Rory Gardiner's Webpage

02, Feb, 2013

January 2013 update

We have been making the most of the hot sunny Taranaki summer since the boys finished school seven weeks ago.  We have had many adventures, and spent quality time with our family.  I can’t believe it was back to school this week.  Sam started Inglewood High School on Tuesday.  It was his first time in uniform and he looked so young and so grown up all at the same time in his slightly baggy grey shorts and blue polo shirt.  He was lucky enough to be put in the top Year 9 class, and has come home everyday overflowing with news and enthusiasm.  Rory returned to Inglewood Primary School on Thursday as a Year 6 student.  He was without Sam for the first time, without a Teacher Aide since he completed treatment, and in a new class.  It is a lot of change for him to cope with so I am keeping a close eye on him to ensure he is happy and getting the most out of school possible.  Colt has restarted Playcentre.  The first session was on Monday and the theme was messy play.  There was water, paint, slime, sand and playdough in abundance.  There were lots of active happy messy children as several of the under 5’s were joined by their older siblings who had yet to start school.

Colt turned 2 just before Chistmas.  Sharon had a combined party for him and Sophie, and we set aside a family day dedicated to things Colt enjoys.  We started with play at Chipmunks, ate lunch at McDonalds, looked at the animals at Brooklands Zoo, fed the ducks in Pukekura Park, and went out to Santa’s Choice to pick out a Christmas tree.  Colt is now sleeping in a big bed, and is in the huge bedroom with his older brothers.  He has had another appointment with a Paediatrician at the Hospital who assures me all we can do at this stage is monitor his breath-holding spells.  The Doctor said we need to be aware they can occur at any time in response to trauma and we need to be prepared.  Hopefully he will grow out of them.

To mark Sam’s becoming a teenager I helped him set up a Facebook page.  He already has more friends than I do!  Sam spent one afternoon with the Canteen kids at Pouakai Zoo, and another packing bags for the Round the Mountain Cycle Race as a fundraiser.  He has joined the Canteen Committee which meets once per month to organise the Taranaki branch activities.  His oldest friend, Lewis Miller, caught him up and turned 13 earlier this month (Happy Birthday Lew).

The highlight of Rory’s holidays has to have been his week away at Camp Quality in Hastings.  His companion, for the third year running, was Mike.  He and Mike are partners and crime and went as Indiana and Henry Jones as the theme of CQ 2013 was movie stars.  Rory travelled over and back on a bus with some of the Taranaki kids and they filled six days with fun; a trip to Splash Planet, racing in rally cars and hot rods, visting a working sheep farm, abseiling and rock climbing, competing in teams on a sports and games day (like Top Town), with a disco on the final night.  Rory is now the proud owner of a cellphone, and has ventured into the world of texting.  This was a necessity as Sam was no longer at hand during the day.  I don’t know how many times the phone has been misplaced already!  We called in to wish Sandy at Hell’s Pizza a Happy New Year and she gave us $210 of donations from her generous customers.  I am going to put the money towards Rory’s sporting costs this year as being physically active is of huge benefit to him.

Christmas came quickly.  We attended the Taranaki Regional Council Christmas party where Santa was a big novelty for Colt.  Rory patiently waited with his little brother for the presents from the sack.  Christmas Eve was pretty bumpy.  Rory came down with a tummy bug and I was up most of the night with him.  Thankfully the worst was through by 6am and he was able to sip electrolytes all morning.  In spite of this set back the boys enthusiastically launched themselves at the Christmas tree at 6.30am.  Colt was another year older so could grasp there were treats in the parcels and was keen to rip open as many as possible to see what was inside.  The texts from many of our nearest and dearest started as we ate our breakfast.  We had morning tea at Nana and Poppa Honnor’s with Uncle Guy, Sacha and Corbyn, then went on to lunch at cousin Jason and Wendy’s under the mountain.  It was a cloudless Taranaki day and the thermometer topped 31 degrees.  After a delicious lunch with all the whanau the children got into the water play outside.  Rory managed to eat a little then spent the afternoon asleep on the couch.  On Boxing Day we made a visit to the Taranaki Cathedral to pass on something for those families who weren’t as lucky as we were.  We all chose one of our presents to leave under the tree.  The initiative was run by Carrie’s dad who is the Dean of the Church.

Grannie and Grandad Gardiner made the trip south to the Naki for three days so we had a second mini-Christmas.  It was lovely to see them.  We miss seeing them on a regular basis.  We made sure they packed plenty in to their stay.  We took them to Tawhiti Museum where we rode the Traders and Whalers ride for the first time, did a short walk in Rotokare Scenic Reserve and on Mt Taranaki, climbed Paritutu Rock, and took the boys to the Aquatic Centre for a swim.  One night we rode the model trains, sat and listened to band Shaskeen Reel on the Hatchery Lawn at Pukekura Park, and after dark wandered around enjoying the Festival of the Lights.  Our favourites were the diamonds on Poets Bridge, the jellyfish and the dragonflies.  We spent New Year’s Eve with two of the girls and their families enjoying a bbq at Jo’s new house.

