Small Family in Six Suitcases

Hi. How are you? We're a family of three who moved to New Zealand from Seattle in July '05. We sold or gave away pretty much everything except what we could carry onto the 'plane. We thought we'd write a bit about it. We'll love it if you can join us for a few moments.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Road and home

An eventful, busy and exciting week.

Two nights ago we had our welcome BBQ organized by our opposite neighbor and her family.

They had invited some family members they hadn't seen for a good while and we all had a great evening. We're the only pakeha family on the street and we talked a lot about our reasons for coming to Te Kuiti.

Winston had fun with the family's three-week-old puppies and their proud mum, although we think he had a bit of an allergic reaction to them so Matt took him home early to wash him and give him a tablet.

A terrific evening and a lovely welcome.

Next morning -- yesterday -- we were up at 6am to drive up to Auckland (we had already spent three nights there a few days ago for work reasons). Vera watched Royal NZ Ballet class as they were using university studio space. Winston, who had a bit of a cold this week, had developed a cough overnight so Matt parked and walked him through Albert Park and down Queen Street to the doctor. Matt walked in unannounced but the clinic kindly agreed to see Winston straight away. They gave him antibiotics and an asthma inhaler system because they detected a little wheeze in his chest. He remains in excellent spirits, tearing round the Te Kuiti playpark today... five minutes after he visited our local clinic for his meningococcal-B-vaccine starter! Brave boy!

Vera has been invited by the local Rotary Club to talk about her role and training as a dance educator. She speaks at their weekly dinner next Wednesday. Next week is also her first week 'proper' teaching at the university in Auckland.

The rest of the day -- and most of the rest of the week -- have been taken up with meetings and discussions about something else that has taken our attention and energy since last Friday. We'll post about that in the next day or two. We're excited but it could lead to one or two changes for us here.

Here is a picture of Winston with Dad and one of the puppies (and their proud mummy!) at the welcome BBQ!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Getting to know Te Kuiti

We are enjoying settling into Te Kuiti so much.

Several people, including Winston's senior kindy teacher who has been in her role here for 27 years, have said that it is a lovely small town and great for children.

When Matt was driving home this afternoon from buying a bottle of whisky for the new decanter -- the extent of our range of drinks to offer guests! -- he turned a corner and saw a lady walking in the street next to her horse, guiding it gently by the reins, holding a big empty water bottle in her other hand as she talked quietly to her companion. Matt slowed to about one mile an hour and quickly reached for the radio to turn down Boston's More Than A Feeling which -- if it has a fault -- is not a track perfectly cut out for keeping an ambling horse on an even keel on a quiet Wednesday afternoon!

It was a slightly strange sight on a residential back street, but only slightly... and not at all odd down here.

A minute later a little road-wide row of barefoot Maori youngsters, who had probably been swimming in the river, parted to let Matt's vehicle pass. From what we can tell so far our house is in a part of town where a lot of Maori families live. We've been on waving-and-smiling terms for these first days here and want to have an open house soon so that we can meet folks properly. On our first evening, as we were leaving for a stroll to the pub, a couple of children from next door came to the corner of our garden because the younger boy, a three year old, fancied a play with Winston's construction toys. His big brother was looking after him, and they were having such a good time that we left them to it and went out for our walk. Winston had been a little unsure of other guys playing with this things to start with, but he came along with us quite happily as they stayed and played for a few minutes.

One or two local folks are starting to recognize us by name (so to speak) when they see us, which goes a long way as we try to make friends with the town.

Some bargains

First blog post for a few days: we have been busy during our first few days as a family in Te Kuiti. We had a much-appreciated message from Trena, one of Matt's ex-colleagues from Seattle, saying that she enjoys reading the blog... this reinforced our realization that we haven't posted since the weekend!

We have been buying a few pieces for the house. Chief bargain among these was a two-piece buffet hutch for the kitchen. It's brand new and stands over six feet tall. It was originally priced at NZ$399 at a furniture store at the north end of town, but it was the last one and was marked down to NZ$99 (about US$60, or 39 GB pounds)! It is terrific for stacking and hanging our crockery.

We also bought, for NZ$40, a part-mahogany cabinet the top of which folds out into a mirrored drinks cabinet. Matt spent an hour cleaning and waxing it and it looks rather smart. We also found, at the recycling shop at the local landfill, four tiny glasses and four etched metal coasters for it and, in town, a $5 old decanter.

We are also looking for a queen-sized bed.

All three of us have been working in the garden, too. Winston is good at watering the plants and helping Mom to prune. Matt's excitement was that he bought, at less than half price, a palm tree at the garden centre of the local hardware store. The palm (see right) is known as the wine/jelly palm because both wine and jelly can be made from its fruits. He also bought a New Zealand native -- a rare species of the good old cabbage tree -- and has planted both over the last 24 hours with Vera's guidance. The other thing Matt wants is a citrus tree.

In line with what we have thought from the start, our priorities inside the house will probably be sanding and finishing the Rimu floors and doing some room painting. The current colours are okay but there is a fair bit of wear and tear (poster-pin holes, Scotch-tape marks, and so on). We are looking for a good off-white with a hint of lemon or orange.

We are looking forward to doing the floors and walls. Until we do, it is hard to choose and position furniture and other items without thinking that we will have to shift them all out and about when the work gets done! Ah, well. We will do it bit by bit!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Here We All Are

We all drove down to Te Kuiti today, having left our rental cottage in Auckland.

Our Mazda MPV was packed with our things. We have been in a bit of suspense for the last couple of days because after Matt's return from T.K. last week the MPV started overheating badly and had to spend over 48 hours being repaired. We found a terrific garage who ferried Matt everywhere while the vehicle was being fixed. Eventually, at nearly 6pm on Friday -- after our home telephone had been cut off, the carpet cleaners had been and we were waiting to hand back our cottage keys, the MPV was fixed to the reasonable satisfaction of the mechanics who, even so, have told us to keep a very close eye on it at least until we can get it properly pressure-tested.

Anyway, our cottage landlord, seeing that we were a bit tired, very kindly let us stay a free extra night in the cottage so that we could set off for Te Kuiti fresher this morning.

The MPV (called Green Max) was terrific on the way down and we got here on a lovely, part-sunny-part-cloudy Saturday lunchtime to unpack.

After that and several hours of work in the house we each had a bath and walked into town to the Riverside Lodge, our local pub (see picture on right... this was Winston there last week), then popped into The Warehouse -- an inexpensive Fred-Meyer-style store -- for some surge protectors, extension cords and a Matchbox car for Winston. Then home via the playpark. On the walk home we saw some Maori guys trying to chase two escapee dogs back into their car (the guys' car, I mean, not the dogs'). They got the Jack Russell back in but not the Rottweiler. They screeched to a halt to grab the Rottweiler and Vera murmured "Don't leave that car door open: the Jack Russell will get out!" As she finished her words that exact thing happened, the J.R. hopping out like a shuttlecock off a badminton racket! Another couple out walking cracked up laughing as, in our sympathetic and helpful way, did we!

We are now at home. Winston is asleep, Vera is pottering in the house and Matt is typing this.

A great day.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A good week in T.K.

Matt and Winston are about to leave Te Kuiti for a few days. They are going back to Auckland to finish things off there and to bring Vera back to Te Kuiti.

As well as working on the house this week they have registered Winston to start kindy later this month. They also joined the library and picked up our year's supply of new rubbish bags (how do they manage the excitement?!) from the council.

Matt felt in a bit of a vortex as they prepared to leave to day - lots of little chores to complete and several hours of Danny Baker to listen to before they left town!

Back in Auckland Vera has been teaching dance summer school.

Matt and Winston spent some time at the local pub yesterday afternoon. It's been there since 1910 and is right next to the river (Winston loves to play chase and hide-and-seek on the bank). Winston spilled his bubbly raspberry drink, because he is a troublemaker when he's in the boozer. Ah, well.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ripping and sweeping

Winston and Matt have been in Te Kuiti for two days. When they arrived there was a lovely 'New Home' card waiting for them by the kitchen sink, from Matt's Mum and Dad in England. The first night the guys had to cope by candlelight, as the electricity was not due to be switched on for a day or so.

The weather has been very hot and muggy there.

Today was a really productive day. Matt and Winston tore up, cut and loaded all the house carpets into the van, in about three hours. They took them to the local landfill who said they were in good enough condiiton to sell as scraps at their small recycle centre. Matt found two Rimu wood tables at the recycle shop for NZ$13 total!

Then Matt chose a second-hand fridge freezer which was delivered 30 minutes later. Later on the lads visited the shop it came from and bought a washing machine, too, and got a deal on the two items.

After playing in the park and meeting the owners of the local dairy, whose son is in the UK right now for a year, Matt and Winston went home and Matt cleaned a few other parts of the house and got the computer working while Winston played in the logpile outside.

The rest of the time has been shopping for essentials for the house, sweeping dust and rusty nails, and talking with Vera by 'phone.

Matt also found some 1989 NZ Herald newspapers unded one of the bedroom carpets. 'Prime Minister (Lange) survives (no-confidence vote), but pays a price' was the headline of one!