- Early versions are on the previous versions subpage.
(Placenames are all New Zealand except where otherwise indicated, because I have never been out of the country):
First my OldFriends profileEdit
(Just before that site closed in January 2016)
75 years old and living in Wellington.
Spent 13 years as editor/proofreader with Brookers Ltd (a Thomson Company - now Thomson-Reuters) in central Wellington. Living since 1971 at Plimmerton, one of the lovely northern suburbs of the amazing Porirua City. Wife (still with me) and two adult children (boy an airline captain living in Hamilton; girl a former sales manager with Wellington Rugby, now a licensed real state salesperson, married and living 15 minutes' drive south of Plimmerton). Cat. Trees. Sea views. Computer games by Sid Meier and his successors (and some online games that used to take up far too much time) and some excellent imitators. Genealogy. Promoting free websites. Getting my name on this sort of website (which is the 5th or 6th I have seen devoted to NZ - but some have died or merged). Spent hundreds of hours helping to improve what was one of the world's most widely used Web directories at www.zeal.com, mainly in the genealogy and New Zealand categories. Recently also Wikipedia, with over a year on the Maori language version, mi.wikipedia.org, and several branches of Wikia.com, notably genealogy and newzealand.wikia.com. See http://www.webspawner.com/users/robinfpatterson for more autobiography. Find me on Facebook, Multiply, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Squidoo if you want an easier place to talk. The photo is "North Island Robin".
- Notes to the above: "Multiply" closed while I was offline for a few months in 2012; Squidoo was absorbed into HubPages; son moved to Auckland and loves it; daughter and family moved to Palmerston North (which means less grandparent duty).
Now set the scene with my parents:
Bill and Gretta Patterson's life togetherEdit
Bill Patterson, whose ancestry was virtually all Scottish and whose parents had emigrated to Dunedin as children, met Gretta Harrison, who was about half English and half Scottish if her grandparents' birthplaces were considered, around the time when she was teaching at Clifton Terrace (Kindergarten?) in Wellington and living nearby on the eastern side of The Terrace. Bill sent his oldest sister, Grace, a photo of Gretta saying that Grace would be hearing more of Gretta. The photo is now possibly with their great-niece Cathy Allan, who is planning a biography of Grace.
Fiji and WanganuiEdit
They were married on 1 September 1939. Best man was Bill's cousin on his mother's side, Rob (or Robert or Robin) Wood (who later had a celebrated escape from Italy and much later - in 2014 - celebrated his 100th birthday in Queensland). The newlyweds spent a little time together teaching in Fiji, getting to know the country/colony quite well. Gretta used her knowledge of Fiji to explain to Robin many years later that Fiji couldn't hold the Empire Games because Fiji had a colour bar.
Back to Wanganui in time for Robin's birth in December 1940. His first name was probably in honour of the aforementioned cousin Rob Wood, because there are few Robins or Roberts in his ancestry, and his second name was the traditional surname of Gretta's mother's family, generally losing the final "e" in recent generations although probable relatives in Australia retain the "e".
Home was at 19 Kawakawa Street in Wanganui East. Robin (then known as "Bobs") remembers nothing about the property itself except one occasion when out the back he looked at a plane flying above the eastern hill and asked whether that could be a Japanese plane, receiving reassurance from Mother that it couldn't. His other few memories of the suburb include going to the shops and watching the progress of a house construction over the road (annoying the builder by "improving" some new concrete and seeing and hearing an older child get injured playing on the floor joists). There were also visits to widower Grandpa Harrison in Gonville Avenue, where Robin annoyed Grandpa with some irregular lawnmowing; there's a photo of the three on the front steps.
Memorable friends who lived quite close were the Nielsen-Vold family, who were said to be so poor that the children could have either butter or jam on their bread but not both. Children were Barbie (later resident in Mosgiel married to Bob MacAnally - spg?? - with eight children) and Noni, and others whom Robin doesn't remember. Another family of friends were the Robertsons, who much later lived in Trentham, Upper Hutt, and had a talkative budgie named Binky; a birthday party at their Wanganui home featured pear slices shaped like fish.
