It had been Pataua Island, (now known as Pataua south -) until the County
Council had decided to use bulldozers to plough-down a couple of medium-sized
hills, and push the resulting excess soil, into the waterway on the side of the island
which was closest to the mainland.They had done this in the early 1980s,
but, whenever there’s a ‘neap’ tide – and a whole lot of rain together, that
area floods, AND, the residents in the area still call it the ‘island’ anyway,
so I ask, why did they bother? We managed to find a Christian group to
meet with at the community hall, some 15 minutes away, so
that’s where we attended church on Sundays. It was someplace to go which
was different from the island, and it had ‘flash,’ flush loos – compared to the
well ventilated outhouse which housed the long-drop back where we lived.
There were no doors on the outhouses, we just looked out over the
Taiharuru River, about a mile across, to the peninnsular on the other side,
but were quite well hidden by the sagging branches of native trees’
amongst which the outhouses were set.
After the weather had turned, whenever it rained our drive way was turned
into a quagmire. We had to leave the car at the top of the 1st hill and walk up
hill and down dale till we got to the third hill where the house was.
Phew!! Were we fit ! Did it bother us? Not much,we knew that we were back
on island time, however long it took to do something, that’s how long it took!
There was only one clock in the house, and that was only ever correct twice a
day! We awoke when the boys, (my nephews, Troy, Ash, Eli, Jem and Boogie
came to get the girls to go fishing, swimming or boogie boarding. They usually
caught something for breakfast and brought it back to our place to cook it, after
which we’d all eat together. They were all at correspondence school, so this
was before their lessons had started for the day.
In May we began planning for Sonya’s 21st birthday Party. There is a motor
camp, on the mainland side of the island – and since it was winter, the facilities
and huge dining room were not in use. We hired the dining room and facilities
for the first Saturday in June, (our winter,) to hold Sonya’s party. My brother
Derek, my David and the nephews put down a hangi, which is, (it’s an earth oven
in which food is cooked for a crowd of people.) During that previous week, the
boys and their father had gone out and caught heaps of kahawai which they had
“smoked” especially for the party. (My clever brother had gutted an old refrigerator
and used it as a smoker,) old washer-machines and old clothes driers can be used
the same way, too. The dinner and the speeches began in the late afternoon, about
4pm – and had lasted for 2 hours.
It was a lovely afternoon, and David did his, “head of the family thing,” by
welcoming everyone, presenting Sonya with her gift from us, and introducing every
speaker. I so was proud of him. My brother, in his speech, acknowledged David as
the new head of our family and in her speech, my mother acknowledged that though
she had thought that I Would not, and Could not, I had Indeed, done a great job of
raising my children. (I had suffered with head Injuries & brain damage at 18yrs.)
Applause! Applause! Yeh me!
Afterwards, we packed up the food and moved the rest of the celebrations back
to our house on the hill, where the alcoholic drinks came out. Our son Dylan had
made it up from Auckland, to the party: he had arrived an hour after the start: but it
was so good to see him!
The generator was turned on to provide power for the stereo units and the young
people, mostly nephews, and nieces, sang and danced the night away. A couple of
girlfriends from Newlands college in Wellington had made the long journey north on
the bus, to share the celebrations: they had been our guests for a week already. At
around 10 pm David and I turned in. Our things were all in the caravan at the side of
the house and that’s also where our bed was. We could make as much noise as we
wanted, and it wouldn’t disturb any one because our nearest neighbours were over a
mile away. The next day, all meals were had at our place, until the excess of food had
gone. There was no freezer or fridge to keep it in, so it had to be eaten.
TBC – Emmi