I have had the good fortune to have grown up on Parker Road and to have raised my own 2 children Tina-lee & Russell on Parker Road as well.
My Grandfather Ante Viskovich moved from the gumfields in the far North around 1940 to the property I now own at 128 (formerly 120), he lived here along with his 2nd wife Rere, their respective children and Rere’s father, a Kaumatua named Honi Wi Kaitaia (Pa to us). Dads brother Jack also lived and worked on the property. My Grandfather and Uncle Jack cleared many acres of scrub using only an old Draft Horse and planted out an orchard of peaches, apples, pears, tamarillos and kiwi fruit.
When my Grandfathers health began to deteriorate he asked for my fathers help on the orchard. Mum and Dad didn’t hesitate, they packed us all up and we moved from Kaitaia to Oratia. We moved into Ms Yates cottage at Number 2 Parker Road.
When my Grandfather was ready to sell My Father Frank , Mother Rose and brothers Bob, Ted and myself moved up the road to 120 , I was 8 yrs old.
I had a wonderful childhood, running through orchards from one house to another picking apples along the way, playing in the bush, fishing for eels and swimming next door in Rusty Gash’s swimming pool. Rusty’s swimming pool was the after school “go to” place for all the kids in Parker Road. (now the community swimming pool is at our place and the Grandchildren of my old friends now gather together here) . There were the Gashes, Glovers, Greys, Lathams and Sutherlands to name a few. Life was good. The school bus only went as far as our house so everyone from further up the road would gather in the mornings under the lean-to on the side of the old shed out front of our house to wait for the school bus.
During the late 1960’s Montana Wines were expanding and approached Dad to convert his orchard into a vineyard. Montana removed all the fruit trees and planted grapes. While waiting for the plants to develop Dad and Uncle Jack worked for Montana Wines in Scenic Drive. Dad left Montana to operate his own vineyard which was now fully operational in Parker Road and contracted to them until his retirement. Jack continued to work for Montana Wines even after they moved to Glen Innes and lived with Mum and Dad until his death in 1989. Montana Wines put his funeral on and supplied buses so that staff could attend.
In 1975 Dad told Mum he needed a new tractor shed, with great urgency Rusty Gash drew up the plans and away they went, the neighbourhood pulled together and got it built just in time for our engagement party. You could have put 15 tractors in it, it was way bigger than a tractor shed needed to be but was awesome for an engagement party for a couple of hundred people.
My mother Rose suffered terribly with arthritis and around 1978 Dad stopped working to care for her full time. Neither of them wanted to leave the property so reluctantly the vineyard was cut off from the house and sold as a going concern. (This is now the property known as 130 Parker Road and owned by Watercare).
Lee and I married in 1977, we lived in Suburbia for a while but when we were offered the opportunity to buy our family home in Parker Road we jumped at it and I knew immediately this was going to be our forever home, it just felt right. In 1994 We moved in with our 2 children Tina-Lee and Russell, I was home and so happy to be able to offer my children what I had growing up in a unique community. My father built a smaller house on the property to see his life out without having to leave the land he loved so much and so that he could be a part of his Grandchildren’s lives. When he passed in hospital we knew he had to come back home so we bought him back here to lay and be farewelled from home before his funeral. It was important because this was his home, his everything was here.
Like Dad, there is no other place we would want to be or could imagine being, this is our home for life. Living here and retiring here has been our life long plan. Nobody should be allowed to just come along and decide, we want this little piece of paradise that these people have lovingly nurtured for around 80 years and just take it from under them. There is nowhere we would rather be, you cannot put a price on what we have neither could it ever be replaced.
My brother Bob married Lyn Gash and we became part of the Gash Clan in the 70’s. We are surrounded by loving friends and family, this community is not your average community, we all have ties and friendships with roots that run deeper that any Kauri Tree. We have friends I grew up with inside and outside the red zone, not only would we lose our home but they will lose as well. Those that stay will lose their lifelong friends and family members. Tearing a wonderful comminity like ours apart is nothing short of criminal.
