Margaret Alice Close.jpg Margaret Alice Close sign (2020). Mike Gooch. Word on the street image collection.

This cul-de-sac in the New Plymouth suburb of Whalers Gate is named after a remarkable, yet quite ordinary woman: Margaret Alice Megaw (née Baxter).

Born in 1935, Margaret attended Vogeltown Primary and New Plymouth Girls High School. After leaving school, she worked as a switch board operator at the New Plymouth Chief Post Office.

She married Bill (William James) Megaw in 1956, and together they worked on their farm on Barrett Road. Their first home was the house known as ‘Donnybrook’ which is still standing today in Kapu Grove. In 1979 the farm was sold to developers, which enabled Margaret and Bill to purchase a farm further up Barrett Road and another one on Te Arei Road, Waitara.

Margaret and Bill had six children: three sons and three daughters. Margaret impressed everyone one with her positive and supportive attitude despite some challenging events in her life. As a young wife and mother, she lost her son Graeme at five weeks. She had an ectopic pregnancy and then had to have extensive surgery for breast cancer. All the while having to look after five small children.

In the 1980’s with a burgeoning market for mohair, Margaret decided to farm Angora goats. She had 15 or 20 goats enjoying life in two paddocks that have become part of Margaret Alice Close.

Margaret joined the YMCA walking group and walked a marathon. She organised recreational four-wheel bike trips and picnics with friends and family. Then cancer struck again; this time bowel cancer. As a member of the New Plymouth Ostomy Group, she then supported people who were coming to terms with similar health experiences. Her attitude was a comfort to many.

Not long after being cleared of bowel cancer, she began to lose weight, and a brain tumour was diagnosed. Six months later, Margaret died at her home in February 1999, aged 64 years.

Her children decided to subdivide the front paddock of the farm and name the first street “Margaret Alice Close” in honour of their mother. Later, they decided to continue the development, naming the subdivision ‘Settlers Bush’.

(With thanks to Christine Tizard for sharing the memories of her mother)

This story was originally published in the Taranaki Daily News.

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