June Hay of Pigeon Bay

  • 21 May 2023
  • Celia Hay

June Mary Goodwin was born to Allan Goodwin and Beatrice Piper of Brookshaw, Pigeon Bay in Christchurch on 10 July 1931.

She had an older brother Bruce and in 1935 her sister, Ann (Deans) was born. For June, her early years were spent growing up in Pigeon Bay, then off to boarding school at Craighead in Timaru then transferring to Rangi Ruru. After school, she working as a florist under Miss Feaver. 

In 1952, aged 20, she marriage Donald Hay (1920-2005), the man from across the bay.

Motherhood followed soon. Brian born 1953, David, 11 months later in 1954 and Allan in 1957.

While Donald farmed and sailed, June who suffered from motion sickness and would rapidly become seasick on the yachts, preferred land-based activities. June’s gardening skills became legendary, and she developed a very deep knowledge of plants and flowers and often hosting garden tours to her garden. 

In the 1960s June started to learn the art of Ikebana and trained in the Sogetsu School which considers plant expression, balance and the liberating concept that you can create anytime, anywhere, using any material.  This was avant garde art. June would often, much to Donald’s dismay, get side-tracked by a distinctive flower or plant or relic and start putting together a composition. She would do this on the beach, on top of the farm, on a table at her home or just in her hands. 

At our farm, Inveralloch, we have carved out totara “vases,” made by Donald and his chainsaw, following June’s detailed instructions, which she would use as vessels for her art. June became a Sogetsu teacher and her personal triumph was being asked to a create a permanent Ikebana display at the entrance to the Japanese Restaurant at the new Park Royal Hotel (1988). With Donald on logistics, June collected ancient totara tree root remnants from the tops of Inveralloch and around Pigeon Bay. She created a sculpture, on a bed of selected round stones collected from Birdling Flat. June’s artwork stayed in place for many years. 

At my restaurant in Christchurch, June would come in each week to create magnificent floral arrangements that would adorn our counters and tables. She would also teach my hospitality students the art of flower arranging. We all learnt floristry tips from June.

From her mother, Beatrice, June learnt to sew. At an early age, June started to absorb her mother’s exceptional sewing skills and became an expert seamstress, making clothes, always altering and improving designs, dresses, skirts, trousers, jackets for herself but also for Donald and the boys.

Later June would donate all her clothes to the Akaroa Museum and the featured in an exhibition called June's Wardrobe in 2019.

 Later she would experiment with complex and complicated techniques. This embroidery or textile art (pictured above and on the alter) was June’s last effort.

The embroidery tells the story of whales and lighthouses from the Auckland Islands to Akaroa. There is an embroidered story on the back. June started this in 2003, for baby Alice, and stopped working on this once she had moved to the Diana Isaac retirement home in January 2019. Her needle is still in place, waiting for another stitch.

June had some dyslexia, which I recognised as an educator, but she had no idea about. She hated reading but loved practical things and preferred looking at books with pictures rather than digging deep in a whole lot of text. June did however, read the Bible and for many decades, her day started with some bible study. She could be found doing her bible study while seated on her exer-cycle in her bedroom. The Bible study was often followed by phone calls made to friends and family from her bike.

Religion was very important to June. She taught the Bibles in School programme, was on the vestry and deeply involved in the Anglican world and of course with this church.

Following Donald’s death in 2005, June become even more part of our lives. Brian died in 2007 and then Al in 2012, after the earthquakes. June embraced our Hay-Hay family because of course, I was a Hay that had married a Hay.

I am from the James Hay Theatre Family. Here we are at the re-opening of the Christchurch Town Hall.

On the day of the earthquake on February 2011, when our own Cranmer Court home was destroyed, I went into Bishop’s Park to retrieve my mother, Judith Hay and take her out with us to Pigeon Bay. June invited Judith to stay with her which lasted for nearly 2 months. Later, somewhat ironically, June moved into my mother’s vacated Bishop’s Park apartment. 

June loved this new home, inner city Christchurch living, walking across to Hagley Park or to Ballantynes. Bishop’s Park was also damaged in the earthquakes and some years later, June had to relocate to Diana Isaac Rest Home where she passed away.

I am very happy that we were able to include June in our life in Auckland and she visited regularly. June would walk to the Anglican cathedral in Parnell, stopping and talking to strangers. 

There were also some visits to Auckland Hospital, for a pacemaker and later from a fall in our bathroom, where she broke some ribs.

In 2018, and I think this day was another highlight of June‘s life, she presented a personal history at the Pigeon Bay Church. June meticulously selected a range of photos depicting life in Pigeon Bay and I had scanned them for her and uploaded a powerpoint for her to talk to. 

At the presentation, June talked through the slides, with confidence and humour and conveyed her sense of fun. She needed no notes. Afterwards she was on such a high. She was so satisfied with her speech and the whole experience. This was June, as the performer, that we rarely saw.

In 2021, we held June’s 90th birthday in Christchurch and also in Pigeon Bay. Here she is pictured with her Hay nieces, Caroline (McKeller )Tapley and Elizabeth (Hay) Dillon.

At June's birthday celebration, she 'unveiled' the interpretation panel at the entrance to the Hay Reserve and the Hay Family seat.

June was carried through the Hay Reserve in her wheelchair. She loved this. Here she is with her nephew Mike Goodwin and Godson, Guy Wellwood.

June also loved to visit her sister Ann Deans and their family in the Wairarapa and also the Goodwin family in Christchurch.

Here is June with her nieces Susie (Deans) Carrington and Kate (Goodwin) Chalmers who adored their aunt. 

Kate and her brother Mike Goodwin have been enormously supportive of June in Christchurch, visiting, taking her for walks, to the hospital and more.

In the last few years, June‘s visits to Pigeon Bay became restricted as her health declined, and she became less mobile, suffering a stroke, falls and hip replacement. This year at Christmas, she stayed for two nights, I had to sleep in her room to make sure that she did not fall in the night while going to the bathroom. June loved Pigeon Bay and its people.

June and I enjoyed each other’s company. She was always interested and curious about my children and businesses. She has been my staunch supporter all these years. June and I became a team, and she helped me to raise my three children after Al’s death. We have shared amazing holidays, family weekends, socialising, gardening, countless dinners as a family.

I am proud that my mother-in-law became one of my closest friends. I stand here today to honour my second mother and a cherished friend, wearing June’s favourite colour, blue. 

Rest in Peace.

Celia Hay


Knox Church, Pigeon Bay, Banks Peninsula

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