Light and the landscape are important to Inge. Speaking several languages opened a window to other worlds and cultures from a childhood in Denmark to periods spent in South Africa, Australia and a life in New Zealand. Because she is the last link to Denmark, Inge wants to preserve the memories for her children and grandchildren.
Mum was helping me with a tricky button on my trousers in the kitchen of the apartment we had moved into a few weeks earlier. Sun streamed through the windows. ‘I don’t like it here,’ I shouted. ‘It’s ugly.’ Mum just looked at me and opened the door for me to go out and play. I carefully walked down the stairs. The Thiesen’s didn’t like you making a noise.
I grabbed the handle of the front door. It required all the strength in my five-year old body to heave it open and walk down the path past the front garden. The Thiesen’s didn’t want me playing in the garden. I didn’t like them. They went to church a lot. If they were the kind of people at church I was glad I never went. A few days ago when I dawdled on the footpath, I had run my hand over the beech hedge picking a single, soft leaf. Suddenly Mrs Thiesen flung open the window and screeched, ‘We can trim the hedge ourselves, thanks.’
Colleen Paisley is a grandmother of four reflecting on her life so that these children may have a way of exploring their own genealogy, if they so desire. She is also a published poet and a psychotherapist.
I stepped off the MV Ruahine in Southampton, after four fun-filled weeks, and boarded the train for London. The most amazing sense of de ja vu came over me. Everywhere I looked was familiar. I had seen it all before. I had come home. This is where I belonged and where I felt alive. A comfortable sense of groundedness.
From around twelve years old I had a strong sense of wanting and intending to travel to the United Kingdom. This was not driven by family connections. My Irish born paternal grandfather did not speak of his life prior to his arrival in the colonies at 21 years of age. His passion was history but not his own recent past. He did not return to the UK. My other grandparents were born here.
As I moved through my early and mid-teens I was attracted to British born boys, sailors visiting. I worked very hard to save money for my planned trip. My parents reluctantly agreed that I could go when I had saved ‘x’ amount of money, secure in the knowledge that there was no way I could achieve this.
When I did, at the age of eighteen, they agreed reluctantly that I could go but must book my return fare. This was the 1950s and my friends all had the traditional path in mind – boyfriend, marriage, house, babies. I did not deviate from my goal, however, and did not question my gut feeling or my heart.
I met my future husband on the ship but it was two years before I could resign myself to returning to New Zealand to be married, to please my parents.
I had no knowledge of past lives at this time, but when I reached England I knew without a doubt that I had been here before and that sense of belonging at a deep soul level has remained.
Jim has taken to heart the responsibility of kaitiakitanga; guardianship of family/whanau heritage. He writes so that the family who follow him will have some knowledge of his life’s journey.
I often remind myself that this piece of land, the whole 11.4 acres, is ours. It has been our turangawaewae since the bleak Queen’s Birthday weekend in 1976 when we made the move from the warm house we had built near the sea in Beachlands into the old, cold kauri villa on land near Clevedon that we dreamed of growing kiwifruit on. That was a dream not pursued.
We started work in the garden that winter growing vegetables, flowers and shrubs in the rich soil around the house. Soon after, the first trees were planted. The walnut on the north side of the house, the first ‘significant’ tree we planted, marked the birth of Sarah. There was no grand plan for the planting, just spur-of-the moment bursts of activity: a new fence built or an old fence shifted; a bare, grassy patch, or a pocket of swamp, planted. A mini-arboretum in the making.
Distinctive areas of planting emerged: Sarah’s Native Bush, the Conifer Patch; the Native Patch; Gingko Rise, the Gallipoli Oak, Fern Gully and Autumn Corner. Each signifies an inspiration and follow-up physical effort. Garden plots were dotted around, enabling us to enjoy near self-sufficiency in vegetables.
If you had asked me forty years ago if I would become attached to a small, featureless piece of land on the outskirts of Auckland I would have scoffed. Land was for growing crops or grazing animals, not beautification and I thought I had more important things to do with my time. Now, I get deep satisfaction from standing amidst my plantings and contemplating the past, when the land was all pasture and swamp, and anticipating the future, when, hopefully, our trees will be giving pleasure to a future generation.
