Sunday, June 11, 1967. 7.40am NZ1 landed at Auckland International Airport. Among the passengers were my 2 children and me. We had a very nice flight from Los Angeles where we had visited with my sister before heading further south to meet up with my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman)
My DYS had been transferred to New Zealand for two years. We knew little or nothing about this country. We didn’t learn about the far-flung corner of the British Commonwealth although I now know that New Zealand children were taught about England at school. I imagined that some of the 3million plus sheep would be wandering down the main street of Auckland to meet us, and in all, in spite of the literature given to us by New Zealand House in London, my impression was that we were going to a wild west type of life.
All those years ago not many people were travelling and certainly not with two small children in tow. The staff on board and most of the passengers were great with the children. One elderly couple (well they seemed elderly to me although in retrospect they probably were in their late 50s early 60s) offered to keep an eye on them while I slept. And the children had the run of the plane; they could go anywhere and were even taken into the cockpit. My 4-year-old son, there and then, decided he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up.
It was winter and raining when we landed in this far off land. The DYS had been here for a few weeks and had made a couple of friends or rather at that time they were acquaintances who later became friends. But I knew nobody.
DYS had arranged our accommodation in one of the only reasonable hotels available at the time. Oh, New Zealand was a very different place then.
On arriving here we found it was not as wild as we had imagined. No sheep wandering down Queen Street (the main thoroughfare in Auckland), the natives were friendly and what’s more, they spoke our language
We did find some of the customs strange. Late night shopping on Friday until 10 pm and then absolutely everything shut down until Monday morning. Bread could be purchased at the local store but no clothes or shoe shops, hairdressers or other shops were open. All very strange to this newcomer.
I do remember that gas was 33 cents a litre and cigarettes 33 cents for a pack of 20.
Another thing that was very odd was that the licensing laws had every pub closing at 6 pm. Apparently, most men would leave their offices at 5 pm to dash to the nearest pub to get a drink or two or three, before closing time. This changed shortly after we arrived but it was apparently well established.
The proximity of the beaches, easy, laid back way of living and all being together made up for any strange things we had to deal with and we all thrived in this new land.
And today June 11 is the 50th anniversary of the day the children and I first arrived in New Zealand. We have left it for a time, as a family and the children separately and me for a time after Robert died, but we have all returned and claim New Zealand as home.
“If I should die think only this of me:
that there’s some corner of a foreign field
that is forever England.
There shall be in that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped,
made aware; gave once her flowers to love, her ways to roam.
A body of England’s, breathing English air, washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home” Rupert Brooke. 1887-1915