Posted by Tony Cornelius on Aug 02, 2018
In Mid-July Jenny and I went up to Gisborne, over 2 years since our last visit, and 3+ years since we sold up and moved to Wellington.  We took the opportunity to catch up with friends, our farm neighbours and even fitted in a meeting with my previous Rotary Club.

On the long drive back to Wellington we had a chance to reflect on the very significant change in our life style.

We moved to Gisborne in 1985, Jenny was teaching and 18 months after we arrived I purchased a wholesale distribution business dealing with local Industry and the horticultural sector.  With both of us working in people-based industries, plus 2 children involved in school and sporting activities, we soon built up a wide range of acquaintances and friends. I joined Rotary in 1990 and from this gained many more friends and acquaintances.

In 1994, after our youngest child left home (empty-nest syndrome) we brought a pastoral horticulture block 20km South of Gisborne and this dominated our lives for the next 21 years.

I continued working in town for the next 8 years, working the land after work and in the weekends until we doubled the size of the block after buying one of the neighbour’s properties and became a full-time orchardist. Jenny gave up teaching a couple of years later and we worked the block together.

The weather dominated our life, a cold wet winter slowed down both tree & grass growth. This affected tree health, a stop/start spring affected bud burst and wet overcast weather could result in poor or uneven pollination. An unseasonal frost,or hail storm, could destroy a year’s work, and a cyclone could cause severe flooding.  A dry spring could hinder fruit sizing, then there were the insects, mainly Thrips and scale, and the rots due to wet weather.

Yet despite all the negatives we thoroughly enjoyed the life style and the better side of the Gisborne climate. We had huge satisfaction from the years we produced good quality produce, or prime livestock even though we spent all this time producing it without knowing how much we would earn for it, or at times if you would have something worth selling.

I got to enjoy the early morning starts when you had to complete spraying before the wind got up and spraying under lights either late at night or early in the morning was something I enjoyed.  But I was very pleased that I had invested in a modern tractor complete with air cushioned seat, heater and radio. Best of all an air-conditioned cab with charcoal filters so I no longer had to kit up in a spray suit and mask to do the spraying.  The work was hard, the hours during harvest could be long but at the end of the day it was a marvellous time in our lives and we have many fond memories of our time there.

Our neighbours were fantastic, and we experienced the joy of living in a rural community. The woolshed parties, the annual Kaharau bull sale, where the locals did the catering as a community fundraiser, the beach BBQ’s, some planned, others a phone around at 11am on a Sunday morning and some memorable drought parties when we celebrated substantial rain after a long dry Gisborne Summer and Anzac Day services at the local marae which were something special.

IN 2014 we decided that we had to look at what we were going to do next. The physical nature of orcharding was catching up with me and I was no longer enjoying the long hours on the tractor. Both our children and grand-children were in Wellington and one of our neighbours had expressed an interest in our property, so we took the plunge and sold up in April 2015.

Frankly I was terrified about what I was going to do with myself. I had a contract administering a small company, which I had generally done on wet days and as a break away from the orchard, so I still had this to do, and it also helped me keep the brain active.  We were now close to family who in hind sight went out of their way to help us settle in and the transition was far easier than I expected.

I transferred to the Eastern Hutt Rotary (encouraged by my brother in law) and settled in to a very welcoming group which is far larger than the one I had just left. Shortly after joining I was asked if I was interested in tramping and said yes, despite not having had much time to do any tramping in the previous 20 years.

This opened a whole new world to us and since then we have tramped over many parts of the Wellington region. We have enjoyed the sights we have seen and the company of the many people we have walked with, or met on the way. Amongst this group were some serious trampers and together we have travelled to Fiordland to the Lake Monowai area, the Catlin’s, and Great Barrier Island. We have become involved in Rebus and Jenny has joined a local garden club and I do volunteering trapping for the WCC.

So am I still worried about whether I was going to cope in Wellington after all that time living a totally different lifestyle. The short answer is no. I enjoy the Wellington landscape, the vibrancy of the city, the diversity of the people we have met, and the opportunity to be a part of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives. As to the weather It no longer dominates my life, apart from the odd Wellington day when I think of the Gisborne summer from the comfort of own  home.
Life has worked out far better than I anticipated, and as much as I enjoyed going back to Gisborne for a visit, I have no wish to return to our previous life.