World War II took Bill to Bourail in New Caledonia with the Medical Corps. Robin remembers him going off, jumping into the back of an army truck to join his mates. That may have been after a homecoming rather than at his first departure. Dates could doubtless be obtained from his army records. Bill was chief mosquito-catcher (for research, you understand!) because he seemed to be immune to whatever their bites inflicted on ordinary people. He said he used to sit out in a swamp with his sleeves rolled up waiting for the little blighters to alight and be caught.
Dunedin North and WaitahunaEdit
Bill decided to train for the Presbyterian Ministry, so in 1945 a move to Dunedin was made, for him to attend Knox College Theological Hall. First address was 442b King Street (later Great King Street). It was down a lane beside a dairy, where Robin committed his first crime (if you don't count the wilful damage at Kawakawa Street) by sneaking in and helping himself to an ice cream. There was a tree with a swing near the south-west boundary. Bad news came one day - the death of Grandpa Harrison. The winter was one of Dunedin's snowiest. The 4-year-old from Wanganui had never experienced snow and was distressed to see boys along the road throwing things at each other until Mother explained that they were snowballs and didn't hurt. Robin did a bit of wandering (as an only child is perhaps more prone to do); one day he had to be brought home from somewhere near the quarry (past Logan Park).
Over Summer 1945-46, Bill was posted to Waitahuna in South/West/Central Otago as a fill-in trainee minister. The large property that came with the manse was ideal for Robin to wander over! He didn't drown in the river. The only Waitahuna family Robin remembers was the McCorkindales.
Hereford Street and OrawiaEdit
Soon the family moved to Roslyn: 17 Hereford Street, a big 2-storey house on the western corner of Ann Street, within smelling distance of Laurenson's bakery (yum!) when the wind was right. There were huge laurel hedges and a big lawn. The family owned that house for several years, welcoming baby Ian shortly before Robin's 6th birthday. Robin had had a year at Kaikorai School, making a few local friends, including Diane Taylor, whose Ann Street house, with a big macrocarpa hedge, was close to the bakery and had access also to Highgate, and whose rocking-horse he once fell off (permanently scarring the inside of his lower lip).
Separate from the house, against the Ann St frontage, was a washhouse, complete with copper. Such washhouses are perfectly described - along with the bee-sting remedy - on page 62 of Bronwyn Elsmore's novel Backwards into the future (2015, Flaxroots, Auckland).
A 2-year posting to Orawia, in Western Southland, from around February 1947, gave Bill more of a challenge. He was "Home Missionary" (another term for "trainee minister") - and Gretta was the organist. Bill played in the local rugby team as Full Back. Another big property for Robin to explore, with the creek not too dangerous but a little frightening when a team of workers widened it and threw eels onto the bank near the unprepared older son of the manse. There was a cow in residence. Robin discovered cowpats; Ian probably did too, perhaps less cleanly; instructions were to rake them so as to spread the manure thinly over surrounding grass. The aforementioned Auntie Grace was in residence briefly as a housekeeper while Mother was in hospital (for what Robin much later learned was a hysterectomy). On one occasion, big brother crept into an evening service to advise Gretta that baby brother was sick, and the organist abandoned her post. Robin spent his Standard 1 and Standard 2 years at the two-room school (since closed). He and his pals sometimes played in the railyard at the local (long-since closed) terminus.
Later years at Hereford Street included the hosting of boarders using the north-east-facing gabled room at the top of the house. One of the boarders, Bernard, was a bank officer. Gretta joked that "he works in a bank but he ain't no change!"
Milk deliveries were still from a lorry carrying cans. When the milkman sounded his arrival, Gretta took a jug or two and went out the back gate, where the vendor decanted the required amount from the can using a dipper.
School friends, the Dunbars, used to walk past on the way to school. One morning a puzzling sound was heard outside - was it hysterical laughter? No. The twins' older sister, Margaret Dunbar, had fallen and hit her mouth on the kerb. Gretta took her in and cleaned and comforted her.
After the Pattersons sold the house it was demolished and replaced by a pair of flats. One of Robin's University friends lived there for a while.
Next move was up the hill, almost to the top. Corner section with old single-storey house. High brick wall to the west (useful for sitting on when contemplating the night sky). Big lawn on the Delta Street side, good for learning bike-riding, with several mature trees including a cabbage tree and a kowhai. Denser stands of trees in north-east and south-west corners. Olearia hedges.
