When we first moved up here almost 14 years ago from the Waikato, we originally moved to a Dairy farm on the Kaipara Harbour. I was merely a six year old, but I remember everything. The move was pretty chaotic, we had the drama of my parents being sharemilkes, therefore meaning we had one of the typical moves: leaving the Waikato house before 12pm, but not arriving earlier than 12pm at the new place, up north.
Luckily you can move the farm implements in the weeks prior, while also sending up most of our animals too, the beginning of Mum and Dad's herd ownership. Nick and I didn't actually have all that much to do with the shift, just a wee bit young, so off we went to Nana and Grandad's in Tokoroa and stayed there for a few days. My cat, Tiger, decided to go awol - until the last moment. Friends were gathered to tow trailers of gear, a furniture truck was hired for Dad to drive and the cats were bundled into cages. I can imagine it would've been stressful.
But now, the important part. In my opinion, the place we moved to was and still is, one of my favourite places. We had the Kaipara Harbour right at our fingertips - even if that meant mangroves and shelly beaches, filled with oysters and crabs. We had a section of bush to get ourselves "lost" in, we had horses to learn to ride on and then eventually Mum and Dad bought us our own. Suddenly we were surrounded with other homeschooled kids like ourselves. It was the best place any 6 year old could grow up in, I was almost 11 when we left.
Now I'm almost 20, I haven't been back there in around about 9 years. Yesterday, I got that chance again! Years ago we did a bit of a tiki-tour around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty houses and farms Mum and Dad used to live and work on, way back when they were from being my age - I remember them being quite, in awe? I suppose, seeing somewhere and remembering how it used to be, but then seeing how it's changed, it can be quite dramatic. So that was kinda me yesterday...driving down that long driveway, covered in Poplar trees that seem to have had a growth spurt since I last saw them. Driving past the old cowshed, the house we stayed in and down to the flats that line the shell beach and Harbour. Seeing new trees have grown, and others have been removed.
Let me just say, it's super weird when you go down a race, that diverts into a semi Y-intersection, where inside the corner of the Y was a paddock that held a small pond, surrounded by trees. That was where I came off my bike one day. I was one of those kids who didn't want to use her hand brakes - I preferred to flick the pedals backward instead. I came off my bike a fair bit, always seeming to injure myself somehow. This was one of those times, riding down a slight hill (with Nick, after some cows who ended up in the wrong paddock...) I guess I got a bit of speed up, tried to brake in my own fashion and failed. That was the day that I went straight through a Taranaki gate, at quite a high speed. I don't believe I've ever been covered in so many bruises in my life!
But, alas, the trees are now gone. The pond is filled in. I feel like it was a memory (however awful) that was torn from existence. How can I prove it happened, if all of the landmarks are now gone?
Driving past the house, a view from the race shows that the garage is gone - we knew that, it was taken in a storm not long after we left and Nick and Dad flew over the farm in the helicopter, back when Dad was still flying. I didn't expect to see the old single garage that was behind it, to be gone as well. I've never seen the front lawn and gardens look so open, seeing that someone has removed the treehouse Dad built....but also seeing that the Loquat tree was still there. Fences that we all put in, are now gone from certain areas, the farm is just so run down.
Why were we there? Dad was doing the sprayouts for one of our clients, who now leases half the land. Ironically, it was the first time I've ever been with Dad in the ute, spraying. But he seemed to think I would've been too young to remember the place at all. Gosh no, I think that place had the biggest impact of my life, it's the place I technically grew up in, we were there for almost five years - sure, we've been here a long time. But that place was pretty darn cool for the most part. And it's quite nice to go back there, even for only half an hour at the most!