Courtesy of Special Collections, The University of Auckland Libraries and Learning Services

Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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Olive Macky interview
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K.A. When were you at College?
O.M. I don't remember, but it was the year they didn't hold the graduation ceremony. I remember it well because my future husband [John Thomson Macky, B.2.d] thought up the stunt that got them into trouble.
K.A. He got the idea....
O.M. I don't know whether it was his idea or the others, but he certainly worked in with them. They knew that Sir Robert Start would have given a report to the STAR about his speech — what he was going to say. And these wretched boys knew that the first issue of the STAR came out at 3.00. So they rushed to the STAR office, got a copy of the 3.00 STAR, brought it back and as Sir Robert Start was giving his speech they kept on reporting — "but, that's not what you said, that's not in the paper, that's not what you were going to say".
K.A. This was in the Ceremony?
O.M. In the Ceremony. Of course there was a row.
K.A. And that was why they cancelled it the following year?
O.M. I think so.
K.A. Were they all engineering students?
O.M. I don't know, I don't remember what they all were because at that time I was part-time, I wasn't full-time — I was teaching. But I happened to know about it, you see he told me what had happened.
K.A. That wasn't the year you were capped. You were capped the following year. Was that the year in which the students provided their own Ceremony?
O.M. I don't remember that now. The thing that I remember was — we went to the Town Hall. We just sat anywhere we liked and our names were read out.
K.A. So there was something official.
O.M. A little bit, that's all.
K.A. You didn't have guests or speeches or anything?
O.M. No. If they did, I don't remember.
K.A. It's just that somebody told me that maybe the Graduation Ceremony was cancelled twice. But somebody I talked to said that the students themselves wrote a mock graduation ceremony. That might have been for the student extravaganza or something like that.
O.M. It might have been too, but I don't remember that. I wasn't much in the life on the University — I was too busy.
K.A. You were part-time all the time you were at Auckland?
O.M. Yes I was part-time.
K.A. Was this when the University was in the old Grammar School?
O.M. Yes.
K.A. What year did you come from Wellington to Auckland?
O.M. I think it must have been 1910.
K.A. Did you know Mary Scott, who subsequently wrote quite a lot?
O.M. No.
K.A. She was round about that time, but she was a full-time student. Mrs Benge said to me that the part-time students and the full-time students did not see a lot of each other.
O.M. We didn't. We were too busy. And who was Mrs Benge before she was married?
K.A. She was Olive Clark.
O.M. No I don't know her at all.
K.A. And she was a great friend of Mary Scott's.
O.M. When I came up here from Wellington I was the odd man out because there were very few students, especially among the women, at Auckland who had not been through the Auckland Grammar School. There were just a few odd ones.
K.A. And you didn't mix very much at all?
O.M. Only to a certain degree. But I was teaching at the same time — trying to get some money to put myself through.
K.A. Keith Sinclair, who will probably be the editor of this thing in the end, wanted me to find out from people where they thought the power in the University lay. But, I have found that people were not very interested in that. They knew who the Registrar was and that's about all. Do you remember Sir Maurice O'Rorke or George Fowlds or any of those?
O.M. No.
K.A. They would not have come into your life at all?
O.M. No, not at all. They were only names.
K.A. Do you remember who the Registrar was?
O.M. No. What I do know is that we had to pay for everything.
K.A. All your fees?
O.M. Yes.
K.A. No bursaries at all?
O.M. No. Unless you had a scholarship you paid for everything.
K.A. What about the Students' Association? You didn't have time to take much part in that at all?
O.M. No. I didn't take much part in that. They had photographs of all the different students' associations of the year. And we found that even on those my husband wasn't there.
K.A. Wasn't he?
O.M. He was in disgrace.
K.A. I went and looked at those photographs and you knew my Uncle, Bill Smith, didn't you. I found him there, but he is in the one which is the very earliest one they have got. I don't remember what year it was.
O.M. I don't either. But I know that he was up before the, before the...
K.A. Either the professorial board or the Council?
O.M. Well he was up before one of them, along with these others — they knew they deserved it.
K.A. They didn't threaten to send them down or anything like that?
O.M. No.
K.A. But they punished them by cancelling the Ceremony?
O.M. As far as I remember I think they couldn't pick out one man in particular. But I know my husband was in it.