Neighbours at 51 were first the Carroll family, nice Catholics. Later came the Kelletts, Presbyterians, whose son Bruce eventually became Robin's flatmate first at 78 Albany Street then at 136 Albany Street. Neighbours on the Delta Street side were the Mullengers.
Across Highgate lived some of the Ellis family, owners of Arthur Ellis and Co, who or which had a flock mill down in Kaikorai Valley next to Ellis Park. (Another grand old Dunedin business that got bought out later.)
Fruiterer/greengrocer, in Chinese ownership, virtually just across the road; the lady used to smile and say "one eachee!" when Gretta bought four of anything. Nearby at the Ross Street corner was the block of shops including grocer and butcher, and there was a dairy a block further north and another a block further south.
Trolleybuses turned around on a widened Belgrave Crescent. Later replaced by diesel buses and eventually merged into the Maori Hill route, Robin thinks.
Roslyn Presbyterian Church, just past the top of the hill, became a focal point of the family for many years (being much closer than Kaikorai), particularly after the next move.
Some time after the Pattersons sold the property, the house was demolished and the property was subdivided.
16 Beta StreetEdit
Halfway along Beta Street on the downhill side at the bend, No 16 had a narrow frontage and a wide rear, with a good view of developing Brockville and the whole skyline from Flagstaff to the south-west. Laundry and dirt-floored basement below the main level. Bill constructed a chute from the kitchen so that used clothing could be dropped into a cupboard in the laundry.
Easy access to the rear entrance of the church nearby. Bill was an elder and Gretta was a choirmistress. One of the memorable secular songs she taught the choir was the early version of "Country Gardens" - "Rosebud and lily, pinks and Sweet Willy, the country gardens come to town...".
Nephew Archie Kerr was an occasional visitor during his medical school period. At Gretta's suggestion, he eventually got used to calling her "Auntie Gretta" rather than "Mrs Patterson".
From 16 Beta Street they watched the development of Brockville.
A memorable part of family life for the males was the games. Canasta, Mahjong (cards instead of tiles), a cheap toy? billiards table (only about 80cm x 45cm) and home-made Monopoly (with 4 utilities, including Western Southland's Lilburn Sawmill, 44 spaces in total). Rather tattered, this game still exists with Linda Patterson and family. Bill put some wood and nails together to make a very serviceable pinboard game.
Gretta was a solicitous "back-seat driver" from the front passenger seat of whatever old cheap car they owned. Cries of "there's a chappie" could be heard occasionally as warnings of another vehicle's presence. However, it was not enough to stop Bill pulling out from a George Street kerb one day into the path of another car in 1974. He faced a driving offence court case. He nevertheless went north on holiday to visit siblings and Robin and Julie. He and two sisters travelled to Plimmerton to visit Robin and Julie at their 34 Ogilvy Terrace flat. Julie offered to take him to see the newly-purchased bushclad section in Motuhara Road. After walking to the top of the section, Bill came down and climbed a bank to examine a boundary peg then staggered down the path a short way before collapsing backwards in front of Julie. Ambulance crew took him to the nearest hospital but it was too late to save him from the effects of what was not his first heart attack.
Gretta and Ian came north for the funeral. After the Kelburn (?) ceremony, Gretta stood with her two sons and pointed to the north-western hills, where she said she and Bill had often gone hiking. She said that his death had at least one good point - he would not have to face a court appearance, the thought of which had been troubling him.
- (to be continued)
- A few days at somewhere (South/Central Otago). There was a McCorkindale family.
- 1946 (starting 11 March - delay because of polio epidemic) Primers 1 to 4 at Kaikorai (Dunedin); unable to read a thing when I started; by the end of the year I had progressed so well that I was helping new entrants with their reading (in a corner behind the piano?)
