Bronwyn is retired after many years teaching European Languages in secondary schools. She spends her time being a grandmother both in New Zealand and Australia, planning travel to places on her bucket list and loving being able to read all day long.
“Well, that’s the end of school for you!’
Surfacing out of the haze of anaesthetic my father struggled to comprehend what my grandfather had just said. That his father had come down to Wanganui Collegiate from Auckland was surprising enough, given that journeys home were less than infrequent, but to have his academic school life cut short was a shock.
As an all-rounder my father loved all aspects of school, but a game of rugby in which he severely injured his knee ended this part of his life. He never complained about the decision his father made, nor questioned him. In those days one didn’t challenge one’s father.
As a result his focus on education for me, his only child, was strong. When he realised I enjoyed study he encouraged and provided me with numerous opportunities to qualify, something he’d been denied at the age of 16.
In fact his education did continue but in a different direction. His passion was farming and animals and although city born and bred his goal was to own a farm. He completed his agricultural diploma at Ruakura and had a very successful career as a sheep farmer in the Waikato.
But he used to say he would have done a commerce degree as well, to have another string to his bow. He was a natural mathematician and to make me adept in mental arithmetic he made me race him to add up the weekly grocery bill as Mr Gardner, the grocer always got it wrong by at least a halfpenny. I never won but am grateful for the game because it gave me a skill which still comes in handy. I recall my father once, in his seventies, coming home and despairing of modern youth after purchasing ten items at 10c each. The shop assistant had to write down ’10 ’ cents, ten times and then add them up to make a dollar!
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