K.A. Did he finish his engineering?
O.M. No. He just about finished his engineering and then he decided he wanted to go to the Church. And I remember the time the engineering folk said "loss of a damned good engineer". But that's what he wanted to do. He was absolutely sure.
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O.M. I had done the Latin by the time I came here. Because in those days you had to do Latin and maths. I had done my Latin, but of course a lot of my friends were doing Latin and I remember when they came with great joy from Professor Dettman's lecture. He was in trying to call the roll and the students were misbehaving. So he got up, "Alright young fellows" he says "I will go to my room and call the roll to myself." And they roared with laughter and settled down to listen to him. They loved him. He knew what to do.
K.A. Yes, he knew how to cope with them. What other subjects did you take?
O.M. I took German.
K.A. Who taught that?
O.M. Who was he?
K.A. Grossman wouldn't have taught German, though he seemed to teach everything.
O.M. I took in those days what they called — it was logic and ethics — what did they call that in those days? Anyway, I took that with Grossman I think, and I took applied maths — I took that with Saegar.
K.A. I can find out who took German. Did you have same feeling, almost akin to idolatry that everyone had for Grossman?
O.M. No.
K.A. You didn't?
O.M. No.
K.A. Not as a lecturer?
O.M. No. He was interesting and I sat and I listened to his lectures and I took them, I was interested, but no, I didn't feel that way about him at all.
K.A. They say that he was pretty casual about completing the syllabus and this sort of thing, but they seemed to enjoy his lectures so much.
O.M. Yes, I enjoyed them. I was so interested in the subject you see. Because I remember I was always interested in children and I was very interested in what they called child psychology. And I remember I learned enough to know how little I knew.
K.A. From him?
O.M. Yes.
K.A. So you had him for logic and ethics or whatever it was called?
O.M. Yes.
K.A. But you didn't have him for history or economics? You didn't take either of those?
O.M. No, I didn't take either of those.
K.A. It may have been that those were the subjects he preferred, because those are the subjects I have heard people talking about.
O.M. Yes, well there was a very big class for those days for logic and ethics. Anyway that's what I took. I had to make up my units.
K.A. What did you major in?
O.M. I didn't major in anything in particular. It was a funny old thing I had. What did I do? I did French, German and Latin, maths, applied maths, logic and ethics and then I wasn't well and they told me I was just to give up.
K.A. Did you finished your degree?
O.M. Yes, I finished my B.A. That was all.
K.A. Can you remember how things compared between Auckland and Wellington? Was there much difference in the student life or anything like that?
O.M. No I don't remember much about that, because again I had my head down.
K.A. How many years did you have at Victoria?
O.M. I did some of that extramurally. Yes, I did one and then I took extramural two and then I came back to Auckland to finish and I found it so hard to get into the place that I took a second year. I felt I wasn't getting on. When I was sitting the exam I was sure I wouldn't get it.
K.A. Was there much student social life? Did you meet your husband while he was an engineering student?
O.M. Yes, but there wasn't a lot of social life then — a certain amount only. But, I will tell you what happened — I think there must have been people called up for the War or something, because I remember the first social life I went to I had a lovely time and I remember that some of the men that were killed at the War they told me afterwards that they had made up their minds that they were going to give me a jolly good time and then they were called up for something anyway. I enjoyed myself a lot.
K.A. I have been told how pretty you were. I am sure you would have enjoyed yourself. What sort of facilities were there? Was there much common room life?
O.M. Well you see it was very small, there were very few people there, very few women students, and the ones I got to know were mainly full-timers. But there were very few of us really.
K.A. So that the amenities, compared for example with what there are now were just ludicrous.
O.M. They didn't exist. But in those days, when I first went there as an undergraduate, we all had to wear gowns. Undergraduates as well. We had to buy an undergraduate gown. We were not allowed to go to lectures without it. When you graduated you sold it quite easily — there was someone waiting to buy it.
K.A. I think that is a lovely idea. Actually in 1934 when I went there which was well after you are talking about there were still some students who wore gowns and all the teaching staff always wore gowns.
O.M. Even though I was only part-time I still had to have my gown.
K.A. You probably wouldn't have been admitted to a lecture without being properly dressed.
O.M. I don't know — I wouldn't have thought of it.
