My grandfather bought a house in 1926 to take his family away from the polio epidemic in Dunedin. Since then many of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have holidayed and retired to Purakanui and it became a place for the extended family to come together. The hills curved around the tidal inlet, providing a natural amphitheatre so Mum at home could watch, not only enjoying the fun and laughter, but keeping a distanced protection.
Each school holiday needed the following activities. There was building sand forts in the central expanse of white sand, rushing for the dinghy as the tide finally broached the walls. There was rowing the dinghy to the sandbar, anchoring it there and then walking along the ocean beach to the Moputahi Pa headland, cooking sausages over an open fire, swimming and exploring the rock pools, marvelling at the starfish, anemones, cats’ eyes and seaweed like emerald necklaces.
Other essential holiday activities included gathering and eating a pot full of cockles or fishing for “spotties’ off the rocks. Wet and cold days were spent turning all the old chairs and couches upside down creating tunnels and houses with a few rugs over the top. Imaginative stories of witches and fairies were made up to entertain the younger cousins.
Every day was an adventure. We learnt to respect the sea, enjoy and appreciate nature and became independent, within the warmth of our family and its history.