Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Stories: Home

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  • Hilary Stace, in reply to JacksonP,

    Hope your foot is healing and that you don't have lots of steps to reach your house.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • sandra, in reply to JacksonP,

    I guess what I was saying, Jackson, is that privately owned land or homes don't stay with one family or even one clan. The land I am attached to will leave my family soon and then I will have to ask permission to stand there, it won't be 'my place' any longer (and I certainly couldn't sleep in my parents' upstairs bedroom any longer). I think Maori have a great advantage with always having a 'home' on one or several marae.

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 71 posts Report Reply

  • Maureen West,

    Thank you to everyone for the sharing. As a first generation New Zealander I grew up with 'home' being the other side of the world: the letters from grandparents and my parents' extended family and friends. Like many who grew up in the 1950-1970s, with parents working in the banks and public service, we moved regularly (I share Greymouth with you Russell). In England, my uncle still lives in the house my great-grandparents lived in from the mid-1890s. It is not my home, but it is a house I treasure: it is a part of the fabric of our family life. The same goes for the land in Ireland which only went out of our family in 2010. They are part of me, but I am a New Zealander: I love this place - the greenness; the wide open spaces; the attitude of life and people; and so many indefinable things. The people I have met and loved throughout this country have shaped me and helped make what I have become. Wherever I am in this country, it is home, despite my multiple passports. And while I am a 'lurker', this forum has also been somewhere I have enjoyed being, right from the beginning. Thank you all for the often informed and active debate, which adds so much to my interactions with the world.

    New Zealand • Since Apr 2015 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    Home when I was growing up was a house high up the Hataitai side of Mt Victoria in Wellington. The house itself wasn't big but it sat on an vastly tall double garage, filled with Dad's various crumbling cars and motorbikes. Dad, being only intermittently employed through much of the 90s, kept house and cooked (he was an excellent cook, having taught himself while at Uni on the basis that a thing worth doing is worth doing properly) while Mum was the earner - a source of much astonishment amongst my schoolfriends. I left that home at 18 having precipitously gotten married. Dad died a few years later, having just started building the extension which he'd been planning for as long as I can remember, and Mum sold up and moved to Oz. Whenever I go back to Wellington it seems a little less homeish (people there ride bicycles now! There are kereru!) but the streets in the hills still seem the right size and shape for streets to be.

    E and I, having started as broke teen parents, have lived in six rented houses in the 14 years since our son was born; in Auckland, then Wellington, then Auckland again when our daughter was born. I think Home for our kids might be the general environs immediately east of Dominion Road, Balmoral shops, Mt Roskill library, Big King reserve, the locale we've been variously around for the last ten years. Or it's the furnishings we've carted from place to place, the ever-expanding collections of books and ceramics and lamps that we seem to accumulate. But now that marriage is ending, and I'll soon be moving into a shoebox in the middle of town, and with truly dreadful timing the house we currently live in is being sold, so they'll acquire at least one if not two new homes in rapid succession. Children are adaptable; they'll be alright I suspect. But I do wonder what they'll think of as Home when they look back on their childhoods.

    [A little note on this place: I don't comment here as much as I once did, but I think that's more about what I've learnt in this space than any comment on the state of the discourse. What I've learnt: that I don't know as much as I though, that I gain more by listening than by talking. I'm still listening.]

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to sandra,

    I think Maori have a great advantage with always having a ‘home’ on one or several marae.

    For sure. The gift of making a bicultural TV show show is that I've had access to a deeper understanding of the Maori experience and way of thinking, and that common concept of a place to go home to is certainly part of it.

    But the other thing this makes me think of is the interviews I've been doing for a story about K Road. The concept of people leaving – to have relationships and babies and jobs and live in the suburbs – and coming back again, even years later, has come up a couple of times. It will find its way into the story, for sure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Jean Hughes,

    Home - is many things
    Privately it is my bedroom that has never been shared all my life except when someone is invited in.
    Emotionally it is the skyscape and seascapes of New Zealand - I need to live on or very near to the coast.
    Intellectually it is the London of my youth when I was free and the present me was beginning to develop.
    When I am homesick far away it is the smell of the bush - it permeates my dreams
    Realistically I feel at home wherever I am unafraid, unthreatened and able to sleep - I know the fortune I have to be able to say that.

    Mangere • Since Nov 2006 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    The house I grew up in was the house my Dad built. Mum raised the 6 of us while he slowly demolished the original dwelling and raised the new one. He spent a year on the foundations, evenings after his day job and weekends when he wasn’t doing volunteer work for our local orchestra or helping his friends build their houses.
    Dad died when I was a toddler, leaving us a meticulously handcrafted building to live in. I know his perfectionism irked my mother, but every little bit of our house was made by him, including the plumbing, wiring, drains, and built-in joinery.

    The house is still there, still looking fine and strong, as far as I can tell from the road. My family hasn’t lived there since I was 18, when my Mum was getting frail and needed a smaller house in a more convenient location.

    When my parents bought that piece of land it was in the semi-rural margin of Christchurch, surrounded with market gardens and sheep farms. We had about 1/3 acre of mature trees, lawns and shrubs, no houses overlooking us, and paddocks and fields of flowers over which to roam. A bloody long walk to school, too, but even that was a kind of privilege.

    When Mum put up the For Sale sign I was shocked that the house Dad had made and the garden we’d all played in had a monetary value. I knew the move made sense (and I was in the process of leaving home anyway), but not being able to come home to that place was a deep loss.

    Truth was though, the neighbourhood was becoming built-up and suburban. Our house is now surrounded on all sides by other houses on small sections, and a new side-road cuts in just behind the garage. Although the building is still there, the place I knew is almost unrecognisable.

    I’ve lived in many other houses since then, from very short-term student flats to long-term rentals with long-term best friends, to mostly-peaceful co-existence with assorted strangers who I sometimes liked and sometimes didn’t, to buying a house with the man I thought was my life-partner.

    Until last year I always lived in Christchurch. Well you know how that went. The city I knew so intimately, in which I’d had almost all my life-experiences, good, bad, and indifferent…isn’t there anymore. I know the community persists, and the physical components will coalesce again, but I feel profoundly dislocated.

    I now live on a stretch of Otago coastline where one of my sisters has lived for many years. It’s wild and beautiful (and cold, quite often). I have family here, and we brought Mum down to a local rest home. My great solace here (apart from my wonderful family) has been looking at the sea and walking on the beach, which I’ve known for decades. The beach changes shape from year to year, the sand washed out by storms and washed in by calm weather, a little less here and a little more there; sandbars and lagoons come and go.

    Last June when South Dunedin was flooded, the sea surged into our dunes in a way it never has before. Since June the beach is steeply-sloping, the waves are more dangerous, and every high tide takes a little more from the dunes. Grasses and trees continue to topple into the sea. I look at the low-lying houses and roads and bridges, and wonder about the future.

    I’ve been glad of this online community, this place right here. Russell and the people he’s gathered have been a fixed point when other constants have been lacking. Where even is here? A dynamically-created virtual page stored on a server in another country that we call up from whatever home, workplace, or transit lounge we happen to inhabit at that moment.

    Whatever happens here next, thanks everybody, it’s been great.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to sandra,

    I think Maori have a great advantage with always having a ‘home’ on one or several marae.

    I totally get this. Through my grandparents, who now rest in an urupā above Whitianga Bay near Te Kaha, we have a connection to the Marae there. However, time and distance means this connection has become tenuous, at least in my mind. I think in Māori it is called ‘whakamā’, which translates to shame or embarrassment, but I think in this case related to the feeling of disconnection from a place where you once stood, to coin a phrase. I had that feeling quite significantly the first time I returned there after 15 years, and although it diminished during two tangi and an unveiling, time and distance are growing again, and those who remember who I am are fewer and further between.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and appreciate the chance to share it with others. I have often thought I should write it down in more detail, even if only for my own benefit. Maybe one day.

    Tautoko all. These stories are beautiful.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • JacksonP, in reply to Lilith __,

    Whatever happens here next, thanks everybody, it’s been great

    Love your work Lilith. I got something in my eye.

    Arohanui.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2448 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to James Butler,

    Whenever I go back to Wellington it seems a little less homeish (people there ride bicycles now! There are kereru!)

    The birds in Wellington! I've always lived near the edge of the bush, and I remember as a kid seeing a tui was something special. Then a while back I was surprised to see one in central Wellington. Now the damn things constantly divebomb one another in my back garden and take baths in the neighbour's blocked gutter. They're ubiquitous, and kereru are common enough, but last week we had a kaka land on our deck. I'd never seen one before I visited Kapiti Island ten years ago, now you can hear them most days rarking in the skies above the western suburbs.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Soon Lee,

    although that might be because I now speak with an accent and mumble & swallow my words like a proper Kiwi…

    True story :P

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to B Jones,

    The birds in Wellington! I’ve always lived near the edge of the bush, and I remember as a kid seeing a tui was something special. Then a while back I was surprised to see one in central Wellington. Now the damn things constantly divebomb one another in my back garden and take baths in the neighbour’s blocked gutter. They’re ubiquitous, and kereru are common enough, but last week we had a kaka land on our deck. I’d never seen one before I visited Kapiti Island ten years ago, now you can hear them most days rarking in the skies above the western suburbs.

    We went for a walk along the top of Tinakori Hill (Te Ahumairangi Hill, now) a few weeks ago at dusk, and had kaka circling over us most of the way home. I walked down the same hill to town yesterday and heard them talking to each other in the trees. And the tui are bloody everywhere. It really is a most incredible change.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It really is a most incredible change.

    The rats are abandoning Wellington...?

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    And the tui are bloody everywhere. It really is a most incredible change.

    Auckland is getting this too. Tuis cavort in the trees around my section, and I've seen them in trees in at UoA. No kereru hereabouts, but at Waiheke they're everywhere - they seem to particularly love doing strange falling-out-of-the-sky maneuvers - it's so non-functional that I think it must be some kind of courting display. A lot more kingfishers than I remember there too. What I do get hereabouts that is relatively new is duck infestations. Ducks live pretty much everywhere on the Rosebank Peninsular, possibly because it has swamps on both sides. Duck families nesting pretty much on berms. So cute to see them leading their little duckling teams around. Not so cute to note that their numbers roughly halve before maturity, and I never see dead ducklings around - presumably they are being hoovered up by cats.

    When it first started, I fed the ducks to encourage them. Big mistake. They already do a lot of annoying shit, but when you feed them, that pretty much means they hang around the house shitting in all the doorways, pathways, mats, decks, tables, shoes. Their bodies seem to be fine tuned to whatever it is that they find naturally, and feeding them just makes them shit a whole lot. A better way of encouraging them was to put open water somewhere well away from the house.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Not so cute to note that their numbers roughly halve before maturity, and I never see dead ducklings around - presumably they are being hoovered up by cats.

    Not necessarily - ducks are pretty terrible parents. Seagulls also like a tasty duckling meal (I have a vivid childhood memory of seeing this in action on Somes Island.) Cats are probably getting some of them, though.Then again, if we're talking mallards, not much loss; they're introduced and are hybridising out some native species.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to BenWilson,

    Their bodies seem to be fine tuned to whatever it is that they find naturally, and feeding them

    ...makes them meatier.....http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/photograph/17129/roasted-wild-duck

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Duck Mums are like human Mums: most do a great job, others not. Caring for a tribe of ducklings is demanding, and some ducks will have 2 clutches in a season. Sometimes they just seem to get tired. Eggs and ducklings are preyed on by many creatures including cats, rats, and other birds. Predation and mischance mean only the minority reach adulthood. Lost or orphaned ducklings are sometimes chased away by other ducks, and sometimes adopted. It’s a complex world out there.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Auckland is getting this too. Tuis cavort in the trees around my section, and I’ve seen them in trees in at UoA. No kereru hereabouts, but at Waiheke they’re everywhere – they seem to particularly love doing strange falling-out-of-the-sky maneuvers – it’s so non-functional that I think it must be some kind of courting display.

    Tui were a rare sight when we first moved in – now they're a part of summer. There's usually one that sets up for the season and we hear its particular call for months. One Christmas Day that summer's tui started up and I looked out and it was trilling from the very top of the pinus radiata in the reserve over the back – like it was the fairy on a Christmas tree.

    We will very occasionally see a fantail – they're more common in the trees over on Meola Reef. And Fiona thought the other day that she glimpsed a kereru flying past with all the grace of a frozen chook.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Lilith __,

    I've seen a duckling pulled under the water by a large koi carp in the Waikato Uni lakes.
    Eels are partial to a feed of duckling, and hawks will take them from the sky. The very worst of nature is evidenced by the actions of pukeko. Pukeko will raid the nests and kill wandering ducklings seemingly for the hell of it. They will leave the wee corpses behind. Must be a territorial thing.

    Living rurally, with our own little pond surrounded by (mostly) native vegetation, we have seen many wild ducks attempt to raise their young to maturity, and as you say...its a fraught process. One year a mamaduck wandered across our lawn with 13 wee duckies. Later, another mama came through with about 8. They teamed up and managed to raise about 15 to maturity...they honed their flying skills in the skies over our home...and returned en masse a year later.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1344 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Must be a territorial thing.

    Probably, and not entirely senseless on that account, since they may compete for similar food sources. Or perhaps their young do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Probably, and not entirely senseless on that account, since they may compete for similar food sources. Or perhaps their young do.

    Killing stuff for fun is far more prevalent a hobby in nature than the average nature documentary wants you to think about.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Gotta stay in practice...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Several kereru pairs around here - often happily sitting on the power lines. You can hear them fly - they really do move with the 'grace of a frozen chook'.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Kereru are trick-flyers. I've seen them soar upward so steeply they stall, plummet a few metres, then soar casually onto a branch.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Killing stuff for fun is far more prevalent a hobby in nature than the average nature documentary wants you to think about.

    Word. Pukeko are Not Nice Birds. At all.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

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