Posted by Jan Palmer on Feb 14, 2018
WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO GROW UP IN CANNONS CREEK AND BE THE OLDEST OF 12 CHILDREN
It certainly wasn’t a bed of roses, but it was all worthwhile now with over “100 people for Sunday lunch” with brothers, sisters, their husbands & partners, their children and their husbands and partners, children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren. The amazing thing is we all get on!!
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When we have a family function, which is reasonably often with 3 or 4 engagements and weddings each year, Mum looks on in wonderment at what she started. Dad died at age 66 in 1997. The sister born after me died as a baby.
There are generally 4 or 5 pregnancies each year.
 
I was born in Gisborne and the rest came along at 2 yearly intervals. We say “they didn’t know what caused it”
Seven of us were born in Gisborne and when I was 11 years old Dad was transferred to the Post Office Head Office Property Division in Wellington. We all travelled down in a converted bus. I threw up all the way down. They put us into two adjoining flats in the old army barracks in Trentham Military Camp. They chain-sawed a door between the two flats.
Eventually we were allocated a state house in Mungavin Avenue Porirua where we lived for a few years. Mum and Dad eventually “capitalised” their family benefit and built a 4 bedroom house in Cannons Creek. In those days there were no houses after the Cannons Creek shops. It was nothing like it is today. We used to go mushrooming and blackberrying and walk over the farmland to the Porirua harbour. As long as we were home by the time the street lights came on we were okay.
 
Mum ran a pretty tight ship. If we didn’t make our beds every day she threw the mattress and bedding out the window on to the front lawn. If we left clothes on the floor she assumed we didn’t want them and threw them in the rubbish bin.
Mum was “always pregnant” so it was down to us older children to run the house and look after the young ones. That is probably why I only had one child!
 
My brothers lit fires under their beds and also under the house from time to time. Another brother when he was about 4 years old went with a little friend and stole all the milk money from the neighbouring letterboxes. A policeman came in his police car and took them to “jail” saying this is where they would end up if they did it again. My brother never even “J” walked after that. Brothers cut each other’s hair under the house so they could spend the money for the haircut that mum had given them on lollies. We slid down the hill on pieces of cardboard and if you didn’t judge it right we ended up in the gorse bushes. We built our own skateboards and if we didn’t take the corner correctly going down the hill we ended up in the middle of the road with traffic bearing down on us. There were several broken bones over the years but none of us were seriously hurt. One weekend 3 of us ended up in A & E at the same time with a variety of injuries.  There was never a dull moment. There was a lot of violence but in those days it was deemed “Just A Domestic” so there wasn’t much help out there. It was kept “within the 4 walls”.
 
We all survived the experience and went on to be good citizens. We are all very driven and none of us has ever been on a Benefit. We all went on to have good careers.
 
Our Mum is still alive. She is a very special woman because she put up with a lot for us and we all really, really appreciate it.
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