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'You wondered whether you'd go bush'

Audio file

Joyce Maclean remembers the war at home

Joyce Hardham was born in Wellington in 1909. She married Gilbert Maclean in 1930. During the war they lived on a family farm in Paraparaumu, on the coast north of Wellington, with two small children.

In this extract Joyce recalls thinking about where the Japanese would come from if they invaded and what she and her family would do:


Joyce Maclean: It was at the back of your mind all the time. But we didn't do anything really actively that I can remember that we did. But sometimes at night I'd think, well, what would we do? Where would you go? They had so much power over you and they would find you with the modern aircraft and things. Where would you go and what would you do? And it was kind of at the back of your mind. Although you don't really do anything actively. I don't think even I discussed it with my husband. But the thought was there. It was like a weight on your mind. We had visions of them coming up from Wellington. We kind of felt that they would. You knew the armament was in Wellington, Wrights Hill, and you knew guns were around, but you didn't know exactly where, or what it was, because we weren't told. It was a kind of thought you lived with.

Interviewer: Did you ever think about where you may go with the children. Did you think that you may go into the country? Or did you not think about it?

Joyce Maclean: You wondered whether you'd go bush and then you thought, Well, when you took the children into the bush, what would you do? You couldn't take food for long enough to be of any value and then you think, go over the Maungatuks, over into the next valley and similar, you'd be on the same coast. What would you do? How could you do it?  It was a no-win situation really. You were better to stay and put up with what came.

Interviewer: Were you scared of what they might do if they invaded?

Joyce Maclean: Oh yeah, we were scared because you heard terrible stories of the Japanese and how they were treating people.

Interviewer: Did you fear for what they might do to you personally? You know the stories about invading troops and women?

Joyce Maclean: Yes, oh yes, yes you have fear for yourself, also worried about the children and other people that you knew. I had elderly parents.  I had an elderly aunt and my grandparents. It was just there, but life had to go on and the days were full.  It was just like an extra weight.

Joyce Maclean

Joyce Maclean on her wedding day, 18 June 1930 and at home in 2007.


Sound file: Interviewed by Alison Parr, 5 June 2007. From the Civilian New Zealanders in the Second World War Oral History Project, Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
Original interview held in Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Not to be reproduced.

Images: Joyce Maclean collection; Alison Parr

How to cite this page

'You wondered whether you'd go bush', URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated