Fa­ther’s Day: three stars re­flect on their Dad’s past

Prior to tak­ing on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of par­ent­hood, fathers al­ready have lives and as­pi­ra­tions of their own, which often take a new di­rec­tion when chil­dren ar­rive. In a trib­ute to Fa­ther’s Day, three well­known Ki­wis – ac­tor Michael Galvin, Greens co-lead

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS - Michael Galvin Ac­tor (Dr Chris Warner on Short­land Street).

This photo of Dad, Bernie Galvin, was taken by the Welling­ton Evening Post in 1949, when he was 16. They took it be­cause he was dux (top scholar) of Saint Pa­trick’s Col­lege, Welling­ton, even though he wasn’t in his fi­nal year. He was dux the next year too.

He was lucky to still be in school. Times were very tough; his mum, my gran, wanted to take him out of school when he turned 15 – like both his older brothers – so he could start earn­ing money to help support the fam­ily. When Dad told the school this they sent a del­e­ga­tion of priests around to plead with my gran to keep him in school; they fore­saw great things for him, but only if he con­tin­ued his ed­u­ca­tion.

As tough as my gran was, she was also enough of a devout Catholic to be swayed by a room­ful of priests, so, luck­ily for my dad, she re­lented. He re­paid the priests’ faith by win­ning a schol­ar­ship to Har­vard and when I was 16, the age he is in this photo, he was Sec­re­tary of the Trea­sury, so the great things they fore­saw re­ally hap­pened.

He was ex­tremely busy with work when I was grow­ing up but I still re­mem­ber him com­ing to many of the end­less plays and mu­si­cals I was in. No mat­ter how un­re­mark­able I was (and some­times I was re­mark­ably un­re­mark­able) he would go on for days af­ter­wards about how good I was, and shake his head in amaze­ment that his off­spring should pos­sess such tal­ent. He was a very kind and gen­tle man.

When I look at this photo I won­der about how he saw his fu­ture. The uni­form he’s wear­ing is second-hand and do­nated (the priests promised to pro­vide him with uni­forms in re­but­tal to Gran’s com­plaint that she couldn’t af­ford to keep pay­ing for them). Ca­reer­wise and aca­dem­i­cally, lit­tle was ex­pected of him. His own chil­dren, by con­trast, just took it for granted that we’d go to uni­ver­sity and get de­grees. If some om­ni­scient be­ing (per­haps a vi­sion­ary priest) was able to tell Dad all the things he’d achieve, I won­der if Dad would have be­lieved him. Prob­a­bly not. He re­fused to study French at school be­cause he found it in­sur­mount­ably il­log­i­cal that inan­i­mate ob­jects should be given gen­ders. So they let him do ex­tra maths.

He died six years ago, and for the last decade of his life he was in poor health. On the few oc­ca­sions she saw him, my own daugh­ter (now 10) saw a dif­fer­ent man to the one I re­mem­ber.

It’s a shame, be­cause they would have been great mates. They are both sen­si­tive souls with a great sense of hu­mour. She would have loved hav­ing an­other fam­ily mem­ber who laughs at her crazy jokes and ap­plauds her feats of skill; and Dad, like me, would think she is a jewel and a won­der. He would shake his head in amaze­ment.

Gran wanted to take him out of school when he turned 15, to start earn­ing.

Me­tiria Turei Co-leader of the Green Party. This is a re­ally pre­cious photo of my dad, Richard Ropata Eruera Turei. I guess any proud, lov­ing daugh­ter might say that, but in my fam­ily, pho­tos are pretty scarce. My dad came from a ru­ral, work­ing-class back­ground and cam­eras and de­vel­op­ing film used to cost a lot of money. Dad didn’t own or have ac­cess to a cam­era for much of his life, so to have this photo of him when he was about 18 or 19 is pretty special.

Dad is pic­tured with a band he used to play with, the Pil­grims; he’s the beau­ti­ful Maori guy with the Col­gate smile and the un­but­toned, slightly ill-fit­ting shirt – I love that. Maybe it was his old school shirt, maybe he bor­rowed it from a mate. Ei­ther way, he knows he looks sharp. Classic Dad.

At the time this photo was taken, Dad would’ve been a few years out of Hato Paora Col­lege, a Maori boys’ board­ing school. He was liv­ing on a dairy farm in Ron­gotea, just out­side of Palmer­ston North, and work­ing as a labourer for Mr John O’Don­ald. The O’Don­alds were a good Catholic fam­ily and my dad al­ways spoke highly of them – they treated him like fam­ily.

When he wasn’t work­ing on the farm, Dad was play­ing mu­sic. The Pil­grims, with Dad on bass gui­tar, played mainly at dance halls in and around Palmer­ston North. To a coun­try boy like my dad, Palmer­ston North re­ally was the Big Smoke, and I know that play­ing the local hot-spot, when every­body who was any­body was there, was a real thrill for him. I don’t know what be­came of the other Pil­grims, but I’d like to think that while they were to­gether Dad loved play­ing mu­sic with them.

When I was grow­ing up, we al­ways had mu­sic in the house and my dad was never far from a gui­tar. I never knew Dad to be a rock ’n’ roller or a big partier. He was al­ways a laugh and very so­cia­ble though, and mu­sic was a big part of that. I’m sure he dreamed about be­ing a full-time mu­si­cian, and if he’d won Lotto maybe that would’ve been possible, but he knew the value of hard work and en­joyed be­ing a work­ing man.

Dad con­tin­ued play­ing gui­tar and singing in bands through­out my childhood. He had a beau­ti­ful, mem­o­rable voice. He won a tal­ent quest, with Un­chained Melody, at the Opera House in Palmer­ston North, beat­ing

Bunny Wal­ters, who was a very well-known en­ter­tainer at the time.

My sis­ter and I are both mu­si­cal – I play the bass gui­tar, just like Dad. I’d like to think I in­her­ited a bit of his tal­ent, but, truth­fully, my gui­tar play­ing and singing aren’t a patch on Dad’s.

My fa­ther died in 1995 at the age of 48. He was very young, and it was far too soon. He played the gui­tar and sung for all of the 25 years I knew him. Now, ev­ery time I pick up the bass, it’s a nice re­minder of Dad, and where I’ve come from.

Play­ing the local hot-spot was a real thrill for him. Above: Richard Turei, on the right.

Ryan Hoff­man Cap­tain of the War­riors In 1981 my dad, Jay Hoff­man, was liv­ing and play­ing rugby league in Bris­bane, but he had just signed on to play with the Can­berra Raiders – a brand new club – in the New South Wales com­pe­ti­tion. This was a ma­jor junc­ture in his life; he left home, fam­ily and fa­mil­iar­ity to pur­sue his ca­reer in a place that was un­known to him.

As I’ve grown older, the sto­ries of my dad’s youth on the Gold Coast have flowed a lit­tle more freely and – I think – been cen­sored a lit­tle less rig­or­ously!

Ev­i­dently, Dad had some pretty atyp­i­cal teenage-boy qual­i­ties. As Grandma tells it, he was al­ways quite be­sot­ted with ba­bies (which I be­lieve now that I’ve had my own), he mar­ried his high school sweet­heart – my mum – whom he dated with­out dis­rup­tion from the ten­der age of 17, and he ap­par­ently took it very much in his stride when he was ex­pect­ing a mo­tor­bike for his 21st birth­day, but was in­stead pre­sented with a desk.

On the other hand, Dad was also a pre­dictably he­do­nis­tic teenager: he wagged school when the surf was good, vol­un­teered to stay back a year at high school be­cause all his mates did, and spent his week­ends play­ing first-grade rugby league with grown men who didn’t hes­i­tate to take the young buck un­der their wing.

Cer­tainly not the world’s most no­to­ri­ous rat­bag, but he def­i­nitely dis­played the youth­ful ten­dency to live in the mo­ment and pri­ori­tise the things that brought him the most joy, as young peo­ple do.

All this is in stark con­trast to the hard-work­ing, self­less fa­ther I knew grow­ing up and I feel like these pic­tures re­ally rep­re­sent the piv­otal time when he left that life be­hind and be­came a man in pur­suit of real suc­cess; suc­cess that would support a fam­ily, which he started when he mar­ried mum in 1982. There’s still a boy­ish charm about his face and smile, but se­ri­ous­ness in his eyes, I think.

By the time I was born, Dad was still play­ing for Can­berra and work­ing as a brick­layer’s labourer. He would even­tu­ally go on to work for Ex­ide Bat­ter­ies and climb his way up from a truck-driver to an ex­ec­u­tive, but in the early days he worked days, nights and week­ends, mostly mak­ing very lit­tle money.

Not that I ever re­alised times were tough. My childhood was sunny, pos­i­tive and chock-full of good mem­o­ries. Many of these are as­so­ci­ated with the Raiders and rugby league in gen­eral, and I have no doubt that this is the ma­jor in­flu­ence in my choice of ca­reer to­day. Dad never once pushed me into this ca­reer, but we had so much fun in those days – catch­ing the team bus to his games and get­ting around var­i­ous sporting sta­dia with the other Raiders’ kids – that I couldn’t help but be­come smit­ten with the footy life and ev­ery­thing it had to of­fer.

I look at these pho­tos and I don’t think we look in the slight­est bit alike, but it oc­curs to me that as an adult I have the priv­i­lege of shar­ing an iden­ti­cal am­bi­tion with my fa­ther. Con­se­quently he’s my chief con­fi­dant, my big­gest fan and my most hon­est as­ses­sor. He’s been here, he un­der­stands, and as a re­sult he is an un­fail­ingly calm in­flu­ence on me. In many ways I rep­re­sent his­tory – his story – re­peat­ing, and for that I could not be more proud or more grate­ful.

Not the world’s most no­to­ri­ous rat­bag, but he def­i­nitely dis­played the youth­ful ten­dency to live in the mo­ment. Above: Ryan and his dad Jay.

Above: Bernie Galvin at 16.

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