The 2020 public launch of Te Hau o Te Whau, a 5-year crown research project on Microplastics and Emerging Organic Contaminants in Te Whau river inspired the creation of Awa Stories - a two-part storytelling project about our connection to wai and awa.
Ten West Auckland residents were invited to share their first experiences with wai and these stories travel from Zanzibar, Tuvalu, to the Manukau Harbour and our local Te Whau.
Teresa Timo is the eldest of seven siblings who grew up in Avondale. She speaks from her family home and recounts her memories of a childhood free from technology by Te Whau river. This is her Awa Story.
My name is Teresa Roimata Timo and this is my family home. My father is from Samoa and he came here in 1954 and my mother is from the Cook Islands. She came here in 1948.
When we first moved here, the Te Whau, all the families used to go down there. That was our beach, that's where we went swimming every summer. This was a great area to grow up in because it was still part bush and wild. We didn't have things that you play with, so we made our own things. We had our own treehouses and forts and we'd have war games and all these things that we used to do.
We've still got friends from when we went to school with. These are lifelong friends that we've had and we would refer to ourselves as the Avondale family.
You forget. You know, like I'm 63 now, going to be 64, and the family members have always been here since the 1960s so it's a lot of time.
I mean, I've had an amazing life, I've travelled a bit. I've travelled to Europe and I've lived in Australia for 12 years but I came home, and this is it. This is what grounds me. This is where my family is... the memories of my mum and my dad.
Growing up, it wasn't easy but it's made us who we are, me and my sisters and brothers. When you have seven siblings, and we were all pretty close in age so there was a lot of fighting and arguing of course, but when you needed somebody there at your back they're the first people that would be there for you, and that's what my mother had always said.
We had Christmas here and it was so wonderful just to see the reasons why my parents came here and the life that they tried to give us. And we've passed that on to our children and hopefully they'll pass it on to their children.
I wish that my nieces or grand nieces and nephews get the same enjoyment from what we had - freedom of not being tied down to technology, to enjoy what is natural and what is out there before all these changes, get them to see it through our eyes what it was like to grow up here.
And I hope that nothing ever happens to the Te Whau creek because it's still there, it's still flowing, and I hope with all this building, it doesn't impact on it, and so the children of the future can get to enjoy it as much as we did.
You need to look at the past as well, you need to look where you came from. We forget to look back and remember.
Just remember little things, that'll make your life a lot easier if you move forward.
Awa Stories is a collaborative work by EcoMatters and John Rata Photography, with thanks to I Love Avondale, Whau Local Board, Healthy Waters, Panuku and Te Kawerau a Maki.
View Awa Stories photo exhibition on 1909-1949 Great North Road, Avondale Mainstreet until June 30. All 10 videos will be available on the EcoMatters Facebook page.