Anne Schnell has an AgWomen story based on hard, yet rewarding work, and sacrifice. As a banker's daughter, she spent a lot of her childhood moving around various towns and cities, with her fathers job. On leaving school she attended teachers college in Palmerston North. Newly qualified, she spent only a year teaching in Levin before giving up her career to marry husband Donald and moving back to the Schnell Family farm of 4 generations, Clivedale, near Eketahuna. She believes that her story would be similar to many others her age who made sacrifices to keep agriculture going in New Zealand.
The first shock for Anne was the silence. Often the only vehicle on the road was the mailman, she was used to people around her all of the time. The next shock was the party line telephone, she quickly learnt that the phone was for orders and information only, never gossip unless you wanted the district to know your news. Feeding shearing gangs that were there for days at a time was another huge learning curve for Anne. "Breakfast consisted of fruit and cereal, followed by a full cooked spread, and then tea, toast, and jam. Then all of the dishes and smoko ready a couple of hours later, and repeat with a cooked lunch and dinner. All with small children to sort at the same time"
To help get over the culture shock Anne immersed herself in local clubs and groups, something that she advocates for all rural women to do, to help them feel less isolated and to build strong communities. With four children in tow it was often a juggle but the pair managed to share getting out and about with each other. Anne soon learnt that to keep small communities alive and to enable clubs to continue, you need people to step up and help run them, something she continues to do today.
Farm succession has always been important for Anne and Donald Schnell. Anne believes that is not something that is so easily done anymore. She highlights that the family have been extremely fortunate through their own hard work and dedication that their son is now a fifth generation owner of the property. The Schnell Family recently submitted the story of Clivedale into the New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards and received the award in 2015. The awards aim to capture and preserve important rural history which might otherwise be lost through the generations.
Anne and Donald now live on a small block, Clivedale park, just outside of Palmerston North, with enough land to keep Donald busy outside, and close to the golf courses for Anne. For Anne "success is looking back on your achievements with fond memories", something that she happily does on her time as a farmers wife.
What a journey you have been on Anne, one you must be very proud of. You speak so truly about what makes a rural community so strong and credit to you for all your efforts to keep the rural community spirit alive.