
      Yes. There was a bathroom, yes.

      Did that have a set bath in it?

      And how often would you have baths?
      We would have them every day, I think.

      What about the toilet - was that inside or outside?
      I think it was inside.

      Now, did you have your own bedroom?
      I don't know that we did. I really wouldn't be sure. I think that we did later on. I think perhaps when we were small we didn't. But I think later on we did. When we got bigger.

      How do you mean by getting bigger? Was that when you were a teenager?

      Whereabouts could you go if you wanted to be on your own?
      There were plenty of places around.

      Where would you go to if you wanted to be on your own?
      Well, we would go outside where it was quiet and nobody about. We used to go up in the hills. There were hills near. We used to go up in the hills. It was quiet up there.

      Whereabouts were the places you played?
      We would play near the river, creek going round near the house, and we used to play tennis and cricket.

      And who were you playing with when you were playing tennis and cricket?
      The boys and girls around, I suppose.

      Children would come from the other farms to play with you?

      Did you have a tennis court?
      Yes, we had our own tennis court. We used to play tennis.

      What about games that weren't organised with rules, sort of the ordinary play?
      We would play rounders, I know. I used to play cricket too. I got a terrible bang with the ball once. Very hard ball!

      And you were playing cricket with the boys?
      Yes. It put me a bit off cricket. But I used to love it. I used to like rounders and tennis - we had our own tennis court.

      What were the toys that you had?
      Very ugly rag doll which was the joy of my heart, and I called "Pretty", and I used to drag it along by one hand. I always remember that - because she wasn't at all beautiful, but I called her "Pretty".

      What were the kind of things that you would do on wet days?
      We played games indoors. My mother used to read to us too a lot. She was a great reader. We used to love Mother reading to us. She knew poetry by the yard and she used to recite to us too.

      Did you have your own books?
      Books? Yes, we always had books.

      Did you do much reading yourself?
      Yes, yes.

      What were the kind of things you read?
      "Westward Ho" and "King Waterbabies", some of the books I remember.

      Did you have newspapers?
      Yes, I suppose we did but I don't remember much. I don't think I was so interested in newspapers. I know what we used to have - I don't know that we had a daily paper. We used to have the Weekly News. There were pictures in it. Of course we liked that.

      And did you write letters when you were a child?

      Who did you write to?
      Our granny lived ... We must have written to her, I think. I don't know that we wrote a great deal.

      Did she write back to you?

      Did you ever write to the children's pages of the newspaper?
      No, never.

      How old were you when you started school?
      I suppose I must have been about 5, I don't really remember.

      And how did you get to school?
      We used to walk, it wasn't very far. Mother used to teach us, she was a teacher herself. Very good and very firm. She used to teach us quite a lot.

      Did she teach you before you started school or afterwards?
      She always helped us with our learning. She used to know lots of poetry and she used to ... We used to love her reciting to us.

      Did you like school?
      Yes, I enjoyed school, I liked school.

      Why was that? What was it that you liked about school?
      Well, I suppose I liked learning and I suppose I liked the companionship of other children. I know some children hate school, don't they. But I didn't. The teachers too ...

      Is there anything you particularly remember about the teachers?

      I've forgotten his name now. We had a man, I remember, once we were very naughty - we collected all the books we could find, we put them on the window ledge then we pushed them out the window. I remember that, I must have been very naughty.

      What would happen when you did something like that?
      I think the teacher referred her to my mother. I don't know what happened. I don't think anything very drastic. She could be pretty firm.

      How big was the school? Were there many children there?
      No, about 50 - I really wouldn't be quite sure.

      Were you all in one room or were there separate classrooms?
      One thing I always remember - the teacher lived - there was a schoolhouse attached to the school. It was all sort of joined on. And the one thing I remember - We noticed - smelt - smoke and the teacher went out and his house was on fire, and he came back and said "children, take your books and get out quickly. The house is on fire." And it came through into the school. The children stood outside and watched the school burn down.

      What else do you remember about that?
      There was a shed I think where we used to have school - school shed - I suppose we used to meet there and have school.

