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September 24, 2018 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Where I Came From

Turn off that radio
I can’t hear myself above the drums of flava 106
I want to tell you about where I came from
Specifically: Karamea St, the “nice end of Spotswood”
(We weren’t part of a suburb till 2008 when the new subdivision came in and we were officially Whaler’s Gate, before that Mum addressed everything with “Barrett’s Farm”, a place that only she knew existed Named after Dicky Barrett, a whaler who helped the Te Atiawa Hapu defeat a war party from the Waikato and Ngati Maniapoto led by the feared Te Wherowhero)
But I’m getting distracted — Karamea St nonetheless

Raised up between Mt Taranaki, where a dumbass church group saw fit to take a barbecue to the summit then complain when the local hapu pointed out the spot was tapu,
And Maungaroa, where the Ahi Kaa still burns
Follow the tyre tracks along the tarseal (I saw my first police chase aged 14 and the car crashed into the house on the corner and it was the third car the cop had written off in a month and I used to love dogs but gee whiz the police German Shepherd was a scary pooch)
And when you get to the fence that was once so bedraggled with moss and mould my friends Mum thought it was green, you’ll reach my whare.
There’s a bus stop directly opposite but I wouldn’t have a clue when it comes
No one catches the bus in New Plymouth apart from the people who don’t have cars
And everyone in New Plymouth has a car
So be careful of the people on the bus
They have the bum bags all the hipsters in Wellington wear to be cool
Except they had them in 2003 and they bought them from the $2 shop.
Hop off the bus at Spotswood College
It’s got a basketball court; I can grab the rim, want to see?
Come down the road with me, past the bros having a boxing match in the front yard with cricket helmets for headgear and step past the dirt bike parked on the berm
We get our takeaways from Windy Point, it’s our local
5:00pm Dad calls, he says “hello, what kind of fish do you have tonight?”
(As soon as he says this they know it’s him, who else opens up a phone call with this?)
He’s from Southland, he knows his fish (hot tip, gurnard is best fresh but if you can only get frozen get snapper, it holds its flavour better)
He’d like 4 pieces, crumbed please, and 2 scoops of chips
And he’ll pick that up at 5 to 6, he says.
We pick it up at 5 to 6
And when I got old enough to drive I would blast RnB all the way down the road, window down and pink sky dappled across the 1999 Nissan Maxima windscreen
Brush through the ribbon curtains and there’s the NZ fish species poster on the wall
If your fish and chip shop doesn’t have this poster you need to leave straight away I cannot stress this enough
But with that being said stick to the tried and true favourites on the menu. My friend tried ordering a quarter chicken and it had been in the deep fryer so long it was blacker than the sand, which is very black
Iron sand
The rule of thumb for the egg foo young is: don’t order the egg foo young.
Across the road from Windy Point someone got stabbed around 2008
Gang disputes
Except he wasn’t even patched
But it’s a blue sea over here so don’t bark or wear the bulldog.
We read about it in Crimes 214 at Law School
It’s a funny thing when your community is distilled into course materials for the countrys creme de la creme to read
Mens rea, actus reus and all that
The judges and lawyers didn’t talk about Blagdon, about Windy Point,
Or the fish and chip shop, for that matter.
But if you take a left at Windy Point you come to Ngamotu Beach, the port
And if I say so myself an unbeatable view on a good day, but don’t go down the western end cause there’s a pipe there that smells like sin
It’s a great place for a picnic, better spot to take your year 10 crush
Even better to get in fights under the Norfolk Pines, black eyes with a seaview.

West again of the Port is Back Beach, where I got the best waves of my life, honest
where I nearly drowned surfing one summer cause I wanted to be skux and wear a t shirt which got stuck over my head under water and I got held down for three waves and I started to black out
Where my car got broken into and my wallet and phone got raxxed
$20 and a cracked iPhone 4s
I still park there, that’s just Back Beach.
And if you carry on the road and turn left through the cornfield
Along the worn tar-seal, blackened thickly with skid tracks
Back along Barrett’s Road where my sister and I used to deliver magazines
But only to the flash streets with flash houses, per the instructions of the editor
You are back home, where I never really leave and a part of me will always be in my single bed and the security light I broke playing basketball, layups half illuminated in the dying light
Where I will always return to, like its 2010, walking home with wet feet in wet sandals, half the school field on my legs as Mum would say
I’ll wake up to tui warbling and that bastard down the road mowing his lawns again, before 10am
(the accepted time in the unspoken neighbourhood agreement)
Spotswood ‘till 6 feet.
And though the paddocks are subdivided, the pylon hiding behind flash houses and driveways neatly laden with gravel and smooth asphalt,
Spotswood never changes; the weary characters weaving their bikes along Endeavour St as I drive to Windy Point Takeaways and the matte-finished V8s on the grass berm just waiting for a gearbox rebuild have been here forever
So as I push through the ribbon curtains, dodge the barefoot children at the end of their mother’s tempers and see the red sky I know it’s going to be a good day tomorrow
(red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning, red sky at night, shepherd’s delight)
I’m back home.


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