Those were the days, my friend
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.
Jim and June Gunn with the image of 1926 Porirua that June painted.