Nee James - a rural upbringing in the Taranaki below Te Maunga Taranaki (known in those days as Mt Egmont) became the lifelong province for this caring and loved woman. From a farm at Tariki the James family moved to another farm near Manaia on the opposite side of Te Maunga. And eventually the family settle in the town of Opunake.
Under the watchful eye and stern control of their father and mother the six James kids played, schooled, worked, married, raised families and eventually died in the provence of their birth and alegiance.
Irene and Len were twins and their bonding and lifetime friendship was strong. In fact, Uncle Len became more a father figure to Irene's sons Bob & Joe. Perhaps the watchful eyes of Grand-dad and Granny James weren't as keen as they hoped because the fertility of the Taranaki soil produced for Irene May s son named Robert James (father Eynon), a son named Joseph James (father Rangihawe) and four other children. The father of these four children - Isabella, Hector, Margaret and Viti (deceased - meningitis) - Hector Walker, adopted Joe but Bob as the elder son remained with Granny James.
Even though she only lived to 44 years of age, died from breast cancer, Irene loved life all her children. Some significant indicators about her life were:
*as a youngster she was responsible for the care of the house cow "Pet" - grazing on the streets, milking, making the butter.
*As as adult she was a house proud person who kept the lawns cut and the flowers gardens tidy.
*Her vegetable garden, probably kept for necessity, could only be matched by the garden of her twin brother Len, two sections along Alison Street.
*She understood the value of a good education, insisting that her children all had opportunities to learn and prepare themselves for the community and world.
*She never complained but quietly busied herself in the kitchen preparing another cup of tea.
*She loved white-baiting season and could be found netting as the incoming tide entered the Waiau Stream, the Power House Race or the Factory Stream.
*She also loved black-berrying and her pies and jam were delicious treats.
*She waited and waited and waited, dying about one week after her first and six months old grandchild, Craig James Walker, had stayed with her and watched him being fed, bathed and cared for by both Joe and Patsy.