Stories retold by JIM DUCKWORTH

55 years in the Mangemangeroa as recounted by Jim Duckworth

jim enviro1

Growing up in a rural area offered Jim and his brother the opportunity to explore the Mangemangeroa estuary, fish in it, build rafts and observe country life.

Jim remembers the dump (on the South side of the present bridge across the valley) as a source of some wonderful “treasures”. One of the best boyhood finds, was the float from a float plane to which, with lots of enthusiasm and effort, a keel was attached. This now proved an absolute gem of a boat which took them down to the Shelley Park sandpit on the out going tide, and up again on the incoming!

One aspect of the dump was the abundant supply of used car tyres which found their way into the estuary; Jim recalls how these made excellent homes for eels. One eel curled up in each tyre!

As a boy, catching sprats was a favourite pastime. These moved in heavy shoals up the estuary beyond the bridge. With the aid of an old wire mattress he and his mates set about catching sprats. Unfortunately the mattress proved an excellent sprat trap and their plan turned to disaster when they realized that they had far more sprats than they could carry. They had to set about  throwing sprats back!

Life for some people was not easy. The 13 baches along the foreshore below Pokutukawa Ave receive very little sun during the winter months. Jim recalled how his friend’s Mum rowed across the creek to Fowells point to peg her washing on the fence and rowed back to collect it once dry!!

Life was not all playing in the creek; Jim’s Mum had a love of the bush and planted a variety of both native and introduced species on their life style block. The pohutukawas were planted by her in the 1950’s, as well as some of the oaks seen today. This love of trees was encouraged in young Jim and as a boy of 14 he planted a nikau on the property. In later years when building the tennis court Jim’s nikau was on the edge. Rather than remove the nikau the retaining wall required a “bend” in it to ensure that the roots of the nikau were not harmed.