Alison is interested in genealogy and finds that whilst it is possible to know broadly what her forebears did she wishes there were diaries and letters that would give her direct access to their thoughts and motivations. In her own writing she would like to provide some insights into the events of her life.
My first two years of secondary education were spent at Bayfield High School in Dunedin. This was a new co-educational school without the tradition of other high schools. Since I lived on the edge of the catchment only one of my friends from intermediate school enrolled, so there was a lot that was new. The dynamic, excellent teachers extended my love of art and developed my interest in science, languages and literature resulting in a prize for general excellence.
At that school I became aware of the difference and distance between my strong church oriented upbringing and that of my peers. I attended Girls Brigade (church sponsored), where we spent a lot of time making hats and flower arranging, they attended Girl Guides (secular) where they went camping and did orienteering and basic survival badges. Apart from church, bible class and a few church youth socials I saw only occasional movies and spent a lot of time aspiring to wear mini-skirts and white boots which were all the rage! When the Beatles came to Dunedin I was not allowed to go but I kicked up such a fuss that when Tom Jones and Herman’s Hermits came a year later my parents relented and let my older brother accompany me to the show. Up until then I had been the most compliant person on the planet. As a daughter I did exactly what I was told and did not rock the boat but this was changing.
The subsequent move to Christchurch and Burnside High School when I was almost fifteen was disruptive to my studies but also transforming in terms of gaining some independence. At that time in New Zealand third year high school students sat examinations for School Certificate. At Burnside High School I was so far ahead of the class in Latin I was expected to self-teach but without direction or motivation I slipped behind. Furthermore, I was being forced to take six subjects, including history but I knew from my teachers in Dunedin that only four subjects were necessary for a pass. I couldn't see the point in studying the British corn laws and rote learning the endless dates. The sense of injustice lit a fuse of anger and I rebelled. I refused to take history and was eventually permitted to drop the subject and sit only five subjects.
Academically the year was tenuous but not disastrous, psychologically the move was empowering.
Please submit your story via the Contact page and it will receive a gentle edit from Deborah.
Deborah thanks Rangimarie Kelly and Pikau Digtal for website design and artist Karen Jarvis for her image ‘Writers at the Devonport Library,’ (2023)