Sunday, August 9, 2015

"Oh, the things that you find"

I was grateful to receive this week a book, Bygone Days by George Kaye: a series of vignettes on aspects of Lower Hutt in the early 20th century. This morning I read the chapter about when "A Future King Toured Moera" - my own suburb. The day in March 1927 when the Duke of York (the future King George VI) "came to Moera, saw Moera and left Moera".

Not without visiting a few families first in this working class suburb still being built. The King, along with Prime Minister Gordon Coates and Lower Hutt Mayor W T Strand, called at the Stewarts' place on Mason St - a family of 11. The King said the youngest Stewart (Eileen, just a few weeks old) reminded him of his own daughter Elizabeth (our still reigning Queen). While for the Mayor, it was the large macrocarpa outside the house that reminded him of his boyhood days - so much so, he would not allow for it to be cut down.

So, concluded our quirky chronicler Kaye, "in 1927, two people found something in Mason Street, Moera, that reminded them of something: His Royal Highness, the Duke of York of his baby daughter; His Worship the Mayor of Lower Hutt, of his boyhood."

Funny parallels. When I first arrived in this suburb, a narrow footbridge over a branch railway line reminded of Puhinui railway station in south Auckland near where my grandparents used to live; while along the river, next to the main railway line, a row of crows-nest poplars puts me in mind of my early years on the Hauraki Plains. A line of such trees grew along the south boundary of our factory house with a dairy farm beyond. Shortly after we left the house when I was three, the new occupants cut the trees down - Dad was disgusted.

I only hope that if ever a proposed cross-valley link road goes through the Hutt Valley, those poplar trees aren't in the line of fire. Or that I had the power of a mayor to decree whether trees should remain, or be cut down.

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