by Kerrie Subritzky
I’ve just returned from the reopening of the Blockhouse Bay School’s historic building. I was driving back feeling full to bursting with the great vibes from being part of our wonderful community. The event itself was well executed and meaningful, and the building renovation rather stunning. But more than that, it was the intergenerational connections I saw happening all around me, and in fact experienced myself.
Each guest at the ceremony was assigned an ambassador - pupils who are specially trained in leadership and who have an astonishing knowledge about the school, who act as guides to visitors, whether those be 4-year-olds coming for a visit or to guests like today’s event. My guide, Arden, was just six years old and her maturity astounded me. I found it incredibly special to observe the interaction between people in such divergent life stages, each learning from the other.
Though I haven’t spoken of it in a while, the place of seniors in our society is of great interest to me, especially as it relates to passing on their knowledge, memories, and most of all, wisdom. Unfortunately, in our Western culture old age is feared rather than revered, and though we have a large aging population, we have very few ‘Elders’.
I believe much of this has to do with the separation of the generations, with the elderly living apart from extended family. Without regular, organic inter-generational contact, there is little hope of wisdom, knowledge and temperance being passed on and society becomes the domain of the young and (dare I say it) often foolish.
As a society, we desperately need our old people to be important to us, not just to be ‘looked after’. And their well-being depends on that too – being genuinely needed. I was really moved to witness the genuine awe and respect coming from both young and old as they chatted together today, each impressed by the other.
There’s plenty going on in our community, and we love bringing these stories to you. Auckland is a wonderful and diverse city, and we live in a very special part of it. This month we’ve reached out further afield and now welcome readers from Green Bay, New Lynn and Avondale to our pages. We hope you enjoy our community paper. Watch out for more stories from your neighbourhood. If you’d like to share something with us, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.
New lease of life for 100-year-old building
New life has been breathed into the Historic Building at Blockhouse Bay Primary School which this year is one hundred years old.
Past pupils were among the guests invited to the re-opening ceremony, including Doris Selwyn (nee Hughes) who started school in 1938, the Heron sisters Joyce Davis (1939) and Maureen* Curgenven (1941), and Yvonne* Dabb (nee Hart, 1940).
Originally built in 1909 for fifteen children as a ‘side school’ under the supervision of Avondale Primary School, the building was moved to its current site in 1957. It has been altered many times, variously housing the entire school, an administration area including the principal’s office and the staffroom, a library, an ICT suite and most recently classrooms and a small teaching space.
Restoration of the building was started last year, and many exciting things were discovered during the renovation; Original sarking, beautiful filigree decorated beams, tongue and groove flooring, blacked out windows, and two suspended ceilings were a few of the gems. A highlight was the discovery of a time capsule from 1987 sealed in a safe which had been in the floor of the principal’s office.
The Historic Building has been strengthened and restored, re-piled, re-roofed, redesigned, redecorated, and renamed Te Manawa – Library and Makerspace. Te Manawa means heart, and the hope is this building will be the heart of learning in the school - a place to imagine, connect and create whether reading, researching, tinkering, designing or making, alone or with others.
*Maureen and Yvonne appear in a class photo from 1942, in a new Beacon history feature recounting memories of the school in WWII. Click on "Articles, August 2019"
Do you need to improve your computer skills? Having trouble coming to grips with your Smart Phone, iPad, Apple Computer or Windows 10? Do you understand the new computer technology?
Many older people feel they are being left behind by technology, but it doesn’t have to be that way. SeniorNet not only helps you to keep up with today’s technology but also with the grandchildren.
A non-profit, voluntary society, SeniorNet Eden-Roskill operates independently and is community based, with class fees kept to a minimum. Located at Balmoral, they are your local SeniorNet Computer group.
Catering for the over 50s with small classes and a three student to one tutor ratio, a wide variety of courses are taught at SeniorNet’s Learning Centre facilities, ranging from a basic “Introduction to Computers” through to mysteries of the Internet and beyond. They have Windows 10 and Apple computer systems, as well as iPhone and Samsung phones and tablets for their students to learn on.
