Those were the days, my friend

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By RHI­AN­NON McCONNELL

From farm­land to busy streets, 6pm closing to mid­night shop­ping and dirt roads to con­crete high­ways – Jim Gunn knows a lot can change in 50 years.

As Porirua puts on its party shoes for its 50th birth­day this year, Jim, 89, re­mem­bers the day he drove a bull­dozer through Mun­gavin’s farm fences to start build­ing the city.

‘‘We took over the Mun­gavin prop­erty and they all moved out, and we went through there and started the road­ing,’’ he said.

Jim moved to Porirua in 1947 to work as a Min­istry of Works and Devel­op­ment me­chan­i­cal elec­tri­cal of­fi­cer work­ing on the mo­tor­way, which at the time ended about a kilo­me­tre north of John­sonville, and later a hous­ing devel­op­ment.

‘‘That’s a moon or two ago,’’ he said, laugh­ing at how much had changed.

‘‘There were just three shops in Porirua. There weren’t many peo­ple living here. It grew quite sub­stan­tially when the town cen­tre was built.

‘‘Porirua has had ups and downs, but has come along quite well.’’

As for pre­dic­tions, Jim said it was hard to know what would hap­pen.’’

‘‘It de­pends on the hous­ing mar­ket. My opin­ion is the houses have got so big peo­ple are not go­ing to be able to af­ford them.’’

When he moved to the re­gion, Jim lived in a Min­istry of Works and Devel­op­ment sin­gle men’s camp un­til he mar­ried his wife, June, now 84, in 1950 and moved to a Min­istry Dolly Var­den home.

It was a step up from the camp, which com­prised 140 small shed-like houses for the work­ers to stay in.

He and June set­tled in cen­tral Porirua. They later moved to Whitby and now live at Sum­mer­set at Aotea re­tire­ment vil­lage.

Jim worked at the min­istry for 44 years and said one of his high­lights was get­ting Porirua con­nected to the Welling­ton wa­ter sup­ply.

It made a pre­vi­ously dif­fi­cult job, which in­volved pump­ing wa­ter from Duck Creek, seem straight­for­ward.

June has her own con­nec­tion to Porirua’s his­tory.

An artist, she was asked to paint a 1926 im­age of the Mun­gavin farm for the open­ing of Pataka.

She said it was dif­fi­cult to get the colours right, be­cause she had only a black and white im­age to go by. A copy hangs in their home.


Dis­tant mem­o­ries:

Jim and June Gunn with the im­age of 1926 Porirua that June painted.

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