      That was in your lunch shed was it?
      Yes, I suppose it was. Perhaps that was where we would go if there was a wet day. I suppose they built another one - I don't remember about that.

      How did you get on with the other children at school?
      I got on very well. I always got on well with others.

      What was it that you liked and admired in the other children?
      I don't know. I suppose if they were quick and good at their lessons, and friendly and kind.

      Did you have any special friends?
      Yes, I think I did but I wouldn't remember. We always seemed to have other children who would come to our house. I was never a solitary person, we always seemed to have other children to ...

      Did you go to other children's houses?
      yes, I think sometimes we did, But I don't think a great deal.

      Do you remember noticing whether they were different to your house or not?
      We always loved our own home.

      Did you have any contact with children from other cultures at school?
      I don't think so. Do you mean other ... brought up differently? Yes, I think we did. My mother was always kind but she was very firm. She didn't stand any nonsense. And there were some children who did pretty much as they liked. But it wasn't so with us.

      Do you think your parents ever tried to influence your choice of friends?
      We always had friends. I don't know that they ... they wouldn't want us to be with just anybody if they didn't behave very well. I think my mother would be a bit particular about that.

      Were there any Maori people living in the area?
      No, I don't think so, no.

      Do you remember having contact with Maori people?
      No, I don't think so, not when we were children. I can't remember them.

      What were the kind of things that you played at school?
      We used to play rounders and cricket and hopscotch which was bad for your shoes.

      Was there a good playground at the school?

      What was it like?
      We seemed to have plenty of room to play.

      Did you draw up your own hopscotch squares or were they already made for you?
      I think we made them.

      How did you do that?
      Chalk I think.

      That was on the concrete?
      Must have been on concrete - it wouldn't have been any use on grass, would it.

      Were there separate playgrounds for the boys and the girls?
      I don't think so.

      Do you remember whether there were any children at school who you didn't get along with?
      No, I don't think so. I don't remember. Oh probably we might have had scraps sometimes, children generally do, but I don't remember anything special.

      Were you allowed to leave the school playground during lunchtime and playtime?
      I'm not sure that we didn't go home to lunch. I don't really remember.

      What did you want to be when you grew up?
      When I was older I wanted to be a Sister, of course.

      How old were you when you started wanting to become a Sister?
      Oh I suppose in my early teens.

      What influenced you in that way?
      I don't know. No, I wouldn't have known her then. Maybe, it was partly the war.

      This was the First World War?

      How did that influence you to want to become a Sister?
      Well I think friends of mine were killed. I think that had a good deal to do with it.

      Now, you got your Proficiency at Upper Waiwera School, didn't you?

      How old were you when you got that?
      Would I be about 12? I'm not really sure.

      After that you went to Auckland Girls Grammar School?
      I went to Grammar School. I lived with my granny. She lived in Auckland and that was my home while I went to school.

      Can you tell me about living with your grandmother in Auckland?
      Yes, my Uncle Bob, her son, lived there too.

      And he was an artist?
      He was an artist, yes. Uncle Bob, Uncle Robert.

      What was that house like?
      Just an ordinary wooden house, quite comfortable but not grand.

      Did you have your own bedroom there?
      Yes, I think I did.

      And what was your grandmother like, what do you remember about her?
      She was the old type you know, she was an English woman, firm but very kind to us.

      Were you there on your own, or were any of your brothers or sisters there?
      No, I don't think so. I think I must have been there by myself. I'm sure I was. Because my brother was much younger.

      Was your grandmother someone who you found it easy to talk to?
      Yes, I was very fond of her.

      Do you have any special memories of her?
      She used to come down and stay with us in our home. Every year that was. Granny's visit, she used to stay with us.

      That was when you were at Waiwera?
      Yes. And then of course when I had to go to Grammar School I stayed with her.

      How did you feel about going to Auckland?
      Well, I was quite pleased to be going to Grammar. I was very happy there.

      What about Auckland? What did you think of that?
      I quite liked being there.

      How did you get to and from school?
      I walked I think, yes. It was quite a long walk but I used to ...