And if that last sentence didn’t make sense to you, don’t worry it soon will because SeniorNet are having an Open Day this month. Come along and find out how SeniorNet can help you “learn new tricks”.
Regular meetings and newsletters provide on-going support and information on Learning Centre activities and other computer related issues.
For more information go to www.seniornet-eden-roskill.org.nz or email email@example.com
SeniorNet Open Day
Whau Ward Councillor candidate for C&R
An Auckland Councillor who lives in the Whau representing your interests
The Whau area: Blockhouse Bay, Green Bay, Glenavon, New Windsor, New Lynn, Avondale, Rosebank and Kelston.
I am a candidate for Whau, seeking to represent you around the Auckland Council table for the next three years.
But this year’s election is not about me. Nor should it be about any candidate seeking public office.
This election ought to be a contest of ideas; about listening to residents and ratepayers and responding to the needs of our community.
This election is about you … your expectations … your priorities.
I am a C&R candidate for Whau because you deserve a constituent-councillor who will restore the “local” in local government; place your needs ahead of party politics; and attend to the priorities of residents and ratepayers here in our part of Auckland.
My time as a Member of the Whau Local Board has been about delivery. A new community facility and library for Avondale is a good start, funding for the Whau Pool and Recreation centre, multiple locally funded projects; regenerating our local town centres will happen and that is good news.
Moving forward, the residents of Blockhouse Bay, Green Bay, Glenavon, New Windsor, New Lynn, Avondale, Rosebank and Kelston need more than old-school politicking by old school politicians.
Like you, I live in this community. My background in economic development and town centre regeneration has given me commercial acumen.
The key point of difference is I share your understanding that you want councillors who serve you, not political parties and agendas that are hidden from the public gaze.
As I knock on doors, people tell me about illegally dumped rubbish, stormwater drains full of leaves, transport issues and creaking infrastructure that struggles to cope with seemingly unfettered infill housing.
I take up constituent cases and requests because that is my job. As your Whau Ward Councillor on Auckland Council, I would prioritise your constituent needs as the number one priority. My work has and remains as service to you, the residents and ratepayers of the Whau.
Authorised by Kit Parkinson, 107 Great North Road, Auckland
Royden has lived in Avondale his whole life. For most of his 20s, he battled severe anxiety that saw him stuck inside his house for much of the past decade. Since 2018 though, with help from counsellors, doctors and local initiatives like Feed the Streets, he’s regained the health and confidence he needed to get back out in the world.
“I grew up pretty well. I grew up in a Housing NZ driveway thing so all the kids would just meet in the middle and play. But at the same time everyone was tryna be a gangsta back in those days. There’s still people like that, but it’s not as bad. I got robbed walking down to the dairy on Avondale Rd when I was like 14… got a knife to the throat then one of them punched my mate. I’ve seen heaps of fights over the years, friends almost dying.
"I don’t know how my anxiety started ay. The first memory I have of it [was at 17], I used to work at my mum’s work in the school holidays. One time as we were driving my stomach started going crazy and I was like ‘I think you needa turn around, I needa go back home’, and it went like that for a little while. Then there was a big gap where it stopped. I started uni [at 20/21] then towards the end it started kicking back in and getting worse from then on for almost 10 years.
"I couldn’t even leave the house really. It progressed over the years too. Originally it was just a travel sort of thing, going in the car I felt real sick. Then over time it became sitting around, in bed, just on and off whenever the hell it wanted to.
"But yeah, it took a long time to start making any decent progress. Sometimes I still feel younger than I am cos I had no social development through that period. It was easy to feel depressed when you don’t do anything. People always made comments like ‘oh maybe you should get a job’ and in your head you’re like ‘yeah why can’t I do that?’, but then your body’s like ‘hell no, I’ma kick your ass if you try that’.
"It was a combination of medication and counselling that kickstarted it. [Then] I started helping at Feed the Streets. Every time I do something at Feed the Streets or Community Hangout people say at the end, ‘thanks’, ‘thank you for your help’, but they don’t even know how much this is helping me. The amount of help I’m getting from this is way more than what I’m giving to them. Way more. Even just getting out in general. When I first started coming I’d barely speak, look down, all quiet, that sorta stuff and now I’m probably annoying as hell [laughs], too busy making jokes to cook anything. But yeah nah, it was crazy how much it helped.
