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It is with great sorrow that I read about the restoration of the few baches that are left on Rangitoto Island. They should have all been saved, and passed through the generations. As a descendant of the Reid Family on Motutapu and spending all my weekends and holidays with my Grandparents at their home at Islington Bay, they were the last full time residents to leave the Island, I feel cheated out of being able to share the wonderful experiences available with my Nieces and Nephews, as the so called conservationists in their wisdom decided to eradicate any form of life from the island, my grandparent's home was torched exactly one year to the day after my grandfather passed away. All I can say is that the Powers that Be were insanely jealous of the privileged few that managed to take up the challenge and forge an idyllic retreat on the island. Although 23 years since our pure luxury was demolished I can still hear the creak of the back door when it was opened, smell the smoke from the range, hear the clock above the door ticking, smell the aroma of the boat shed, feel the water lapping around my legs as I scaled fish on the boat ramp, and the joy I felt the first time I could swim from one boat ramp to the other without a black inner tube around my waist. I can still walk around Islington Bay and know every rock and bend in the track, Rangitoto is and always will be my home, even without somewhere to stay.
The New Years Day Races where I always came 2nd in my age group, there were only two of us.
Oh well such sweet memories, I guess I will take these to my grave, as that is all that DOC has left my family.
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I was born in Singapore in 1941; not good timing. We escaped the invasion on one of the very last boats while my father, who was in the Royal Navy, remained behind.
We all ended up, by roundabout routes, living on Rangitoto. I was then about two years old, and my earliest memories are of the island.
Scanning a very old roll of film early last year revealed photos from that era - fortunate timing as we were about to visit New Zealand, my first visit since then.
We took the boat to Rangitoto on February 10th in rain, wind and low cloud. Not much of a welcome after more than 60 years!
My wife, who's had a knee replacement, did the Volcanic Explorer tour while I walked off in the hope of finding the bach where we'd lived. There was land in the background of the old photos, probably Mototapu Island, so Islington seemed the most likely area.
The shoreline there was lava, impossible to walk on in bare feet, so possibly the remains of the swimming pool that my father had built could be found: I came upon them in a tiny cove. Round the next corner was a fence with a sign warning visitors that it was an ex-military area. Fortunately you were allowed in. The distinctive rock in the old photos, still with a tree growing on it, showed that it was clearly the right place, although nothing remained except for some corrugated iron and a few other signs of former habitation.
There wasn't much time, as there was only one more ferry that day and I was somewhat dazed (perhaps the jetlag helped) by having actually found a place that had over the years acquired an almost mythical status. I didn't notice all the details at the time, but the photos revealed several that confirmed the location.
In the photo of my brother, you can see the same two trees in the background as in the recent one. Trees live a long time, of course, but it was unexpected - places can change a lot in 60 years.
The stones lining the path and the raised beds (no doubt built by my father) can still be seen - in one photo you can identify the same large stone.
There's even a plant that seems to be the same - possibly a cordeline. It appears that we're going to be outlived by a clump of grass!
The wire netting around the beds was to keep the wallabies out.
My father was born in 1898, and it was his second world war. Rangitoto must have been one of the few times that whole family had been together, and I'm sure it had happy memories for them. Certainly, it has for me.
Oh, and the sun did come out.
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