K.A. It was Maxwell Walker then who taught you German.
O.M. Yes, and there were three of us in the class.
K.A. He must have been quite a young man then.
O.M. I can't remember.
K.A. You probably thought he was old.
O.M. No, I wouldn't have classed him as a young man.
K.A. Was he a good teacher? — he had the reputation of being a good teacher.
O.M. Oh yes. We thought he was interested in us and in our work. I had done a little German before. But he was good.
K.A. How had you done German before?
O.M. I did it at school.
K.A. You were lucky.
O.M. Well at the school I was at in Wanganui they had on the staff a French woman and a German woman to teach us French and German.
K.A. It is within my recollection that they taught German at University when I first went there. Maxwell Walker was teaching French and that was all.
O.M. Oh well I was interested. One of the ones in the class that I was in was a girl called Irene Wilton and she was from Wanganui too, she also learnt German at school.
K.A. And did you get good results?
O.M. Oh fairly well — we thought we did.
K.A. Were these the days when your exam papers were sent overseas?
O.M. Yes.
K.A. Oh well he must have been able to teach German alright. I wonder why he dropped it?
O.M. Well we passed it anyway. Oh I know — didn't it happen when the War broke out that German became unpopular? And it was a very good subject. I found it comparatively easy compared with French.
K.A. Maxwell Walker was teaching languages on his own then. He didn't have Dora Miller with him?
O.M. No.
K.A. She must have come later. The staff must have been only four or five by the sound of it. There would be Dettman and Saegar, and Walker and Edgerton (English). Was Grossman a full professor then?
O.M. I don't know.
K.A. I don't think he was. I have an idea he was working on the STAR at the time. Or maybe he was part-time for the STAR as well as full-time for the University. I don't remember, but I know he did work at the STAR — he used to go down and write their leaders.
O.M. Well look — we had a very big class and many of them were law students.
K.A. The law students probably had to take Latin too.
O.M. Yes they did. And then we had a few medicals doing Latin.
K.A. That was before they went to Otago?
O.M. Yes, to pass their intermediate.
K.A. If you were a part-time student and you feel you weren't taking a very active part do you remember any of the students or any of them particularly famous of infamous that you recall?
O.M. No, I don't remember that. There was one, I have forgotten his name, but he was doing very well as a student, but he didn't do well afterwards.
K.A. You don't remember any of the Rhodes Scholars?
O.M. No.
K.A. There were people like Saul Ziman. I think he was one.
O.M. Oh yes, well I'd forgotten him. That's while I was there.
K.A. And Kenneth Sisam?
O.M. I don't remember him. The students were all very interested because Mrs Dettman had a baby and she would go to lectures and leave the baby asleep on his table in his office. The students loved it. They wanted to take turns in looking at the baby.
K.A. Did anyone mind the baby or did they just leave it?
O.M. I think they just left it. I don't really remember about that.
K.A. How lovely! It sounds sort of cosy. Any more of these sort of stories?
O.M. No, I can't remember about many more than that.
K.A. It is ridiculous! Because to me Professor Dettman was always a very old man. The fact that he had a baby sounds sort of surprising.
O.M. Well he struck us as an old man too. The students loved him. Dettyman they called him. Naturally!
K.A. He took an interest in them?
O.M. Oh yes! He was good!
K.A. He had gone of course before I had anything to do with him.
O.M. But he went to the War.
K.A. After he was in the School of Engineering?
O.M. No, before. Yes, he went to the War. He went down to Otago and he went from Otago to the War. When he came back I was teaching.
K.A. Where did you teach?
O.M. I taught at Wanganui Girls College. I was there all through the War.
K.A. Nice?
O.M. Oh yes, I suppose it was. I wasn't a very good teacher. I know I wasn't.
K.A. You didn't want to be a teacher particularly?
O.M. Oh I wanted to, but I wasn't a particularly good teacher.
K.A. What subjects did you teach?
O.M. Oh anything I was asked to teach. Not the subjects I knew. I made an awful mess over one lot, because the Headmistress of the school said to me, "Did you make the dress you've got on?". I said "Yes." That's when she gave me a sewing class. If anybody made a mess over a sewing class that person was me. I could not teach sewing. It was dreadful! Some of the parents complained and I didn't wonder. They were right to complain.
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