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Snow on the Lindis

Graham Beattie, Beattie’s Book Blog, 30 September 2015.

‘Pop in unexpectedly for a piece of her legendary shortbread and you won’t find this feisty octogenarian sitting with her feet up.


Rather, you’re far more likely to find the formidable Madge Snow poking about her beloved, four-acre Wanaka garden with just her trusty walking stick for company.

One of life’s great enthusiasts, gardening has remained Madge’s grand passion and she’s certainly not planning on hanging up her garden trowel any time soon.

‘I love it. I’m obsessed with it. It takes a brave person to try and prise me away from my garden,’ laughs Madge.

In her charming new memoir, aptly titled Snow on the Lindis, Madge Snow reflects on her wonderful and long life in the historic and majestic Lindis Pass — the main inland route to the dry Mackenzie Basin, running between Central and North Otago. It’s a part of the country which is never far from the weather headlines in winter for its snow and in summer for the severe droughts.

Morven Hills is one of New Zealand’s most well-known high-country stations — once an enormous 400,000 acres. The great stone woolshed is one of New Zealand’s instantly recognisable farm buildings and is one of the largest shearing sheds in the country at a whopping 34 stands.

Madge grew up on Malvern Downs, her parents’ 14,500 hectare station which was once part of the great Morven block. As a young school leaver, Madge met Max (‘it was love at first sight’) and they married soon after she returned from a trip abroad with her mother.

Together, Madge and Max took over the running of modern-day Morven Hills Station where they raised their three children.

Unlike station wives today, the roles between husbands and wives of Madge’s generation were clearly divided between things domestic and beyond the garden gate.

Madge commanded the home front as efficiently as the men ran the station. Her kitchen was her kingdom. She loved being in there and her life-long
preoccupation, apart from her garden, was to make sure there was always plenty of wonderful home-grown and deliciously hearty homemade food to fuel her family and hardworking musterers and shearers working the station.

After 30 happy years together running Morven, it was time for the next generation of Snows to take over the station. Madge (right- photo: Ruth Brown) and Max retired to Wanaka in 1982

This is Madge’s delightful and very personal story of domestic station life ruled by the changing seasons and cycles, how the times have changed, and of fond memories that will never fade.’



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