Rhonda | Ongaruru, Gisborne

“My parents or my grandparents are the reason that I’m so attached to this place. They’re both from here, my mum and dad. Both gone. After the loss of them, you sort of realise what home is and the values that they’ve taught you, and the people that surround you.

Tokomaru Bay has so many beautiful points to it, that in time, when you live here you learn the essence and the guts of it all, what life’s really about, and it’s not really about material, like WIFI or phones. I wouldn’t even call them essential. Tokomaru Bay, it’s taught me that the only things that can really get you through life are your hands and your head. You can make everything out of nothing here in Tokomaru Bay. It’s just a good place to grow up, because there’s not much influence from outside the spectrum.

My mum and dad moved away from here when they were quite young. So, I’ve only been living here for the last 12 years. I came back to look after my mum, and she passed. So, before I came back, I used to think there was nothing here for me to do, which is a very wrong statement. I’ve learned so much about bees and trees, being here the last 12 years. My father was in the army, so we travelled quite a lot, and I find that I’m spoiled in that way. What my parents gave me is quite a lot, but it’s unexplainable, really. My dad was an All Black. So we were brought up with a lot of sports. We’re a pretty sporty family, and I think that’s where we learned our competitiveness, and our positiveness, sarciness. It’s just a real home-grown feeling because being in the army, you were always surrounded by a whānau-base. Being in the army bases is sort of like being in Tokomaru Bay. It’s not a big thing, but it’s one big family, and Mum, she was just full of love. She was quite hard, but no-one loved like she did.

I grew up mainly in the air-force, army bases, so it was like, Waiouru because Dad was a physical training instructor in the army. We went to Waiouru, Singapore, travelled around Malaysia, and spent the majority of our time down in Christchurch. My Father passed in ’96, and Mama came home and I came home in 2008 when Mum died. Life before coming home was pretty cool, just all about me. Then you have kids, and that sort of just throws everything out of perspective, and you have to become a responsible parent, and there’s no better place than Tokomaru Bay to do that. 

Positive influence just helps things grow a lot smoother than what a negative comment can do. We’re all about little seeds, at the end of the day, and if you grow that seed with a bit of negativity, well that seed finds it very hard to grow in any environment. With kids, they’re a dream, a future. And what you try and do in a place like Tokomaru is just teach them the values, who they are, what they belong to, because we belong to our whenua around here, in Tokomaru, and we’re just here for the kaitiaki. Teaching our kids that they have whenua and they can do anything they want with it. You’ve got to be positive in life in general, otherwise it sucks. Too many negatives just is not a good thing to grow up with.

I’ve learned heaps about bees from Rob McKenzie. He’s the best man out, best teacher, best mentor that I’ve had in my life, and I’ve had heaps of coaches, heaps of teachers. I respect him for what he’s taught me about the trees and the bees here.”

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