So, what next? In 2015 we will plant trees to mark the arrival of our new mokopuna. It will be ‘Kimiora’s Patch’.
Marie is letting go of her previous life as an educational researcher to focus on more personal and creative endeavours.
I spent many summers as a child at my grandparents’ dairy farm in Seadown, Timaru. My grandfather had died aged 53, shortly after my birth. I was his eldest grandchild, born in Woodville in the North Island. My grandmother, a widow at 49, still had adult children living at home. Who would run the farm? Uncle Kevin, who had just started at Lincoln College had to abandon his studies to help his two brothers, Brian and Michael. My Aunt Noelene left behind her dream of being a school dental nurse to stay home and help her mother look after “the boys.”
When we were considered old enough to travel on our own, two or even three of us would fly from Palmerston North to Timaru on a DC-3, a fixed-wing propeller plane. We loved coming to stay with Nana and Noelene and our young uncles. The farm house was large and comfortable with the bonus of being close to the cowshed. We were awakened every morning by the hum of its generator switching on. This was the cue for us “townies” to head for the sheds and maybe get a squirt of milk straight from the udder into our mouths.
After milking was breakfast, the best meal of what was an ongoing parade of fine cooking; porridge (the best Southern oats of course), thick yellow cream — as much as you wanted, although too much sugar was discouraged by my aunt — bacon, eggs and toast. At mid-morning, if it was hay making time, it was our job to take baskets of warm scones, pikelets, tins of cakes and biscuits, and thermoses of tea to the workers. If we were lucky, we were allowed to ‘drive’ the tractor between the straight rows of bales while the uncles heaved them onto the trailer. This was strictly illegal for children under twelve, so we were sworn to secrecy. How important we felt doing real work, even though the tractor had its throttle jammed so that we could not travel more than a couple of miles an hour.
Patricia loves to travel and have adventures and now wants to chronicle her experiences to share with her children.
It’s eight in the morning, freezing cold and the sun is just coming up. There aren’t many of us up here at the top of the mountain. It snowed last night, quite a dump, and we are here for ‘First Tracks.’ The mountain ranges in the distance poke up into the slowly lightening sky. The snow glistens, smooth and unmarked.
There’s a swoosh and a crack and the first skier jumps off the top, the second quickly follows. I need to go.
I can’t wait. I am in the now. The exhilaration, the speed, the skill, the stillness, the only sound that of my skis, the flying fresh snow sticking to my face.
Me alone, my tracks behind me.
The valley, way below, waiting for us.
Marg Slater is an Auckland-based film producer, single parent, mother of one, who loves stories, people, a good laugh and fictionalised fact. She is now making time to write and share her stories.
I think I'm still trying to find that place where I feel really at home. Not to say that I'm not comfortable in my own home, or my childhood home. It's just that when I ask myself ‘Where is my Turangawaewae?’ I’m not convinced it’s anywhere yet.
My early childhood years were spent in Otangarei, Whangarei from two to fourteen years old. 75 Keyte Street was the place of fun and wonderful childhood memories. Long hot summers of lazy, happy days. Bullrush with the neighbourhood kids, mostly boys, knocking at the door calling me to play. We made cars out of grass clippings, ‘poor man’s oranges’ — as my mother called them, really grapefruit — as steering wheels, gobbling masses of fruit from the enormous number of fruit trees. All state houses had them in those days. Our pet lamb Lollie, lovingly bottle fed, would come inside and sit on the couch, much to Mum’s horror. I didn't eat meat for ages after he was taken away.
Once my mother found me in the garden, wiping snails over my face. I had watched her applying face cream, apparently thinking snail trail might do the same job.
My sister didn't seem to like me much, one time she put dirt in my sandwiches and told me it was Vegemite, after I'd taken a bite or two. I was outgoing and friendly. She was a bookworm, shy and reserved.
My bedroom was the sunroom off the lounge, all state houses had them — the houses in our street were exactly the same, only the interior decorating set them apart. Mum was a great housekeeper, busy and liked her routines, always saving for the newest gadget.