- 1947-48 A few days at Kaikorai in Standard 1, then off to Orawia in Western Southland - two-classroom school (closed some years ago), in a settlement that then had a railhead (mostly, I imagine, for transporting lime from Clifden, a locality a little way to the west); my first rugby game and my first (shared?) horse ride
- 1949-52 Kaikorai (particularly remembering teacher Hugh A Thomson and watching the Highgate Bridge being built); parts of the playground had (and maybe still have) small holes close to the stone foundations, ideal for marbles games; there was a playshed near the southern corner, where I remember a group of us were assembled once (presumably near the end of Standard 4 or Form I) and urged not to go to an intermediate school
- 1951, winter interlude at Roxburgh Health Camp for 3 months; censorship was the order of the day: after my best friend at health camp, Raymond, fell off a rock and broke his wrist and got sent home I was not allowed to report that in my weekly letter home
- 1953 Dunedin North Intermediate (at the old Albany St site) for a sort of social catch-up year repeating Form II. Met Evan Jamieson, sitting beside him for much of the time. He ended up as dux. I became very fond of Diane Jeavons, a lawyer's daughter, and acquainted with a sister of the later famous Alison Holst.
Secondary and beyondEdit
- 1954-58 Otago Boys’ High School
- Drama Club, including at least one production that also involved my friend who became Sir William Southgate; tried hard in the gym but sprained my neck coming off the parallel bars the wrong way; Prefect in final year; Chess Club - 1958 joint Otago/Southland Schoolboys chess champion; Orderly Under-Officer in the military cadets (after dear old Norm Wilson taught me how to salute when I was the office junior as a 4th-former); Inter-school Latin Reading Prize (and second in the corresponding French contest, beaten by Margaret Hercus, who later became a good friend and a bit of a heart-throb); several literary works published in the school magazine, including the poetic "A World of Sand", which had gained 20/20 from the English master, Oliver Gordon Cox (dear old "Queenie"); Dux (and leader of the haka party that congratulated the OGHS dux at their prizegiving); Crusader badge-holder. Regrettably, Evan Jamieson's family had moved to Palmerston North after a couple of years.
- 1958-59 summer, private tutorials with an academic friend
- an introduction to German because of my leaning towards a languages degree (but I never really caught up)
- 1959-62 Otago University
- BA, with A passes in Latin 1 and French 1, finishing with French 3 and - second-time-round - German 3; Dramatic Soc (which included a trip to Palmerston North playing opposite Margaret Hercus in Pinter's The Room); Hockey Club (until my left knee started complaining); Student Christian Movement (one year on Exec, unsuccessful nominee for President the following year, and continued attendance at camps for several years)
- 1963-71 survey cadetship
- N & E S Paterson Ltd, Rattray Street, Surveyors and Engineers, managed by Kenneth Walter Paterson (and Real Estate Agents - plus sharebroker and sometime mayor James Barnes - in the downstairs part of the business managed by Murray Cavan Paterson), leading to qualification as Registered Surveyor (with considerable help from Julie for the field work and transcription required near the end). See Employment section for more about that business.
- 1970s TA101 (Transactional Analysis)
- at Victoria University of Wellington, a weekend seminar/tutorial that Julie and I attended (probably because it was relevant to her eventual Dip.Soc.Wk.)
Recreation etc Edit
Started collecting stamps at age 5. Never stopped. (Sorry, Julie!)
Had elocution lessons for three terms, mostly with Kay Mutimer. Took part in Competitions Society speech sections, usually outclassed by Ivan Hannah and/or Ian Ralston, I think. They were held at Jubilee Hall in View Street, which much later featured on TV (ads and a documentary) after becoming a student flat.
Later link with Jubilee Hall was the Scottish Country Dancing, which occupied later years of high school. Promoter Dave McKechie eventually said I was one of the best dancers in the province. Met Yvonne Jenkins, who lived in Cargill Street.
Spent two years as a Boy Scout, passing all the Second Class tests and earning the First Class Knots and Lashings badge. Latterly a Patrol Leader with later-famous David Beatson as Second.
1957, wrote monthly column "The Stars in the Sky" for Dunedin's "Evening Star" daily newspaper. Thirty shillings a time. Mother helped with the pictures. Arthur Doig, chairman of the Dunedin Astronomical Society, had suggested I do it when I suggested to him that there should be local newspaper articles about astronomy. So I'm a retired part-time professional astronomer! I was Secretary and/or Treasurer of the society for three years and plotted the occasional chart of Dunedin's rising and setting times of sun, moon, and planets calculated from the Nautical Almanac.
Appeared in over 110 performances of various plays for Rosalie and Patric Carey, mostly at their Globe Theatre in London Street, Dunedin, but a few were in the provincial towns; occasionally designed, hand-typeset, and printed the accompanying programmes. Rosalie's book includes me in a photo. Significant parts included Lucky in Waiting for Godot, Nagg in Endgame, and Ragnar Brovik in The Master Builder (opposite the lovely Maureen Edwards, who later married Peter Tulloch and turned out to be a distant cousin of mine, with Paterson ancestry from Angus).
Active on committee of Dunedin North Branch of NZ Social Credit Political League, 1964-71 (which later became the Democratic Party and achieved a say in the Government as part of the Alliance in 1999). Probably would have been candidate in the 1972 elections if I had stayed in Dunedin.
Joined St Martin Island Community and planted a few trees and designed a driveway.
Played correspondence chess for a few years, in one of the middle grades of the NZCCA. Notable opponent was Arch Barrington of the Riverside Community in Nelson/Tasman.
Participated in the chess group at the Porirua Recreation Centre from about 1976. Our team came second in the B grade in the year we were sufficiently organised to enter the Wellington area competitions. I remember we came home from Wellington or Wainuiomata one evening in frightful rain and our driver's windscreen wipers weren't working so I had to put an arm out to work them as we drove north. Later some of the high-school-age lads and I, all from Plimmerton and Paremata, held informal meetings at one another's homes for chess and other board games. Mostly at the home of Elliot Bugg of Taupo Creacent, whose parents were most hospitable, and whose young sister wasn't too much of a nuisance. Diplomacy was the main alternative to chess. Later my brother gave me his Diplomacy set after tiring of it. Who wants to dominate early 20th-century Europe without aircraft?
Relatively late came my Wellington region Monopoly championship - late-1980s? Second place in the succeeding NZ championship game.
Various short stints in school and varsity holidays.
At least one summer working as an office assistant at the HQ of Guthrie Bowron & Co, where Dad was company secretary. Became quite competent with the letter-folding machine and the monthly Reconciliation Statement.
One or two summers in the Presbyterian Bookroom in the Octagon, where the boss grumbled because I spent too much time reading.
One summer tending the garden at the OBHS hostel, Campbell House, with help from family.
Two summer holidays at Dunedin Canning Company, which was in Maclaggan Street, mostly processing apricots from Central Otago into jam or canned halves in syrup. Girlfriend Rosalie Sutherland had worked there before and helped me get my first job there. "No canoodling in the corners", said the boss; he later encouraged me to keep up the supply of apricot boxes to the girls on the slicing line; his words were "Poke it into them, Robin!".
Then the survey cadetship mentioned above, with N. @ E. S. Paterson. Familiarity with Dunedin streets and quite a lot of Central and South Otago, as the firm had branches at Balclutha and Queenstown. I think the surveying side of the firm is now called Pitts Paterson; Nigel Pitts and I (both ex-OBHS) got along very well. I designed Elliffe Place, Clayton Street extension, and a two-headed cul-de-sac at the north end of Waverley (which apparently gained congratulations from the City Council). I programmed the new electronic calculator, which was as big as a briefcase, cost about $4,000, and couldn't do trigonometrical functions automatically - how silly was that for a surveying firm? For a few years I earned a bit extra by doing the weekly floor-cleaning for the whole building.
After move to Wellington, was lucky to get position as Planning Surveyor with Hutt County Council because of family friendship with former All Black then Councillor, the late lamented Ken Gray. That was January 1972 till March 1973 (my primary work being research towards a district scheme for the Taupo Riding, i.e. the Plimmerton-Paremata County Town), then on 1 April 1973 Plimmerton-Paremata merged into Porirua City after a democratic vote.
Employed from 1973 to 1993 by Porirua City Council, mostly for the administration of applications for subdivision; eventually becoming Assistant Town Planner (and Chairman of the Staff Liaison Committee and a member of the committee that made delegated decisions on appeals against parking fines). In between subdivision oversight, I had written - yes, written - most of what became Porirua's first operative district plan under the Resource Management Act 1991. At my farewell, Malcolm Douglass told the assembled friends that I had saved the council a quarter of a million dollars by my foresight in successfully recommending that it buy the land that now leads from Parumoana Street to Te Whakawhitinga-o-Ngatitoa, the bridge heading north-east. Other legacies include: the Lagden Street reserve that would have been ordinary house sites if I had not pressed for some local recreation area; a shorter Kinloch Place than the developers wanted, because the council's landscape architect agreed with me that much of the threatened bush should become public reserve; an access way from the Greenacres School vicinity linking with an older subdivision to the northwest (after the developers put up a plan showing no link to an existing strip that was clearly planned to link to Greenacres). As part of the subdivision work, I proposed names for new streets (usually selected from a list submitted by the developers or the residents association); included was the subtle pun for Akeake Grove, close to the Takapuwahia Cemetery. Intelligence Officer for the Civil Defence side of the council's business, earning a week of training at Marton in the early 1980s. Active participant in two regional studies in about 1976 and 1980 - land use and transportation: WRLUTS; designed the north-west sector of the computer network for the second study.