      Did you get on well with the other girls?
      Yes, I think so, quite happily.

      What were the big differences you noticed about moving to Auckland - how did that affect you?
      Living in Auckland? I was quite happy there. I think I missed the others in the family.

      Did you go home much?
      I suppose I went home for the holidays. I remember those days how God seemed so near to me. Going to school I would talk to him. It seemed to just sort of come naturally.

      Why was that, do you think?
      I don't know. I suppose it was a time I was going through.

      What part did religion play in your family life?
      My mother was - I wouldn't say she was very religious, but she was very good, had a good firm faith. But not my father, I don't think he was tremendously interested in religion. But he was very good and very kind.

      Did he attend church?
      We lived in the country then, and ...

      End of Tape 1, Side 1.

      Tape 1, Side 2

      Could you tell me about Sundays in your house?
      Well, someone used to come around and take services, and we would go whenever there was a service.

      And what would you do if there was no service, would you mark the day in any special way?
      I think we'd always have prayers.

      What about in your grandmother's house?
      She was in the town, wasn't she. I used to go to church there. It was easy, you see, when we lived with her because it was in the town and there would be more services. More easy to get to a church I mean, than in the country.

      What were the other things you would do on a Sunday?
      I know Mother used to read to us, we used to love that.

      Were you allowed much freedom as a child to go wherever you wanted to?
      I don't think so. I mean we did have freedom but mother was very strict - she was particular and we wouldn't just go off anywhere.

      How do you mean you wouldn't just go off anywhere?
      She'd know where we were.

      You would tell her?
      Yes, I think so, I wouldn't imagine being out, going off you see, and not telling her where we were. I think it's not safe, because you don't know what might happen.

      What were the kinds of places you weren't allowed to go, or the things you weren't allowed to do?
      I don't remember.

      What were the kind of things that would get you into trouble?
      I suppose if we did things without telling mother.

      You said several times that your mother was fairly strict?
      Yes, she was. She was very kind but she was very firm. She'd been a teacher herself, you see.

      How was she strict with you?
      Well, we had to do as we were told, and we didn't just please ourselves.

      What would happen if you were naughty? If you did please yourselves?
      We would be stood in the corner which I hated. I remember once I was stood in the corner for something I'd done, and I peeped around to see what mother was looking like. She was looking very severe, and she said "I don't want to see your face." That nearly broke my heart!

      Can you tell me about your mother?
      She was a wonderful mother. I always had the greatest admiration for her.

      What were the kind of things that you admired about her?
      She was very just, for one thing.

      How would that be shown?
      I don't know how to put it. She didn't blame us without a cause.Or she might say she was sorry if she thought she had been not fair or done wrong.

      Do you think that made her different from other mothers?
      Well, I always thought she was a very special mother. She was too.

      Do you recall ever perhaps being afraid of her, was there anything about her you feared?
      Yes, I might have been afraid of displeasing her. I don't think I was in fear of her, more than I would be afraid of doing things she wouldn't like.

      What do you think of the values that she gave you?
      The values ... being a good mother, I think, wasn't it. Being fair and just, and a sense of humour. Being able to see the funny side of things.

      Did she ever become involved in your games or activities?
      Yes, I think she did. We used to play games, and we used to play card games. Played tennis, we had a tennis court.

      And she would participate in those games with you?

      What were the kind of things that you would do with her?
      One thing - she used to read to us a lot, in the evenings. And she used to recite to us, she knew things off by heart, she had a very good memory.

      Did you help her in her work?
      Well, I suppose we all - like good children - would help in jobs like washing up and perhaps dusting around the house - as far as I remember.

      Did she teach you how to sew?
      Yes, she tried to, I think. I wasn't very good at sewing. I used to hate it when I was little, when I was bigger too.

      Did she try to make you learn, or did she accept that you didn't like it?
      I had to learn.

      What were the things that you had to learn?
      To hem, and to undo it again and make smaller stitches.

      What about cooking? Did you learn to cook from your mother?
      I don't think I did cook very much, unless she would give me a piece of pastry to make something, when I was little.

      So she didn't reach you to cook?
      I don't think I did much in that way.

      Did you help her to prepare meals?
      Yes, I think I used to like fruit and things like that. Peeling apples - we always used to love helping her.

      How did your mother show her affection to you?
      She wasn't what you would call a demonstrative person, but I knew her love was there always. I knew I was loved.

      Was she someone who you found it easy to talk to?
      Yes, I think so. I was always very close to her.

      Do you remember any of her special sayings?
      Special sayings? I don't know that I do: "Be good, but if you can't be good, be as good as you can."

      What about your father - did you have much contact with him?
      Being girls, I suppose, he left it to mother to bring us up. But he was always very kind. I always remember he used to have his horse and when he used to come riding home, we used to run out and he'd pull us up, and we'd put our foot on his foot and he'd pull us up and sit us in front. We used to always love that. We used to watch for him coming home.

      Did you spend much time with your father?
      Well not ... I suppose not ... sometimes he would be away; with mother more we were. But he was always very loving and kind to us.

      How did he show that he loved you?
      We just knew it, I think.

      Did he hug you much?
      No, not so much, but I think just in his attitude to us.

      Were you able to talk quite freely with him?

      What were the things that you most admired about your father?
      I don't know ...

      Can you recall anything particular that you remember about him?
      I always remember him ... Did I tell you about him riding home?

      Yes. That's one of your special memories of him?
      Always coming home, riding home, sitting us up in front of him. Making us sit up straight.

      Do you recall any other things you would do with him when he was home?
      We used to play rounders and cricket with him.

      Yesterday you mentioned that your little brother was a very special person in your family?
      well, you see, there were three girls. I was the second one. Then my youngest sister was nine years old. There had been no baby in the family for nine years. Then he appeared, so we thought he was wonderful.

      He was about 11 years younger than you?

      What do you remember about his birth?
      I remember the nurse saying "It's a son." Saying to my father, when he was born.

      So you were at home when the baby was born?

      Did you know there was going to be a baby in the family or not?
      I think so.

      Did you have any knowledge of childbirth?
      No, none whatever.

      Were you curious about that?
      I don't know that I was. I don't think I used to think about it.

      Were you given any false stories about where babies came from?
      No, no.

      What were the things that you would do with your special little brother?

      I suppose we'd have games together.

      Can you remember whether you took much part in his care, or was that mainly left to your older sister?
      His care. No, I don't think I had to do so much with that.

      What were your chores then.
      My chores. I suppose I just helped with anything that was going on.

      Did you have any special chores that were yours?
      No, I don't remember special ....

      Who cleaned the boots?
      I don't know, I suppose we cleaned our own.

      What about bed making. Did you make your own bed?
      I think so.

      Did you help your mother with wash day?
      With washing? I don't know that I did. I don't remember very much ...

      Did you ever have any help in the house?
      Yes, sometimes. Mother used to have somebody in to help.

      Did you run errands for your parents or for the neighbours?
      No, I don't think there were shops there. Not near. I suppose there was a store - we must have gone there.

      Who milked the cows? These are the house cows.
      I don't know - I think the boy used to.

      This is your younger brother, or did you have a boy on the farm?
      A boy on the farm, I think.

      This was someone your parents employed?

      Did he live with your family, or did he come from his own family?
      I think he must have come from his own family, I don't remember .... living ....

      Did you ever get any pocket money?

      Was that regular or would it be special occasions?
      I think we generally were given some. We generally had something to spend.

      What would you spend it on?
      Ribbons, I think, or sweets.

      Now, how far did you travel away from home when you were a child?
      I don't think I travelled at all. I went to the Grammar School, then I lived with my Granny.

      Did you ever go into Auckland before you went to the Grammar School?
      I think we might have gone occasionally.

      How did you travel to Auckland?
      We had a gig, a horse you know, a gig they called it. There was a boat too we used to go on, that was horrible. Mother used to hate that, she was a very bad sailor.

      What about you? What did you think about it?
      I didn't like it very much either.

      What would you do with your holidays?
      Once, I know, Father took a house right down by the beach. At least it was up on the hill above the beach - at Waiwera, right on the sea, and we used to love that. We used to go down to the beach every day. But the house wasn't on the beach, it was just on a little rise above ...

      What would you do at the beach?
      We'd play about and I suppose swim.

      Were you actually swimming or paddling?
      Well, I don't know. Swimming I think.

      Who taught you how to swim?
      I think we used to go in the creek near our house, and we used to go in there. I suppose we just learned.

      Did you have swimming togs, or were you wearing other clothes?
      We had our bathing things.

      Were you allowed to swim without an adult there?
      I think so.

      What were the special occasions when you were a girl? What were the things that you really looked forward to?
      Christmas and special days like that. I remember our father had been away and he came home, we used to love that.

      Why did you love that?
      We liked having him home.

      How was Christmas celebrated in your house?
      Well, you see, it was in the country, we didn't have services very much. We might have gone on Christmas. But we all had a happy Christmas.

      Did you have presents?

      What are the kind of things that you would give as presents?
      Books, very often books.

      Did the children make their presents or buy them?
      I think we made them - books we had to buy of course.

      What were the kind of things you'd make?
      We'd make book covers, and I don't know what else.

      What were birthdays like?
      We had happy birthdays. Sometimes we'd have a party and ask other children.

      Did you have presents for your birthday as well?

      Do you recall whether you went to any weddings as a child?
      No, I don't remember.

      What about funerals?
      I don't remember going to a funeral. I don't think we were taken to funerals very much.

      Were you Confirmed as a child?

      What do you remember about that?
      It was a very solemn and very special time. But I looked forward to it very much. It meant a lot to me, my Confirmation.

      Would you describe yourself as being a religious child?
      I don't know that I was. Mother brought it up. I suppose I had a real faith.

      Did your family celebrate Guy Fawkes?
      No, I don't think so.

      Do you recall any picnics?
      Oh yes, we used to have lovely picnics. We would go down to the beach and swim and there used to be, in those days, you could get oysters. Afterwards, the Government took them over and you weren't allowed to touch them. But when we were young, younger I suppose, because I know that afterwards it all changed. We used to get oysters and make a fire on the beach and then they used to open. We just put the shells on the fire and then they would open. We'd pick them and burn our fingers, we'd scoop them out. It was lovely.

      Was that with your parents, or on your own as children?
      We would all go, as a family. Then afterwards, you see, the Government took them over and we weren't allowed to touch them.

      Were these group picnics, or were you just there with the family?
      Just with our family.

      Did you ever go to Sunday School?
      I suppose I did. I don't remember much about Sunday School. Because my mother used to teach us at home.

      That's where you learned for your Confirmation?
      I suppose I must have gone to Confirmation classes.

      What were meal times like in your family?
      Meal times. I think we had a mid-day meal. Yes, we did. That would be our main meal. Then we'd have tea later on.

      Did you say grace before the meals?

      Were the children allowed to talk at the dinner table?
      Yes. We were never allowed to be too noisy. We were a very free and happy family, but we had to do as we were told.

      What would you do in the evenings?
      Sometimes Mother would read to us, we used to love Mother reading to us - she read so beautifully - or sometimes we'd play games.

      What kind of games would they be?
      Played cards - different card games.

      End of tape 1, side 2.

      Tape 2, Side 1.

      Do you remember any family outings other than the picnic?
      i said we went to the beach, didn't we.I know one place we used to go to - Hatfield's Beach. Mr Hatfield used to have gum in cases, and some of it was carved. We always used to go in and say "Mr Hatfield, can we please see the gum."

      Did your mother go visiting much?
      No, not a great deal, I don't think.

      Did you ever go to any circuses?
      No, I don't think so. I think I must have gone to one, but not very much ...

      Do you remember any of the Royal Visits - before the First World War?
      Yes, I think I do.

      What about Halley's Comet?
      I was just going to say that I remember going with mother to see Halley's Comet.

      What do you remember about that?
      Falling over the bank!

