The Sociology of A Place To Call Home Part 2
by Sandshoe (Honshades)
We need to know a lot to build a house that is a home.
We moved to New Zealand in 1983 with 5 children as the family was grown as planned. My husband had completed a Ph. D.. He accepted a position of employment in Auckland.
We had one month accommodation provided us.
Our housing was a motel next street in from a suburban beach the motelier told us was the best beach in New Zealand, only a step from the heart of our beautiful city. Our first view of it fixed on the largest and dirtiest rat I have seen ever scuttle out of
a storm water drainage pipe onto a foreshore. The tide was in as well lapping at a narrow strip of sandy beach so that naive and homesick, we were well confused this was the best beach in New Zealand.
I did not want to immediately buy at the end of one month. I wanted to rent. I foresaw we needed a period to orient ourselves. Forewarned is forearmed. My husband considered we could not afford a rental to house our family of seven. We did not discuss options. I accepted we could not afford to rent.
Mind, we faced a raft of other underlying reasons why to proceed was looking no go at all. At one later stage we discussed suggestion my husband raised that to stay was looking financially impossible. Neither had we anticipated that raising a loan on the down payment
secured from the sale of the house in Australia was not a walk in the park in the NZ office of the major bank we had the previous mortgage with in Australia. First benchmark learned about borrowing money no matter how confident and successful a home buyer has been, no matter how many previous mortgages, how major the bank, no matter how upwardly mobile. You think you are home and hosed or housed. Check what is going on in any other country you migrate to and never suppose reliable employment and sound credit rating means an iota in translation.
Your bank in Australia is nothing to do with us and the decisions we make.
We were able to raise the mortgage from another bank, fortunate.
I basked later in praise newly-met friends and colleagues lavished on us. They would never have been courageous enough to buy where we did. Previous to our example they imagined, implied foolishly, they would never have considered it.
Who knows if we said it was the only property we could afford to move out of the motel on desperately straitened means.
My husband and I were as individuals and a couple entirely burdened with stress. To arrive in New Zealand as a family of seven on the day before Christmas Eve, 1983, we thought we knew what we were talking about when my husband and I discussed the move. We knew squat. We were as naive as the other. We subsequently found ourselves without income because my husband’s pay was not immediately accessible. The accounts office was closed for the summer holiday period. We had to cash in a lone investment remaining in Australia that was our one source of small means to survive, potentially no home other than the motel, potentially no transport having not anticipated Customs demands we pay a substantial amount of money to secure our
vehicle out of the depot where it sat in storage for weeks after it was unloaded at the wharf. Our transport was a rough hire van which was supplied for the first month. The first of two vans was so rough it remains a mystery to me how an employer could establish a least justification to supply it under the terms of a contract of employment. We saw danger everywhere. New Zealand had no safety belt laws. We watched out of the windows of our van in horror a cavalcade of unsecured passengers and unrestrained animals in passing vehicles. Least of our immediate worries that we did not know much that was practical about a culture and a national economy in transition we needed to come to terms with and understand, neither could have imagined.
I, my turn for a shock and on my own, attended to open a bank account at a branch of the Bank of New Zealand I chose local to the house we bought. I offered my passport as an item of identity with requisite proof of the new address. I had never had a passport before. It was a source of original joy unconfined, shiny in a protective plastic cover and one stamp only that was entry into New Zealand. The teller
emerged from taking it to be reviewed by a manager in a back office. He tossed it by way of a spin onto the counter. The passport slid towards me. I was gripped by a sense of saturated disbelief watching the passport come to rest. I believe all colour drained out of my face. The teller’s had transformed to a rampant bully’s. His lip curled.
“Come back when you’ve got something decent to show for yourself,” he agressed and turned his back on me to underline contempt.
I stepped back to make a space in the middle of a crowd of customers where I demonstrated with a raised voice and vehement passion. A better recourse than turning on my heel and walking out after would have been to stay and even get perhaps arrested. I had a family to return home to. Staff at the National Bank of New Zealand I walked to across the mall regrouped, found a chair and brought a cup of tea to soothe me when I started to tell a duty officer at a customer service desk I
wanted to open a bank account, but suffered a flood of tortured tears. The bank account was duly opened without question. Later I could not recall if the passport was taken out of its cover and opened. I knew neither staff or the manager who was called read letters of identity I offered. What they thought they knew of neighbourhood was perhaps torn into the tiniest pieces as mine was.
An incident at a stop at road works on a blazing hot day went to the heart of all frustrations. A road worker ambled across the road in front of our van as we slowed to crawl past a site of a road repair. He picked up a witch’s hat from the lane where it was as we approached and set it down before us in the lane we had changed into. No road repair was in process. There was no other traffic in any direction. The action appeared to be unwarranted mischief. I put my head out of the passenger window and called it we wanted to be allowed to pass. The worker slowly ambled towards the van with an expression of insolence. He leaned forward and leered in the window.
A cartoon sketched exclusively out of her own imagination by one of my two older daughters shows the mum and dad kangaroo seated in the driver and front passenger seats respectively. Clustered behind them is an assortment of joeys, one of which is a girl … as the youngest baby in nappies was … defined by femme bows tied around
her ears. Out of the mouth of the mum kangaroo in the front passenger seat is the speech bubble ‘Let us through’ and out of the beak of a shaggy hulk of a kiwi visible through the front passenger window flows the classic denunciation as it happened ‘Why don’t you go home where you came from’.
to be continued…
Christina Binning Wilson