For most of my life, I’ve been a city dweller. I was born in Christchurch and have lived in Wellington, Auckland, Sydney and London. By the time I hit my 40s, I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, and decided that a small town life was what I wanted.
The city is a magnificent human creation responsible for great leaps of progress, but I was over the traffic, the noise, and the crowds. I was also irritated by people with an excess of money or self-regard and an indecent wish for more. I wanted to live in a place where no one blinked if you went to the supermarket in your pyjamas.
The day I moved from Auckland to Ngāruawāhia is still one of my happiest. The town had all the services I needed — and the local Tūrangawaewae marae with its many activities for the Kīngitanga was a justified source of local pride.
Later, in 2010, when I shifted to Ōtaki, I was just as happy. I’d been there earlier when it was a different place.
At that time, in 1985, there were only 70 people fluent in te reo among the Raukawa iwi. Most of those speakers were kuia and koroua. No one was under 30. I’d been sent to Ōtaki to film a story for the weekly Māori television show Koha about the new Te Wānanga o Raukawa.
Link to article: The making of a Māori town: Ōtaki - E-Tangata