      So you climbed up to a high point?
      We went up a sort of side road and I remember stepping down, thinking I was on the level, but I wasn't. I remember falling over this bank. I wasn't hurt, nothing happened. No bones broken. But I remember quite well going up to see that.

      Do you remember the visit of the American Fleet?
      No. I don't think I could have seen it.

      What were the kind of clothes that you wore when you were a child?
      Clothes. I remember having a pinafore. I think it had spots on it, and father saying "you are a spotted dodger". I used to cry when I had to wear it.

      Because of what your father had said?
      Yes. Spotted dodger. Funny isn't it, the things that upset you as children. They seem ridiculous later on.

      Did you like the clothes that you wore?
      I think I did.

      What kind of footwear did you have?
      Did we have sandals. Yes, we must have. And shoes.

      Did you have to wear your shoes, or were you allowed to go barefoot?
      No, I don't think we were. I don't remember ever going barefoot. We probably would have liked to have done. But I don't think Mother would have liked us going barefoot. We always had something over our feet.

      Did you wear hats?
      I think we had hats, but I don't know that we wore them a great deal.

      What kind of underwear did you wear when you were a child?
      We had knickers, I suppose, petticoats ...

      Were your clothes bought or home made?
      Well I think both - some might have been home made, some bought.

      Were you ever allowed to choose the kind of clothes you had?
      I don't think I did. I think we just took what we were given, what Mother provided for us.

      Were you ever allowed to wear trousers?
      No, we never had those.

      Did you know of any other children who wore trousers (this is girls)?
      Yes, I think they did. Don't know that they did very much in those days. That was a bit later, I think.

      How did you look after your teeth when you were a child?
      We had to brush our teeth.

      what were you brushing them with?
      I suppose toothpaste, and soap and water.

      What happened if you got toothache?
      Once I had - went to the dentist and he took out a tooth, I think -he hurt me anyway, and I grabbed his arm and said "You cruel, cruel man". I could have killed him, I was so angry with him, hurting me so much.

      And how old do you think you were when that happened?
      I don't know, I hope I wasn't too old.

      Do you remember there ever being any illness in your house when you were a child?
      Oh yes, I was ill. I generally got everything that was going around. Things like measles and whooping cough.

      How would you be cared for when you were ill?
      Mother took care - great care - of us. She was very good at nursing.

      Do you remember any special things she would do?
      She had a wonderful little box somebody made for her when she was a child. They came out from England when she was a child, and then they went back to England, and then she came out again when she was grown up. But the first time when she was a child a man on the ship made her this wonderful box - it all fitted together. It was all separate pieces you see and it fitted into a lovely little box. Wooden. He'd made this for her and when we were ill - when we were in bed with the measles or anything that children had - we were always allowed to have this box to play with, and put together. There was only one piece you had to - special piece - I think we put a mark on it, if you didn't get that in the right place it wouldn't make into a box. That's one thing I remember, that box.

      Did your mother have any special remedies?
      On yes, she was very good at looking after us if we weren't well. She was a sort of born nurse.

      Do you remember what you were afraid of when you were a child?
      I was afraid of dogs.

      Why was that?
      I don't know. They barked and made a noise.

      You would have had quite a few dogs on the sheep farm though, wouldn't you?

      Do you remember the kind of thing that would make you angry when you were a girl?
      I don't know. I suppose if I didn't get my own way about things sometimes. If I wanted something and ...

      Did that happen often?
      I expect it did.

      What would upset you as a girl? What would make you sad?
      Make me sad? [Connie]

      Can you remember any particular episode?
      I don't know that I can. I remember when a girl, I had my first experience of death. A girl we knew, Bella Howe, she died, and I remember how upset I was. This was the first time I think I had had the experience of anyone dying.

      Did you go to her funeral?
      I don't think so.

      Was she a school friend of yours?
      Yes. I think she got pneumonia.

      Do you remember how you were told about that?
      My mother would tell me. I don't remember but I know she - telling me very wisely and lovingly. She was that sort of person.

