A Conversation for New Zealand

I came into The World in Dannevirke...

Post 1


... in the old maternity hospital up on the hill. There i drew in my first refreshing lungsful of clean, pure Tararua air... lightly scented with fermenting silage, newly mown hay, Jersey milk, blood and bone wafting in from the freezing works, and clouds of lanolin rising from bales of warm Romney wool.
From my mum's arms up there on the hill above the town I gazed out for the first time on Dannevirke's two classic rural vistas... on one side the gold-green Eastern Range rolling down to the sea, and on the west the Ruahine Range rearing up with its black, primeval peaks.
Below the Range the little town is tucked securely in a fold of an obscure tributary of the Manawatu River deep, deep, deep in the green, muddy, lush, peaceful, clear-skied New Zealand heartland. Manawatu means something like "standing heart" - the place where my heart stands.
In the spring the deciduous trees lining Queen Street above the railway line blaze out in pink and white blossoms.
You can go down to Scott Bay in the summer to swim, crowds of Maori kids jumping off the high bank, doing staples, bombs, the biggest splash.
Or to what used to be the Coronation Baths, where I learned backstroke, tumble turns and the eskimo roll. Now it's called Wai Splash and it's covered, there's canoe polo and swimming year-round. Through clouds of steam you can look out at the lower demain with its centuries-old native trees, its deer reserve and aviary and the boating pond on the valley's quiet floor.
I remember rugby in winter on the top and bottom field at the High School, each step leaving a studded footprint in the white frost.
In the High Street is the country's oldest provincial cinema, the Regent. I watched "The Godfather Part Three" there with a total of three other people when i was 15, munching jaffas alone in the dark, fragrant with those old cracked leather seats, now replaced. There I also saw "The Man From Snowy River", and "ET", and "The Return Of The Jedi", and "Thelma and Louise", and "Ngati" with my Fourth Form Maori class.
Late at night the lonely whistle of a train going through, south to Wellington, which ain't all that bad either, or north to Napier, which is OK by me too.
Anyway that's all I really want to say - Dannevirke, or Danny Vegas to those in the know, ain't all that bad.

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I came into The World in Dannevirke...

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