Dad worked hard and we were happy, until he got sick, then it all changed.
Not long before he died he told me he would go back to 75 Keyte Street on his walks, pausing to remember the good times.
I still do.
Gillian’s passions are people, languages, health, Celtic dance and music, playing concertina, coastal walking, guide dogs. It is her passion for people that motivates Gillian to write portraits of their lives.
Where do I begin? When did I first know how much I loved my Dad? Was it my first thought on the day I was born? Was it genetic? Was it when I realized how cloned in actions, lateral thinking, independent thought and ideas we were? Dad was practical, active, fun, friendly, a great listener, a fulfiller of family dreams, an amateur champion cyclist and effective behavioural modifier when needed. I could be strong-willed at times.
He was born in 1917 in Hulme, inner city Manchester, third child, first son of six children, to his mother’s third husband, who turned into a bullying alcoholic and violent father. Poverty was everywhere in those days and all the children had to work from a very early age, to compensate for their inadequate father who left when Dad was twelve. Dad had to grow up quickly.
Jackie wrote her first novel at twelve. She hasn’t written much since, except essays, diaries and blogs. And a thesis. That was a mission. Now, with lots of gorgeous grandsons, she is venturing into the realm of memoir.
The farm. My Grandmother came here from Devon in 1897 as a sixteen year old. Her two brothers were here already, clearing the land, living in raupo huts. She came with her elder sister Florence, to be their cook.
Waikato land. Dairy farming now. Rich in both senses of the word. Many a school holiday was spent there. The old implement sheds still stand. The dark red paint weathered. The blacksmith’s forge with central fireplace, bellows and anvil. Rusty tools line the walls. The garage on a slight lean, the old Bedford truck long gone. Chook houses, wirenetting sagging, overgrown with weeds. Rusting farm equipment; hayrakers, seed planters, the original John Deere tractor, still stand plaintively under cover, waiting in vain to be used.
A split door leads into the wool shed. Top half. Bottom half, so you can look in and not let the sheep out. The single set of electric shears hangs limp and forlorn, long since passed its use-by date. The smell of greasy sheep and lanolin pervades the building. Noisy machinery comes back to me, the sheep baaing as they were turned on their backs to be shorn. The workers at the bench picking through the fleece, ready for the baler. How could this huge pile of wool be compressed into the size of a regular bale? Surely it will burst at the seams.
Uncle Jim’s workshop. More tools lined up neat and tidy, the smell of oil, tins of nuts and bolts. The door was always locked so it was a treat to be able to peek inside, to photograph it for posterity. Uncle Jim looked on with quiet amusement. Nearly as old as the equipment.
The farm’s been sold now.
History has always been a fascination for Margaret. It shapes who we are. Now Margaret feels it is time to record her history. The prospect is daunting but so exciting. This is just the beginning.
I cannot be described as a domestic goddess but I do love my kitchen — warm and sunny and a lovely place to create whatever tempting morsels take my fancy.
Saturday morning is planning time. I have the house to myself. A cup of coffee, pen and paper, bright arrow markers, a selection of recipes from magazines or passed on from friends, or one of the books from my extensive collection. I am ready to start. Jams, preserves or a new recipe to try, because the flavours appeal, help me reach my final decision.
The women in my family were versatile cooks, being able to create tasty dishes from almost anything. This came from a place where food was never wasted, probably because of wartime rationing. Even leftovers would reappear as something to be savoured in another dimension.
Not sure what I want to create. This depends on what the pantry and freezer can provide by way of ingredients — measuring, beating, mixing, cooking, baking or setting in the fridge. It could be something for the freezer, cake tins or for the next family meal. I am lost in my own world.
Then there is the sampling. This culinary tasting has become almost a tradition between my neighbor and I. We both share a love of food preparation and are quite ‘catholic’ in our choice of cuisine, each seeing ingredients, however humble or grand, as a challenge. Occasionally tantalizing aromas waft across the back fence hinting that something might soon be ready for collection.
The fence plays a major part in the samplings. A short telephone call is followed by the appearance of a container placed on the top fence rail, which is just the right size for these exchanges. Then one of us will duck out to collect the treat.
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