      Do you have any particular happy or special memories of your childhood?
      Happy memories. I remember father coming home riding and running out to meet him. That's always a great joy, having him home again. And going out together to picnics. Mother reading to us. I always loved that. And telling us stories. And then our granny used to come and stay with us - mother's mother.

      What would you do with your granny when she came to stay?
      I don't know. We just loved having her there.

      What do you think made your childhood in Upper Waiwera different from other people's childhoods?
      Well, I suppose every childhood is different, isn't it. It's special to them, don't you think. People are different, aren't they. Yourself and other people you live with or come in contact with. That makes people so interesting I think because if we were all the same it would be not so interesting.'

      An undated newsletter of the Community of the Sacred Name Newsletter gave this obituary for Sister Constance:

      'When Sister Constance, almost 99 years old, and for 71 years a Professed Sister of this Community slipped peacefully away to the Lord on Easter Day as we sang the Compliance Canticle "Lord now you let your servant go in peace...", an era of the Community's life ended. Sister Constance, a beautiful woman of 22 came to the Community from Auckland in 1913 to test her vocation as a Sister under Mother Edith, the Mother Foundress. The highlight of her training in those early years was the time she spent in District Nursing work with Nurse Maude, for whom she always had a great love and respect. It is good that her memories of those times have been taperecorded for the Nursing archives, as have her recollections of early childhood, family life and education for a study being undertaken by the Waikato University. Here in the Community, we asked her to write down all her memories of Mother Edith and her sayings and teachings. It has made quite a book on its own, and will be invaluable when the history of the Community is formally written up. After Profession as a Sister in 1919, there were many years of work among the people in the parishes  St Lukes, Sydenham, Linwood and Phillipstown; at the hostel at Hokitika; and at Te Wai Pounamu College. Four years were spent as a patient in the Sanatorium and at Hanmer, in the days when little treatment could be offered for TB, yet she lived on hale and hearty into her 99th year! For 10 years she was Assistant Superior, and during the last 30 years was a great help at home in the various positions of guest mistress, house Sister, and Sister in charge of the Oblates. She was very fond of flowers and a great gardener, caring for her little rockeries until those last weeks when she was confined to bed. Even then she still talked about getting up and seeing to things, and took a keen interest in what plants were following. Not only was her mind and intellect clear to the end of her life, but her sense of humour and quick repartee gave us many laughs. She felt the deaths of Sister Doreen and Sister Evelyn very much, and particularly that of Archdeacon Witty, our Warden, who had been one of "her Oblates", and whom she had always thought would bury her. She felt very much that she was being left behind, though we pointed out what a great welcoming party there would be when her turn came. How fitting it was that it should come at the end of a very happy Easter Day  indeed a joyous resurrection, and we praise God for her. We miss her, but what a joyous reunion with Mother Edith, Nurse Maude and all those early Sisters  many of them just names to us, but dear friends and contemporaries to her. May God grant them the vision of His Beauty and the wonder of His love.'

  • Sources 
    1. [S240] Biography Howell, Constance Mildred.
      See BIO029 for the same biography in text format

    2. [S532] Biography Howell, Constance Mildred.

    3. [S536] Biography Howell, Constance Mildred - transcript of tape.

    4. [S537] Biography Howell, Constance Mildred - 2011 transcript of 1989 tape transcript.

    5. [S389] DTH120 Death Howell, Constance - bereavement card from Mother Zoe, DTH120., Mother Superior to Natalie Sinnott; 1990.

    6. [S1114] DTH121 Death Howell, Constance - bereavement card from Mother Zoe, DTH121., Mother Superior to Rex Sinnott; 1990.

    7. [S170] MAR007 Marriage Howell, Richard and Pheney, Emma.

    8. [S358] MAR074 Marriage Aniversary Howell, Richard and Pheney, Emma Mildred, MAR074., Golden Wedding anniversary notice - Richard Howell and E. Mildred Pheney; March 1938–April 1938.

    9. [S938] MAR Marriage Index NZ - on-line, Richard Howell; Emma Mildred Pheney; 275; 1888.