Barefoot and carefree summer long you played go-home-stay-home, nicked apricots and peaches from over the back fence, went fishing at the Iron Pot and did bombs and staples off the wharf. You scoffed shrewsberries and gulped raro riding tractor-trailer to see the gannets, getting a sore arse but never complaining. In the holidays, if you got a good report, mum and granny took you to Fantasyland and maybe for a Rush Munro’s icecream afterwards.
You went to Camp Tutira and fell out of a tree and into the lake, being a clown, on purpose. You drank water from garden hoses and when out-of-towners asked if it was safe you said yeah, it’s artesian. There were two newspapers, The Herald Tribune and The Daily Telegraph. Once a year Bay City Radio would hire a chopper and drop hundreds of prize-winning ping-pong balls over thousands of you in front of the Westshore Surf Lifesaving Club – there used to be sand there, someone would win a colour TV or a trip to Fiji.
You drank HB Draught, listened to Led Zeppelin and snogged at Perfume Point, the Taradale skate bowl or Te Mata Peak, in a Corolla or Escort. Every New Years you and your friends camped out at Mahia and got in trouble with the locals. On Sundays you’d drive out to the Patangata Pub for lunch and a few quiets – with a sober driver of course. You packed out McLean Park in the 80s for Split Enz and you brought your team, the Magpies, into the Premier Rugby Division on the same ground.
These days Fantasyland is pretty much gone so you take your kids to Splash Planet and get a Rush Munro’s icecream afterwards. On Sundays it’s the Farmer’s Market then home for an afternoon nap. You still go and see the gannets, but now it’s from the 9th hole overlooking the rocks or from the boat. You produce some of the finest wine and food in the country in a place you had to rebuild less than a century ago.
And when you travel overseas and people ask you where you’re from you rattle off names such like Dick Frizzell, Alan Duff, Paul Holmes, the Evers-Swindell twins, and All Blacks like Kel Tremain and Israel Dagg. With a smug grin.
You might have been here forever or if you left you’re coming back. You always do, because you love it here, it’s your place. You’re born, bred and bloody proud to be from the Bay.