"They’re gonna get rid of this community centre [where these initiatives are held] and I guess that’s part of ‘upgrading’ Avondale, part of getting new people into Avondale to make it – at least according to other people – ‘a better place’. You know, it’s already a pretty good place.”
Thanks to I Love Avondale for permission to use this story.
After eleven years as Vicar of Church of the Saviour (affectionately known as CoTS), Reverend Sarah Patten and her family are soon to leave our shores for the UK.
Originally arriving in Blockhouse Bay in 2008 with just her mum to help her settle in as she took up the post at COTS, Sarah now returns to her native England with a husband and family. Sarah and Murray met at a Christian singles ball to which she had taken some of the young people from the church.
Recalling highlights of her time at CoTS - the children’s holiday programmes, Christmas at the Beach events, and the many church socials she and her team organised, common themes emerged: team effort and people having fun. Alpha courses are also a highlight cherished by Sarah which offered opportunity to explain the Christian faith and the love of God which is close to her heart.
Her new role as Principal for Wellbeing & Ministry Development in the diocese of Nottingham will be quite different from her role as Vicar, drawing on skills from her early career as an HR training consultant in a High Street bank in London. “It feels like I’ve come full circle”, she says.
Excitement at this next phase of life is tempered by sadness. “After eleven years here, Blockhouse Bay has become ‘home’ for me”, says Sarah. “It’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place and I’ve grown roots here. It’s where I got married and started a family, and I’m sad to be leaving my Kiwi church family.
“But there’s lots to look forward to - getting my weekends back, being involved in church as a parishioner, reconnecting with old friends and family, and attending my brother’s wedding in November.”
Sarah’s last Sunday at Church of the Saviour is 18th August.
Once upon a time, back in the nineties, Lynfield enjoyed an annual spring market day. The Avenue would be blocked off between Hillsborough Road and Community Church, with stall holders lined up in the middle of the median strip and alongside the park.
A band played in the park, and hundreds of people would wander along the road checking out the stalls, enjoying the vibe.
But for some, the most exciting part of the event was the kids’ trolley derby. Lining up just before the brow of the hill outside the Community Church the trolleys would hurtle down the hill, finally running out of steam as the road rose again.
Long time Lynfield resident Ralph Shirley remembers it well, and has got together with Ella Kumar to create another annual event in Lynfield and they need help.
If you’d like to be involved, call Ralph on 021 57 9966 or Ella Kumar on 021 0477 642.
How does a community save a historic church that is privately owned?
You'll be familiar with the St Andrew’s Sunday School Hall on Margan Ave that’s currently in a state of deterioration.
The church was built by the Reverend Rankin with donations of land and bricks from well-known New Lynn families like the Crums, Clarks and Gardiners. Rev Rankin started building the church himself laying upwards of 90,000 bricks.
The council issued a dangerous building notice and the owners had until 27th July to complete remedial work, but none was done. The council can take on the work themselves and charge it out to the owner.
If you are interested in saving this lovely church, please make some noise to Auckland Council.
Blockhouse Bay Primary School during WWII
Memories by Audrey Thomas.
A wet afternoon and a box of old photos needing labelling and sorting, but soon I found myself remembering back to the 1940s. One memory led to another and though the photos are still largely unsorted, I had a fascinating afternoon, even going right back to commencing school during the early days of WWII.
Starting school at Blockhouse Bay Primary, meant meeting Miss French. Even today, over seventy years later, simply saying her name is sufficient to produce an immediate picture. She was a tall, thin lady, always dressed in a grey or brown two piece ‘costume’ with a blouse fastened at the neck with a bow or brooch. She wore sensible lace-up court shoes and carried a handbag and gloves. A practical plain felt hat, held in place with a hat pin, completed her outdoor ensemble. Indoors, she removed her hat to reveal very short, very straight hair.
