A rewarding, vibrant read of life, mysteries, miracles and history over the 80 years in New Zealand since the start of WWII.The author, a polymath, with eight children fathered over a 48 period. Diverse occupations range through Dress designer, Pig farm hand, Stock Market researcher, Founding Manager of the Samoa National Provident Fund, Chartered Accountant, Social and technical historian and more. He was a photographer/chemist at age 10. Reproductions of his paintings and photographs are includedRich in history of processes and technology created (and obsoleted) in his lifetime as well as commentary on that period. The creation of the Samoa NPF from idea to working reality in only 13 months, a highlight of his life and a stunning achievement.As Parliamentary candidate for National in 1975 as part of Muldoon’s Team his vigorous campaign was fire bombed on the eve of the election. In the second half of his life health diminished him a bit, but not his will or spirit. At 80 he had two children at High School, one just started. The saga includes his religious experiences with some strange ones in the Far North following a beheading. A committed Christian dealing with the apparently weird, offering hope and a vision for the future.
Who, me, why?
When I was pushing 78, Felicity thought it desirable I looked through my life for the children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and stepchildren. Truly I have been blessed with a richer life than many, with children spread over 48 years. This will answer some of their questions and no doubt cause others.
I’m writing this now before more escapes me. I look and feel great at present but life comes with no manual and I don’t know what’s over the page. I’m heartened that my father’s aunt Nell lived to over 100 and an aunt of my mother’s to 104. I hope to see my young family settled into adult lives. I will introduce them in a later section.
I’m mostly Irish (5/8) with added equal portions of Scots, German and Cockney. That explains a lot. Thomas Moore’s poetry always sent shivers through me long before I knew my background. I haven’t escaped the Irish free-ranging defiant, anarchic character either. Another strange possibly Irish-related characteristic is I never say a simple “yes” or “no”—it always has context. The Germanic sense of order may conflict with the Irish but my appreciation of technology and engineering is highly developed. I have been working with it for about 50 years.
I only came to know of my Cockney English roots out of Shoreditch recently. It has taken a while to trace my maternal great grandmother’s family lines. Cockney are known for theatricality and I had my theatrical coat years before becoming aware of my background. The Scots appeared when I did the weekly shopping. I don’t believe I have the dour character of the Highland Scot but I am certainly self contained even though married for 59 years. It also shows up in my interest in learning, family and social history.
In common with the rest of the family I am not tall. My height is 163cm (5’ 4″) and mother was quite a bit shorter. Janice, my wife of forty years, was about 172cm (5’ 8”) and Felicity my present wife of many years is similarly taller. Height has quietly been an issue throughout my life and taller people do intimidate. Some strut like peacocks and there is certainly a societal put down of us. Bullying enforced that in early school days.
I have a strange automatic inverse sense of direction which made it hazardous turning into one-way streets to face oncoming traffic. It was probably unhelpful in learning formal geometry at College. If I believe something is “that way” it will be the other and I have learned to proceed deliberately accordingly. Even now I have to examine my shoes carefully to assign them to their feet. It’s useless giving me directions like 3rd left then 2nd right but contiguous street names always work. It may have impacted musicianship as well. Numeracy has made up for that deficiency.
My occupations have been diverse from newspaper boy to head of the Samoa National Provident Fund. I was working at 9-10 years old and apart from health breaks haven’t stopped. Now I’m still doing tax accounting, publishing, and developing a range of natural healing oil products for family use and for sale. I was a computer store owner for about 10 years, worked on a dairy farm which also bred and raised pigs, in the rag trade, qualified as a Chartered Accountant, nearly elected to Parliament and almost everything else in between. I will fill in the details as I go.
Another life-long peculiarity is that I seem to be project-orientated or modal. Whatever I am working on at the time fences me off from other interruptions. I multi-project serially. To shift focus it works to “book in” something like attending to a leaking tap a few days ahead or longer—that doesn’t mean it gets done but reviewed for attention.
I grew up in a household with a Presbyterian mother and nominally Roman Catholic father. I put God aside for years after marrying Janice who was going to St. Mary of the Angels Church (Roman Catholic) in Wellington when we first met. Just before her death we were all reconciled with God. Now I am married to Felicity who is an ordained minister, a Priest now, in the Anglican Church.
About the contents
The order of this book will roughly be chronological unless interrupted in a flight of inspiration. The action takes place largely in Wellington, Samoa, Auckland and Christchurch. It is not a dissertation but a recollection. What may appear as factual may not have been checked as such. That would be too diversionary. Subjective truth is more likely than revisionist.
Dates and ages are approximate but I expect within a year. I have tried to not add information that I didn’t previously have. But Google was helpful to measure the distance from home. My perception as a child was that distances felt longer than those measured now. Some may be stated in round numbers to avoid a false precision but provide a relative one. With the change to decimals I deliberately relearned to think in them so I am using those here. The flavour may be a little mixed but hopefully useful in understanding.
Throughout measures and currency have been rendered in present units. I think in those. However the quantities have not been adjusted. The former 1/3, (one shilling and threepence), becomes 12.5c but retains the value of the time it relates to.
Throughout I may drop in opinions and commentary because I was called “Professor” or “Prof” all through primary school. That followed me to college to be also used by teachers although I never was to finish a degree. I have always dug in depth into everything that took my fancy. I’m seeing this now being repeated in some of my children.
There are many stories to be told and I will try as an informal social historian to be gentle to others without offending my desire for probable truth. I may not tell all that I know as discretion requires.