All family and extended family events have been held here, we’ve had 21sts, Big “0” parties from 30ths to 80ths, engagements (not to mention our own in 1975) and weddings. Our home is home to so many, it’s an open home and no one hesitates to ask if they can have a special event here. Our friends son is planning his wedding here in September, he and his sister had their 21sts here, his parents have had some “Big” birthdays here and his Grandmother’s after funeral gathering was here.
Lee currently works from home as a Homebased Educarer for Jemmas, she cares for 4 children who live in Parker Road (just outside the Red Zone) This family’s lifestyle will also be considerably disrupted if we are forced to leave.
More recently with the arrival of the Preston and Wright families into Parker Road we now have relatives on Lee’s side of the family as well. Just a few doors down from us with one in the “Red Zone” and one on the edge. It’s been awesome seeing how they have integrated into the community, their children playing with children whose parents we have known all their lives and having Amanda Preston as a teacher at Oratia Kindergarten is also very special. (she teaches one of the children that Lee cares for)
In December tragedy struck for a family very dear to us and a 9 year old boy was facing having to move out of the area and live with strangers away from his friends at Oratia Primary School, a place where he was loved by teachers and pupils alike. We offered our home so that this young man wouldn’t have to leave the security of a wonderfully supportive school and local friends. We felt he needed his friends at this time and needed to be close to some of his other family. He moved in with us early February this year, just as the fight to save our home started. We never dreamt for a moment that this was not going to be a very stable environment for him, shame on Watercare. We’d told him this would be his home for as long as he wanted it to be.
My father’s house became a rental property for us after he died and has been rented by family mostly until last year when it became vacant, we ended up advertising it for the first time and had to turn a lot of people down before Sarah and her 2 gorgeous daughters came along, we knew when she came that this is who we’d been waiting for. Sarah grew up in Parker Road and her brother Nick was one of Russells best friends through High School, Their Dad Michael Mason drove Russell and Nick to Avondale College for their entire High School years, just another example of the awesome community spirit. When Nick died tragically on Parker Road our hearts broke in two for this wonderfully generous family and for the loss of a great friend for Russell, he’s been sadly missed by all of us. We knew what it would mean for Michael & Erica to have their daughter and Grand daughters so close to them so we couldn’t welcome Sarah and her Girls in fast enough. Imagine the devastation for this family if Sarah is forced to leave Parker Road.
I’ve been working in Australia for the past few years previously working 2 weeks on and 2 off, during my 2 weeks at home in February it came to our attention that Watercare were interested in taking our property along with their recently acquired land behind us. We immediately set out with Graeme Gash to make the community aware, I attended our first Community meeting but then had to return to work., it was the worst 2 weeks of my life, worrying about what was happening back at home, not being able to attend the 2 Watercare meetings (one of which they didn’t attend anyway but that’s beside the point) My heart was at home with my family and my community, reception was bad where I was working which made being kept up to date near impossible. I realised that I could no longer work in Australia so I returned home to fight the fight.
I am due to retire in 3 years and I’ve spent the last few years putting things in place so that my wife and I can comfortably retire at 128 with our children and grandchildren. This is supposed to be our address till the day we die. Our grandchildren are meant to grow up on the same land that their Grandfather did, they’re meant to go to the same school, catch the same school bus at the same gate that their parents and grandfather did.
We love everything about living in Parker Road , with friends from the top to the bottom, we’ve made friends through my parents, through my brothers, through my growing up here and through my children, that about covers Parker Road.
Our first Grandchild is due in August and we can’t wait to see this little 5th generation baby playing on the front lawn, swimming in the pool and enjoying playing with extended family up and down Parker Road, running through the orchards, climbing trees and generally doing what kids love to do in Oratia.
It’s too hard to comprehend having to move out, where would we go? Where could we ever replicate what we have, so many memories and so many wonderful friends and relatives living in Parker Road who we know are always watching our backs as we are theirs – from inside and outside of the “Red Zone”. We love them all.