Miss French taught multiplication with everyone chanting out loud from two times to twelve times. We all knew our tables and remember them still. Her weapon of choice was a pencil. It was used to point out words on the blackboard, or when reading from a book and to help remember spelling, each letter was tapped on your skull.
The Murder House
The main entrance to the school was from Blockhouse Bay Road near Gill Crescent. Going up the drive on the right-hand side was a small wooden building – the dental clinic. It was known as the ‘murder house’ by the pupils.
The dental nurse wore a white smock, white stockings and shoes and a white veil on her head. In the cooler weather she wore a red cardigan as well. The more ghoulish among the pupils, said it was red to hide the blood stains on her uniform.
We all hated going to the clinic and would watch the nurse crossing the playground, breathing a sigh of relief when she went past your classroom.
The building is still in the school grounds, looking unchanged apart from a ramp instead of steps for access. It is no longer used as a dental clinic.
Threat of attack during wartime
After the Japanese attacked Darwin, the decision was made for each school to have an air raid plan in case the unthinkable happened. The school had bush around it on three sides and so when the siren went, everyone left their classroom and followed the tracks into the bush. There was a great deal of hedge forming a thick ceiling between ti tree and bracken and assorted weedy bushes.
Each class went to their designated place and teachers checked the roll, then we just had to sit and not talk or move around. Apparently if we talked the enemy planes might have heard us. By hiding in the bush we were thought to be safe, as the school buildings would be bombed and not the surroundings.
Each child had to wear I.D. This was carried in a little cotton bag worn round the neck. A small card with name and address, date of birth and father’s place of work was carried in the bag together with ear plugs or cotton wool to lessen the noise of bombs, and a piece of rubber to bite on instead of biting your tongue.
Fortunately, we were never under threat of attack. It was extremely boring sitting still and being quiet. I used to catch small insects in the leaf mould and try to get them to race or even fight. There was quite a variety from wood lice and earwigs, small spiders that jumped, occasional crickets and best of all, wetas.
The school got involved in community work as part of our war effort. Some of us acted as bodies for the Red Cross ladies to practice bandaging. At that time there was a special type of bandage for every known injury. Bandages were made from torn up old sheets. Head injury bandaging was the most popular with the ladies since they could bandage our mouths shut.
The school was ideally placed from our point of view. There was Sandy Bay just down the road where we learnt to swim and plenty of bush for nature study. A big event in our lives that did not happen very often was going into town (Auckland City) on the bus.
Over seventy years remembered in an afternoon. Looking at the Primer One and Two class photo, I wonder where they all are now.
Editors note: Sadly, Audrey Thomas (nee Jouning) passed away in late July. In her younger days Audrey was a leader in Girl Guides and enjoyed drama. She spent many years as a schoolteacher, and was a keen Blockhouse Bay Historical Society member.
His palms were clammy and sweat broke out on his brow. He felt hot and cold at the same time, his heart was racing and thought he was going to throw up.
No, Patrick hadn't come down with the 'flu. What Patrick was experiencing is called Glossophobia. He had been asked to speak at his daughter's wedding and the mere thought of it filled him with anxiety and made him sick to his stomach. He couldn’t let his daughter down, but he knew he needed help.
Many reading this will identify with Patrick, feeling the debilitating fear and panic that takes hold when faced with the daunting prospect of public speaking.
That was a year ago, and Patrick’s story ended well. He gave a warm and heartfelt speech at his daughter’s wedding, and with new confidence he now welcomes the opportunity to share his thoughts when asked.
Patrick joined POWERtalk Waitakere, part of a global organisation which has been running a successful programme in effective oral and written communication skills since 1938. He overcame his fears in a friendly, supportive environment, guided by the more experienced speakers in the group.
“People come to us for many reasons,” says Sheridan, a veteran member at POWERtalk Waitakere for nearly five years. “Overcoming a fear of public speaking, needing to polish up a presentation or lead meetings for your business or club, and even to gain confidence in English, like Mika from Japan who joined the club two years ago. It’s wonderful to watch their progress!”