1993: Eight months doing part-time door-to-door market research for AGB-McNair, in suburbs as far apart as Raumati South and Brooklyn. Also a one-day stint helping The Warehouse at Porirua with its stocktaking, and several mystery shopper assignments around Wellington and Porirua for a Christchurch firm (Huria Associates?). And a little gardening in the Horokiri Valley and some gorse-cutting close to home with a ferocious petrol-driven rotary-blade machine on fairly steep pasture above the Taupo Swamp.
1993-2007: Proofreader or Editor at what came to be called Brookers, law publishers, which was a family firm that became part of world-wide Thomson Organization (later Thomson-Reuters). Became Chief Warden and attended two Red Cross training seminars - echoes of my St John Ambulance cadetship many decades earlier in Roslyn, tutored by Mr Marychurch. Notable book productions that I had a large part in were a guide to local authority elections and a loose-leaf Resource Management; for both of those, regrettably, the bosses had overestimated market demand.
A couple of proofreading contracts conducted by email after "retirement". Still open to offers!
Computers and websitesEdit
Bought Commodore 16 computer in the early 1980s and learned to program it in Commodore BASIC v 3.5. Improved several of the games and created new applications such as an arithmetic practice game and a program for converting contour maps to representations of photographs. Son Jonathan learned to type his name by using the computer. We went on to better and brighter PCs and discovered Civilization and related strategy games. I became fairly proficient at them and founded the Imperialism Game Wiki and a couple of wikis for Facebook games as well as making major contributions to civilization.wikia.com and playing thousands of hours of early Civilization-series games (probably pirated versions until they became abandonware) plus the latest versions of the free games Freeciv and C-evo with a little FreeCol.
Created Plimmerton Community Website hosted by MyFamily.com. Created similar site for Brookers Second Floor Staff, which attracted more members than the official staff site. MyFamily.com later stopped hosting such sites.
Involved in several serious websites by 2005, including Wikipedia and others mostly with a genealogical leaning. Discovered Wikia around 2004. Became an administrator on its central site and several others.
One of my first fairly public creations was the text of Category:Browse on the Starter Pages Wikia, the first version of which (http://starter.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Browse?action=edit&oldid=1600) went like this:
This is our top-level category. (Looking at it another way, it is our root category!) Ideally, every other category should be a subcategory of at least one other category, and every article should be in at least one category; many will fit well into two (eg location and subject-matter). A full list of existing categories can be found at [[Special:Categories]]. New categories are best created from below: just add [[category:categoryname]] to the article or category (after checking whether any existing category is suitable). Discussion of principles of categorisation/categorization may be found at [[project:categories]].
My wedding in 1969 was the first time since 1934 that Dad and his five adult siblings had been together and was probably the last.
Residence 1976-2016+: at 88 Motuhara Road, Plimmerton, Porirua City, WTN, NZ; robinp"at"xtra.co.nz or latterly robin-p"at"slingshot.co.nz; ph +64 4 233 8458. Julie and I designed the house and the then Lockwood contractor built it.
Life Member of United Nations Assn of NZ and Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of NZ Inc.
Spent 8 (not all consecutive) years on the committee of the Plimmerton School Parent-Teacher Association.
<A href="http://www.community. net.nz"> <IMG alt="Click to go to CommunityNet Aotearoa." border=0 src="http://www.community. net.nz/NR/CommunityNet/images/cna-logo.gif">
"CommunityNet Aotearoa is an internet resource supporting communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand."</A>
Now try this next thing, which until recently (2012?) searched the Webspawner page and supposedly all the hundreds of pages it's linked to: