Musings of ordinary life

Growing up in Paradise

As we travel around the world housesitting, the word “Paradise” is always spoken with fondness when we remember our growing up years, well most of the time.  No period in history can ever be referred to as totally idealistic.  Though, New Zealand in the 1960’s to the 1980’s was a relative paradise to bring up a family in and have that idyllic childhood.  We formed a group and ventured into the local streets, scrublands or to the gorge to explore around the streams.  The street play involved hide and seek, a pleasurable way to rid ourselves of the younger members of the gang.  Never ceased to amaze me how long some of them stayed hidden until boredom set in.  Those sultry summer nights when darkness became the time to have fun and no thought of TV entered our mind.

Two million people were living in a welfare state, and Britain bought nearly all our primary produce. There was no unemployment and about one murder a year. Men mostly worked about 40 hours a week, and most women stayed at home to look after the house and children.

The system was geared accordingly, and with a State Advances Corporation loan available at 4 percent interest, most people could attain home ownership, on a full section [with many being a three-quarter acre] and be mortgage-free by retirement age.

Going out to dinner as a family to a restaurant was not the done thing, though a regular as clockwork Roast Beef Sunday lunch was.  One treat that required dressing up for was to savour the delights of a sticky bun or chocolate eclair with Nana in a real cafe.  What was more popular was having a feed of fresh fish the result of a day at the beach.  Fresh fish always went well with freshly dug spuds or kumaras from our large family vegetable garden.

Fred & Kids 1964
Around the coast, my brother and I, and Grandad

Or a treat of a Jelly-Tip ice cream when on a family day out at the Races [horses].  Later on, it was the issue of not being able to buy an espresso or flat white as they were non-existent.  My first taste of real coffee was purchased in Melbourne in the late 1970’s.  A cuppa meant a cup of tea, usually poured from a pot to go hand and hand with the Truth [anything other than the truth] newspaper.  Or viewing your Golden Kiwi to see if your luck had changed.

Our roads were quite rough with few straight sections. Half of New Zealand roads were metal, so a trip from a to b was quite a mission, especially when you had a few children to organise into a car. Our usual trip to Gisborne as this was where we went for our holidays, to see all the relatives, especially Nana’s place and visits with the cousins.
This trip involved superior negotiation skills [actually let’s face it, more like major whinning] to see who would sit in the front seat with Mum and Dad.  In the end, no matter how brilliant my budding negotiation skills were, Dad had the last say.  As the years went by and many trips executed, it landed up that the younger brother would sit on that throne on more than one occasion.  Apparently, his skill at being sick was greater than the rest of us.

Sue Mark
I think we were told to put our arms behind our backs.  All dressed up for another year at school.

Trotting off to school in the sixties and early seventies meant pinafores and socks up to your knees with heavy black shoes, always to be polished before another school week started, and, in summer sandals worn. Desks had an inkwell, When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girlsand we practised with a fountain pen and ink, which often spilt creating an indelible stain on everything. The information came from books called Encyclopedias brought by parents who thought it was the best thing to help their children’s education.

We recited the time’s table for months on end and wrote stories about the weather. We had morning talks. Had dusters thrown at us by overworked, tired old nuns, if you were quick enough you put up your desk lid to counteract that hard object connecting with your head.  If that did not appease her, then writing 100 lines SUZYV1 (2)_edited“I shall not disobey my teacher” usually worked.  For the pupil, a rubber band and ownership of at least 3 pens or pencils was essential if you wanted time to play.

There was something in the air in the sixties. New Zealand was slow to cotton on, but The Beatles impacted heavily on the music front, and young people were promoting a new order. I still remember my parents listening to music, I do believe Elvis was played more than The Beetles. The Beetles arrive in New Zealand  In later years, Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd were more inclined to have my feet moving.
Pie and drink

Television was a new phenomenon. In about 1964 our family got a black-and-white TV and, with much fanfare, set it up in the lounge and tuned it in.   Many years later when watching my parents viewing Coronation Street, I promised myself when I reached adulthood I would never do such a thing.  Ena Sharples’ imposing figure and voice still rings me in my ears and put me off watching it until I succumbed to watching in my later years!.  However, I soon warmed to The MonkeesThe Beverly HillbilliesMy Three SonsBonanza, and Petticoat Junction. There was one channel, and the newsreader had a distinct British accent.

The shock of President John F Kennedy’s assassination was brought to our living rooms, as were the images of the Vietnam War. In New Zealand, the coastal coal vessel Kaitawa went down with all hands, though I was too young to remember this event.  The Wahine Disaster was another one that had adults glued to the TV and radio.

Just after the mid-sixties, we converted to decimal currency. This was the biggest day ever for some children who rushed to the shop to maybe be the first child to receive a new coin.  Though not for me.  Years later, it was the collection of bottles that had us rushing to the shops to earn more coins as another way of increasing the weekly allowance.  New Zealand also converted from imperial to metric measurements during this period.

In the later sixties, Britain joined the European Economic Community and dropped New Zealand like a stone. We were on our own for the first time ever.

Growing up our culture consisted mainly of Maori, ex-pat British, Dutch, Yugoslav and a smattering of other European races. The 1970’s brought less security from the British market which was slowing disappearing, and the welfare state was no longer sustainable. A dark period in our history was about to begin.  With myself about to leave home for the first time to live in the big city of Auckland.

But that is another story.

In the meantime, check out some links to events mentioned in the above post: 

Growing up in_edited

84 thoughts on “Growing up in Paradise”

  1. Suzi, the thing which got me is that the Irish who were angry about being displaced by the English and subjected to tyranny, then came out to Australia and occupied Aboriginal lands. So, coming from that thought and then finding these Aboriginal connections is intruing. At least one of the men moved into the Yass Aboriginal Camp. I love grappling with such complexities and in addition to writing up the factual stuff, I want to do something creative with this.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, that is amazing to find out. I do love the dreamtime legends of the Aboriginal people, and their drawings! A complex history and very disturbing what the govt did all those years ago, actually not that long ago, as it was still happening in the 1960’s? Have a great day too Rowena.

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  3. Suz, it’s fascinating isn’t it?! I recently found out that I have Aboriginal relatives on my Dad’s side. My 3rd great grandmother was an Irish Famine orphan and three of her sons married Aboriginal women. I’d set up a blog about her and someone doing research on their behalf contacted me. It blew me away. My aunt on my Mum’s side wrote the national history of the stolen generation and her husband is an Aboriginal elder. So, I was quite excited to find out about this side of the family. Hoping to find out more and even meet up. Hope you have a great day, Suz xx Rowena

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  4. Rowena, thanks for your comments, I forgot to mention that isn’t it interesting how similar our childhoods are in certain generations, though the children growing up now have such a wide variety of family structures and travel further afield. With nephew and nieces in our family coming from different cultures which I think they are very lucky to have two cultures in their lives!

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  5. Not sure the Brexit would have affected the Tasmania Apple Industry as it hasn’t gone through yet. Britain is still got nearly 1.5 years before things start to change. I think the apple industry was no doubt affected by other competition. Sad nevertheless.


  6. Your title says it all. It seems very similar to my childhood in Sydney, athough I’m somewhat younger.
    We spent three weeks in Tasmania in January where I became aware of the effects of Britain joining the EU. Tasmania’s apple industry was badly affected. Trees were dug up. Very hard times.
    Interesting to see the impact Brext has.
    xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting point about the TV being the start of globalisation. It was certainly another source to gain information about what was happening in the world. Especially for world sports events and whatever global events that were happening at the time. Look forward to reading your post about growing up in Australia 🙂


  8. I have been working on a post about my time grocery n up in Australia in the sixties and 70’s and can relate to do much of this. Jelly to ice creams are also my favourite and Ena Sharpels also freaked me out as did the cult of TV watching. It really must have changed evenings in the family home. I guess it contributed to the increasing freedom of youth and was the start of globalisation.

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  9. Oh so true.. who would’ve imagined how we would be able to connect via the internet to all corners of our Globe.. our World has become so much smaller and it’s lovely to connect and learn about others from around the World. Yes – The Monkeys were always one of my weekly highlights – great fun xx

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  10. It’s been great to have other people and yourself Liesbet say too had similar childhoods, or I should say similar occurrences as the culture etc would’ve been totally different. There were 5 of us, 4 in the back 🙂 Yes, and no safety belts! Feeling free until we hit the teenage years then it the place didn’t feel as though we had so much freedom! There was a big wide world to explore!

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  11. Wonderful memories! Such a different time and place New Zealand was back then.

    I love eclairs. And, I got/get sick in the car as well. Yet, I was not allowed to sit up front, so had to squeeze “in the middle” of the back seat, my brother on one side and luggage to the other. No seat belts necessary those days. My mum got even sicker than me, so she had first dibs on that front passenger seat. I have fond childhood memories as well, playing on the street and feeling quite free! 🙂

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  12. Thanks, Cherryl. I am sure if I wrote from a woman’s point of view it would be a different story. I was emphasising the fact we had freedom, simple lifestyle with more play outside with nature. There was still family violence back then though now it seems to be a major problem. Hopefully, someone will come up with the solution, and. we need great leaders and everyday great role models for children on how to live, be happy and treat others with respect and love. Memories of spending time together instead of materialistic wealth. Paradise 🙂

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  13. I enjoyed reading this, I remember moving up the ranks from pencil to fountain pen during primary school, feeling more grown up than those who were not allowed to use ink yet. I’m not sure if many schools encourage the use of fountain pens anymore. The naughty ink flicking and smudges on fingers are memories I’d almost forgotten. #nostalgia

    The way you described ‘traditional’ family life, low crime rates, and low divorce rates makes me feel sad when I think about the state of families, crime rates and divorce rates in the west today, which I don’t think will improve – the world has changed too much, and not for the better. Today’s picture is the new normal, far from the paradise of yesteryear. I think paradise today is dreaming of or finding a way out of the mainstream hustle and bustle and escaping to a simpler life somewhere, somehow.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Its back to school time for a lot of kids. I’ve seen a lot of back to school photos on Facebook. One adult posted an old photo of them as a child (back to school). Now I see your back to school photo here on your blog. Its great to have photos from our childhoods, brings back a lot of memories. Great your dad captured those moments!

    Liked by 1 person

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