Wynne Victoria Malkin, the 2nd of four girls, was born in Brighton, England in December, 1918, just a few weeks after the end of the First World War. Her sisters Florence May (Flol) 1914-1999, Elizabeth Edna (Betty) 1921-1996, and Cecilia Margaret Irene (Peggy) 1923 were also born in Brighton. Her father, Edwin, fought in France with the Royal Sussex Regiment, and her mother Florence Esther was a nurse.
In 1925, the family left Brighton England to travel to the then still known as a young country, New Zealand, leaving for what was suggested to be ‘a land of great opportunity’. They boarded the RMS Corinthic at Southampton on the 3rd April 1925, for the six-week journey with the destination port being Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. For some unknown but fortuitous reason the Corinthic did not dock at Napier, but in Wellington, whereby a distant relative on Wynne’s mother’s side (the Beezers), John (Jack) Bullen recognised the Malkin name on luggage and took the family to his home where they were accommodated for the night. Alice and Jack had three children one of whom was Christopher John Bullen.
Settling in Hawkes Bay, where two boys, Edwin Jnr (Ted) and John were born in 1930 and 1931 respectively, bringing the children up to six. Wynne was educated at Waipukurau Primary School, and just last year was guest of honour at a school reunion. It must have been an omen because Wynne met up again with Chris and they were married in Waipukurau in 1941 and settled in Upper Hutt, then a dormitory suburb of Wellington. Christopher Edward (Chris) was born in Upper Hutt in 1943 and James Anthony (Jim) in 1945. Dad was a fitter and turner at the Gear Meat Company in Petone and once her children were old enough Mum returned to the workforce as a kindergarten teacher.
But other interests were stirring and before long she joined the Labour Party, becoming branch secretary. It kept her busy because the local MP Phil Holloway was a cabinet minister.
Mum stood for the Upper Hutt Borough Council, topping the poll, but the male-dominated council would not appoint her deputy mayor.
On the sporting front, through the Home and School Association she took up indoor bowls and it wasn’t long before the whole family was involved. Next came lawn bowls including umpiring and becoming runner-up for a national fours title. Bowls is still on the scene as these days she coaches the fellow-residents at Reevedon Home.
Sadly Dad passed away at the age of 92, and it was not long after his death that Mum sold their family home in Levin, and bought a unit at Reevedon Village. We decided she shouldn’t get up the ladder to clean out the gutters any more! Two years ago she sold the unit and moved into the rest home. That’s a brief summary of Mum’s life.
I’d like to relate one little story.
I was in the Whakatane branch of her bank a fortnight ago, sorting out one or two financial matters for her. The teller brought up the details of Mum’s accounts on the computer, and read off the screen “Wynne Victoria Bullen, widow, aged 99, minor”. “MINOR”!” exclaimed the bank girl, “but she’s 99.” The other bank staff crowded around the computer. Why is she shown as a minor? They went into a huddle and came up with the answer. It seems the BNZ’s system records only the last two digits of the year of birth. Mum, of course, was born in 1918, and this is 2018. Aha, said the computer, she’s less than a year old. And that’s where I came in. Because it believed she was a minor, she couldn’t legally write a cheque, use an EFT-POS card, or transfer money. It took them quite a while to figure out how to over-ride the computer. Once they had it sorted, I said: “Well next time you have a 100-year-old client you’ll know what to do.”
Chris Bullen Jnr.