Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Stories: Home

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  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Danielle,

    The bird I missed most when I lived overseas was, unusually, the riroriro (grey warbler). To be honest I don’t think I could point one out if I saw it in a tree, but that distinctive, long-winded song says “home” to me like no other bird. I have been back now for over 13 years and I still feel a sense of belonging when I hear it.

    Even more so when you find out that the riroriro song differs across the country, so the ones I hear here in Hamilton sing a slightly different tune from the ones I used to listen to as a youngster on the shores of Lake Ohakuri.
    Like Henry Higgins in London, one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    There's one in our area that has a song uncannily similar to the start to 'Boogie woogie bugle boy' - I wish it would learn the rest...
    ... and they're so small for such volume!

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Stories of Home. I have been on the same piece of property now since February 1978. It had a cottage on the flat back part of the section that we rented off the bloke up the back who built his own house up there. Foolishly – or otherwise – we built the house that we are still in. Everything. Window joinery the lot. The hole was dug for the foundation the day before Xmas 1982 three months after coming back from a year in Antarctica. Our kids were born here and have now left here. We are left with the original (Fiona Christeller designed) home plus an extension that we deemed useful for the kids. We are thinking of downsizing. We have a renovated bathroom and are looking at a new kitchen. Given that is coming close to 34 years it makes a fascinating comparison to my first 34 years.
    I was born in ChCh, Islington, Mortlake St. The old man worked as a solo slaughterman at the works. When I was five we moved to Little River (Cooptown actually) where he was the Farmers Coop stock agent for the Peninsula. Our phone number was “Number 1 Little River”. I kid you not. we moved to Maramarua in 1960 but in between I spent 2 weeks at Sydenham School with my uncle who was 6 months younger than me. This was the school my Mum and Aunt were Dux of a few years earlier. After 18 months at Maramarua we moved to Buckland. The school at the end of the Pukekohe Racetrack Back Straight. 18 months later a move to Puni school for the last 6 months of primary school. Merv Wellington came out to sort out my High School courses. He looked at the Buckland school report of 6 months prior which pointed me to Agriculture/General. He looked at Puni School report of 1 week prior which suggested an Academic (French/Latin) stream. He was very perplexed. We compromised and I took French and “Modern”.
    In there you will find six primary schools and six houses. All before secondary school. My writing is atrocious. Printing, cursive, italics, printing and back again over those schools, Fountain pen, biro, pencil.

    I am quite pleased my kids had one Home – and one primary school.

    I have to say that Little River still has fond memories. Tumbledown Bay for the fishing, the local park for the cricket and Apex Icecream from Mr Vaughn’s corner dairy, and being thrashed by Mr Harley for busting branches off the trees for sword play at the two room school. I was the last one to break one off and paid the price. The pedal dental drill that tortured us when the power regularly went off. For Guy Fawkes the local kids would cut some manuka from the nearby bush for the community bonfire (bush all gone now) and we would slide down the hills in cardboard boxes. Then came Auckland Uni for one year before getting the job at DSIR in Lower Hutt. Flat shifting and marrying the flatmate’s sister. Moving through another 3 flats until heading for Canada for a year on a scholarship. Living in a pup tent for 3 months as we cycled across Canada. Moving into a friends house for 3 months, finding another flat for 3 months then finally arriving at the cottage.

    I’m glad my kids have One Home.

    They are now moving around the world and sorting out their lives. It is great watching it happen.

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1589 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Ross Mason,

    Sydenham School

    Hail to thee fellow 'alumnus' - though I did all my primary schooling there and close to Sydenham - South Intermediate - Cashmere High - Life...
    The Library and tech blocks would still have been there when you went I'd imagine - the Library building closed while I was there - now it's an empty lot waiting for the social housing that's been promised to be built there (like everything in Chchch these days we'll believe when we see it) - while Dave Henderson owned the property (before the council bought it off him in a decidely shonky deal) he chopped one of the 4 trees down on the quadrangle of grass where the bell was - complete tosser...

    did they still have 'do unto others...' on the exercise books back then?
    (Though I realise two weeks probably ain't long to imprint many lasting memories...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Alas, all I remember is the concrete playing "fields" and the high windows. Mum and Aunt did Dux things at South Int as well!

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1589 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    Like Henry Higgins in London, one could in theory identify their location in NZ by listening to the warblers.

    Probably more than theory. The late Graham Pizzey's wonderful A Field Guide to the Birds of Australia has occasional passages describing the regional variations of bird vocalisings. The page on magpies is particularly detailed.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

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