You hear a lot in the news about how the latest generation of children are not active, and how they are not doing things the simple things we did as children.  This is to their detriment physically and cognitively.  We have made it our philosophy to bring up our children in the outdoors, and to ensure they have a reasonable level of fitness.  They do everything we did as kids, and in many cases more.  I watched all three boys having a water fight followed by a wash in a bucket last night and it made me happy that they were happy.  We all have tried to keep fit during the holidays with a mix of running, biking, tramping, and swimming.  As the temperature has been in the mid-high 20s we have been regulars at the Inglewood Town Pool with mates in various combinations.  We cycled the length of the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway (return).  It was incredible to see Rory complete the 22km ride on two wheels.  Colt had plenty to see and chatter about from his seat on the back of my bike.  We walked the Waiwhakaiho walkway with Uncle Guy, Sacha and Corbyn, and located a new bombing spot for future swimming.  One evening we went jet boating on Lake Ratapiko.  This activity was offered to the Child Cancer Foundation by the local club.  We all got a couple of fast exhilarating rides with the wind whipping past our faces.  The boys and I walked the short walks available in Inglewood in the Joe Gibbs and PG Nopps Scenic Reserves.  We let Colt set the pace, and he liked stomping over the bridges and throwing sticks into the water.

We have had several adventures in the ‘wild’.  We walked up the Puniho Track to the Stony River on Mt Taranaki.  On our way home we visited Corbett Lake and a wood pigeon did a giant poop on Sam as we passed under some hinau trees.  We finished the day with a swim at Oakura Beach and the black sand was so hot it burnt our feet.  We spent New Year’s Day exploring South Taranaki.  We started in Patea at the Aotea Utenga Museum.  I was taken with the ventifacts, rock formations shaped by wind -blown sand.  They are beautiful, and only created in three places, at nearby Waiinu Beach, in Antarctica and on Mars!  We were lucky enough to go out the back and see a wooden carving copied from the old maori rock carving at nearby Kohi.  We visited the Patea River mouth exploring the old surf lifesaving club, the jetty, the groin, and the shipwreck on the beach, although the wind was strong and the sea a mass of white caps.  We drove on to Waipipi Beach at Waverly and when we got out of the car to explore masses of sea foam was flying through the air.  We decided to try and locate the maori rock carving at Kohi and stopped at a house to ask directions.  By sheer chance the house we stopped at belonged to Bill Hone,  who was the nephew of the man who had done the original wood carving.  Bill has his own private museum ‘The Woolshed’.  He took us through it and we spent over an hour marvelling at his extensive collection of New Zealand artefacts.  It was the best private collection I had ever seen and I would highly recommend a visit.  We will be going back.  On our way home we stopped at the Hawera Aquatic Centre for a swim.

We tramped the length of the Whitecliffs walkway from Tongaporutu in the north to Pukearuhe in the south along the coastal route.  We did this at low tide, and went through the Te Horo stock tunnel, which has been closed by DoC due to erosion.  The tunnel blew me away.  It is long and dark, sloping down towards the sea and the wind blows up through it.  There are rocks set into the floor and an old metal ladder to climb down onto the beach.  It opens into a lovely sandy bay with high white cliffs.  The sand doesn’t last and there is quite a bit of rock hopping to get to Waipingao Stream and the easy walking.

The highlight for the boys was dam dropping on the Waingongoro River between Normanby and Okaiawa.  Wearing wetsuits and life jackets, armed with boogy boards, we jumped off the 2m high flood gate beside the bank into the river.  You paddle out into the middle into the current and position yourself to ride over the 6m high weir on your board.  Looking down the rush of white water is scarey, and the ride is exhilarating.  Rory was heard to exclaim ‘shit’ the first time he got to the lip of the weir and looked down.  We all went over multiple times.  We went with our friends the Bignells and we all loved it.  The boys are keen to go again.

While Rory was away at Camp Quality Sean, Sam and I, with Colt in the backpack, did a longer tramp on the mountain.  We ascended the track to the Pouakai Hut, went around the Hump, and descended a ridge line to follow the track across Ahukawakawa Swamp to Holly Hut.  It was 9km, and four hours, one way.  We nearly turned back at Pouakai Hut as it was windy, cold and foggy, but we all put extra layers on (Colt looked like an Eskimo) and the weather cleared as we walked.  Ahukawakawa swamp is incredible.  It is 920m above sea level and 100ha in size.  It is full of red tussock and sphagnum moss, and many native plants which grown nowhere else.  The track across it is all board walk and wooden ladders to protect the ecosystem.  We had lunch and a rest at Holly Hut and Colt had an explore.  It was a hot walk out in the sun and we had many stops for water, a rest and fuel.

Last weekend we tramped the Ihaia track to the Waiaua Gorge Hut on the mountain.  There were many small drain and stream crossings.  We passed the old Oaonui Hut site where all that remains is the foundation and a chimney.  We had lunch on the deck of the Waiaua Hut.  We walked five minutes further along the track to Brames Falls so we could climb down and back up the infamous 6m high ladder which is anchored to the wall of the gorge.  It was a bit nerve wracking.  On our way out the boys had a dip in the Waiaua Stream.  I don’t know how they can submerge themselves in the freezing clear water which runs straight off the mountain!

Life is slowly returning to normal.  Even the earthquakes which have shaken the Naki since the New Year seem to have subsided.  Sean and I have returned to work.  We have been fortunate to have had the support of Sharon, our Porse Educator, and Nana Honnor, over the school holidays to help us care for the boys.  The older boys have spent time with nana; watching movies, volunteering with her at the Hospice shop, swimming at the Aquatic Centre, visiting the public library, and going on walks.  They have also spent the odd day with me in the office, and with Sean in the field.  Colt has been having breaks at Sharon’s enjoying the company of children his own age, and plenty of outdoor play.