5 April 1932 – 22 June 2019
June Beryl Pamela O’Keeffe was born on 5th April 1932 in the Puriri St Helensville family home where her mother was also born. She was the eldest child of James O’Keeffe from Kaeo and Riwia Rita Paenganui Aperahama from Helensville.
June grew up in Helensville with her siblings and cousins on her mother’s side, spending time with her aunties and cousins in Helensville, Reweti, Henderson and Auckland City. After her father passed away when June was only five, she would occasionally visit her paternal family in Kaeo. In later years she rekindled her friendship with her Kaeo cousin Rahera Rogers,who became her constant companion in her later years. June’s bond with her cousins remained throughout her life.
June did all her schooling at Helensville Primary and Helensville District High School. She played basketball, now known as netball, for the high school team and remained lifelong friends with a lot of the team andgirls she went to school with, including Lois Pavish, Moira Fraser, Nancy Smith, Barbara Booler and Norma McCathie.
June’s first work experience was with the NZ Railways in the cafeteria in Helensville. She talked about how busy it was when the train came in and how passengers used to leave their teacups and saucers on the platform. She also worked at Hinemoa House, the largest boarding house in Parakai, before getting a job at Spic and Span Drycleaners in Helensville.
JunemarriedEdward (Ned) Cowper on 25th October 1952. She had an instant family as stepmother to Don and Keith, whosemother had previously passed away.June and Ned went on to have four children together, Michael, Linda,Maryanne who died when she was two, and Donna.
Once Donna turned five and started school, June was offered a job at the Helensville Exchange. She worked there for 23 years until the manual exchange went onto the automatic circuit, ending an era of personal service in Helensville. The staff at the exchange became her second family, and it was from there that June became best friends with her Supervisor, Dot Collins. In retirement June and Dot were often seen together around Helensville, more often than not at the pokies in the KT.
June supported Ned in the many organisations he belonged to and she spoke fondly of the Helensville Volunteer Fire Brigade and their social gatherings. She was always willing to help at any functions for the Helensville Bowling Club.
June kept herself fit as she aged. She walked everywhere, partly because she didn’t have a driver’s licence. She loved to walk and joined the Helensville walking club. She was a member of the Women’s Section of the RSA and enjoyed the bus trips they did together. She was a Member of CMA Helensville and the Country Women’s Association. She also supported Te Ha Oranga and loved attending the Kuia and Kaumatua hui. She volunteered at Hospice when it first opened in Helensville, working there for several years.
June could put her hand to anything – sewing clothes for her family and making preserves, jams and chutneys. She always had home baking in the tins, as did most women of that era.
June adored her many mokopuna. When she could no longer get out and about, they made the time to visit their Nana, coming from overseas, up north and down south. As her health deteriorated and June spent more time in bed, her Helensville grandchildren and their partners played a major part in keeping her entertained. They would often jump into bed with Nana to update her about their lives. They always made sure their children had the same loving relationship as they did with Nana June. It was these visits by the little ones that Nana June looked forward to the most and were a constant source of joy for her in her final months.
June became a great great grandmother in April this year and got to meet her great great granddaughter a few weeks before she passed away.
Whanau was a big part of June’s life, so naturally it was we, her whanau, who lovingly cared for her at home in her final months. We take this opportunity to thank all those who supported us, especially for the love, visits, friendship and care given to our Mum by our wider whanau, friends, Dr Trihn Wright, Hospice West Auckland, District Nurses, Te Ha Oranga, Kaipara Medical Centre, Helensville Pharmacy, and Mum’sGeneva Healthcare home based support carers Eileen and Rangi.And to everyone for your support and messages of condolence after Mum’s passing – koha, flowers, cards, phone calls and visits. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.