Early NZ Game Changers
As personal account by NZBWN member, Elizabeth Sullivan
In March I was fortunate enough to spend the day with my grandmother’s cousin, Madeline Anderson Orlowski. Born on 4th May 1907, on Baldwin St, Dunedin, the world's steepest residential street, Madeline is the oldest person in New Zealand. She is the granddaughter of New Zealand's earliest Polish settlers, who arrived at Port Chalmers in December 1872.
The eldest of 4 sisters, fear did not feature in Madeline’s vocabulary, nor that of her youngest sisters Rayena, Mavis and Gertrude. One day when they were staying in Wanaka, the 4 sisters took their dad’s car, a Crossley, to visit friends at a station in Glenorchy, on the far side of Lake Wakatipu. Driving down the treacherous Crown range towards Arrowtown, the brakes failed, but Mavis managed to control the car, driving it to Arrowtown and then on to Queenstown.
The sun had set before they started on their way home, not to be put off by the man who said, ‘If you’re going to drive through the Kawerau Gorge in the dark, you’ve got the courage of Ned Kelly’ (an Australian outlaw). The battery and headlights were low & Madeline had to walk in front, so they could see where they were going. They got home eventually, returning the car to their dad without brakes or lights, but they and the car were all in one piece.