by Tony Coppard
The Community Centre at Blockhouse Bay has been strengthened under the talented and energetic leadership of Sara Watson, who has now stepped down from both the committee and chairing role. She has served on the committee for a decade, first as Secretary, then for six years as Chair. Her replacement is yet to be appointed.
Sara has been a driving force behind many improvements, including the beautification of the outdoor seating area and a new mural. The smaller conference rooms have been upgraded, making them more attractive venues to hire at reasonable rates. The Centre’s online presence has also been boosted.
The community centre is a community-led organisation that has a contract/ license to manage with Auckland Council the day-to-day hire, events and groups that use it. They also manage the historic Armanasco house in the middle of the village. Sara was instrumental in updating a very outdated constitution. She has also been encouraging more people to join the committee.
Sara tells me that she has been involved with various tree disputes. She is passionate about our environment and is willing to front up and do the hard work to save trees. She is also concerned about the overuse of weed sprays dangerous in our parks.
Describing herself as an advocate rather than an activist Sara is hoping to succeed in the next local board election. She sees that as an opportunity to contribute using her governance skills and creative thinking to guide better decisions for our local Whau area. We wish her every success.
Mother's Day Feature
Have you ever woken up on the second Sunday in May in a panic because you’ve just remembered it’s Mother’s Day? Then what did you do? I’d bet dollars to donuts it involved a dash to the supermarket for chocolates and flowers.
But if you understood your mum’s love language, it would be so much easier to find a meaningful way to express your love and appreciation of her, even when you’re short of time.
Wait … her what? Ok, so if you haven’t heard of the 5 Love Languages it’s your lucky day, because this is totally a thing and can be a game changer in any relationship. The concept was developed by Dr Gary Chapman who’s written books on it – and not just for adults either. You can dive in and take quizzes at 5lovelanguages.com, but in the meantime, here’s the idea:
The 5 love languages are: words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts. These are ranked 1-5 in order of preference with 1 and 2 being our primary and secondary love languages. The best way to guess your mum's love language is to observe how she shows you love.
Here are some suggestions to help you show your mum you love her in the way that speaks most to her. Use them as a catalyst for your own creativity and come up with your own short list. Note that I haven’t mentioned ‘buying’ anything. Yet.
Words of Affirmation: Does your mum keep notes that others have written to her in a special place? Does she seem to melt when you tell her you appreciate her? For the ‘words of affirmation’ mum you could write her a nice note, compile a small album of your favourite memories together with notes about why they are special to you, or record a video of you telling her specific things you have learned from her or that you love about her. It will cost you nothing but time, but is a solid investment the relationship bank account.
Acts of Service: These mums get their love tanks filled by having tasks done for them. Especially ones they struggle with. Try to think of something she might not be able to do herself because of time, ability, or resources, especially if you know it’s bugging her. Fixing something or getting it fixed, moving something heavy for her, making her a nice meal … the list of possibilities is endless. In fact, she might even have a list! Whatever you decide on, the point is in the doing.
Quality time: This mum loves spending time with you. Have you noticed what a good listener she is? That she remembers the little things you’ve told her or you’ve experienced together? A Mother’s Day date is a great way to show her you love her. A picnic, a bike ride, walk in the park, as long as she has your attention. Ask her about her life and really listen. Pretty easy, huh?
Physical touch: Does your mum touch you when she’s talking to you? Is she a hugger, a rubber, a cuddler? Then she’s super easy to please because all she wants is affection. Anything involving close physical contact is what she loves. Watch a movie snuggled together on the couch, brush her hair, give her a shoulder massage. And how about vouchers for free hugs! Always a winner!
Receiving gifts: Ok so this mum loves to be ‘surprised’ by gifts. It’s easy to read this wrong and think it’s all about the gift and the value. Well, it is, but the value is not necessarily in cost, but thought. The more thought that has gone into the gift, the higher the value. The gift represents how well you know her and that you have thought about her.
So, there you have it. You now have the tools to think about what lights your mum up like a Christmas tree and think of something that says “I Love You” in her language. These suggestions can be adapted for all ages and stages with a little creativity. So go out there and show your mum how much you love her.
On a beautiful Sunday in late March the second volunteer day of the year for the Friends of Wairaki Stream (FOWS) finally got underway at Lynfield Cove after a delay caused by lock down. Seaweek sponsored the event (thank you!) and we celebrated with pizzas for our hard-working troops.
Wow. What a great day we had with over 65 people. Heaps of rubbish was picked up from the beach, bush and stream. After the event clotheslines were filled with washed gloves – 106 on one line!
One group made it their mission to dig out and rid the stream of a huge old tractor tyre; packed with wet mud, it weighed a ton. They tried and pried and rocked and pulled and finally got some leverage. With lots of laughter along with the mud splatter - the average age was 50 – that’s including one 30-year-old! - finally it was rolled along to the bank edge where the youn’uns pushed it up the bank, while others hauled it out with ropes. A great effort and very satisfying, until some bright spark pipes up, “Here’s another one!”
Later, treading carefully around the slippery rocks we came upon a secret cave! The stories flew about pirates, dinosaurs, and mythical, magical creatures. Fantastic to hear such creativity and imagination is still alive today.
We have the most awesome people attending our working days, just so keen on doing something for the environment. Thank you to CVNZ Migrant Group, local Rotary, Lynfield College International Students, Iona Scouts and lots of families and other locals. After the event clotheslines were filled with washed gloves – 106 on one line!
Our next volunteer days are Saturdays May 8 and May 29. See you there! (Search “Friends of Wairaki Stream” on Facebook for more info).
Upon reaching her 100 year milestone
On the day Topsy Masefield turned 100 she celebrated by doing her usual Friday activity – a workout with her Gold Fit class buddies at Lynfield YMCA. She was unaware however, of plans afoot to celebrate in style.
After her workout she went to join the others for the usual morning tea in the adjacent room, only to be greeted by a surprise birthday party including Gold Fit buddies and YMCA staff. A quiz about the year she was born (1921), gifts, flowers, a beautiful cake and, of course, a birthday message from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Topsy was both embarrassed and delighted by all the fuss but managed to speak a few words of appreciation.
Topsy, whose real name is Sarah, was born on 9 April 1921 in Wales, in the village of Llandloes, Powys, and was brought up in a cottage that was situated above the local lead mines. On still nights the miners could sometimes be heard in the shafts below.
Before beginning her nursing career at the Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, Essex, Topsy was thrown in the deep end when her sister went into labour. Consequently, she had the privilege of seeing her niece Margaret enter the world. 82 years later, that same niece had the privilege of celebrating Topsy’s centenary with her, having been ‘stranded’ in New Zealand during a visit due to Covid-19 and unable yet to return to the UK.
Topsy trained first in general nursing, then as a midwife and also at the Ilford Isolation Hospital for infectious diseases. During wartime she was walking across a compound with a handful of other nurses when suddenly they had to run for their lives as the area was strafed with bullets from an aerial attack.
As if that wasn’t enough adventure for a lifetime, in 1948 Topsy sailed for New Zealand and worked for two years at the Alexandra Hospital in Wellington. She married Don in 1950 and they had two daughters, Kerrie and Glynne, and a son, Gareth. Topsy also has four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all of whom are a source of immense pride to her. She is regarded by them and their extended families as Matriarch and they love her dearly. No family party is complete without her!
Topsy enjoys dining at local cafes and restaurants and is partial to an occasional G&T or scotch. Her family attribute her long life to her positive attitude and her enjoyment of anything that comes her way but, as Topsy herself says, “Take one day at a time, and just keep breathing”.
Building Developments in the Whau
Hollywood Cinema gets exterior makeover
After several years working to restore the interior, the owner, Matthew Timpson, is now moving onto expensive exterior work to preserve these iconic buildings. This includes a complete re-roofing of both buildings (the cinema and the old town hall). The internal gutters need attention which is always a challenge. While the scaffolding is up, they are taking the opportunity to do an exterior repaint of the walls. The estimated project cost is more that $200K which is a huge commitment for a small business.
It is amazing how Matthew and the team have brought this venue back to life as a vibrant location for live events and film showings. They have created an adaptable space that can accommodate seated or standing audiences, and the old town hall space also adds flexibility.
Already, people in the community have shown appreciation for the care being taken to curate these Category B historic buildings. The complex is actually three different buildings with three different construction dates, complicated by the fact that the old town hall started life where the cinema now stands, then got moved sideways and replaced by the cinema. The third building is the concrete part which includes the steps, façade and front rooms in two levels.
1867 – Original wooden town hall, with a porch, is built on the site of the current cinema. This building was also used as a cinema, dating from the Boer War period.
1915 – Wooden porch is removed, and the brick frontage building is constructed. It includes the steps, a brass dome on the roof and rooms for the Road Board. The dome was removed in the 1950s as an earthquake risk.
1923 – The original town hall building behind the brick frontage gets moved sideways to its present position.
1924 – The new town hall (now the Hollywood) was completed behind the 1915 frontage building.
There is only one blurry image (above) of the original town hall in all its glory with its brick frontage building and the dome on top. It looks really grand. Now having been stripped of the bling and moved sideways to its present location it looks very forlorn and dejected. Hopefully, a new roof and paint job will help lift its image.
New Lynn Corner Café (The Old Woodshop Corner Cafe)
The old shop on the corner of Hutchinson and Margate was recently demolished. The café closed for renovations last winter and so far, the rear has been rebuilt. It looks like the front will be starting again from scratch.
In July 2020, the café announced “WE’RE CLOSING! Time has come for our long-awaited renovation of the premise. Work is deemed extensive, so we expect to re-open after several months. We’re excited to bring you guys something fresh once we’ve reopened, no doubt it’s well deserved”.
The project is currently paused waiting for council consent on some revised plans. After experiencing a few problems along the way, owner Maahir is reluctant to promise a firm date yet for reopening the café.
New Lynn Community Centre Refurbishment
The 20-year-old New Lynn Community Centre building has served the community well but was overdue for refurbishment.
An increased utilization of the building’s forecourt for community activities required that the building be better connected with the outdoor spaces. SGA Architects Ltd have done the design work.
The main stair of the building has been removed from the foyer, opening up the double height space and exposing this space to the forecourt. A new reception desk and administration office is located centrally to the foyer with a new stair and new lift flanking this on either side. An open plan community lounge and an informal seating area have been provided at each end of the main foyer space allowing the whole space to have an almost seamless connection with the building’s forecourt.
Other works in the $900,000 project include the development of Plunket rooms on the ground floor, three large hirable rooms, and kitchen and storage spaces on the upper level. Acoustic separations and services have been upgraded to benefit community groups using the facility providing more flexibility with concurrent activities.
The New Lynn Community Centre is expected to open the public in May 2021.
Changing times at the old BNZ building, New Lynn
There was some consternation recently when a demolition crew moved in and started taking down the former BNZ building on Totara Ave, New Lynn.
“NOOOOOO!!! One of the most distinctive and beautiful buildings in Auckland”, commented one local on Facebook. “Simple, stylish, of its era but so easy to re-purpose.”
“The building opened in 1964, designed by the architectural firm of Hole and Annabell, and boasted the first use of folded slab roof construction in the country. It certainly has been a distinctive local landmark for nearly 57 years”, notes local historian, Lisa Truttman.
There is good news though, because the front part of the original building will remain and be redeveloped inside. The building is being repurposed with retail at ground level at the front. There will be apartments above the retail as well as on both levels in a new structure at the rear.
On behalf of the owners, Victor Young says “We are very excited in redeveloping and revitalising of this iconic building which has been part of New Lynn for a such a long time. Once finished, it will complement the adjacent eateries and bars as an amazing destination “.
There was a real sense of joy at the annual four-day Polyfest event in April as thousands of students and their families and supporters came together at the Manukau Sports Bowl to celebrate culture through performance. The joy was especially apparent given that world's biggest schools' Pacific dance festival had been cancelled twice previously - in 2019 due to the Christchurch terror attacks, and in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Avondale College brought ten groups to the Cultural and Diversity stages of Polyfest this year: Thai, Japanese, African, Korean, Sri Lankan, Indian, Cook Island, Niuean, Tongan and Samoan. The groups had been practising tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the event, and their efforts were rewarded with a number of awards.
"Over the past eight weeks, our ten groups have worked incredibly hard with their teachers, tutors, student leaders and families to prepare for the Polyfest event. We are incredibly proud of all of our groups! They put a huge amount of effort into their performance pieces, and the teamwork, dedication and drive for excellence has been impressive. Avondale College’s HEART values have been on display every day, and not least during the competition itself." - Lyndy Watkinson, Principal
Book Review and Mother's Day prize giveaway
Wendyl Nissen is the founder of Green Goddess. She’s also a quick witted and entertaining author. My Mother and Other Secrets is her latest book.
A funny, moving memoir about uncovering old family secrets and how that leads Wendyl to a better understanding of her mother. When Wendyl Nissen’s mother was suffering with Alzheimer’s, she told some extraordinary stories about her background that Wendyl had never heard before. Determined to get to the bottom of the buried truth, Wendyl’s journalistic love for uncovering secrets took over and she unearthed some wild and intriguing stories of loss, grief and love.
As Wendyl says, ‘my parents were born to a generation that kept secrets. Big secrets for a long time, and usually they took them to their graves.’ She uncovered new relatives, deeply sad adoptions, harsh parenting, complex marriages and a few rogues. These stories often highlighted how tough life was for women and children in an era when women had to fight for every bit of independence they gained.
This compelling, moving book is about mothers and daughters, ageing and the way deep family traumas echo down through the generations. It is also spliced with wisdom and practical advice for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia.
But My mother and other secrets is not a book of grievance nor is it a misery memoir. It's a book of understanding. More so, it's a book propelled by the redeeming power of stories.
Author Bio: Wendyl Nissen is a journalist, broadcaster and magazine editor who is the author of 10 books, mostly about living a chemical-free, old-fashioned life. She left the corporate world 20 years ago and now lives in the Hokianga with her husband, her father, 20 chickens (and counting), two cows, two dogs and three stray cats.
The Beacon has a signed copy of Wendyl’s fantastic new book My mother and other secrets as well as a 1kg Citrus Laundry Powder Concentrate to give away, courtesy of Green Goddess.
If you’d like to go in the draw to win this lovely gift, email email@example.com with your full name, phone number and email, and “Green Goddess Giveaway” in the subject line.
Entries close 10am Monday 10th May.
THE GREEN GODDESS STORY
Green Goddess is a family owned New Zealand business that has been creating pure, natural, high quality products sustainably for over ten years. Triona and Grant bought the business from eco warrior Wendy Nissen in 2016 and are continuing her legacy handcrafting beautiful products that are safe to use around your home and on your body without worrying about the effects on your health or the environment.
The business is going from strength to strength as new products are created, processes are refined and the emphasis is put on looking after the customer, both retail and wholesale. Green Goddess is paving the way in the totally natural eco product market.
"The Green Goddess philosophy is about working with things from the earth that are in tune with our whole selves – mind, body and soul." Triona
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Our products have been carefully formulated with a focus on quality, sustainability and value for money, from sourcing through to packaging and shipping every step has been considered with you and Mother Nature in mind.
There are no toxins to aggravate allergies or hinder the immune system and no harmful substances to leach into the environment when you use Green Goddess. Even our baking soda is mined, not man made like most in the world today. All paper packaging is home compostable and liquids come in glass.
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By John Subritzky
At a recent Whau Local Board (WLB) meeting, it was standing room only as not one, but two groups of local residents came to protest about their reserves.
The Davern Lane residents made their presentation which visibly moved many of the board members. Then next up was a group of about twenty residents from the Ambrico precinct. Their reserve is proposed to be unusable for up to 18 months while being used as a construction site for the Clinker Place Stormwater Project.
This project involves boring and pipejacking a 530-meter-long stormwater pipe from the Clinker Place Special Housing Area (the former Ceramco brickworks) to the Manawa Wetland Reserve. To facilitate this, an access shaft will be sunk near the side of Ambrico Place, immediately across the road from the historic Ambrico Kiln remains. The reserve is collateral damage.
The residents expressed their concerns about the loss of use of the park as the only safe, close greenspace for those living in the 300 houses surrounding the reserve. Eleven trees are scheduled to be removed, just as they come into maturity 23 years after planting. The noise and vibration that will affect neighbours could also endanger the remains of the Ambrico Kiln, which is already extensively cracked and has had external reinforcing added to try and preserve it.
Kay Thomas noted that it was the previous WLB that had been briefed on the project, although the potential impacts are not always fully explained to local boards. She encouraged the residents to make submissions.
In a later statement, Auckland Council General Manager Healthy Waters Craig Mcilroy says “The team has taken into account recent feedback from the Whau Local Board and the Ambrico Place community and is working with our contractor to change the tunnelling process so that much less of the reserve will be required during construction. Approximately 40% at the northern end of the reserve will now be used (pending resource consent approval) with the remaining 60% including the playground, remaining open to the public.” The time timeline for the reserve has been reduced to 12 months. He further says that “In June 2019 a vibration assessment carried out, indicated that the kiln will not be affected by the works.” Assurance is given that vibration monitoring and management will be undertaken during the project.
The WLB has sponsored several community-building events including movie nights, picnic in the park and neighbour support at the reserve. These have been aimed at bringing people out of the gated housing areas to share a sense of community together. Ironically, what has galvanised the community into action is the proposed loss of the very reserve that they have gathered on for these events.
1920 - 2020
Laughter, rekindled friendships, fond memories, and wonderful performances by current students were at the centre of the celebrations at Blockhouse Bay Primary School over the 9th and 10th of April. The occasion was scheduled to take place in March of last year but was postponed due to the first lockdown.
Despite a damp few hours, past students, staff, and community members gathered together to revisit the school and discover all the changes which have taken place over the years. Guests included many past students and staff, including previous principal John Davies, and others who attended school from the 1930’s through to those who left very recently. Many others sent their greetings and congratulations.
Highlights included a chance to see current students at work in modern classrooms, tour the renovated historic school building ‘Te Manawa’ and peruse photographs and artifacts from across the years, culminating with a relaxed evening chatting at the Mix and Mingle party and enjoying the official ceremony on Saturday.
On Friday a dance festival took place across four stages and all current students took part. Cheers could be heard in Blockhouse Bay Village as the children entertained the crowds, and all enjoyed gathering as a community to have fun and remember those who have contributed to the school previously.
Members of the Blockhouse Bay community worked together with Principal Neil Robinson and other school staff to organise and run the centennial successfully. The Whau Local Board also contributed funds to support the centennial to take place.
An enduring reminder of the centenary is the art installation ‘Ngā manu ki te whau’ which was created by students and staff at the school. Ten tui, one for each decade of the school’s existence, now soar on the side of ‘Te Whau’ the school’s Performing Arts Centre. The tui remind us of the school’s vision ‘We seek, We strive and We soar’. It is the hope that all students, current and future will soar high just as previous generations of Blockhouse Bay students have.
Blockhouse Bay Primary School Principal
You really can’t judge a book by its cover - things are not always what they seem, and our presumptions can lead to missed opportunities and experiences.
Take for instance Colin, Cameron and Mark. They are all regular, easy-going Kiwi blokes; Kev’s a builder, Colin’s a cabinet maker, Cameron’s in finance, and Mark is an electrician. At first glance at these guys you’d never guess they all have a common thread: They’re all really good dancers – modern jive dancers to be precise. Effortlessly leading a lady on the dancefloor, with masculine style and charm.
While many girls at some point learn some form of dance, most Kiwi blokes don’t. But if you watch these guys on the dancefloor, you’d think they’ve been dancing forever.
Colin, Cameron and Mark all dance at Move Blockhouse Bay. Like everyone, they learned the basics in beginner classes, taught with clear instructions around footwork and hand-holds. Mistakes are all part of the fun, and no one actually has two left feet. Confidence grows as everything gradually becomes more familiar.
And Move Blockhouse Bay? You’ll find men and women at different levels of competence and experience who share a common passion - they just love to dance. The great thing about modern jive is that it can be adapted to most music you enjoy.
Colin (yes, Colin the cabinet maker) and Hannah are the owners and lead Instructors at Move. They have created a friendly, relaxed, classy culture where everyone feels accepted. And can they throw a dance party!! So, if you’re a closet John Travolta, or just wanting to enjoy the challenge of something new, come and try a class or two.
Move is in Blockhouse Bay on Wednesday nights, beginners at 7pm.
Your first lesson’s free so what have you got to lose?