From my window, I look past the old self-seeded banana palms growing out of the compost heap, through the gap in the bamboo windbreak and into the neighbour’s paddock where citrus and daffodils are growing. This is a new view for me: my family moved from Te Atatū, West Auckland to Kerikeri in September this year.
My wife, Emma and I have been talking about this move for at least a decade. Chances are, if you know me well, I’ve talked about it with you too. Our plans have changed countless times over the years – every six months we’d come up with a new location to focus our dreams on. Hamilton was in our sights for a while to be closer to family, then we visited Whanganui and fell in love with the creative community; Dunedin turned our heads for a while after we spent some time there for work.
We would spend hours scouring property listings, dreaming of a new whare overlooking the ocean in Waitati, or high up on Bastia Hill. Maybe Te Anau was the place for us? What about Lyttleton? We had a never-ending supply of fun and exciting locations to pour our energy into. After a while, the conversation would turn to work and making money, at which point, our new dream would eventually fizzle and we’d move on to the next location.
At the beginning of 2022, after a decade of talking and dreaming, and with the kids getting older (six and four), we decided that this would be the year to throw caution to the wind and make something happen. After a brief flirtation with a grand old homestead in Whanganui, Kerikeri came into view. It seemed to have everything we wanted: sunshine, a creative community, within driving distance of family, rural primary school and a nice high school.
After a couple of months of dreaming and searching, we came across the perfect property. A hectare of slightly overgrown land with lush, rural views and a huge 1970’s architectural home, ready for renovation. To cap it off, there was a 12 x 7-metre barn waiting to be transformed into a dream ceramic studio. So with Bill Callahan’s ‘Let’s Move To The Country’ ringing in our ears, our dreams became a reality.
Without a doubt, the most difficult part of the move has been saying goodbye to friends and being further away from family. This move marks the end of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. The kids are happily settling into new schools and we’re meeting our new community. Emma is so fortunate to be now working remotely and I’m busy converting the barn into my new ceramic studio.
As I stand at the window in my barn, to my left will be the new kiln room, behind me will be a ducted and ventilated room for working with fine dust particles and to my right will be a clean room for stock and packaging. It’s a far cry from the damp, single garage I’ve worked from for the past 10 years. This new place is quickly becoming our home and we feel incredibly privileged to be here.